02-30 Tricking a Trickster

TGW-02-30-01

‘Good morning everyone.’ The young blond teacher steps up to the desk and puts down a load of paper and books, ‘My name’s Derek Hawes, and I’m your math’s teacher this year.’

The girls look at each other. The young teacher everyone’s been talking about is their math’s teacher!

‘You can call me Derek…’

Linn and Taïga look at each other, ‘Does that mean the cruel looking one is-’

‘-the PE teacher!’ They both start to giggle when they see Valeria Morales’ jaw drop…

TGW-02-30-02

‘We shall start the semester by analyzing graphs, and learn how to predict and also explain certain behavior. What comes to your mind when I say “graph”? What kind of graphs have you already come across?’

Arms shoot up and soon the lesson is animated by suggestions and the young teacher keeps the students interested by making them all participate, drawing graphs on the blackboard, and showing the different ways of using a graph.

‘It’s basically maths, but in the service of geography, society, sports and even caloric intake…’

TGW-02-30-03 Taïga facebook

Finally lunch break. Taïga and Linn have brought sandwiches from home and settle at one of the tables to do their homework. Taïga uses Linn’s cell to check her fb. She quickly enters a new status and hands it back to Linn. The cell vibrates and she checks it and types something.

‘Hey, check this out.’ She hands it back to Taïga who watches the message Linn just typed with a smile, her best friend was the first to comment on her status.

‘Yeah?’ The cell vibrates again and she refreshes the page, ‘Jayler… and Tyler… Check the time! Must be something wrong…’

Linn takes the cell. ‘Who cares about the time, it’s the likes that counts! Geez, already over 50…’

She watches as Taïga types a quick answer to Tyler’s message, ‘It’s awesome! Just look at us, I just can’t believe we’re already Juniors. And nothing will separate us this year, promise?’

‘Yeah, promise.’

Linn takes a bite of her sandwich, ‘Have you thought about registering for the SAT prep course?’

‘Already?’

‘Yeah, I saw it on the board. There are also sessions with college representatives who’ll visit FHHS if you’re interested.’

‘Attending college still seems so far away…’ Taïga adds thoughtfully.

‘Yeah, but better be prepared.’

They finish their sandwiches discussing different college options.

‘We’re still in High School and Connor Frio seems nice enough, but I prefer getting this history assignment done today.’

They take out their books and start on “Early cultures and the Colonial period”…

TGW-02-30-04

The girls are so concentrated on their work, they don’t pay attention to the boys approaching. Suddenly someone topples over Taïga’s chair, making her scream.

Darryl just laughs, ‘Surprise!’

Taïga holds on to the edges of the chair, ‘If you tip me over I’ll kill you!’

‘Not before you promise to come and check something out.’ He gently lets go of the chair, ‘C’mon.’

‘But I have an assignment to finish!’

Darryl takes her hand and pulls her to her feet, ‘It won’t take a second!’

‘You can’t chicken out, you said you were in!’ Tyler grabs her other hand, ‘Please?’

‘But-’ She looks over her shoulder at Linn who just shrugs and grimaces. Taïga grimaces back, but lets the boys lead her away. They stop in front of the large doors.

‘Now close your eyes.’

‘Why?’

‘Because we want it to be a surprise and you’re spoiling it!’

‘OK-OK-OK…’ Obediently she closes her eyes and lets them guide her back into the school building.

‘Watch your step…’

TGW-02-30-05

Back at the Bayou Oaks Mansion

The leprechaun doesn’t get up before Taïga leaves for school. Grumpily he hardly looks at Granny’s buttery potatoes for breakfast,

‘Do you have buttery Pig-nuts for breakfast? No? Well, me neither. This is a really strange country you live in, Granny Grey.’

‘So what would you like to eat Mr.?’

‘O’Lyin, madame.’ The leprechaun bows and makes a sweeping gesture with his red hat.

Granny tries not to laugh at the sight of the sturdy little gnome. O’Lyin? What a convenient name for a trickster!

He puts his hat back on and looks at her, smoothing his beard, ‘Ye know what? Ye could call me Sprinkles.’

He looks at Granny as if she’s supposed to bow or curtsey or something. She doesn’t though, just picks up the plate with the untouched potatoes, and takes it back to the kitchen. She stops at the sight of him already sitting on the counter, wiggling his feet.

‘Where’s the larder?’

‘It’s called a fridge nowadays,’ she says and opens it for him to see.

He jumps down and wobbles over on his short legs. ‘Lift me up!’

