Best Witches Issue 24
You can find the previous issues on my author page.
It was late when we had tumbled into the portal in Venice, and the three of us crashed without ceremony on the couch when we finally made it to my condo. I awoke sometime near the witching hour to finally drag myself into bed.
Nothing welcomes you home more than your bed after a long strange time away. I shoved my nose into the familiar scent of my sheets, and twisted my legs this way and that against the silk. I couldn’t help but let out a contented sigh as my body reset to its standard user preferences.
“The place is quaint,” Donovan said from the door. Just my eyes and nose peeked out from the covers as I stared at him. I refused to let him interrupt the reunion with my bed.
“It’s the best,” I said.
Donovan came over and hesitated awkwardly by the end of my bed. My nose nodded agreement from its spot over the covers, and he was allowed to sit down.
I couldn’t help but think of all the bedtimes he’d missed over the years. It had always been just my mom and me, and eventually me and gran. It had hurt those young years with no father to be seen, to have around, to do dad things with. Now here he was sitting on the edge of my bed. I didn’t need him.
“Can I help you?” I asked him.
He sighed and gave me a defeated look.
“Your mother said it was for the best. She wanted me to stay away. She said the fate of the world depended upon it.” He wrung his hands, pressing into the fleshy bit between thumb and pointer finger the same way I did. “I always wondered about you, though, and who you would become.”
“I’m sure you’re disappointed,” I muttered.
He laughed at that. A whole big belly laugh.
“You are not what I pictured, but now I can’t assume you’d be any other way. There is so much of your mother in you, and so much of me.” I glared at him. “Yep, that glare has your mother written all over it. I would like to get to know you if you’d let me. I’d like to stick around, but if you’d rather I not, I can be on my way.” He said quietly.
My anger died. I had wanted so badly for so long to have a father, and now I did. What would it hurt to let him stick around for just a little while?
“Mom seemed to have thought I would need your help. I think it would be spitting on her grave to send you away. There was a reason we were called together. We might as well figure out what it was.” I said, shrugging. A small smile lit on his face.
“You can stay here for a few days until we figure out the next steps, but I expect you to help out around here. Pick up after yourself. I’m not a maid.” I said gruffly. He nodded.
“Understood.” He stuck a hand down into his jacket pocket much too far. Far enough, I could tell there was some sort of embiggening spell on it. Eventually, he was able to pull out a small white rabbit. He handed it over.
“I bought this for you years ago. I never got the chance to give it to you until now.” He said, trying to look tough like he didn’t care if I wanted it or not. I could feel tears trying to fight their way into existence. My breath caught in my throat.
“Mom used to read me Alice in Wonderland every night to go to sleep.”
“That was always her favorite story.” He nodded.
“Could you tell me about her? When you knew her?” I asked him.
“She was a spitfire. Crazy as the day was long. Loved as fierce as a raging inferno. Mad as a wet alley cat. I loved her the moment I met her. I’m not sure if she ever quite loved me back, though. Love wasn’t the reason for her, you were. You were her everything. You and this.” He said, waving a hand. “Whatever is coming next. She knew you would need to fight it.”
“Why didn’t she tell me more?” I asked him, and he shrugged.
“I’m not sure. I never knew why your mother did anything she did. Yet she always had her reasons, and they normally worked out. This one time, we had a run-in with a troll…”
He told me stories about her, and we talked until the sun started to rise, and my eyes began to droop. He got off the bed and placed a light kiss on my forehead as I finally succumbed to sleep.
Thank you, Sean Eike, for the image this week.