Thursday, October 1, 2015

Practical Magic: Titles Schmitles (Practical Magic #18)

Aska was lounging in her room with her friend Kayla. “I think Zack likes you.” Zack was Kayla’s neighbor. An older boy of at least 13 1/2. He did seem to hang around a lot when Aska was over visiting with Kayla.

“You think? I haven’t really paid attention.”

“Oh sure you haven’t. You don’t even look at his house every 10 seconds when we are outside or anything.”

Aska laughed, “Okay, yeah, he’s cute. But I don’t think he likes me. I would guess he likes you. I’m not even 12 yet, he looks at me like I’m a little kid.”

“You’ll be 12 next month and he’s known me all my life. It’s hard to think someone’s cute if you’ve watched them eat dog food on a dare.”

“You ate dog food on a dare?”

“That’s not important, we’re talking about Zack having a crush on you. And you know who has a crush on Zack?”


“Brianna. She’s always liked him. Even when we were all in elementary school she would follow him around all the time.”

Aska smiled. She knew it was sort of small and petty to be happy that the boy that Brianna liked liked her instead, but she couldn’t help it. It was hard to think nice thoughts about someone who went out of their way to make you feel badly about yourself. When Kayla had thrown a slumber party a few weeks ago and invited both Aska and Brianna, Brianna had decided she wouldn’t come if Aska was going to be there. But that wasn’t enough for her she also tried to get everyone else Kayla invited to not come either. Too bad for her most of their friends liked Kayla more than Brianna and had gone to the party anyway. And it had been fun. Aska had enjoyed hanging out with Kayla’s friends and they all seemed really nice. A lot of questions about what it was like to be Gifted, but she was getting used to that. She had questions about what it was like to be Other as well so she understood.

“Well, it doesn’t really matter, I’m not supposed to worry about things like boyfriends until I’m older. My mother thinks middle school is too young for boyfriends.”

“Yeah, my dad thinks that too. So I’m keeping a list.”

“A list? Of boys?”

“Yeah, why not? This is my list of boys that I think are cute. If they are still cute in a couple of years I will have a place to start.”

Aska started laughing, “You are crazy. Boy crazy!”

Kayla just shrugged, “Well it’s easier for you right? You can tell if a boy likes you. Like you could go over to Zack’s house right now and know if he really likes you or not. You never have to waste your time with, ‘Oh does he LIKE like me or just like like me?’ I can’t do that so I have a list.”

“I could, but I wouldn’t.”

“Why not? I swear all of the things you could know but you don’t do them! It’s like it’s wasted on you.”

“There are rules. Well maybe not rules so much as polite practices. And if you don’t follow them you would be miserable. Like say one day you and I are fighting about something and you think something mean about me? If I were reading you right then I would hear that and think that’s how you always felt about me. But it might not be, it might just be because you were mad. But I would have gotten hurt or angry about what you were thinking and then we would fight more and it would be bad. So you don’t do it. Because people think a lot of things. All the time. And if you tried to listen to everyone all the time you would go crazy. Even people who are really good at reading other people, like my Aunt Dot, have to concentrate to do it. She doesn’t just hear every one all the time. Just the loud thinkers, and you can’t help that. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to hear everyone all the time.”

“I guess.”

“And besides, people let you know what they think. I’ve never read Brianna, for instance and I am pretty sure I know exactly what she thinks of me.”

“Yeah, but Brianna thinks that about everyone who isn’t her.”

“See? You can read her just fine, even without a gift.”

Kayla smiled, “That’s true! Hmm…maybe I have a touch of Prophet after all. The first Other Prophet. I could do that.”


“Why didn’t you ever get married?” Aska was helping her Aunt Joy get dinner ready.
“Umm, what brought that on?”

“Kayla and I were talking about boys earlier, don’t look at me like that we were just talking, and it made me think about mom saying you dated a lot in high school. But you never got married, so I was wondering why.”

“Your Uncle Aric hasn’t gotten married either, why aren’t you concerned with him?”

“Because he’s in love with a woman he works with and is too afraid to tell her because she’s not one of the Gifted. Though he will tell her soon and she feels the same way so they will get married. Probably by next year.”

Joy turned around and looked at her niece stunned, “Did you read your Uncle?”

“Nope, I eavesdropped on Aunt Dot and Grandma talking.”

Joy shook her head, “Poor Aric.”

“Anyway…why didn’t you ever get married? Do you want to get married?”

“Okay, well, I’ve told you that you can ask me anything so I guess this is part of anything. I was engaged once. You were just a baby. He was a teacher like me. A Spell-Caster. We met in college and did our student teaching in the same school. When I was just getting started at the elementary he got offered a position at a high school in another town. I didn’t want to leave my new position so soon and he couldn’t really turn down this opportunity so we decided to try the long distance relationship.”

“And it didn’t work out?”

“No, it didn’t. He came home for Thanksgiving break and we were sitting outside talking. I reached out to hold his hand and…well it takes a really special person to be involved with someone who is a Prophet. You end up not having secrets, because you can’t. When I touched his hand I knew. I knew he was starting to have feelings for a woman he worked with. They hadn’t dated or anything, he wasn’t unfaithful to me, but I knew that it was just a matter of time. And when he saw my face after I touched him he knew that I knew as well. I hadn’t done it on purpose, but it didn’t matter, I still knew what he was feeling and he still knew that I had read him. We broke up and he went back to his new job and new town.”

“Did he and the new lady end up together?”

“They did. They got married the following spring. She was wife #1. He’s been married 3 more times since then. Seems like he is really good at falling in love but not great at staying there. Though it was awful at first I am very glad now.”

