A/N: Eighty-three-year-old Edna Fisher is the Chosen One, destined to defeat evil sorcerer Redway with the fabled Sword of Destiny. The wizard responsible for telling her all this is not pleased.
Methodius tugged a wrinkle in his robe, straightening it with the air of a rooster ruffling his feathers. Then he continued, in a rather less mystic voice than before.
“You will travel to the Land of Michigan.” The voice and glowing eyes had been impressive before, but now they seemed like a performance he couldn’t be bothered with, since he clearly saw his audience as irreverent and unworthy. “Follow the water to a place of blue waters and green fields—”
“Isn’t that all of Michigan?” Benjamin asked, but the wizard ignored him.
“—where you’ll find the Sword in the keeping of a man named Theobald Smith. Show him my token—which I will give to you shortly,” he snarled, as Edna opened her mouth to ask what token, “and he will give you the Sword and send you on your way. At which point myself or another member of the Council will be in touch to give you further instruction.”
The receptionist’s radio crackled loudly, making them all jump. Edna stretched her legs with a wince, trying to ease the pain in her hip. Jumping was a lot harder than it used to be.
“Why don’t you give me all my instructions now?” she asked.
Methodius’s eyebrows crept up his forehead.
“For someone who is eighty-three,” he said, “you really are quite naïve. What if a person of ill repute found you on your journey and discovered that you’re the Chosen One? They might torture you for information. But if you don’t have the information—”
“I’ll die of torture,” Edna said coolly, knitting faster than ever.
“Okay,” Benjamin said, “for real, you’d rather subject the Chosen One to torture that—”
“For heaven’s sakes, Benjamin, hush. I’m not going to be tortured.”
“How do you know?”
“Well—” Edna paused a moment, preoccupied with counting her stitches. “I’ll keep my lip zipped about my new status, and if anyone tries anything—”
She stabbed the air with one of her needles and gave her sweetest little-old-lady smile.
“We’ll be perfectly safe,” she said, and she returned, unconcerned, to her knitting.
Benjamin stared at her as if he’d never seen before. Then he wrenched his gaze away and turned back to Methodius.
“If it makes you feel better,” the wizard said, “we’ve tracked this sort of thing, and Chosen Ones have a 97.892 success rate. So the odds really are in her favor.”
“Of not being tortured?” Benjamin asked.
Methodius looked uncomfortable. “I’m afraid I can’t speak to that. It does seem to go with the job description. But most of them get past it and go on to complete their mission and come home heroes and so forth.”
“Most of them are teenagers,” Benjamin said through gritted teeth. His blood was boiling again, his face turning red under his mop of gingery-gold hair. “And here’s a question for you—why don’t you go get this mystical sword? You expect an eighty-three-year-old woman to go off and kill a sorcerer but don’t come bearing the one tool needed to get the job done? The Council of Wizards can go—” and he told Methodius to do something that only shocked Edna because she’d never imagined Benjamin would use such language.
Methodius, unsurprisingly, turned red himself in response.
“We are a group of highly qualified individuals with over five thousand years’ experience between us,” he said, more loudly than he needed to. The receptionist glared at him from her computer and pointedly turned her radio up.
khhrrrrzzz, it squawked, hurting Edna’s ears. khhhhrrrrzzzznator said earlier today that khhhhrrrrzzzz.
“Turn that down!” Methodius bellowed, too affronted to put up with anymore of the nursing home’s nonsense. The receptionist gave him a look of disdain but obliged. The wizard turned on Benjamin, huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf. “What exactly did you think was going to happen, young man? Do you know what the Sword of Destiny is?”
“The only known weapon that can kill—”
“A sorcerer!” shouted the wizard. “Precisely! Do you know what would happen to me, to any of my brethren, if we so much as touched it?”
“So you decide to have an old woman do your dirty work instead?”
