(Aloud) “Is it 3 o’clock already?”
(Aloud) “The meteors are supposed to be visible between 3 and 5 this morning in our quadrant, um hemisphere. C’mon Matty, time to wake up sleepy head.”
(Aloud) “Where’s my jeans?”
(Aloud) “Where’s my shoes?”
(Aloud) "I swear clothing is such a hassle! Bras and panties — sorry, (in a mocking authoritative tone) “undergarments” — and all this other crap. Why? Because ten-thousand years ago when everyone was naked ALL the time we decided that covering up what we look like makes us ‘civilized?’"
(Whine) "Where’s my favorite shirt?
(Aloud) "Ughhh! Besides, we all have the same stuff. Boys have the boy parts. Girls have the girl parts. How long ago in my evolution…wait, Gerhardt would say (in a mocking authoritative tone) this is Anthropology — so how long ago did it become a requirement for girls to wear dresses and skirts and makeup and completely disguise everything about our outward appearance? I dunno. It’s like…I wanna look pretty. I want people to look at me and say, “Wow! Look at that girl!” but, if they’re saying that when I don’t even look like…well, me, does it even matter? Besides, if they’re boys and they’re saying, “Wow! Look at that girl” that means, “Wow! I would do her!” and if they’re girls saying that it means, “Wow! She’s a slut!” It’s like this whole thing doesn’t make any sense. This shit — all this superficial surface skin-deep stuff — it’s just a mask. It’s just skin and bones and flesh. The person I am is inside of this…I dunno. What’s the word? Facade? Yeah, it’s just a facade. Why should I have to disguise what I really look like. ‘Cuz that’s not me. You feelin’ me Matty?
(Aloud) “Who am I kidding? This shit is too deep for 3am.”
(Sniff) “Why won’t my brain just…shut off?”
(Groan) "Why are we up at 3am just to watch a stupid meteor shower on a day that’s “mystically significant” in relation to the tides, the moon, the constellations, and the position of the earth and sun?"
(Aloud) “C’mon Hazey, get up. Remember what Brent Goren said in his book about these days? The solstices and eclipses and Samhain, wait, why is that pronounced ‘Sowen?’ Couldn’t the Celts spell?”
(Whine) “Where’s my favorite shirt!?!? Did I ever tell you that ‘see invisible’ doesn’t help with getting dressed in the dark? Makes no fucking sense. I wish I had Nightvision.”
(Aloud) “Okay, in you go. I’ll take you out when we’re at the spot.”
(Aloud) “Alright, now let’s see what we’re dealin’ with.”
(Finger-waggling, muffled sounds)
(Aloud) “Okay, magic detector is picking up something faint over here by my door and over here by my window. Trap detector found a little something too. Gerhardt you sly deevil you.”
(Finger-waggling, muffled sounds)
(Aloud) “Hmm, Decipher makes it look like Magic Tripwire. I’ll take your mystical alert spell and raise you…ah, talisman of negate magic. Betcha didn’t know I had one of these, eh? I may not have a purse full of tampons and a backup briefcase of diapers but I’m prepared for your magical bullshit. Put my damn allowance to good use.”
(Hiss) “Don’t ask me where I got it! Besides, it’s MY money. I have a job.”
(Aloud) "Okay, Chameleon Camouflage a.k.a.: Blend-In, here we go. And Shadow-Camo a.k.a.: Shadow-flage.
(Finger-waggling, muffled sounds)
(Aloud) “Alright, now we’ll top it off with ‘disappear’ and…wait. I almost forgot. There’s something I have to do before we leave. Matty, sit tight.”
(Whisper) “Unlocked. Some people never learn. Roman, you naughty boy. Revenge is a dish best-served by a little sister who can cast Wind-Fingers and Phone Stalker Breathing. Sweet dreams, perv!”
(Finger-waggling, muffled muttering)
(Whisper) “Odd, he hasn’t gone blind yet.”
