The towel I’m wrapped in smells like Mom’s favorite scented fabric softener. A clean air smell drifts from the wet terry cloth, mixing with the biting scent of chlorine from the pool water in my hair. Both normal smells. Both familiar. Neither one helps me relax after hearing their detailed description of what I am.
(Note to self: J.K. Rowling was full of crap. Finding out you’re a wizard sucks.)
Mom sits across from me at our kitchen table, sipping from her favorite purple coffee cup. Staring blankly, I glance at Dad as he sits next to Mom. Take out the trash. Pick up your dirty underwear. Oh, by the way, you’re a wizard.
“Congratulations.” Dad toasts me with his cup. “You’ve finally transmogrified.”
He slurps his coffee. The clock ticks on the wall over the counter. The refrigerator hums as the ice maker kicks on.
And I’m a wizard.
“What does that mean?” More Latin?
“Changed, honey, into a wizard.”
The wattage in Mom’s smile could light up a city. We sit in silence for a moment. Mom wiggles as she crosses her legs and kicks her foot back and forth. Dad shakes, too, bouncing his knees. Vibrations from their movements travel through the wooden tabletop. Like they were five and Christmas had come early.
All I want is to wake up from this weird dream, finish high school, and go away to college.
But as much as I want to argue with them, I can’t. Mom froze my body with her mind. I jumped out a window and flew. Dad flew after me. On a scale of one-to-ten, that’s enough weird shit to score a one hundred on the weird-shit-o-meter. Finding out I’m a wizard sounds less insane by comparison.
I clear my throat. “And you’re both… wizards, too.”
Mom snorts. “Technically, I’m a witch.”
“Only when you’re mad, honey.” Dad caresses her arm, grinning.
Mom laughs and slaps his hand away. “Very funny.”
“It’s a relief we won’t have to hide from you anymore.” Scooting his chair closer to the table, Dad says, “We thought you’d never change.”
My chest is too tight for laughing at their jokes. “If you’re both wizards, why wouldn’t I be one?”
“Sometimes the gene isn’t passed along.” Mom sets her cup on the table.
“What if I hadn’t gotten it? What then?”
“Well,” Dad says, “we don’t want to think about that.”
“I told your dad to be patient. You’ve always been a late bloomer. I knew you’d be okay.”
“So, if I didn’t…wiz out…I wouldn’t be okay?” It stings to know I hadn’t even fit in my own family until now. My face heats. “How late am I?”
“It… it doesn’t matter.” Mom stares intently at the cup in her hands.
“That bad, huh?” I turn to Dad. He stares out the window over the sink behind my shoulder.
“Normally,” he clears his throat, “wizards transmogrify during puberty.”
“Uh, I already went through puberty.” Didn’t I? “Shouldn’t it have happened then?”
“Y-yes,” Mom says, giving me a shaky grin. “But everyone’s body changes at a different rate and certain hormones kick in and—"
“Stop.” I hold up a hand, the heat from my face spreading to my neck and chest. “I’m almost 18. You’re not giving me the birds and bees talk.”
“No, public school beat us to that.” Dad laughs, rubbing his nose with his finger. He meets Mom’s gaze and she lifts then lowers her eyebrows.
I narrow my glare. They’ve always been terrible liars, ever since I thought I heard Santa and walked in to find them “wrestling” under a blanket on the couch one Christmas Eve when they thought I was asleep.
(Note to self: And now I have THAT image in my brain.)
“What did you mean earlier by completing the cycle?”
“When you’re ready,” Dad says, “we’ll finish the spell with you and your magic will be complete.”
“True magical strength comes from connecting with your family.” Mom smiles, and Dad flips his hand to hold hers on top of the table. She sighs and turns her head back to me. “With those who care about you.”
“What, no cool wand for me to wave around?”
“No, we don’t need wands to do our magic,” Mom says, lifting her purple cup. “But I can dig out the Gryffindor robes you wore for Halloween if you want to look the part.”
I shake my head and return her grin. The joke curbs my anxiety a bit, but I still fight the urge to run and hide in the woods behind our house.
“And how many times have you tried to… unlock me or whatever?”
They dart each other a glance and Dad answers. “This is the seventh time we’ve attempted the spell.”
“Seven?” Yep. A freak among freaks. “Did you just randomly try, or did you have to sacrifice a virgin and wait for the full moon?”
“We watched for signs,” Dad answered with a laugh.
“Right. How did you know it would work tonight?” But I think I already know.
“You’ve changed a lot this summer,” Mom leans toward me. “We hoped that meant you were ready, and you were.”
The invisible ropes pulling, the urge to touch them—understanding the madness makes it easier to accept, but not any easier to like. “And how does us… connecting help?”
“For one thing, it won’t hurt anymore,” Mom says. “When I touch your thoughts.”
“Yeah, that kinda sucks.” I rub my head remembering the pain I’d felt.
She sighs. “Until we bond, our magic will conflict. It’s a form of magical self-defense.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s like magnets,” Dad says. “Opposites attract but trying to push two positives or two negative ends together—or in your case, two mind readers—doesn’t work. Pain is a warning, a way to protect yourself from another mind reader who may or may not be friendly.”
“Does it hurt you, Dad?”
“No. But I’m not a mind reader. Still, my magic allows me to hear her when she talks to my mind. Humans can’t do that.”
“Soooo, you could hear my thoughts before, and I didn’t even know it?”
(Note to self: Better buy mom a big slice of kiss-ass pie to make up for what she heard.)
“No, I never listen to people without consent. It’s one of the rules.” Mom smiles at me. “Once you give consent, we can reach out to each other without pain.”
I tap my fingers on the table as I consider that. They sip their coffee as t
he sky slowly lightens to purple outside the window.
“So, what are the limitations? What kind of magic can we do?”
“First forget everything you’ve read about wizards. We can’t do all that sorcery mumbo jumbo.” Mom stands then crosses to the coffee pot and refills her and Dad’s cups. “We can all do basic spells, but wizards have one dominant ability, which usually runs in families.”
“Mind reading,” I say.
She nods and retakes her seat. “Mostly. I’m an ideational witch. We manipulate thoughts, ideas, things that come from the mind.”
Glancing at Dad I frown. “And you can fly.”
He shakes his head. “It’s not flying. It’s levitation.”
(Note to self: Tomato. Tom-ah-to. Is there a difference?)
Maybe it was a geek reaction in the middle of a trauma, but I needed the official name. “Mom is an ideational witch. What are you?”
“Corporeal.” Dad sipped from his cup. “We manipulate the physical world.”
“If wizards only have one special skill, how come I can do both?”
“How many times do I have to tell you?” Mom pats my hand, laughing softly. “You’re special.”
I roll my eyes. “That’s lame. I want a real explanation.”
“How about this? We don’t know.” Dad shrugs. “Sometimes it happens. It’s rare, but it happens.”
“That’s why we had a bet.” Mom smirks at Dad. “Which is null.”
“He did levitate first.” He pokes Mom’s side and she laughs.
“Fine, you win.” She glances at me, her smile fading. “Are you okay with this, Zaidyn?”
Does it matter? It’s not like I could just say no. Change my DNA. Not be me. The tapping of Dad’s slipper heel on the tile ticks away the seconds as I bite the inside of my cheek. I know they aren’t telling me the whole truth. Can I trust my parents?
Magic isn’t something I ever expected to experience in my life, and I have no clue what is about to happen. But I know my parents would never hurt me. Their nervous, excited energy fills our gourmet kitchen, or maybe that’s their magic I feel in the raised hairs on my arms.
Whichever it is, one thing’s for sure—this isn’t something I can do alone.
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