Stuff: You may not believe this but I’m actually a few thousand words ahead because I just kept typing last night. Of course, I’m now going to read through to make sure some of it at least makes sense.
I think it’s gotten easier because I now have scenes popping up in my head in a series rather than me sitting at the computer and pulling word by word from a stingy word vault.
Disclaimer: It’s fun, but it’s still draft.
Total word count: 43,847
You can read previous sections here.
However, I am posting up to the next chapter and then after I’ve read that to make sure it’s not TOTALLY embarrassing, just a little embarrassing, I’ll post the remainder.
And that would be Isla.
As if on cue, my cell chirps with “Even Flow.” Oh, I know exactly what this is going to be about.
“We’ve lost your sister. She teased that Uncle Rayburn into thinking she was going to bring him a second helping of pie and she disappeared,” Mom says.
“She’s banging at my front door,” I say.
“We’ll be there,” Mom says and then ends the call.
All I can think is that a witch slayer is in the woods and my crazy little witch sister is banging on the front door with all of her dark powers orbiting around her. My sister could end up dead…or Anton’s younger brother could. Or Anton could, and my blood freezes over. I glance at him, but he’s studying his phone, oblivious to my thoughts. I want to kick myself. I can possibly think of him like that after one moment of passion.
“Try a thousand years…” Moira chimes in.
A thousand years. Ugh. I’ve always hated those hokey stories where the man and woman are lovers throughout time as if they were always fated to find each other and live miserable lives because they couldn’t be together and die miserable deaths. Oh, the misery.
There’s a rapping on the deck door now, the glass rattling. “Come out, come out, big sis. Let’s play. Show me what you got. Let your witch slayer lover boy show me his,” she says, laughing dryly. Her voice doesn’t even sound like hers. It makes me think of a Hollywood rendering of a possessed voice. My heart jerks.
“I’m going outside,” I say to Anton. “I have to talk to Isla.”
He grabs my elbow, his eyes are fierce. “No. I’ll go out there before you.”
“She won’t try to kill me…” I say, feeling less than sure of anything Isla would do these days.
I remember years ago when I was packing for college and she sat on my bed blubbering about how I was leaving her, as if I’d never come back. She liked me once. We were inseparable once, at least Isla, Rose and I had been. Amy had been six years older and seemed wiser and our counselor more than our sister at times.
I stand on my tiptoes, pull Anton’s head down and kiss him thoroughly. “You and Moira stay here.”
I grab a bottle of Southern Comfort and two juice glasses, because this is not a time to be classy, but to relate, maybe get her a little intoxicated and hope that I can find my sister under that giant frizz of hair. My little sister, her bright red hair still frazzled, sits on the deck steps, dressed in a layered skirt with lace around the bottom hem, her legs crossed and her foot bouncing.
It’s cold and I’m nervous and I know that there are other people in the woods. Does Isla know this? What does she know? Can she feel them or is she so focused on me and Anton that she’s completely unaward? Who is she now? I have to believe that my adorable, happy sister is still in there somewhere, that she’ll talk to me, feel something for me like she did not so long ago.
She jumps to her feet and swings toward me. Her arms cross over her billowing suede black shirt that looks like it’s straight out of the guide for how witches dress in the 21st century.
“Hey,” I say. “I’ve got this bottle of tomorrow morning’s hangover. Want some?”
“Don’t,” she says, shaking her head so that her hair swings around her. I almost want to reach out to see if it’s as dry as kindling as it looks.
I shrug my shoulders as if it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t want Southern Comfort because I can’t wait to have it and make my way to the Adirondack chair next to the fire pit. I throw a log in and light some swatches of dried sage to place on top of it. Pouring a glass of liquid hangover, I offer a glass to Isla. She harrumphs and then takes it.
“You saw Daddy,” I say. “How is he? Is he doing okay?” This has to be a safe topic.
But it’s not. “You couldn’t be bothered to come to Thanksgiving, why do you care?”
“Mom asked me not to come because she thought you’d be upset. Now, tell me how Daddy is.”
Isla sips her drink and then tosses it back, throws her hair over her shoulder and then looks at me before holding her glass out for more. “He was sad that you weren’t there, and he and Mom argued. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Absolutely not.” I take a sip of the peachy bourbon and feel it burn a path down my esophagus. “I really wanted to be there. I was very hurt that Mom didn’t want me there, but if it made you feel better…”
“It didn’t make me feel better.” Her voice rises, and the wind seems to thrash through the trees in response. Slowly the wind dies down and then Isla sits in the chair next to me and holds her hands out over the growing fire.
“Talk to me, Isla. I don’t know what I did that hurt you.” I hope the earnestness I feel is obvious in my voice.
Her voice when she speaks sounds hurt. “But you never know, Soph. You never know when you hurt people. You just bounce through your excellent life. I failed out of college. You know that right…or do you?”
“I know, Isla. I came home that weekend, remember?”
She nods, vehemently. “Sure, I remember. Darling Sophie came home with an award from the culinary institute because of her imaginative approaches to soup. Soup. That’s all everyone could talk about. No one cared that I was miserable. You had to come with your award. I was kicked out of school and you were awarded. That’s my life. I can’t live up to my beautiful talented sister. Except now. Now I can. And you have no idea of what I can do.”
I’m afraid now for her, for me, for all that we were. Maybe I can fix this thing.
“Okay. Tell me what I can do to fix things. Whatever I can do to make things better, I’ll do.”
She shakes her head. “I think it’s too late. You know, I’ve been going into Gran’s library for the past three months. I’ve been reading a lot of the books she has there. You know the ones without titles on the spines that she told us when we were little we should never take down or do anything with? That’s how I figured out we were witches and I figured out that that god-awful tea we were forced to drink every morning was related to why we didn’t have powers. I stopped drinking that tea months ago. It was like an awakening. I could feel something like a big ball of energy form in my center, and I felt like I could take over the universe. I think I can take over the universe. There’s no one who can stop me.”
“But you don’t want to do that…”
Her laugh isn’t Isla’s. It’s the laugh of someone else. Someone I don’t know. Someone who doesn’t care.
She grabs the bottle of Southern Comfort, gulps from it and then tosses it into the fire where the bottle breaks and the alcohol makes the fire jump skyward. I try to lean out of the way but the splattering alcohol and fire have leapt toward me and sparks streak across my jacket. I’m on fire. The image of me dying from fire in my vision springs before my eyes.
Isla stares at me. Her wide green eyes just watch as I flap my hands impotently against the flame. She shrugs and then runs toward the woods, her lacy hemmed skirt billowing out around her.
Anton is there instantly with water, dousing the flames. He rips the jacket from me and then hauls me against his body, his hands moving over my back as if to reassure him that I am unharmed.
“She would have left you to die.”
A part of me wants to say no, that my little sister with golden laughter, would never want me dead. But the truth is in the fact that when my jacket was aflame from her own hand, she left me. Is there any truth clearer than that?