Jul. 8th, 2011

 So, I'm going to be trying something a little crazy ie. writing twenty-five sheets of paper by hand, so I don't think I'm going to be posting it here tonight, but I will get it to you tomorrow, or soon, because this might be a three day thing. Yeah.

UPDATE:

Brian looked at her intently until Tabitha repeated,

“So? Talk.”

“I want to know how you did it,” he whispered. “And then you weren’t in school yesterday so I couldn’t ask then. But I’ve got to know what you did, Tabitha.”

“Why, exactly?” she inquired as she began stalking toward the library, where she could spend her study period on physics and the Odyssey.

“Because you gave me a second chance,” he whispered. “Look, I went a little crazy and I was going to do something crazy and really, really stupid, but you stopped me and made everyone forget.’

“How do you know that I really did anything at all? What if you just grabbed a water gun by mistake?”

“Because I loaded it myself, and then unloaded it when I put it back in my dad’s gun safe and then when I asked if we could go shooting because I had a bad day at school I reloaded it and shot five rounds out of it, okay? The gun I grabbed was real and it would have done very real damage. So I want to know how it became a water gun for about five minutes.’

“You timed it?” she asked, setting her stuff down on a study table.

“Not exactly,” Bet look, I’ve got to know. Was it magic?”

“You caught me,” she said, pulling out her physics packet and compared it to the Odyssey. She read and took notes faster than she worked out physics problems.

“Well, how did you do it?” he asked.

“Like you said, it was magic,” she replied, turning to the introduction in the book. “Look, Brian, I’m not sure I can explain what happened yesterday either, but why don’t you take you second chance and run with it?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean—I don’t know—your older sister’s a fashion design major, right? Ask her to give you a makeover. Hit the weights so the popular crowd will think twice before picking on you. Stop failing English because you think it’s stupid.”

“But it is stupid,” he retorted.

“You still need it to pass the SAT and write a convincing essay to get into MIT,” she retorted.

“Says the girl who’s reading the Odyssey, and how do you know that you need an essay to get into MIT?”

“You need an essay to get into anywhere,” she retorted. “Are you really that much of a wannabe loner that you can’t just take a friendly suggestion and go with it?” He pulled back almost like she had slapped him.

“Ouch, I thought you of all people would get it.”

“Get what, exactly?” Tabitha asked.

“You honestly don’t think people don’t notice how smart you are? How desperate you are to go to college, because it means you’ll get out of here?” Brian told her. “Even the other geeks notice and think you think you’re too good for them.”

“People are allowed to think what they want to think,” she retorted. “And online you, Brian, I was actually the kid that no one wanted to play with because I never got out of the house long enough because my mom was sick and my dad was working. And then I had Reiss and Chelsea telling everyone just how weird I was because I liked to read. Okay, so I fit into the roll they built for me. I studied a lot and I got ahead in school. But you’ve always had friends, Brian, people who you hung out with and who cared about you. So don’t go telling me you get it.” He leaned back in his chair, and continued to look between her and a bookshelf.

“Well, not anymore…the friends I mean,” he confessed. “They all think I brought the gun to school, but that I chickened out at the last second.” Tabitha huffed and sat back in her own chair.

“Have they told anyone?” she asked. He shrugged.

“No, but they all think I’m a psychopath or something,” Brian said.

“Well, I hate to say it, but I don’t think psychosis goes into remission or anything,” she retorted.

“Oh TV, they talk about how some people have a cooling off period,” he retorted.

“Well, yeah, but that’s after they’ve killed several people.” Tabitha stared down at her book, and realized she was only on the second page. She folded it up and set it on the table, looking back at Brian. “Let me ask you this, how do you know that I was the one who did anything? I might not have been the one who made people forget about time, or changed the gun, or made people think it was all just a joke.”

“Well, I don’t know about forgetting about time, or the joke, but I saw your face,” he said. “When you watched me pull the gun, I kept looking at you. I watched you the entire time I was talking actually. You almost made me want to stop, with how scared you were. But then I kept seeing the others around you and I kept getting angry. And then I just couldn’t hold it in anymore, and it felt like I had to do it. But right before I fired, I saw your face again and I knew you would do something if you could. I thought you might jump in front of the bullet, but then the water came out of the gun and it felt like you had done something. I didn’t know what, but it was you.”

“So you don’t think it could have been anything else?” she asked.

“No.” Tabitha hung her head back, and in one swift motion, brought it back up to stare Brian down.

“I can’t tell you much, only that I’m in some pretty risky business right now.”

“You started a brothel out of your parent’s house?” he asked. At Tabitha’s look he muttered, “I guess you haven’t seen the movie.”

“Look, if I just say I had something to do with it, and tell you to take that and your second chance and run like the wind with it, will you listen to me?” He deflated, his chest and shoulders falling.

“Sure,” he agreed.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Now, I have some work to make up, do you mind?”

“Go ahead.” He pulled out a physics packet, nearly identical to her own, except that many more of the pages had notations scribbled all over them. Brian quieted down as he worked out the last of his problems. As he worked though, he kept sneaking glances at her. Tabitha decided it was all right, so long as she could ignore him enough to actually begin reading.

But the conversation with Brian put her off focus for the rest of the day—especially during physics when he sat right across from her. Tabitha realized, in the middle of physics, it was because she could feel him watching her, which made her wonder who else might be watching her too.


