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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Witches Don't Wear Socks: A peek

CHAPTER ONE

“Witches don’t wear socks!” I heard Raz yell. I opened my bedroom door to find
her standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips and a wide banded
pointy hat on her head.
“I could dig out a pair of Grandma Stella’s itchy black wool stockings for you, if
you’d like,” Mom’s voice carried up the stairwell.
Raz gave a six year-old’s exaggerated huff. “I’ll find something else!” She turned
from the stairs and spotted me in my doorway. “What are you being for Halloween?”
“Me. What are you supposed to be?”
“A scary witch,” she cackled, raising her clawed hands next to her face.
“You don’t look very scary.”
“But YOU sure do,” she jabbed as she bolted for her room.
“OH! Burned by a six year-old! Slipping at your game, are you?” Cassy called
from the bathroom across the landing. She was applying mascara, and, of course,
was already dressed in her cheerleader uniform, and her long, dark hair was styled
into a cascade of ringlets. I hate morning people.
I dragged myself over to her. “She’s just lucky I’m not awake yet.” How’s that for
a sharp retort?
“Aren’t you going to dress up? The more people in your class that are in costume,
the more points your class makes, the closer you are to earning a class pizza party.”
“Oh. Yeah. A pizza party. In class. With a bunch of morons. Next time, maybe.”
“Where is your school spirit? I can’t believe you don’t get involved in ANY
school activities. What’s wrong with you?”
“I didn’t get that gene. Come to think of it, are we even related?” I squeezed
around her.
“I’m guessing not.” She closed the mascara tube.
“Wait! What the is that over there?” I pointed across in front of her to my
bedroom door.
“Where?”
As she turned to look, I gave her a shove, and slammed the bathroom door. “I
wouldn’t have fallen for that.” Then again, in our household, you never know what, or
who, could pop up out of nowhere.
If I were Cassy, I’d have convinced the door to melt if someone did that to me,
but I’m sure the thought never crossed her mind. Another reason to wonder if we really
were sisters.
“Alex is so mean.” I heard Raz comment outside the door.
“She’s just not a morning person, that’s all.” Ah, Cassy, forever the optimist.
“She’s not a day person, either.” Raz retorted.
That was quite true. I was a creature of the night. I spent most of my days
numbered among the walking dead. I never seamed to have any energy until the sun went
down.
“That was extremely rude, young lady. You should be treating your sisters better
than that. They will always be there for you, after all.” I looked over my shoulder in the
mirror to see my great grandmamma behind me, except she didn’t quite look like herself.
Did I mention that you never know who’ll pop up out of nowhere?
“See? Even an old gal like myself can get into the Halloween spirit.” She twirled around
to show off her flapper dress. And her flapper body. “I was a pretty hot chick in my
younger days, don’t you think?” She looked to be in her mid-twenties, her hair short and
dark and wavy, her skin smooth and rosy, her eyes bright blue and sparkling.
I shivered and made a face. I hated it when people shifted around into different
forms. I found it irritating. Another thing I couldn’t do. Of course, I wasn’t dead
yet, so there was hope for me yet.
“Don’t make such unbecoming faces. It might freeze like that!” Suddenly, her
great grandmamma face filled the entire mirror, every wrinkle and crevice
amplified. “BOO!”
Like I said, I hated it when people did that.
“But on a more serious note, I have a warning for you,” the huge face in the
mirror told me.
“Dress up for Halloween or I’ll be forced into a pizza party with my class?”
“Much more serious than that, I’m afraid.”
“What could be worse than that?”
“It’s Halloween, my sweet Alexandria, and the veil gets very thin on this day.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Enough with the attitude and quit interrupting. You are in danger, young lady.”
“Danger? What did I do now?”
She shook her head.” Just being who you are, I’m afraid.”
Enough said. Nothing good could ever come of being me.
“It’s also a new moon. That means the veil becomes even thinner. We will do
what we can from this side, but not all Aspects are under our control. And we have our
own battles to wager over here.”
“What, exactly, are you saying?”
“You, my sweet Alexandria, are a beacon in the dark to all that reside on this side
of the veil. Good and evil spirits and beings are drawn to you. And chances are that some
of those evil beings may make it through the extremely weak barrier that will result at
sundown tonight.
“Like I said, we will do what we can to keep them back, but you need to be wary.
Protect yourself, and ask your mother to perform some extra protection spells over you
before sunset tonight. Oh, and before I forget, Happy Birthday, My Sweet Alexandria. ”
Suddenly, it was my own reflection in the mirror, puffy eyes and spiky short dark hair
sticking out everywhere.
“Great. Another wonderful day to look forward to.”



