March 2020 Short Story of the Month
To call him stubborn would be polite. Not that politeness mattered to him. Malcolm would probably describe himself as principled. Those closest to him would probably use different words, like jack ass. He never broke the rules. He made the rest of us uncomfortable. We never asked him to tag along when we were going to use magic because he was worse than having our parents around. He NEVER allowed us to use magic within a five-mile radius of a non-magic user, and when we did, he would purse his lips and tap his foot. Then the second we got home, he ratted us out. He was my least favorite cousin.
This summer his family had spent an inordinate amount of time with us. Something was going on – something the adults didn’t want us to know about. As much as my sisters and I had tried to discover what the meetings were about, Malcom had thwarted us at every attempt. The grown ups must have told him to keep an eye on us.
Today though, we had a plan. Two of us were going to take him on an adventure. The other would pretend to not feel well, and then after the others were out of the house, the “sick” one would be free to nose around and find out what the grown ups were up to.
The problem, however, is that we all wanted to be the one to stay home.
“I’m the best at sneaking,” said my youngest sister.
“Mom is more likely to believe me,” said our middle sister.
I looked at both of them and realized quickly I would need to pull rank because time was running out and the two of them could argue like this for ages.
“I’m the oldest,” I said. “And I’m staying. You two find a way to keep Malcolm busy for as long as possible.”
Their collective groans didn’t stop me. I returned to my room and got back into bed.
Not long after that I heard feet running down the hall and then one door opened. I heard the murmur of their voices. My sisters and Malcolm were talking. Then the door opened again and they came to my room where I lay with the blanket pulled up to my chin.
I peaked at them through squinted eyes. “Turn the light off,” I said barely above a whisper. “My head hurts. The light.” My voice trailed off as if I didn’t have the will to finish.
Malcolm took a step nearer but my sisters stayed behind. Even with my eyes barely open, I saw one of them roll her eyes.
“You’re not coming with us?” Malcolm asked.
I grunted. “Not today.”
I saw him doing some mental calculations. He was definitely meant to spy on us. How could our parents put him up to something like that?
“It’s okay,” my youngest sister said. “Come on Malcolm. We’ll tell her all about our fun later. Wait till you see where we’re going.” She was doing her best to sound enthusiastic, and she elbowed my other sister to chime in.
“Yep,” the other said. “It’s going to be super fun.”
If there was ever a contest for vaguest description, my sisters were winning it.
“Maybe I should stay here,” suggested Malcolm. “Your sister might need someone to entertain her and bring her drinks.”
“No,” I said a little too loudly. I fell back and shut my eyes acting like the sound of my own voice hurt me. “It’s just a headache. I’ll be fine alone.”
“It’s related to her woman time,” said my youngest sister.
Malcolm went white. “Okay, then. Let’s go.”
After they left I rolled my eyes. I don’t know how my youngest sister knew that would work, but it did. She was quick.
I didn’t get out of bed immediately. I let the house settle. I heard other people moving about downstairs but everything was muffled.
Then I felt it. The house went absolutely silent. Our house was in the country; it was never this quiet. You could always hear animal sounds outside, and my parents had several windchimes along the porch beams. I couldn’t hear any of them. The house itself often creaked, even during the day, but not right now. Everything was still.
One of the grown ups had cast a spell. Maybe they didn’t know I was still here, but I was definitely inside the bubble. I would need to move about without making any noise. They were sure to hear even the tiniest of noise with everything else hushed.
I turned on the bed and placed my feet on the floor one at a time. I didn’t stand up but let my weight gradually slide that way. As soon as I was standing, I wanted to run down the hall and slide down the banister and get to the kitchen as quickly as possible, but I didn’t want to risk it.
The only way I could think to get down there without them noticing me was to use magic. My mother would be furious if she knew, and luckily Malcolm wasn’t around to rat me out. I cast a flying spell on myself. I wasn’t great at them. My spells didn’t last long, but I had pretty good control over my movements.
I flew out my room slowly and looked around the hall. No one was around and I didn’t hear any movement in the house to indicate someone had felt my spell being cast. My sisters and I were always casting small things around the house, so hopefully I could continue to go unnoticed.
I floated down the hall past empty rooms and headed for the stairs. At the landing, I did another quick search to sense if my movements were being noticed – nothing seemed amiss.
Uneventfully I made my way down the stairs and through the foyer. I was floating outside the kitchen door when my spell began to waver. I tried to recast but I didn’t work it out in time. I fell flat on my face just outside the door and smacked my face into the kitchen door that was being held firmly closed.
It took about two seconds for the door to open. My mother was on the other side. She didn’t even say anything; she just pointed toward the front of the house. My charade was at an end.
I went outside to join my sisters and Malcolm. I sat on the front porch and waited for them to return. Hopefully their adventure was more exciting than mine.