(Aloud) “Done. Now to Seal this sucker up. Crack the window. Levitate down to 10-speed locomotion and 2-leg horsepower. Oh wait, I should re-cast ‘disappear’ when I’m on the bike, right? Good call Matty.”
(Pat pat pat)
(Backpack remains silent)
(Aloud) “Actually, I’m feeling kind of…spent. Maybe I should save some of my reserves for the breaking and entering segment of tonight’s adventure. Breaking and leaving took considerably more than I expected.”
(iPood earbuds, finger swipe, shuffle) “Let’s do it…”
(Pedal pedal pedal)
(A while later…)
(Aloud) “Wow! We’re here. I hope you don’t mind if I just lay here in the grass. Best seat in the house!”
You’re sitting here, in my lap, and I wish you could see the sky. It’s so beautiful. And there’s no light pollution this far away. I read online that this was one of the best spots in all of Bumblefu…er, Diego Verde. Hey, we’re only thirty minutes outside of Ulster so we’re civilized enough for indoor plumbing. Anyway, they call it a “promontory” but it’s got a great vantage for some awesome comet-sightings in the meteor shower.
I…I dunno. Don’t take this the wrong way but…I wish I had someone, y’know — real — to share this with. Not that you’re not awesome. I mean, you’re like basically my only friend. That’ll probably change when I get to college next year. I’ll be living at the dorms and I’m sure I’ll have a bunch of new friends and people to meet and y’know hang out with and stuff. I’ll still be your friend though but we may not be spending as much time together as we do now.
So I broke out of the prison. It wasn’t easy but I’ve got enough tricks up my sleeve and tools in my arsenal to give any parent a run for his money. The trick is making Gerhardt think I’m not as knowledgeable as I really am. These days, Jesper and Roman are so far behind Conrad that their training seems to dominate the old man’s attention. He just gives me the assignments and leaves me to my own devices for…wait, what does he call it? (air quotes) Independent study? Good thinking DAD. Leave an intelligent, curious, young woman alone with a spell book and plenty of psychic energy. Oh, and keep her quarantined in her room with nothing but free time.
Why do Roman and Jesper even bother? Some people just aren’t cut out to follow in the family footsteps. They come home from college 3 nights a week to study spells and incantations and verses and rituals and reagents; and they retain uhhh…almost nothing. What? Community college not good enough an education? They are too interested in parties and girls and video games and sports to excel at well, anything except those things. Besides, didn’t I overhear that Jesper caught an STD or something? I think it’s some kind of seafood bacteria like shrimp or lobster-something — I dunno what they call it but you have to use all this weird soap and this powder stuff. Gawd! Fredericca powdered the whole fucking house trying to get those things out of the carpet and the couch and. Ick! Forget I said anything.
My brothers never pay me much attention; even now that I’m easily surpassing them in magical aptitude (as Gerhardt hates to admit). Not like Conrad. He’s the only one who’ll follow in his father’s foo COMET!!!! I just saw a COMET!!!! Holy shit that was amazing! It was so bright and vibrant and streaking across the sky!
So I spent the afternoon organizing the occult section at the book shop. I like to read the names of the books and Goggle reviews on them and see what people are saying on the forums or in chat rooms — y’know. Saw some weird characters browsing. That’s always a great place to people watch. I wonder what they’re looking for or what kind of weird spells they’re casting. Or what kinds of crazy love potions they’re making. These days of mystical significance always bring out some real crazies. This one woman was looking for a book with a “Love” spell. I helped her with a straight face but I’m like, “uh, lady, it’s gonna take a lot more than a spell for someone to fall in love with your ugly mug!” LOL! Besides, the first rule of the occult is SECRECY! If sharing spells weren’t dangerous then they’d be in books, sure. They’d probably even be in the newspaper! But it’s DANGEROUS! And with great power comes great responsibility. Gerhardt said that…but I think Winston Churchill said it before him. Wait, let’s ask Goggle: Stan Lee, who the hell is that? Franklin Delano Roosevelt, um ok. Winston Churchill, whatever. Francois-Marie Arouet a.k.a. Voltaire. Ahh! There it is! Leave it to the Franchmen to rail against the oppression and injustice and abuse of power and authority of the government and the aristocracy. There’s some wisdom in there I know COMET!!!!! OH MY GOD ANOTHER COMET!!!! THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!!!
