Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chapter 2

Having already said goodbye to her father, Faith and her mother headed inland up to New Jerusalem. Knowing that Faith wanted to delay the inevitable, her mother took the ‘long way,’ a circuitous route of back roads, instead of the highway. Due to the unusually quiet ride, Diana had a sneaking suspicion that she was being given the silent treatment.

Stealing a glance towards the passenger seat she peeked at her daughter’s morose expression. She felt bad making Faith switch schools, especially during her senior year, but this was necessary. She could feel the pull of something sinister in her dreams. She was a witch after all. Not the kind you’d find in a fairy tale story, but one that was more akin to the ancient druids. Her kind of witch could cast spells and create charms, but she was limited in her power by the elements: earth, air, water, fire. Her power was natural. Pure. And she’d passed it onto her daughter. Faith was already proving to be a more powerful witch than herself.

Fixing a blank look on her face, she fleetingly hoped that Faith wouldn’t guess the direction of her thoughts. Faith was going to have to be strong and help her cousin. She sensed that Alexander’s father’s car accident might not have been an accident after all. It seemed too coincidental, too calculated. Something was looking to take back the power that had been given to the three families in New Jerusalem. Unlike the natural power of Faith and her ancestors, Diana had learned from her husband that the three families harbored a dark magic that had been bestowed by unknown powers for unknown reasons.

Faith knew that she was going up to New Jerusalem to be there for her cousin in his time of need; but she didn’t know how dire his need was. How much should she tell her? Should she tell her anything at all? Things might not be as serious as she thought. Maybe I’m overreacting, she thought, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

As Diana’s internal thoughts waged war, the blank look on her face slipped. Faith looked over at her mother and caught the worried look in her eyes.

“What’s the matter mom?”
“What’s that sweetie?”
“You look worried. Do you want me to drive?”
“Faith, you are just barely seventeen. I’m not letting such an inexperienced driver try to negotiate these winding roads, especially with the lunatics that call themselves drivers whipping around they way that they do.”
“Fine. I was just trying to be helpful.” Faith pouted and turned toward the window away from her mother.
“I’m sorry Faith. I didn’t mean to snip at you. I’m just a bit worried about you, that’s all. I know that we’re doing the right thing by sending you up there, but it’s still going to be strange without you in the house…”
“It’s ok, mom. I’ll be back for the holidays before you know it.”
“Now look who’s comforting who,” Diana quipped and winked at her daughter. Faith smiled back.

They sat in companionable silence for the remainder of the ride. Every now and then they would glance at each other and give a reassuring smile, but the only sounds to be heard were the light rock songs from the radio playing softly in the background.

Finally, they pulled up to the gate that led to the driveway up to the house. Diana pushed the intercom button to announce their arrival. A voice that sounded gravelly and stern answered back, “Hello Ms. Martin. Please drive up.” Faith unbuckled her belt and leaned over her mother, “Hi Robert!”
“Hello Miss Faith, it will be a pleasure to see you again. Please drive up.”
“Thanks!” Faith called out settling back into her seat as her mother put the car into drive and finished the last leg of their journey.

“I can’t believe Robert is still hanging around…he looked ready to retire the last time I was here!” Faith exclaimed as she opened the car door.
“Faith, please don’t say things like that in front of Robert. I’m not sure he’ll appreciate your blunt honesty,” Diana said with a grimace.
Faith tossed her mother a look as she made her way to the trunk to start unloading her things, “I’m not that tactless, mom.”
“Well… just in case…”

Attempting to change the subject Faith asked, “How about helping me out with these boxes?”
“I’ll help you with those Miss Faith.” Regal Robert made his way down the front steps in the stiff and proper way he did everything. In fact, that’s why Faith and Alex had dubbed him Regal Robert oh so many years ago, he moved like an old king.

“It’s fine, Robert. My mom and I can handle this.”
“As the housekeeper, it is my duty miss, please allow me.”
“Alright, you can help. But here, take this box.” Faith said as she handed him the box filled with her knick knacks and dried herbs. “It isn’t quite as heavy as the others.”

As Faith was handing the box to Robert she saw Alex coming out of the house. He was just as she remembered him, only taller. He looked exactly like their fathers, tall, dark and handsome. His hair was so dark brown that it was nearly black. To contrast his dark hair he had eyes the color of the ocean on a sunny day—deep blue with hints of turquoise. How unfair that she had mousey brown hair and beady brown eyes. How boring.

Sensing that he was being scrutinized, Alexander called out to Faith, “What did you do? Bring your entire house?”
“No,” she replied back as haughtily as she could. “How about you come down here and help us? Or are you going to let Robert do all of the hard work while you laze about?”
“Hardly,” Alex said as he gracefully descended the steps and took a box from his aunt.
Between the four of them they managed to grab all of Faith’s belongings. Taking the lead, Robert ushered them up to Faith’s room.

Entering the front door Faith looked around at the small square entryway. The Italian marble floor, the Waterford crystal chandelier, and the numerous pieces of antique furniture made the house look more like a museum than a home. However, once you stepped into the more spacious front hall the decor was distinctly more inviting—the family pictures hanging on the walls, the cheery curtains framing the windows, and the worn-in furniture that was more functional than decorative. The large dining room and kitchen were to the left and the living rooms were to the right. Not one to tarry, Robert led the group up the sweeping staircase toward Faith’s bedroom.

It was the room that she had always used when she would visit each summer. Nothing much had changed in the three years that had passed since her last visit. The four-poster bed was up against the back wall with a bedside table on either side. There was an antique vanity next to the door and enormous armoires on either side of that. Off to one corner of the room was the door to a private bathroom. Out one of the windows she had a view of the east, where the sun would shine in each morning to wake her up. Out the other one she had a view to the back gardens and the woods beyond. Faith put her box down and sat on the bed.

Robert gave Alex a look and the two of them both dropped what they were carrying and left the room, leaving mother and daughter alone for one last goodbye.

Diana opened up the suitcase she had carried up to Faith’s room and started to unpack.

“Mom, you don’t have to do that. I can do it later.”
Letting out a breath, Diana turned to face her daughter and gave her a watery smile.
“I’m the one who should be sad, mom.”
“I know, I know.”
“It’s getting late. You should head back. Besides, if you stay here too long I won’t want you to leave.”
“Alright. I’ll get out of your hair. Just give me a hug first.”
Mother and daughter embraced. Faith could feel her mother’s power wash over her.
“Stay safe and be good.”
“Of course I’ll be good.”
“Alright, I’m leaving.”
Diana gave Faith one more hug and said a quick spell for protection before she let go and walked out the door.

As Diana descended the stairs she passed Alex, “Make sure she stays safe. She’s not so different from you, you know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Alex furrowed his brow in confusion.
“You’ll see,” Diana said with a wink and continued down the steps.
For a split second Alex watched his aunt walk down the steps and wondered what she could have meant. Letting the thought go, he jogged up the stairs to Faith’s room.
As Diana walked out the door she could already hear Alex making fun of Faith in an effort to cheer her up.

“Plants? You brought dead plants with you? You can find this junk in the garden out back.”
“It’s not junk! And if the plants are dead it’s because you have a lousy gardener!”

Diana got into the driver’s seat and turned on the car. She smiled to herself because she knew that whatever they had to face, at least they would face it together.

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