Letter from Time, by Austra

Chapter One: The Request

"Hey Emma," an excited eight-year-old bubbled, "D'you know what I want for my birthday?"

"What?" Emma looked up absently from her computer where she sat typing out a story.

"Guess!"

Emma sighed. It wasn't really that hard. Ami had been saying this for the past few weeks, ever since Emma had gotten her new desk. "A desk," she said, still distractedly.

"Yes!" Ami all but squealed. "How did you know?"

"'Cause you been telling me every day."

"Yeah, I know. Hey Emma," she continued, oblivious to the fact that Emma was ignoring her, "talk to everyone else before you buy it, 'kay? 'Cause I've told everyone else to get me one too."

"Okay, Ami." The little girl with the bright sea-blue eyes rushed away, most likely to tell someone else.

Emma gave a sigh of relief and returned to her typing.

0o0o0o0o0

"Hey Emma," Ami whispered.

"Wha?" Emma muttered groggily, then waited for the reply. Most likely her sister wanted a drink of water or the like.

"Do you know what I want for my birthday?"

"No!"

"You don't?"

"I mean, 'no', as in, I want you to be quiet and let me sleep."

"Oh. Well, guess."

Emma groaned. "Ami, it's ten o'clock, and we both need our sleep. Please be quiet."

"I will, just guess."

"All right, all right! But after I do, you have to be completely silent, understand?"

"Okay!"

"A desk."

"Yeah! 'Cause when I get a desk, then I'm gonna get a computer, and then I'll write stories just like you."

"Okay, that's nice. But Ami, I guessed, and you said you'd be quiet now."

"Okay. Emma, do you think I'll ever meet any of those other authors on fanfiction? Like LucyOfNarnia and King Caspian the Seafarer and AdrenalineRush16 and-"

"Ami," said Emma, sitting up in bed, "you should not write on fanfiction."

"Why not?" Ami's voice was defiant. "You do."

Emma sensed that it wasn't that Ami wanted to be defiant so much as she wanted to be like her. She sighed. "Ami," she said gently, "you have great talent. You shouldn't waste it on fanfiction. I mean," she added hastily, before Ami could protest that Emma had talent too and that fanfiction was great, "I mean that- well, fanfiction was a great thing for me. It improved my writing tenfold. But- you shouldn't- well, the thing is, it's easy to get addicted to."

"Yeah," Ami said slowly, "but I wouldn't, Emma. I promise."

"That's what I said, Ami. But then- well, I'm not addicted, but I feel that it takes up too much of my time. And, Ami-" she raised a finger impressively, although Ami couldn't see her in the dark "-and, once you are on, once you have a profile- you can never get off again."

Suddenly she threw herself back on her pillow so that the rickety bunk bed shook. "That's it." she said, with a note of finality in her voice. "We're going to sleep. Good night."

"I wonder how soon Anita and Carol will be in," Ami murmured.

Emma shot back up. "And no asking Carol for stories, either."

Then she lay back down, determined not to be disturbed even if the roof collapsed.

"Emma, I think that you need to-" Emma tuned Ami out. In her head, she played the song, "Santa Fe" to lull her to sleep.

"Emma?" Emma could feel the bed shake as Ami clambered up to stare at her. Emma did her best fake sleeping.

"Emma." Ami nudged her gently. "Are you asleep?"

Emma did not respond.

Ami sighed and went back down. She didn't talk any more.

And for all that, Emma could not get to sleep for hours.

Well, there's another one. I got the idea because this is really exactly what's been happening. But the names are changed.

-Austra