I wanna take some pictures but the comets are kinda sporadic. I don’t wanna sit here holding my camera the whole time and end up missing them anyway because I’m like staring starry-eyed into space and day-dreaming.
So what do you think I should study in college? I’m supposed to be thinking about classes, picking a major, and prepping for my freshman year. Gerhardt says I’ve passed all my Math Pre-Reqs and I crushed my ACTs and SAT’s and SAT II’s so I can basically start wherever I want and pick classes I’m really interested in. How about…hmmm, let’s see: More math. That’s always good and helpful. Astronomy? Sure! I love the skies and the stars and being up way later than I’m allowed to be. Maybe I should study some arcane disciplines. Can I Major in Magic? How about computers? I’m good at computers and programming could be a good choice, what’s the word? Lucrative (in the voice of Gerhardt) for the future. Maybe I’ll take a few writing courses — a Minor. And I’ve gotta do some physical activity. Maybe running or swimming or boxing or something. I dunno…but the Freshman #15 is kinda scary. Maybe I should just do all thrCOMET!!!! OH MY GOD!!!! THE COMETS ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!
(Car door thud // thud)
Uh, Matty, what was that?
(Gravel. Snap! Crunch. Crunchcrunchcrunch)
(Finger-waggling and murmuring) Time to vanish.
(Nasally voice) “Gawd! I can’t believe you dragged me out here in, like, the middle of the night for some stupid stars or something? You’re, like, totally selfish.”
(Hesitant voice) “Uh, sorry Cindy. I thought it would be fun to stay out late and star-gaze. Isn’t it you know, a little romantic?”
(Inner monologue) Actually, it IS kinda cute…and a little pathetic since someone doesn’t really care.
(Nasally voice) “You can be such a pleeb sometimes, Chucky.”
(Plaintive voice) “Hey, I asked you not to call me that. You know my parents call me that and I hate it.”
(Inner monologue) Wait. That voice sounds familiar. I’ve got to sneak a little closer so I can get a better look.
(Nasally voice) “So, like, what are we supposed to be doing? Just waiting for stars to fly by or something?”
(Inner monologue) O.M.G. I wanna punch this twit right between the eyes.
(Hesitant voice) “Uh, well we can hang out, relax, and watch the STARS stay still while we wait for the COMETS to fly by.”
(Nasally voice) “Whatever. I’m bored. Can we go now?”
(Plaintive voice) “But we just got here!”
(Inner monologue) Beat it! Scram! Skeedaddle! Shoo! You’re ruining MY night too!
(Nasally voice) “I don’t care. Look, if you take me home right now I’ll let you get to second base.”
(Excited voice and Hazel in unison) “Really?” // “Eeew!”
(Hesitant voice) "Did you hear that?
(Inner monologue) Shit. Good goin’ Hazel. You’d better start prowling away from here.
(Nasally voice) “Hear what? All I hear is you breathing, like, super-loud. You sound like a vacuum.”
(Thud. Snap! Crunchcrunchcrunch)
(Hesitant voice) “C’mon Cindy, I think someone is out here.”
(Nasally voice) “Uh, now you’re kinda scaring me Chucky. Look, second-base is gone. I just wanna go home…right. now.”
(Hesitant voice) “Come on let’s go check it out.”
(Finger-waggling and murmuring)
(Inner monologue) Is he casting a spell? Oh shit. This is NOT good.
(Inner monologue) Oh shit. Shitshitshit! He’s casting ‘see the unseen’! I’m a goner.
