My breath, too, became thin as I considered the cards before me. I thought of all the words I could use to describe what was happening; eerie, unlikely, coincidence, impossible. And as I stared at the rows of cards, laid exactly as they’d been four years ago, a story began to unfold in my mind.
It started with a young girl who lived at the bottom of a hill who considered things that were not in any way ordinary to be ordinary. She saw things others did not, could do things others could not, and it was all because of one, very unordinary thing.
She was a witch.
Just like Nana.
I wanted to run to the shack and see her but I knew instinctively that she would be gone. The cards said it too, in the way the queen of hearts sat next to the six of spades. I could feel her absence from my life like a hole in a shield I never knew I’d had until now. Nana Marin had protected me all this time, but now power began to swim toward me in waves. It flowed from the earth and the air into my veins.
I was a witch. The strongest in five generations. The world was mine for the taking, and I was ready to take. I remembered Nana’s words. You will never have trouble getting the things you want out of life.
I wished she would ask me one last time if I felt any different today. My chest ached at the thought I would never speak to her again and for a moment I was lost in the sadness of it all.
A soft knock on my bedroom door was followed by Mom’s tentative whisper. “Sophie? Are you up?” She pushed open the door before I had time to even think of hiding the cards. Her eyes fell on them for a long moment, and the paralyzing silence returned. I could only watch her watch me in the faint light of my bedside lamp.
“Oh, Sophie,” she said, as she stepped into the room and pushed the door shut behind her. She leaned against it like it was the only thing holding her up and took a deep breath.
I was suddenly angry in a way I’d never been before. It took me a moment to recognize the feeling behind it. Betrayal. All this time she’d known and pretended she didn’t. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She shook her head and light glinted off of the tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t. Your grandmother made me promise.”
The slight emphasis she put on the word made filled in details I hadn’t realized were missing. The strange tightness in her mouth whenever I told her I was going out for a walk. The way she sometimes stammered when I asked her about Nana directly. She couldn’t tell me. Nana made her promise.
At once I felt sorry for Mom, and giddy at the thought that such a thing was possible. Did I have this skill too? Did Mom?
I looked up at her with new eyes. She read my expression. “You have to be very careful, Sophie. You can’t use it.”
Careful. I knew the word, but I couldn’t understand it in relation to me. I was literally bursting with power. I couldn’t not use it. I couldn’t keep it locked up inside me like a dirty secret. “Why?”
“Because,” she walked toward me, but stopped when her toes came close to the bent corner of the eight of clubs. She looked down at the cards, taking in each one before moving on to the next. Her bottom lip trembled when she spoke again, “because it’s not safe. Power corrupts.”
The energy flowing inside of me said different. It said I would always be safe. Nothing could hurt me. I didn’t think I could ever be afraid again. “Is that why you never use yours? You’re scared?”
With a sigh, she lifted the long, thin chain she’s always worn around her neck over her head. A tiny, ornate brass key dangled from it. “This is yours now. Use it and make your own decision.” She held it out to me and I saw a hint of something I couldn’t decipher in her eyes, not quite fear, not quite sadness. “Everything has consequences, Sophie. Just remember that.”
As soon as she was gone, I hung the chain around my neck and threw on a pair of jeans. The key hummed against my racing heart. I knew exactly what it unlocked, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was inside. The sun was just peeking over the hill when I slipped out the back door and headed for Nana’s shack.
Come back Friday for Lacey's conclusion!
Photo by Striking Photography by Bo via Flickr Creative Commons
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