“Is that why you haven’t gotten engaged since? Do you just not trust anyone?”

“No, honestly I just haven’t found anyone I would be interested in spending my life with. I enjoy dating. I like the freedom I have. I have my family, I am not really in a hurry to start another one.”

“Do you think it’s harder for Prophets to find someone?”

“Maybe. I think it’s hard for everyone to find the right person. You never got a chance to meet Uncle Roy, Aunt Dot’s husband. He passed before you were born. But he was perfect for her. And you know how she is about privacy, or no privacy as the case may be. He was a Spell-Caster and thought it was fascinating that she could read him so clearly, she is incredibly talented in that area, more than anyone I’ve ever heard of let alone met. Anyway, he was extraordinarily proud of her gifts. As she was of his. He was a brilliant man. A teacher. In fact he’s the reason why I pursued teaching. He was so good at it. Everything with him was a lesson, but you never realized it until it was over because you were having so much fun. I wanted to be like him.”

“And it never bugged him that Aunt Dot would just read him? It’s kind of annoying.”

“It is annoying. And it’s why we are all so good at putting up barriers to keep our thoughts private. She has been a good teacher, even if it’s been out of necessity. But no, he was fine. He wasn’t a man who had secrets. He was an open book. And that was the only type of person Aunt Dot could have been with. Someone who was so open they didn’t care. But that’s not to say all Prophets need someone that open. I wouldn’t. I just like the people I’m dating to be honest. Negative emotion carries very clearly with me. If you are lying or hiding something I pick it up without trying. It’s not fun.”

“What do you think I will need?”

“I don’t know. But you have a long time to figure it out. Boys are for later, right?”

Aska thought about Zack and about Kayla’s list, “Yeah, later.”


Extraction session number 8 had just finished and now Deidre thought they were really getting somewhere. It wasn’t what she had expected to hear but you couldn’t fall in to the trap of ignoring the facts to fit the case you thought you had. The memory that Charles had been covering up appeared to be a dream about going to the store and taking the things and then giving them to someone else. They hadn’t completely finished yet, but everything they had seen was he went to sleep, he started dreaming, at one point he dreamed that he was talking with a friend who gave him a list of things to pick up for him at the store. He then went and got those things and gave them to his friend. They hadn’t uncovered the rest yet but Deborah was pretty sure that at this point the dream started to shift again so it was very likely that there would be no new information.

“Our hypothesis is that as his conscious mind became aware of the fact that he had actually gone to this department store and taken the items his subconscious mind knowing that he is not a thief and that he would not be able to reconcile stealing the items with the person he believes himself to be blocked the memory.” Greg was practically beaming with excitement. For the first time after a session the three from the circle did not seem to be exhausted though Deidre chalked that up to excitement for them over what they had found.

“We further believe that the reason why this is an unknown phenomena is because no one has ever thought to look for it before. But we think it could explain many sleep behaviors. People who wake up with candy wrappers around them but no memory of eating, for instance, they could have that memory blocked out to protect themselves. Joshua is working on a paper for a grant request for further study. We could have stumbled across a major breakthrough in dream and memory research here.”

Dot looked over at Charles who had been sitting silently this time. “How are you feeling, Charles?”

Charles sighed, “I guess I should be relieved to have an answer. But for me it’s, I’m not sure how to describe it, disconcerting?Apparently I’m a sleep bandit. I had no memory of committing a crime but I did it. I saw the video and now I’ve seen the fleeting memory of the dream as well. Somehow in the middle of the night I decided that it would be a good idea to go to a store and take random items off the shelf and, do what with them? We still don’t know where I left them. Gave them to my make believe dream friend? Dropped them at the side of the road somewhere? Who knows, I sure don’t. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful for all that’s been done on my behalf, that is not what I mean to do. If you all hadn’t stepped in who knows what would have happened to me. But I am still not sure how to handle this new information.

I know it’s hard to imagine or believe but I would have rather it been someone else controlling me at that point than myself. What this means is I can’t trust myself anymore to know what is right and what is wrong. What is true and what isn’t. I’m just not sure how to process all of this just yet.”

Dot reached out and took Charles’ hand. “I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. The dream state is much closer to the waking state than most realize. Sleep walkers, sleep talkers, sleep eaters, sleep drivers, you’ve heard of all of them.”

“Yes, but they know that’s what they are. I just, I don’t know what I am anymore.”

“Nonsense. You are still who you’ve always been. And I am going to tell you something else. If your subconscious went to this amount of effort to hide from you the fact that you did something in your sleep that tells me that you are an incredibly decent human being. The thought of being a thief, of taking something that wasn’t yours was so appalling to you your mind covered it up to protect yourself? That’s amazing.”

“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll be fine, it’s just not what I was expecting and I’m not sure what to do with it right now.”

Deidre looked around the table, “Are we finished for today then?” when everyone gave their agreement that they were she put her notebook away and got ready to leave. “Charles, before I go, I might not be a Prophet or a Spell-Caster, but I understand that right now you are nervous. You don’t trust yourself. Here is my brother Aric’s phone number, I’ll let him know you might give him a call. Years ago we had a neighbor whose little boy would sleep walk. He’d open the door and just walk right out of the house. Aric came up with a spell that would tether the boy to the inside of the house at night. It didn’t affect his sleep, it didn’t affect him during the day, but at night he could only walk around his bedroom. It kept him safe until he outgrew the sleepwalking. If it would make you feel better I bet he could teach you the spell to use on yourself.”

Charles took the number from Deidre, “Thank you, so much.”

As they walked out of the room Dot put her arm around her niece, “Such a softy.”

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