(Car door slam // thud)
(Car engine starts)
(Hesitant voice) “Cindy? Cindy! Hey, what are you doing?!?!”
(Car window rolls down) “Chucky, you treated me so badly tonight you can find your own ride home.”
(Plaintive voice) “Cindy! You can’t be serious. You’re just gonna leave me here?”
(Nasally voice) “You really hurt me tonight Chucky. You’d rather sit around outside in the darkness than get to second base.”
(Inner monologue) With her? That’s a no-brainer!
(Apologetic voice) “Cindy! I’m sorry. You know it’s not like that! Wait a sec and let me explain!”
(Car engine rev) “Whatever. Have fun with your stupid little stars.”
(Apologetic voice) “Cindy! Come back! Please, don’t leave me here!”
(Car peels out and drives away)
(Desperate voice) “Wait! Cindy! Come back!”
(Nasally voice fading in the distance) “Second base!!!!!”
(Sad voice // Hazel in unison) “Cindy! Com…MET!!!” // “COMET!!!”
(Sad voice…perked up) “Hey, wait a minute! I knew someone was out here. Show yourself! If you don’t come out I’ll find you eventually!”
(Finger-waggling and mumbling)
(Globe of Bright Light)
(Inner monologue) Oh boy. Is that a sphere of sunlight? This guy has a lot to learn about magic. There goes your Nightvision. Oh, and way to paint a big ol’ target on your forehead.
(Inquisitive voice) “Hello? I know you’re out there.”
(Sullen voice) “I’m here to watch the comets too. I know you’re shy. Or scared. I won’t hurt you.”
(Hazel from behind) “Scared? You couldn’t spot me with a see the unseen spell. I’m not afraid of you. Besides, shouldn’t you be off chasing your girlfriend? Or were you gonna try to steal second base?”
(Startled voice) “Hey! Where did you go?”
(Hazel from behind) “I’m right here.” (Tap on the shoulder) “You should know that a sphere of sunlight will disperse shadows but it also creates MORE shadows so if I were shadow-blended I might not be able to get close enough to you to tap you on the shoulder but you might have given me an escape route that wasn’t there before.”
(Surprised voice) “Ah! What? Oh, I see what you mean. But I cast See the Invisible. I should be able to see you now, right?”
(Hazel, stepping out of the shadows) “Yes, if I hadn’t blended in with the shadows. But I used multiple layers of protection. Just. In. Case. See me now that I’m in the circle of your sphere of sunlight? That’s because of your See the Unseen spell. When I blend in with shadows you can’t see me even with the See the Unseen spell.”
(Inquisitive voice) “Wow…you’re really smart. I’m Charlie.”
(Hazel, now fully visible) “Thanks. I’m Hazel.”
(Charlie, thoughtfully) “Hazel, hazel, hmm…do I know you from somewhere? I could swear I’ve seen you before.”
(Hazel) “Maybe at the book store in town. I work there part-time when I’m not in school.”
(Charlie) “Oh yeah? Ohhh! I remember you now! What college do you go to?”
(Hazel, hesitantly) “Uhh…well right now I’m staying local and living at home to save money.”
(Charlie) "Oh, that’s kewCOMET!!!! // (Hazel in unison) COMET!!!!
(Hazel) “If you wanna stick around and star-gaze I’ll give you a ride home on my bike later.”
(Charlie) “You would? Aww, that’s really nice of you! Thank you!”
(Hazel) “Don’t mention it. I kinda feel badly seeing as how you just got dumped and all.”
(Charlie) “Ouch. Hazel, was it? You’ve got a sharp tongue. I like that.”
(Hazel rolls her eyes) “Yeah, I see that and you can stow it. Second base drove away. I’m just here for the stationary stars and shooting comets.”
(Charlie grinned) “That’s a really kewl shirt.”
(Hazel smiled sheepishly) “Thanks. It’s my favorite.”