After spiking my hair a little more and putting on my make up, pulling a black
sweater over my head and some black tights on, I headed straight to the coffee maker.
“What are you supposed to be?”
“Doesn’t anyone in this household say ‘Good Morning’, anymore?” I don’t know
why it even mattered to me, since I couldn’t manage good manners myself before
lunch, let alone proper etiquette.
“Good Morning, Alex,” cooed my mother snidely. “What are you supposed to be
dressed as this morning?”
“A fairy princess. Where’s the sugar?”
“Thought so. The black lipstick was a dead giveaway. How many times do I have
to tell you that stuff stunts your growth?”
“The lipstick or the sugar?”
“The coffee. You can’t afford to lose out in that department.”
“I believe it’s referred to as a ‘failure to thrive’, or so I’m told.”
“That’s a load of crap. You’re just petite, that’s all. That doctor was just trying to
find a way to blame me for your small size as a baby. You ate like a horse, just didn’t
sleep more than two or three hours a day. Without rest, it’s hard for a growing body to…
well, grow.”
“Don’t worry, I still blame you.”
Mom smacked my shoulder with the back of her hand.
“Hey! Hot stuff coming through! I want it on my insides, not my outsides. Is there
any bread left? I smell burnt toast.”
“That’s it there on the table.” Next to a jar of raspberry jam and a pot of honey
was a stack of almost black toast. Martha Stewart my mother wasn’t.
“How does the cereal situation look?”
“We’re out of milk. I need to pick up some groceries today.”
“So I’m guessing eggs and bacon with a side of pancakes is out of the question?”
“Hello? Are you dreaming? Time to wake up, birthday girl.”
I cringed. “I don’t do birthdays.”
“You’re too young to be trying to dodge them all ready. You’ll regret skipping
them, mark my words.”
Time to change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”
It was her turn to be uncomfortable. “I’m afraid he left early this morning. He had
to catch a flight to Ireland.”
“Ireland? But he just got home last week! And today’s… never mind.” How could
he skip out on my birthday? This was the one day he and I ignored Halloween together.
“It’s the gypsy in his blood. And it’s his job, Honey.” Then she quickly switched
topics. “Did you talk to Greta this morning?”
“I believe that’s ‘Great Grandmamma’ to you…wait – to me. Just ‘Grandmamma’
to you.” So much for trying sassy so early in the day. “Will you let me finish my coffee?”
“Did she warn you?”
“Yeah, yeah, got the message. Big bad bogeymen out to get me. Got it. Next
topic.” I plunked myself down at the table. “Better yet, no topic, just silence.”
“This isn’t a joke, Alex. How often do you get a visit from a dead relative?”
I gave her what I hoped was a persuasive deadpan stare.
“Okay, fine, I forgot for a minute who I was talking to. I mean how often do I get
a visit from a dead relative.”
“She came to you, too?” Okay, I’m a little slow on the uptake before my caffeine
infusion.
“She didn’t feel you would take her all that seriously.”
“I can take care of myself, Mom. I’ve been doing it for fifteen years, as of
sundown.”
“Sure you have. Up and running right from the womb. Your family is just a bunch
of white noise, stuff you have to put up with to get through the day, is that it?”
I got up from the table and headed out of the kitchen. “You didn’t even know it
was spirits that wouldn’t let me sleep as a baby. I had to learn to deal with it all by
myself. I’ll deal with whatever this world – or the next – has to throw at me, myself.”
“Is that what you’ve been doing?” A booming voice called from down the back
hall.
Crap. I had forgotten she was here. I had woke up Grandma Stella. She was less
of a morning person than I was. Birthday or no birthday, I was in for it.
Her thin, tiny frame came around the doorway of her room. If anyone looked like
a witch in this house this morning, it was Stella. Her long gray hair was mused and
matted, and wrinkles from her pillow still creased the left side of her face. “Don’t forget
that it was I that found the reason for your lack of sleep. You didn’t ‘deal’ with that issue
on your own, missy. Your parents’ concern for your situation brought me here to help
you. And now you’re of age to learn how to deal with your gift so you can do some good
in this world. That’s why I’m here. It’s time to start your training.”
I slipped on a pair of flip flops, grabbed a jacket off a hook and headed for the
door. “Sorry Grams, I gotta get to school. I don’t want to be late for class. Catch you
later, maybe.”
“It’s below freezing, outside! Why aren’t you wearing socks?”
“I hear witches don’t wear socks.”
“What is wrong with kids in this day and age?” Grams threw up her arms and
rolled her eyes.
Mom called out to me as I dashed out the door. “By the way, Happy Birthday, my
little witch.”
**********************
It was almost time. The shifting of energies, the alignment of the planets, the tension in the atmosphere. The vibrations were nearing a fevered pitch. The Collection was anxious to escape their horror-ridden confinement, pushing and scrambling, stretching against the barrier. A thunderous crack resounds, and chaos has broken through. Yes!

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