I hit my thirty-third birthday with a lot of gratitude. After all, I hadn’t really expected to ever see this birthday. And Joy turned eleven. Only two more years and she’d be a teenager. I just prayed to the Watcher I’d be able to see it. As I had never seen her as a teenager in any of my visions, I sorta suspected not…
In the autumn the twins went to school. When they came back their first day they were both beyond miserable. Joy looked rather frustrated too.
“They cried the entire bus ride back.” Joy ducked her head. “It was so embarrassing!”
Romance and I sat down with the twins. Romance had left work early just so she could be there for the girls when they came home and I felt rather relieved that she was there with me as I looked at the twins’ stormy faces. Romance reached out to them gently, requesting that they tell their stories. The twins both talked at the same time, a jumble of words and emotions. The kids teased Amy, she tried to make friends and it didn’t go over well, they all thought she was weird. Grace disliked the actual classes, she insisted the teacher didn’t like her, and some boy kept tugging at her braids.
“The teacher said boys will be boys.”
I clenched my teeth and wanted to have strict words with their teacher though it would have to wait till the next day. “Sweetheart, if a boy is hurting you, you do not have to accept it,” I said carefully. “A lot of people will say ‘boys will be boys’ when a boy hurts a girl. They will say ‘it means he likes her’. But if someone is hurting you, even if it’s a braid pull, that is not good and it’s not a good way to express affection. So say ‘NO!’ Don’t be afraid to say ‘NO!’.”
Grace stared, wide-eyed, and then nodded. “Okay.”
I looked at Amy. “The same for you, all right?”
She nodded as well. “Got it. But. The kids that were mean to me were girls.”
“Did you tell the teacher?” Romance asked.
“N… no,” Amy admitted. “Did I do wrong?”
Romance reached over and hugged her. “No. It’s a hard situation. Telling a teacher means the other kids will call you more names, but not telling a teacher means the kids get away with it. If you were too upset or too scared to tell your teacher, that’s okay.”
Amy nodded then reached over, taking her twin’s hand. “Maybe tomorrow will be better.”
The next day went a little better, as both girls stood up for themselves. The day after that Romance was called to the school about Grace. Apparently she kicked the boy who refused to stop yanking at her hair. Romance told me how it went, that she asked Grace–in front of the principal–if she had asked the boy to stop ‘touching her inappropriately’. Apparently the principal got blustery about Romance using those words. ‘What else should I call it when a boy lays hands on my daughter after she says no?’ Romance asked. The principal pointed out that it was ‘just the hair’. ‘So,’ my wife asked, ‘if I reach over and yank your hair, that’s completely fine? Because it’s not part of you? If I cut off your hair, is that fine?’. The principal said it was a different matter, that it was about Grace kicking the boy.
‘She was protecting her body from this boy who refused to listen to her when she said no. I will stand by her actions. I want my daughter to know that it is okay to fight if a boy refuses to take no as an answer,’ Romance said. Of course the principal muttered that they were ‘just kids’. To which Romance replied, ‘A perfect time to explain to children of any gender that no means no. Unless, of course, you believe otherwise’.
In the end the boy’s parents were called in, Romance had to do her spiel again, the boy’s mother realized why Romance said what she said and totally freaked out, grounding her son for not listening when someone says no.
After that things seemed to get easier for the twins. Since Grace physically stood up for herself, others figured Amy would as well–especially since Amy began declaring herself a witch and whispered to the biggest bully that she would turn her into a frog if she continued to bully Amy. That got the bully to stop. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. However Romance did give her a private talk about how magic needed to be used carefully and not used as a threat.
Grace pouted the entire time her twin and mother were alone having that talk. “Wish I could be in there,” she grumbled then threw herself into my lap.
I stroked her hair gently. “You’re precious to me, no matter what,” I promised.
I haven’t had a vision on my own in weeks, and the potion stopped working shortly after. It’s supposed to happen in spring. I think it will be sooner. The trees… the grass… it all seemed to indicate spring. But the trees haven’t changed yet. Maybe it will be before October. Maybe I only have a few days left.
I stared at my blog post then deleted the last two sentences before hitting publish. My lack of visions didn’t seem to discourage most my readers, though I wasn’t growing anymore as a website. Only an occasional new reader though I no longer really cared.
It felt like my life was spiraling out of control. Not yet–no, like… I was waiting for it to spiral. Waiting, waiting for that storm, for that argument, for me to climb that metal fence like a total dumba–
I spun in my chair to look at Joy. “Hey sweetie, what’s up?” I reached down as Ghost ran over, licking my hand happily. I gave him a good scratch behind the ears. He sat down and put a paw up on my leg.
Joy came over and sat on the edge of my bed, feet dangling over the side. “I lied to you.”
