NaNoWriMo Day 9, Soup’s Off

soup's off cover

Observations: For me, writing fiction seems to be based on mood. I can force myself to write, and the end result will look exactly as if I’ve forced myself to write. In most cases, we get to redeem ourselves with a rewrite. For NaNo, that doesn’t exist. Ha.

Dialogue is still wanting to take over. For those of you who are reading, is this bad?

I am still open to suggestions. Thank you to all of you who’ve commented either here or via email. And I also so appreciate your encouragement.

Disclaimer: It’s almost 1 am here. I have not proofed this. This is draft written for NaNo. That should be enough said. 😉

Total word count: 15,116

113 words ahead.

You can read previous sections here.

Tea? What tea? Is my first thought. That gingery tea that mom has been supplying me with for eons? That must be it, but I haven’t stopped drinking it. Of course, I didn’t have any this morning. The hospital didn’t seem to know it was required drinking for MacGregor girls. I look at Isla who suddenly seems afraid now that all eyes on her.

I reach for her hand and squeeze it. Whatever it is, we’re in this together. We sisters will always stand together.

“I don’t understand about the tea,” I say. “What does it have to do with anything?”

Mom glances around. “We’re missing Rose and Amy. Someone find them and then we’ll get started. Lea, you might want to make sure that someone is entertaining the kids so that misinformation isn’t spread around.”

Mom in control. Isla and I move over the couch and sit. I feel like an errant teenager with so many disapproving gazes focused on us.

“I didn’t know,” Isla whispers to me.”

I shrug. “I still don’t know so don’t feel bad.”

“But you’ve never suspected?”


“That you have powers.”

There’s that word again. Powers. Like in super powers? Can I move objects with my mind? Send death rays from my eyes?  And what does tea have to do with it? And why is it all one great big, very annoying, secret?

The “s” sound of so many whispers around me is driving me nuts. What is that sound? Is that a Jack and coke calling my name?

I get up, feeling the whispers and eyes follow me as I go into Dad’s “study” where he keeps his bar. Isla pads after me, her eyes growing wide when she seems me pluck the bottle of Jack Daniels from Dad’s globe bar.

“You don’t drink,” she says.

“You want one?” I ask.

She nods and then grins before her brow furrows. “Are you on meds?”

I laugh. “Only Jack and coke.”

In the kitchen, I mix the drinks in a highball glass and then we toast to each other and sip. Deciding it’s still not strong enough, I pour a little more Jack in.


“The summons,” I say.

We walk back to the family room with its roaring fire and fierce relatives and take a seat on the burgundy suede sofa. I take a large sip of my drink, steeling myself for whatever is to come because I have a strange feeling it will explain a lot of things and I probably won’t like it.

Rose and Amy sit with Isla and me. Their expressions appear as baffled as mine, so presumably they don’t know what this is about any more than I do.

Mom stands on the other side of the coffee table and smiles her crooked smile at us. She shakes her head and smiles down at the carpet before looking back up at us again.

“I was stupid,” she says. “I thought I could keep something impossible a secret and that you four could live normal lives. Well, for most of your lives you have, so I guess that’s a good thing. You girls are witches.”

Okay. It’s two days before Halloween and Mom is telling us what our costumes are going to be or…? Witches?

I glance at my sisters. “Witches?”

Lea and Gran move to stand next to Mom. “You’re from a long line of very powerful witches,” Gran says.

Amy laughs. “Right. Good joke.”

Isla grabs my hand. “I told you there were powers.”

I shake my head and close my eyes. Is it possible that this is a delusion caused by a head injury? Witches. There aren’t really witches any more than there are vampires or werewolves…crap. What if it’s true? Does that mean there are werewolves and vampires? That blond tower looks an awful like the blonde vampire from True Blood. Oh, in that context perhaps he’s more attractive.

“Sophie? Are you with us?”


Rose sits up straighter next to me. “If we’re so powerful, how come we don’t know it?”

Mom nods her head and looks around the room. I follow her gaze to look at all of the relatives standing around so attentively. Are they powerful? Some of them seem angry, fearful.

The fire crackles and Tiki jumps on my lap, mews, then rubs her head against my chin. I take another swig of Jack and coke, wondering why my liquid courage doesn’t seem to be kicking in. It figures, this evening of all evenings.

“That ginger tea I’ve supplied you girls with since you entered puberty and yours powers bound your powers to an enormous degree,” Mom says. “The tea stopped you from doing unusual things that would have made people notice that you were different.”

Isla bristles next to me. “If this is our heritage, shouldn’t we have had a say in it?”

Mom looks around at the relatives. Her lips are tight. “In the past things haven’t gone so well for our kind.”

I cock an eyebrow. “Meaning?”

“Lots of people don’t like different, Soph. Lots of people take offense to different. You lost an Aunt because people didn’t like her being different. I kept you all safe. I gave you all the ability to have something special in your lives. For you, it was soup. Rose has her baking. Amy her oils and perfumes. And, Isla, you were never forgotten about. Your talent is your ability to grow the most delicious vegetables and herbs. Didn’t you ever wonder why you won so many contests?”

Mom squishes in next to Isla. “I know you thought you didn’t have magic. But yours is the most powerful of earth magics. You can make things grow anywhere, even in barren ground.”

“I stopped drinking the tea,” Isla admits.


Isla looks shamefaced. “Because…”

“What does it matter? What are we going to do to save ourselves?” The gray goateed man asks.

Mom stares at him the way she used to stare at us when we would ask if we could borrow her miata.

