They take up my entire evening. They distract me from other things I have on the backburners. Because of this, my mind dances around the forthcoming battle and all the pieces that need to come together, all the participants that need to be there. The closer I get to the battle, the more I can see.
I know an element is missing. I know that no matter what the boys and I do, that missing element could mean losing the battle. Do I have the time to locate it?
The boys argue over whether or not to bring Garrett into this. My head pounds. I look at Nick, still kneeling beside me, turned to say something to Logan. Something slithers between the beats in my head.
Amid all the magical genetics that make up all that is me, humanity purrs. Never forget that. Immortality and magic do not dampen humanity, no matter how much of it you have in one body. Deep down I am human with all its frailties. Sometimes I think it is the most magical part of me.
Most often, though, I hate it. I blame my humanity for my mistakes. I blame my humanity for my hubris. I blame my humanity for those moments I smack my forehead.
Nick has joined me on the floor, peering into the fire as if he can make the pictures appear and change so that he can he what he wants to see. He leans close and the light plays on his features, making them warm and alive, as I haven’t seen before.
Behind me, Logan pockets the key to the liquor cabinet I “carelessly” left out.
Nick’s eyes flicker to me, wide and…
A glimmer of something from a long time ago brushes the edges of my mind.
I turn to Logan standing in the shadows behind the chairs, holding an empty wine glass, gazing at an empty bottle.
Facing Nick again, I watch the firelight dance in his eyes. Something is there in my memory like something seen out of the corner of my eye. But when I look, it is not there.
I stand and pull a bottle of something stronger from the cabinet and three tumblers. Taking the glasses from the boys, I replace them with the tumblers filled with sparkling golden liquid.
I stand in front of Logan, invading his personal space. He straightens to back away, but I’ve caught his eyes. I lift a hand, fire drops and glints through my fingers as I examine his face…
So many expletives come to mind at that moment.
I settle for a few in different languages not making sense to even myself.
Here’s an interesting plot twist…I make mistakes. Oh, I mentioned that piece of brilliance before?
It’s worth repeating.
Delving into the boys’ hearts and memories, I’ve brushed over a very important tidbit. Something I would not have missed had I even just been in my own damned dimension when Garrett put feelers into the ether to find me.
I mean, who’s journey into the bizarre doesn’t start with the death or absence of a loved one? Seriously, it’s an old story, been done to death.
But Nick and Logan’s father?
I was there.
I never fully explained it to myself. To the cops it is a very cold case. It doesn’t even haunt anyone except the family. It is a blip on my magical radar.
An apparent Satanic ritualistic death in the early eighties? Please. So many of those were happening at the time (copycats, teenagers, the beginning of the dreadful Goths, etcetera) that some demons left messes behind.
Even though I had this…feeling, I really don’t know if their father’s death was the work of a demon or a serial killer or what.
Messy as it was, clues just didn’t exist and it really wasn’t on my priority list.
I tried. I tried to scry into the boathouse at the time and a few times during the years. It bugged me at random, calm moments. So do a few other blips I haven’t been able to explain.
I leave the boys. Once the door closes behind me, I patter on bare feet to my sanctuary. Behind a black and white framed print of The Outsiders, I find the 1980’s. In the very back of the drawer marked 1984, I find what I am looking for, a smallish pebble. Touching the smoothness, the spell that holds my memory begins to seep through my fingers. Before it can unfold behind my eyes, I return to the boys and my place next to the fire.
They watch me, but don’t say anything, thinking I am showing them something relevant to the upcoming battle.
Running the pebble through my fingers, I let the memory play in the fire, erasing the bar holding the portal.
We watch the memory form from the first inkling of ether-disturbance in my sleep. We watch me, lines crunched between my brows, my body twisting in the sheets. We see me jerk awake, eyes wide, my legs trapped in a poly-cotton blend.
(I have awakened many times like this. You’d think I would have managed to perfect a technique to remove myself from the bed without, yeah, falling on my face on the hardwood floor.
Pause for laughter.)
In the fire, I ran to my workroom, trailing the stupid sheets behind me. The past me kept them wrapped like a toga as I knelt before the fireplace.
(Even though I live alone, and even though I frequently sleep without clothing, I just really do not want to see myself running bare-assed through my home years later.
Believe it or not, it happens. Sometimes, I’m not alone watching the past. (I am not ashamed, you see. But my body is my body, not for large audiences, contrary to popular belief.) See, now, not only have I shared this memory with the boys, but you, dear reader.)
I hear Nick’s sharp intake of breath. Quick one, he has the first inkling of what I might be showing them.
The fire me waved a hand at the fireplace in the memory. The flames jump from ashes much more gracefully than I. (I really hate ether-disturbance that come during the rare times I sleep.)
The fire within the fire shows the boathouse. Something dark covered the windows. Something blocked my magic, held me outside.
We watch the fire me lean back and chew the nail on my thumb. I say aloud what I’d been thinking that night: “What troubled the ether? How is it hidden from me? How can I get a peek?”
We see me years ago, wrapped in sheets as I stood and ran to the counter across the room, rummaged through drawers and cabinets, tossed random bits until I finally found what I searched for. We see me as I skittered back to the sofa and settled. One hand flicked and fired up the tiny handmade bit of incense that really looked more like a joint than pressed and ground herbs.
The past me waved the smoke in front of my face and breathed deeply. Once, twice, three times, I inhaled before I dropped it into a metal ashtray on the table next to the sofa. Smoke snaked up and wrapped around my head, which nodded as if I fell back to the peaceful realm of sleep.
That is so not where I went. My memory switches to the boathouse as I was there.
(What is happening is a bit of astral projection that I have never liked to do. I’ve never perfected the talent. That night, while projecting, it made me feel weighted down as if in a dream I could not control.
My consciousness slips back and forth between the projection and the comfort of the cushions beneath me, giving the memory a disjointed flickering like a bad, old film.)