I hesitated then returned to scratching Ghost. “What about?”
She began kicking her feet. “I was talking to this woman who was really unhappy. She’s over on the corner near the grocery store.”
I waited and Joy said nothing else. “A ghost?” I inquired, and at his ‘name’ Ghost perked up, tail wagging hard.
“Uh-huh. Yeah. She, um, she’s unhappy cause like, you know, she had some things… wrong things happen to her.” I froze at those, my brain immediately going to rape. Was I going to have to discuss this with Joy already? “She was dying, see, and her family… they like, ignored her dying wishes.”
I couldn’t help but relax a bit. “What does this have to do with lying? Were you at the store when you shouldn’t be?”
“No!” She shook her head then frowned. “Well, maybe once, but that’s not this. That’s–this–this is about something else. Dying wishes. Or really, um, like, you know, wishes of the dead.” She tilted her head back and looked into my eyes. “Is it really bad not to honor the wishes of the dead? Does it curse them or something?”
“I–I don’t know. I don’t know much about ghosts. You know more about them than I do,” I pointed out and she got a small smile. “Honey, what’s going on?”
“I lied. About Grandpa. And Grandfather.” She slithered off the bed and came closer to me. “Grandfather didn’t want him to be buried like that, he wanted him cremated. But I didn’t want Grandpa to be all–all burned up, into ashes. I–I didn’t like that thought.” I held out my arms and she threw herself against me. “I’m sorry!”
“Shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay sweetie.”
“No it’s not! I lied and went against what Grandfather wanted and what if I cursed them both?!” She pulled back to stare, grief-stricken, in my face. “I never thought of it back then but every time I talk to this woman by the grocery store I keep thinking, you know, about what I did. Not honoring dying wishes can cause people to become ghosts so–“
I put a finger against her lips then pulled her back into a hug. “Have you seen either of them?” I asked, already knowing the answer. “See?” I said when she replied in the negative. “They’re not cursed. Just because–just because Grandfather wanted Grandpa to be cremated, that’s okay that we buried him instead.”
“Most people get cremated,” she whispered.
“Grandpa and Grandfather were both very well in tune to the afterlife. I’m sure they’re both completely fine with Grandpa being buried. Was Grandfather mad at you after that happened?” I inquired.
Joy shrugged and gave a long sigh. “Not really he was most preoccupied with, y’know, dying himself. I mean, dying a second time or whatever.”
“See? I’m sure neither of them are even remotely upset in the Nether.”
“I wonder what it’s like.”
“Being a ghost?”
Joy raised her eyebrows. “Dying.”
It felt like a punch to my gut. I wanted to grab her and cover her ears and eyes and keep her away from this sort of thing. I wanted to cover my own ears and eyes. My heart thudded heavily, reminding me with each beat that it wouldn’t be too long till I knew. Would I become a ghost too? Would I be drifting around haunting my own daughter? I knew Grandpa had somehow been a ghost and then human but–I didn’t know exactly how it happened. Whenever Grandpa talked about it he said it was because of science.
I jerked away from my thoughts. “Y-yeah?”
Joy looked down then slowly back up, worry etched too deep into her young face. “I’ve read your blog.”
I just stared blankly back at her. This–this somehow had never occurred to me as something that could happen. Stupid of me, really; Joy was a preteen now and spent a lot of time on the internet and she knew I had a blog. All the posts that had been up recently about my death danced in my head.
“I see,” I finally managed to say.
She tugged on the curtains for the bed while I just waited for her to talk again. “You really think it’s gonna happen?” She didn’t even pause to let me answer. “Cause, I mean, it’s not, like, absolutely gonna happen? I mean, like, your visions come true and–and I mean you don’t really think you’re gonna die, do you?!”
I tried to hug her again. “Dani and I are doing our best to figure out how to stop everything.”
She shoved me away. “That’s not an answer!” she snapped, her face heating up. “You do think so! You think you’re gonna die!” She stomped her foot hard. “Well I don’t! And I know more about ghosts and deaths than you do so there!”
Joy spun and fled from the room, crying loudly. Ghost went after her, whining as he tried to catch up to comfort. I staggered back, rubbing my forehead, feeling sick. One of the first things I did after finally coming out of my fog was call Romance to tell her everything. She called Kiley to take over the store than came home so we could try to talk to Joy who had locked herself in her room.
“Did you tell her what you told me?” Romance grumbled.
“I told her Dani and I were trying to stop it,” I replied hotly. “You want me to lie? You want me to promise her everything is completely fine and then it turns out not to be?!”
“Yes! She’s just a child!”
Joy’s door flung open. “I can hear you.” Her eyes were narrow as she cast an angry glance at each of us. “I’m not a kid. And I don’t want to be lied to. But.” She bit her bottom lip and then began rubbing her eyes. “But I don’t… I don’t…”
Romance held her as she cried. Then I held both of them. “It’s not gonna happen,” I whispered.