“Now, Uncle Rayburn, I’d ask when you became an old woman but that would be insulting old women. Exactly what do you think my girls are going to do? Run naked through Rosemead and tell all of the innocents that they’re witches and they want to convert them? Does that seem likely?”

He huffs, pulls on his goatee with his index finger and thumb before narrowing his eyes. “They are too old to train. They’ll become impulsive and use their powers. They will put us all in danger.”

“And the sky is falling. Look, Uncle Rayburn, look at these girls. My daughters. Do any of them look like the types who will put you in jeopardy?”

Uncle Rayburn’s eyes zero in on me. Not my imagination. I have never put anyone in danger. I don’t think. I may be a peeper. I may have been the best prankster Thomas Jefferson High has ever known. But I’m not dangerous. Yet.

He paces, clasps his hands behind his back, and stares down at his brown loafers. Everyone watches him. I think he just likes attention. I’ve only seen Uncle Rayburn a few times and have never really been sure as to how he’s related because he’s not Gran’s brother.

He drags his attention-seeking on just a bit too long for Mom who spears her fingers through the air and moves a chair against his legs, forcing him to sit. He falls backward with an “oof.”

My mouth falls open and I can feel the same astonishment vibrate within my sisters. Did we just see that? Did Mom just move that chair with her hand?

She looks at us, grins, and shrugs. “Yep.”

After that, my relatives party. Perhaps it’s a relief having us girls outed, although I still can’t understand what the issue was, but something suggests to me that Lea and Mom might have been the reason why the powers that my sisters and I have were bound by something as innocuous as gingery tea.

Isla begins hounding Mom for information on her power. When can she learn? What can she do? Can she toss a chair around too?

Maybe I should be more interested in the answers, but I’m strangely not. Amy and Rose are in the corner of the room in an animated discussion, their hands tossing about and feet stomping and I wonder what’s going on, but in a way, also don’t care.

Aunt Lea sits next to me. “Jack and coke, huh?”

“Liquid courage, but it’s more like liquid inertia.”

“Your sisters like the idea of being witches, don’t you?”

“Are you a witch?”

Lea smiles. “A weak one. I can’t throw chairs around like your Mom. My talent is more in making people feel peaceful. I’m kind of an empath, I guess. And, I can read the future.”

Now this is something interesting. “Tell me what happens to me.”

She laughs and shakes her head, staring off into the orange flames of the fire. “Nope.”

Anticlimactic much? “Why not?”

“I can’t see the future of my family. I think that was a clever safeguard. Imagine being able to see when your relatives would die or something bad would happen to them.”

“But maybe you could prevent it.”

She grabs my Jack and coke and takes a sip, wincing slightly. “I haven’t had one of those since I was 21 and it still doesn’t taste that good. Waste of good whiskey.”

I wait a moment, hoping she’ll talk.

“You can’t prevent death, Soph. No matter how powerful you are. I’ve seen a few relatives do some very stupid things to bring back loved ones. Remember that Stephen King book, Pet Sematery? Yep, sometimes things don’t come back the same way. So, no. You can’t prevent death. You can’t mess with the order of life.”

Okay. Not that I was thinking about trying to bring someone back from the dead, but so noted.

The relatives all go to the kitchen where food is being served and I can hear the party going out onto the deck where I imagine the firepits are being lit. Music begins. I think that is Cousin Eifel playing the fiddle, a slow, melancholy song that sounds centuries old. I’ve heard the song forever, sometimes even in my dreams.

“What powers do I have?”

Aunt Lea shrugs. “That’s the issue with binding powers. We don’t know. Your mom let some of your magic some out so that you all would have wonderful talents, like your soup. But what other powers or talents you have, well, that’s to be seen.”

I focus on the fire. It’s like having a whole new world opening before me. Do I want that?

“So, what happens next?” I ask. “How do we find out our powers? A vision quest?”

Aunt Lea howls with laughter. “Do you think you’re native American? No, once you stop drinking the tea, your true nature will take over.”

Suddenly I feel sad. My true nature. All of this time who I really am has been harnessed? Isn’t that like going through most of your life drugged so that you don’t know who or what or where you are? My fingers play with the silky fringe of the black pillows.

“Hey, don’t be upset.”

Now I wonder if she’s always been empathetic because of her powers. I guess as an empath that would be true. It makes me wonder what I am.

“Why did Mom bound our powers?”

Lea shakes her head, grabs my glass of Jack and coke again, and sips, still pulling a face as she swallows. “I can’t tell you that. It’s not my right to tell you that.”

Mom appears in the doorway. “You two coming to eat?”

Lea rises and then looks at me.

“I’m just going to sit here awhile longer,” I say.

Lea pats me on the shoulder and then leaves the room.

“Lots to take in, huh?” Mom asks.

“Just a normal day around the MacGregor homestead,” I say.

She laughs. “Right. Look, I know you’ve got a lot of questions. Your sisters are excited about finding out who they are.”

I clasp my hands together behind my head and lean forward. Yesterday I was running down the street imagining myself in love with a blond Russian, who’s probably a deadly spy. Why? Because, since I’ve examined the situation, my little sister was talking about love at first sight over my soup that was made from her vegetables. Likewise, she’d been mad at me all last week because she thought I had power she didn’t, and she cursed my soup because she was the grower of the vegetables I used.

So far, I’m not liking this witch business very much. Presumably it has some upside?

How is it that I’ve never seen anyone in my family actually “be” a witch until this evening? How could they be so careful.

Mom grimaces. “I suddenly think you have more questions than I can conceivably answer in one night.”

She grabs my drink. What is this, a sister thing? And gulps down the remainder. “Crap. Jack and coke. Hon, you need to be introduced to Manhattans.”


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