Memories of a Petal
Petals Open To The Moon. That was the name I had known all my life, and one that would die along with me. I lived a comfortable life with my mother, Cloud Spinner, and had a normal childhood. I was one of the souls that had a difficult adult human host, and so was relocated to a child. After my brief stint on the Flower planet before the disastrous first human host, I chose to keep my name from there, instead of my last human host's name, Sloane.
I was all of 16 earth years, my birthday coming in a mere 2 weeks. 17…I sighed wistfully to myself, thinking of the privileges it would bring. In school we read about the human's history, one from long before my kind. Teens then were allowed to drive at 16. I would have to wait until 18 for this, but it was well worth the wait if it would help other souls.
A girl passed my house many times in the last week. She has a young boy maybe a little younger than me, maybe a little older, and a man with her. I think I know them…the faces all look so familiar. Her face looks like one I remember…maybe mine, once? And the man and boy…there is a deep ache in my chest whenever I see them, as if I loved them once.
Silly girl, I think, you remember nothing from Sloane's life. You made the Healers take it all away. It is a comforting thought and a scary one, too.
A bright light. I can feel it through my eyelids. But…? Where am I? Where is Petals Open To The Moon? Who am I?
"Wanda. Come back. We aren't letting you go." Wait, something in the back of my head protests, isn't that my voice? Other voices were talking in the room, and the smell of grapefruits overwhelmed me. Something tightened around both my hands, which felt smaller than I remembered them.
That thought was enough to complete my fractured memories. "Ian? Jamie? Melanie? Jared? Doc? Jeb?"
A voice, like Ian's but not, jokingly added, "Kyle, Sunny, Trudy, Geoffry, Heath, Paige, Andy, Brandt, Heidi, Lily…" followed by booming laughter.
"Hi, Kyle," I weakly murmured, still not use to this new body, this new voice.
One of the hands holding mine was shifted slightly as the person it was attached to moved. "Can't even let her say her first sentence to me, huh, brother?"
"Why take all the fun away?"
"Ian?" I asked, a hand touching my face, tracing the new features.
"Wanderer? We're all waiting for you, honey. Open your eyes." I did as his soothing voice said, looking all around me with new eyes.
Around me were all the people Kyle had named, plus the ones I knew were there. Next to Jared, who stood off of my right, was Melanie. She beamed down at me, mouthing a 'hello'. I smiled at her, my first real one since waking. She walked over quickly, throwing her arms around my shoulder. "You're here, Wanda. You're really here. We did it. I did it." I laughed at her lack of modesty.
"Thank you, Mel, truly. Thank you for bringing me back to them." We both knew who I meant, and all three of them were gathered around me now, Jeb and Doc herding the others back with promises that they could see me later. Holding my right hand, Jamie, my left, Ian. Behind Jamie, Jared. On my cot next to me, still holding me close so I could cry my tears of happiness, Melanie.
My tears subsided slightly, my gaze drifting over to Jamie. "Jamie!" I cried out, using my new, shorter, arms to reach out to him. He fell right into them, the feeling so comfortable and natural. "Oh, Jamie…" I was crying anew.
Then there was Doc, standing at the foot of the cot. "Wanda, we have Pet. We thought you would know where would be best to send her."
"Doc!" I gasped in the tiny, fragile voice. "Doc, you promised! You gave me your oath, Eustace! Why? Why did you break your word?"
He looked pointedly at the four faces surrounding me, joy in some form on ever one of them. "I think your first few minutes proved why it was necessary. And, plus, Melanie wouldn't let us forget you. Wanda this, Wanda that. Everything she did, she would complain about how you could have done it better, you could have been more help."
I looked over at her, awe on my face. She shrugged. "I had my own secrets, Wanda. I planned this from the beginning."
"I love you," I sighed, settling closer to the body on my left. Ian.
"I love you," he muttered in my ear, causing tingles I'd never experienced in Mel's body; that due to Mel herself.
I looked at him, really looked, for the first time since I'd awoken in my new body. He was every bit as wonderful as I remembered. "Oh, Ian…" I sighed.
Jamie saw the exchange. He patted my cheek, calling my attention back. I was surprised by how big his hand felt on my cheek. "They let me go on the raid to get you."
"I know," I muttered. "I remember…Well, Pet remembers seeing you there."
"Ian didn't come," Again, the news was no surprise to me. When I relived the memories just before I woke up, there was no Ian. I know; I had looked. "He just sat here with you – he said he didn't care what you looked like. He wouldn't even let anyone else put a finger on your tank at all, not even me or Mel. But Doc let me watch this time. It was way cool, Wanda. I don't know why you wouldn't let me watch before. They wouldn't let me help, though. Ian wouldn't let anyone touch you but him.
Ian took my head in his lap, shifting himself so he sat at the head of the cot. Leaning through all the hair I had now, he whispered quiet enough so the others couldn't hear. "I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful." I blushed all the way to my toes, another something I wasn't used to. Melanie was never embarrassed enough to blush like that.
The days pasted much like how I remembered. I wasn't as much help as I had when I was in Melanie's body, since this one was weaker and smaller. I was assigned light chores, like watering the flower gardens, and much of the time someone offered to take it over for me. It hurt my pride, but this body was too shy to say anything about it; try to reclaim my chores.
The rains came, and I was happy I got to see it. Just as Jared said the last time he kissed me, everyone stayed in the game room. There were mattresses, cots…any sort of bedding available in our cave home.
"Over here, Wanda," Jamie called, waving me toward where he'd just sat his mattress next to Ian's. "There's room for all three of us."
I dragged the cot I had been sleeping on for weeks in the hospital over to where he pointed. "You don't really want that cot, do you, Wanda? I'll bet we could all fit okay on the mattresses if we shove them together." Jamie grinned at me while he kicked one mattress into the other without waiting for agreement. "You don't take up much space."
It was true. Even the Jamie in my stored Melanie's memories, maybe 13, was bigger than I was. I stood a mere 5' 1" and a puny 115 pounds. I laid myself down on the crack between mattresses without argument, only wanting to please Jamie.
Vaguely I heard Jeb yell, "Lights out! Everyone shut yer trap so I can get some shut-eye." People from all around me laughed a bit, even the little, big body beside me. Jamie. I smiled to myself as the dim lights diminished.
Ian took my hand in the darkness. How he found it, why…mysteries to me. "Is this okay?" he asked, tender concern in his voice – something I hadn't really heard since I woke up.
"Yes, thank you."
Suddenly, after he yawned, arms were around my tiny form, my back against his stomach. Ian's arms, I thought to myself. I shifted myself so I was facing him in the darkness. "Is this okay?" I repeated his question.
He kissed me softly. "Better than okay."
AN: I know, I know…it's horrible that I just finished The Host. But, what's even worst was I got to the end of chapter 57, Completed, and thought it was the end of the book! After crying for Jamie and Ian, I had the sense to pick it back up, only to find I wasn't done! Ha. So, here is my tribute to the last two chapters of The Host.
Some text from pages 601, 603, 605, 613, and 614.