“Don’t l-lie!” Joy hiccuped.
“I’m not. I’m just not–not gonna go, I’m not gonna do it. I won’t.”
I had tried to stop visions as they happened before. I remembered all the times I struggled through something I had foreseen, trying to tell my past self something and it wouldn’t work. It was like something literally forcing me through the vision. Well this time. It wouldn’t. Even if I had to be tied up for weeks, locked up, unable to do anything at all. I wasn’t gonna sit back and let my own death happen. Even if it meant… whoever it was succeeding at destroying the world…
Your father didn’t sit back and let someone try to destroy things, a small, nasty voice in my head whispered
Yeah, I thought back, and because of that I never got to meet him and neither did Piotr.
Of course I didn’t know for sure what I would do when it happened. Could I really just sit back and do nothing? Or would my vision… and my father’s blood… be too much?
Sam, Kiley, and I were hanging out, watching all the kids as our wives took a spa day out. We had offered to just watch Nora completely to let Kiley have a spa day too but she wanted to hang out with us. Dani was running the bakery.
It was a warm September day, still hot enough out so the kids could play in the pool. Joy, Grace, Amy, Dizzy, and Nora were all splashing around, shrieking and having fun. Ghost ran around the pool and barked at them. Joy kept trying to get him to fetch a toy in the water and he would stand at the edge and whine until Joy brought it to him.
“Watcher I feel old,” Kiley moaned, stretching out.
“That’s cause you are,” Sam said.
Kiley threw her sunglasses at him. “Shut up, damn elf! You’ll know how I feel in a few hundred years!”
Sam held his hands up innocently and looked at me. I shook my head. “I’m with Kiles here.” I reached down and rubbed my right knee which occasionally gave me problems. Romance’s back was beginning to give her pain too. “You know, it’s been nineteen years since we met,” I said suddenly.`
Sam cracked a grin as he tossed the glasses back to Kiley and I mirrored it, both of us recalling our first meeting. “Are you gonna send Joy to Hunter’s?” he asked.
I turned my attention to my girls. Joy was picking the smaller kids up and tossing them into the water as they squealed. “I haven’t really talked much about it with her, or Romance. I–I’m not sure, honestly.”
“Dizzy’s gonna go,” Sam said, watching his son with warm eyes. Dizzy was like a little clone of him, only with the blue-black hair from Reeny.
“We might send Nora,” Kiley added. Her daughter was also showing magical abilities like Kiley, a little witch. “Then again… Grace…” Kiley trailed off.
I gave a small nod. Grace. I had the feeling Professor Hunter would accept her as a student despite her lack of abilities, for the sake of her being descended from Zaid. However I knew Grace would hate it there. She had so much anger and jealously in her already just from Amy and Joy, I couldn’t imagine how she’d be surrounded by nothing but those with magical abilities. It wouldn’t be fair to send the other two girls, and keep Grace here; that would cause even more issues.
“Oh, speaking of Hunter’s,” I said when my phone went off and I saw Ginny’s name on the screen. “Hello?”
“Hey Apollo!” Ginny’s voice sang from the other side. “Is Romance around?”
“Not at the moment, she’s at a spa.”
“Ohhh that’s why she wasn’t answering her cell. Okay, could you have her call me when she can? I really need some info from her.”
“Can I help?”
“Well. I don’t know, maybe. Do you know how to get in touch with, um, Eidan? Skye? Remember him?”
I rolled my eyes. “Of course I remember him. But I don’t know I have his number in my phone, sorry; Romance definitely will she talks to him all the time.”
“Okay!” Ginny said brightly. “Thanks. I really need him!”
Curiosity of course got the better of me. “Is everything okay?”
She sniffled slightly. “Of course not, why else would I be calling to need his contact information as quickly as possible? Sometimes you really don’t think things though.”
I grit my teeth at her know-it-all tone. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“I just wanted to see if he could help solve this weather since he can talk to the air?”
Ginny huffed. “Don’t you pay attention to the news? Just have Romance call me, thanks!”
After I hung up I asked the others if they knew anything. Kiley pretty much said the same thing, asking if I ever paid attention to the news. “Moonlight Falls has been having some strange weather patterns the past few days,” she said after she finished teasing me. “Dark clouds and winds but the winds don’t blow the clouds away. They figure it’s magical, but nobody has found the source.”
“Eidan should be able to help,” Sam said when I explained what Ginny needed. “If anyone can, he can.”
“It’s probably some untrained magic-user, or someone testing their abilities,” Kiley added.
“That’s probably it,” I said as I settled back in my seat and shivered, despite the heat.