“Instant paralysis, a painful death—“
“I DON’T CARE!” Benjamin yelled, leaping to his feet. “It’s your stupid mission, you should’ve—”
“Boys, that’s enough,” Edna said, setting her knitting aside and getting to her feet with difficulty. Good heavens, what a ridiculous little pissing contest. “Benjamin, there’s no call to be so rude. I’m sure the Council of Wizards had their reasons for deciding things ought to be this way. Apologize to Methodius.”
She waited until he had done so and taken his place beside her again, looking ashamed of himself, and then turned to the wizard before he started looking too smug. “You too, old man. You don’t need to be so awful even if you do think I’m so terribly wrong for this job.”
The wizard reddened again but gave a muttered apology. Edna nodded in satisfaction and eased back into a sit.
“Your token?” she asked politely.
Methodius patted his robes and produced a heavy silver ring set with a smooth red stone.
“Give this to Theobald,” he said, “and he’ll know what it means. We’ll know when you have the Sword, and we’ll be in contact then.”
And with a small pop! like the one he’d entered with, he vanished. Benjamin stared open-mouthed at the spot he’d been standing.
“He’s not a very polite person, is he?” Edna said. “Well! We’d better get a move-on.”
Benjamin turned his stare on her instead.
“Oh, now, Benjamin, don’t look at me like that. You look like a fish with your mouth open that way.”
His mouth snapped shut, but not for long.
“Get a move-on where?” he asked. “We don’t know where to go.”
“We certainly do,” Edna said. “Michigan.”
“Okay, do you know how big Michigan is?” Benjamin pulled his phone out of his pocket to show her. “Look at this. It’s almost ninety-seven thousand square miles.”
“Methodius said to follow the water,” Edna said. “Maybe we should just drive along the coast—”
“The coast? Edna! There are thousands of lakes in Michigan, he could’ve meant any water, you can’t do this, it’s insane, their expectations are—”
Edna loved Benjamin, but she had had quite enough. She stood up stiffly, collected her knitting things, and stuffed them in her purse. “Oh, hush. I’m going and that’s that. Chosen Ones never get an address and a GPS, do they? And they succeed ninety-whatever-he-said percent of the time. So I’ll be just fine, thank you. You don’t have to come with me—you don’t!” she added, as he opened his mouth to argue. “I didn’t ask you to come. I don’t need taking care of, even if I am old enough to be your mother, or maybe your grandmother—I’ve been on my own for a long time, you know! I only came here because my nieces and nephews were worried about me, because my poor sister fell when she was just a youngster in her seventies and couldn’t get up and died, and they didn’t want to see the same thing happen to me. But I can tell you I haven’t fallen yet, and I’m not going to. I’ve got a lot more living to do, and I’m not doing it in a nursing home!”
With that, she grabbed her cane and stumped toward the front door without any real idea of where to go or what to do. Shouldn’t she pack some clothes before toddling off on an adventure? Stop at the market for some food? And that had been a good point, earlier, about Chosen Ones never taking cars—she certainly couldn’t walk all the way to Michigan.
But she wasn’t going to point any of that out to Benjamin just now.
After a moment of stunned silence, he leapt from his seat and followed her. “Edna—”
Before he could say anymore, the door to the cafeteria opened, and Jeanine came out. She looked like a soccer mom and had taken it to heart. Lacking children, she obsessively pushed her residents into Activities and Participation and drove around in an SUV filled with snacks, albeit snacks that were softer on the teeth than the average soccer mom’s.
“Mrs. Fisher,” she said reprovingly, “what on earth is taking so long? You missed practically the entire activity! I know Bingo isn’t your idea of a great time, but at your age it’s important to—”
“Do leave me alone, Jeanine,” Edna said in a voice that sounded like it wanted to crawl into bed with a thick blanket. She’d had quite enough excitement for one day, and she had a long journey ahead of her yet. She thought of the first concrete step she could take toward that end.
“Excuse me,” she said to the receptionist. “I’d like to check myself out.”
Join the Chosen Grandma Club to get weekly updates!