It was Halloween morning and I'd expected one of my babygirl's endless costume parades which she delighted in doing and I delighted in delighting her. So far nothing. Glancing at the wall clock, I folded the newspaper I'd been scanning, scribbled down some notes concerning another new land purchase by Alexander Lakeland, the mysterious Bruce Wayne-like millionaire with a finger in every business pot. Seemed he was buying up property left and right, successive city block lots somewhere deep in the Hills. Around town gossip said he was adding onto his already imposing citadel of a home. Some had even referred to it as a modern day Camelot.
For someone who used to hate attention and was as low key as possible, it's almost like he's begging for "them" to notice. Morgan and Mordred. He's baiting them but they won't bite. Not yet. It's way too soon.
Pushing those thoughts away, I smiled at Micah, his chubby face smeared with milk and cereal bits. Bri let out a loud burp, gave me a cheeky grin and scooted back in her chair and of course, her brother imitated his idol as best he could.
"So?" I asked, pointing to the calendar on the fridge where she'd scrawled "HALLOWEEN" in huge letters earlier this month.
"A needle pulling thread?" She laughed at herself, hopping off the chair. Even at age 9, she was of quick wit and pithy sarcasm that would fly over many a head someday, I was sure. Her freckled face shone with mischief as she held out her hand to Micah, who scrambled down to join her quickly. He was devoted to her, and she him.
"Clever girl. But I was expecting a full cat walk presentation of your 'maybe's' this year."
"Nope. I decided two weeks ago and Mrs. Beckinbooty helped me." She quipped, radiant smile beaming up at me, her dark eyes bright and joyful.
I tried to keep a straight face, tried to not even grin at her reference to our next door neighbor, Mrs. Beckinridge who watched both Bri and Micah when I was either working or hunting. She, unfortunately, was possessed of a rather large posterior. "That wasn't nice, Sabrina. She's a very sweet lady."
Bri blinked up at me, pushing her huge glasses up the slope of her pert nose. "I know, Lin. I didn't mean to be mean." She huffed and sighed. "Yeah, that was super mean. I'm sorry. I'm gonna take Micah and get him dressed then me. DON'T come snooping! In fact, take your coffee and go outside on the porch til we're ready." Tugging Micah down the hallway, towards the back half of the house where their rooms where, I finally chuckled.
Such a bossy miss. My little general. She was so strong willed, she took control in all situations, even as young as she was. I wanted her to have fun, be a child and know all the wonderful and lovely avenues of childhood but there were times she adopted such a grown up demeanor. She took excellent care of Micah, did for him all the things a mother would. She took care of me too and it was my great love of her that kept me from making any faces at all when she took it upon herself to make me scrambled eggs every Saturday and Sunday. They were always burnt, along with the toast but I ate it. I ate it and I smiled and I thanked the Old Ways every day for allowing me to bring my Vivee back in my Sabrina. For allowing me a second chance with the daughter I'd lost far too early once before.
Someday she would remember. She would know all the things I've kept from her. She would know who I was, WHAT I was.
She would know what she was. And what she could be.
But right now, she was just a little girl who loved life, laughed daily and loved unconditionally. There was no hesitation in her exuberance nor malice in her heart. She was pure and lovely. She was the greatest magic I'd ever made.
I wish Ceri had known this, had known her. I wish it with all I am. But even with my great magic, I can't raise the dead.
I am no necromancer, that gift belongs to someone else. And I will protect her until she learns to protect herself.
I was lost in thought as I sat on the porch when she came bursting out, Micah at her side. I clapped, I admired and I watched her twirl happily, the skirt of her butterfly costume flaring wide as Mr. Caterpillar threw out a toothy grin. "I'ma worm, Lin! I'ma worm!"
"Nuh uh! Micah! You're a caterpillar. You're the most important one too!" Bri stopped dancing and faced him, hands on her hips, that stubborn tilt of her chin pointing at her brother. The red knit cap brought out the fairness of her cheeks and the glints of gold in her dark hair.
"Cos without a caterpillar, there would be no butterfly. Just like you're my brother, right? Without you there is no me."
Micah shrugged, not understanding her odd rambling and not caring, he was too young to grasp it all. But once more, I was struck by her wisdom. She was my hope.
And someday, I'd have to entrust her once more to Alex. My hope would become his. So I must guard her well until then.
Grabbing up my digital camera, I waved them together, taking a picture just as the school bus pulled up, honking.