“How about we get some ice cream tonight?” Claire’s father asked her.
She pushed back from the table. “Deal. I’ll help Mom clean up so we can get out of here faster.”
Her mother laughed. “You two go. Your father needs some fresh air and I do better without you underfoot.”
“Looks like it’s you and me,” Claire said to her father. When they were in the car, she turned and asked, “Why did Mom say you needed some fresh air? Is a case giving you problems?”
Her father was a detective with the NYPD. But he was also a witch…just like her. Her mother was an everyday average person with no powers other than loving them both unconditionally.
“Don’t worry about it, honey,” her father said, his hand reaching over to pat her thigh and then stopping before contact. She felt bad about that but was glad he understood too. “So, what kind of ice cream are you in the mood for?”
“Hard, not soft serve.”
“That goes without saying,” he said. They lived in Brooklyn and could go into the City anytime they wanted, but she liked staying in their borough.
Once her father parked at their favorite place, they got out and made their way to the counter. “I’ll take a scoop of chocolate and one of coconut in a waffle cone.”
Her father shook his head. “Just like your mother with the coconut. I’m old fashioned and I’ll take one of chocolate and one of vanilla in a waffle cone too.”
With their cones in their hands, they turned to leave, when a man rushed down the curb coming out of nowhere and bumped into her. Her father reached out and grabbed her to keep her from falling and in that moment Claire was slammed with every case he was working out in his mind.
Dead bodies flashed before her eyes. A child that was beaten and left in an alley. The homeless being questioned. Prostitutes walking around the precinct. The images just went on and on flashing everywhere.
Her father released her arms that he’d been holding, but she couldn’t move. Her face was pale—she knew it because she felt dizzy.
“I’m sorry,” her father said, but he took her arm again and led her to the car. He moved as fast as he could, but it didn’t stop more images from floating before her eyes. Past and present. She wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she did.
When they were seated in the car, her father turned the air conditioning on full blast to cool her off and said, “Put your head between your knees and close your eyes. Take a few breaths.”
Claire did what she was told. She knew it would help. She’d done it enough in her life when this happened.
“I need to touch something happy,” she said.
She heard her father get out of the car while she stayed in that position, then come back and put something in her hand. It was a dandelion and it worked. In her mind she watched its growth, the blossom, the fluff, then the wind blowing it away. Children picking them and pursing their lips as they made wishes.
All the things that were carefree and fun and her racing heart started to slow.
“I’m better.” She lifted her head and turned to look at him. “How do you do that? How do you look at that every day and deal with it?”
“It’s not like that for me,” he said. “You know that. You’re stronger than me. Your powers. I have to center myself to see things and even then it’s not all at once. I touch you, and it floods your body. The older you get the stronger they are. I’m worried about you, Claire.”
She snorted. “I’m kind of worried about me too. It’s hard to not touch people, to be careful of that every moment, but most times I don’t see things like that.”
“I know. I think it’s time your mother and I have a talk with you about some options.”
“What kind of options?” Her father started their car, their ice cream cones long gone. She’d dropped hers and she wasn’t sure what happened to his. “Guess ice cream was a bust tonight.”
He shut the car off. “Wait here.”
When he came back a few minutes later he had two cones in his hands. The same flavors that had fallen to the ground. “What did you tell them? I’m sure they asked why you were back again.”
“I said that you were training for a speed eating contest and were too embarrassed to say all four of these were for you.”
Her jaw dropped. Her father was good at making her laugh. “That’s mean.”
“It sure is,” he said, taking a bite of his. She did the same while he drove the few minutes back home.
“What are you going to tell Mom? She doesn’t understand.”
“She does understand. She might not feel or experience things like us, but she understands. Don’t you ever forget that.”
In the house, her mother took one look at her and then her father and said, “It’s time, isn’t it?”
“I think so. We had a little incident.”
“I’m standing right here,” she reminded her parents. “Time for what?”
“That you finish your last two years of high school at the Witches Academy in New Orleans.”
“You’re joking, right? That is where Zion and Madeline go,” she said of her cousins. They lived not far from the school and knew all along they’d go there. She didn’t see her cousins often, but they talked a lot.
They and their younger sister Abigail were all witches too. Her father’s sister, Emily, was a witch, but not Emily’s husband Anthony Batisti. He was as Italian as they came and she always thought it was funny they moved to Louisiana.
But her Uncle Anthony was family oriented and he wanted what was best for his son and two daughters when he realized they were witches like his wife. That meant having them be around more of their own kind.
She was the only witch in Brooklyn that she knew of other than her father. It’s not like she announced it to anyone and never would, but she figured she’d know if there were more. She’d be able to feel it or sense it like she could with the rest of her family.
“We aren’t joking,” her mother said. “I’m going to miss you, but we can’t leave like your aunt and uncle did. Your father’s career means too much to him.”
“I can retire in ten years,” he said. “It’s hard to give that up. But you need more than I can give you. You need to be around others and you need someone to show you how to focus and control your powers.”
“I don’t want them,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.
“Then you need someone to show you how, if possible, to turn them off,” her mother said.
Her father looked hurt by those words, but at times she really wished she could do that. “I know I should go,” she said.
“School starts in a month,” her mother said.
“I’ll start making the calls in the morning,” her father said. “You shouldn’t have any problem getting in once they know you are a cousin of Zion and Madeline. If you want, why don’t you call your cousin and let her know. I’m sure she’ll ease your mind.”
“Maybe,” Claire said, standing up and hugging her mother. She hadn’t done that in a long time, too fearful of the images that would appear in front of her eyes. The sight of things no one saw but her.
And when her mother hugged her back all she saw was relief and happiness. Sadness and the past of the two of them playing through the years, but glimpses of peace in everyone’s eyes for the future.
When she stepped back she knew her father wanted a hug too, but he’d never ask. He couldn’t control what went through his mind any more than she could control the absorption of others’ thoughts, pain, grief, sorrows…visions.
“Once your mother gets everything arranged, we’ll fly down and get you settled. It’d be nice to see my sister again anyway. We all need a vacation and we might as well plan it now. It’s going to be fun. It’s a new adventure for us all.”
“Adventure is a good word for it,” Claire said but wasn’t sure she was feeling that excited over it. She’d miss her friends, the few she had, but she’d move on too.
Not many understood her and never would because she still had no intention of telling a mortal she was a witch, and if that meant being alone then so be it.