Chapter Six: A Study of Magic in the Dark

Tabitha emailed Weisz during a slow night at the library. Once she had shelved all the books she could find, read even more of the Odyssey, drafted her paper proposal, read her history assignment, outlined a paper, and done as many physics and calculus problems as she could handle in one sitting, she sat down and began to compose a schedule. She when through every day of the week and marked off times that she was indisposed, one way or another.
When she finished, Tabitha saw that there would only be time for her to meet with Weisz, or at least enough time for them to accomplish something, about three or four times a week. She volunteered at the library for four hours after school four times a week, and she had an astronomy class that met once a week, but it did not meet until much later in the evening. Weekends would be free completely, excluding the rare family outing, and would make the best time for magic lessons.

Once she figured all of her time slots into a schedule, she composed a spread sheet outlining everything and then emailed it to Weisz. She then received a quick reply thanking her for her promptness and saying that she would not be required to come to a lesson until Saturday. In the meantime, she should study the book Elba had left for her.
Tabitha stared at the computer screen for quite some time, and began to feel cheated for all the work she had done trying to find as much time as she could for Weisz. After all, he had told her that he wanted her every waking moment studying magic and then he changed his mind so suddenly, it made her head whirl. From what little she knew of Weisz, it did seem strange though.

But she did take the second piece of his email to heart, and tried to attach the first part from there. So after she arrived home and stocked up on all the fruits and vegetables the house had to offer, Tabitha holed herself up in her room, ready to study the book. Unfortunately, it just did not happen.

First, Reiss started up a loud punk rock band, and Tabitha knew that no matter how many times she might ask for him to turn it off or down, he would only turn it up louder. To focus, she put on a set of head phones and played her own music. That presented its own problem, as it just didn’t feel right studying an ancient magical text while she listened to pop music. Then her homework began to glare at her from its pile on her desk. With a sigh, Tabitha concealed the book in her coat, again, and set to work reducing the pile to nothing. She worked through texts, paper drafts, proposals and problem sets. When she stopped working and looked up, it was just passing midnight and she was hungry again.

She opened up a pomegranate, sucking out the seeds as she turned her attention back toward where the book lay in her coat, on her bed. Tabitha felt oddly energetic, when she normally would have felt drained after such a feat. It felt almost electric sitting in her chair, wondering just how much more she could take on, because it felt like she could stay up for hours more. She finished the pomegranate and opened up a banana, her eyes still on the book.
It still seemed wrong, somehow, to study the book in her room, where pieces of her nervous energy clung to every surface she could face. But she did not have anywhere else she could go, especially not at this time of night. Then a thought struck her; she could always go up.

The attic was the absolute final resting place of anything that he family no longer used, but did not want to throw out, give away or could not stomach keeping in the garage, which occasionally flooded. (Not to mention, the garage still acted as her father’s work space from time to time, and he liked to keep it free of clutter.) Up against one wall was a square mountain of boxes sorted and stacked according to year or use, There were old Christmas decorations, clothes Carol kept meaning to give away, clothes Chelsea did not have room for in her closet, a few boxes of books, and broken electronics her dad kept meaning to fix.

To the other side was all the old furniture Tabitha’s grandparents left to her mother when they died. Her mother did not have the heart to sell it or give it away, and after she died, her father held on to it to remember her by. On one of the arm chairs, Tabitha laid the book down, along with her journal and went hunting for candles. They had plenty of them as Carol and Chelsea had gone through a candle making phase. Tabitha could not complain about the large box stuffed to the brim with wax towers, though because the attic was not wired for electric lights.

She spread them around, lighting them as she went. When the attic filled with light, nearly as bright as a light bulb, Tabitha settled into the arm chair, opened the book and began to read.

It was a struggle, Tabitha found, to get past the first few pages, as the language presented itself as denser, more complicated English than she had ever read before. Reaching the third page, she began to flip through the book in her frustration. Thankfully, most of the book did not present itself in complicated tones, though some parts were not written in English at all. Tabitha squinted at the strange words and characters and slowly, they began to translate themselves. Though not so quickly that when she reached the most recent section, she could not tell it was in neat, tight French.
Her hand brushed over the page, tracing some of the letters of the neat curves. This had been Elba’s handwriting. The writing of a mentor Tabitha would never know. Suddenly her heart ached, prompting her to move back through the book, watching the language shift more and more into modern English for her to read.

The second time through the book, Tabitha noticed that many sections of the older writing and most especially many including spell work and ritual diagrams were cut from another piece of paper and pasted into the book. Though not all sections had been pasted over from former great magicians, some were rewritten in what Tabitha recognized as Elba’s neat script. Tabitha wondered at it, but knew her wondering would probably be left unfulfilled. When she reached the beginning of the book, she started again, this time the words and concepts clearer.

When she started reading though came an extra point of frustration. Magic—or at least what was described before her—seemed to combine bits and pieces of everything she had ever heard about it, as well as something akin to scientific theory here and there. Then, she read for pages and pages, but not of the writing insofar actually mentioned how to practice magic, simply described the force. That idea frustrated her as it seemed she might not receive any actual instruction from the book. But then, there came one small paragraph about how to focus her energy and draw it out of her, creating magic. She studied the small passage over and over, before she turned the page to find a warning inscribed before a drawing.

“Be warned,” it read, “that this ritual seeks to prolong the life of the one whom it would be used upon as it allows for an instance of great healing. I have seen it used to heal a wound which seemed beyond repair, but in doing so, it also took away such ills which come naturally with age, ills, which should be reversed.”

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