Granny obeys, letting him scan the contents of the fridge.

‘That’s a fancy color!’ he exclaims and points at the lime pie Granny made last night while waiting for the right moment to call Lorna. ‘I’d like me a slice!’

She puts him back on the floor and brings the pie to the dining room. She cuts two parts and takes a seat in front of the little grey gnome. He resolutely climbs up onto the table and puts the plate on his knees. Granny frowns but he’s too short to sit on a chair anyway. He finishes his part in an eye blink, licks his plate and burps.

‘Sprinkles!’

‘Ay. It was really good!’ he says and eyes the rest of the pie. Granny picks up the knife, but he stops her.

‘I’ll just take the last slice,’ he says…

They talk pleasantly while he finishes off the whole pie, slower this time.

‘I have a friend coming over to help me stock the wood for this winter, and I’ll just have to pop out and feed the Laganaphyllis Simnovorii before he comes.’

‘All right! I’ll come with you, I haven’t seen a cowplant in ages!’

So he knows what a cowplant is… ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea if Arthur sees you… He might not understand…’

‘Oh, that’s not a problem! I’m used to hide, you won’t even notice I’m there!’

He raises his arms towards her and she picks him up…

TGW-02-30-06

Arthur Moon quickly sets to work. The wood for the winter has to be splintered and stocked, but he’s too old now to manoeuver an axe for very long. Luckily there are machines nowadays… He has kindly offered Granny his help building the new greenhouse around the garden shed, but of course he has no idea about what’s lurking inside. The Grey sisters can seem a little peculiar at times, and if it makes Granny happy with a shed in a greenhouse… Why not? He’ll build a dang castle around that shed just to see her smile again…

Ever since the “incidence”* at the wedding, Granny and Taïga have kept the monstrous Laganaphyllis so sated it can hardly move. Rowan and Missy had started the training of the beast, but both Granny and Taïga remained skeptical about it. And as Rowan has left for Italy, and Missy is busy with her new home, better get those walls up fast…

*Part II – Chapter 26

TGW-02-30-07 A Moment29

While Arthur stocks the wood, Granny is tending to her garden. She loves to see the cycle of the seasons come to life under her hands. Struggling to tear out a reticent weed Sprinkler comes to her help. With a gesture of his little hand the weed whips out of the hard packed soil.

‘Poor little weed, don’t worry, I won’t send you to the compost…’ He flicks his hand and the weed flies through the air and lands farther away on the border of the Bayou where it resolutely roots again.

‘Thank you, Sprinkler. That was most kind of you…’

Something Lorna said last night comes to her mind. “A leprechaun is very small but his magic is immense. Don’t let him fool you by his size – he can move a whole forest if he sets his mind to it!” and “Never ask him a favor – he’ll want something in return.”

Suddenly Sprinkler strikes a stupid pose.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Shhht… Can’t you see I’m a garden gnome?’ he whispers back without moving his lips.

‘I think I’m done…’ Arthur takes off a glove and wipes his front, ‘About the new greenhouse… I’ve made some plans, if you’d like to have a look?’

‘Thank you, Arthur. I’d love to see them. I have fresh lemonade in the fridge… Or maybe you’d prefer a cup of tea?’

‘Would it seem rude if I said both?’

‘Terribly! But I think I’ll get over it…’

She pours two large glasses of cold lemonade, adds some ice and fresh mint leaves and brings the tray out onto the porch.

‘I hope you like Virgin Mojitos,’ she asks a little nervously but he only smiles and clinks his glass with hers.

‘To the new green house!’

‘To the new greenhouse…’

TGW-02-30-09 A Moment18

Arthur Moon brings the plans the very same afternoon.

TGW-02-30-08a

They study them over tea, and Granny likes what she sees. They decide on some minor changes, where to put the windows for example. There are too many of them, and they decide on leaving four large, and changing the others for smaller ones.

‘But isn’t a greenhouse supposed to let in lots of light?’

‘Yes, but I also want to put up some shelves to keep pots and things.’

‘Oh, I see. Then let use this kind…’ He sketches on the paper… ‘The roof will surely let in enough light anyway…’

‘Yes, I love the roof!’

TGW-02-30-08 2J – 02 The Green Thumb

‘It’s the same system as the Green Thumb, I actually copied it… I can talk to Josh Mullins, hear where it comes from…’

‘I happen to know it’s from Italy,’ Granny adds. ‘Jenny told me it was tailor made…’

TGW-02-30-10 A Moment21

‘But that’s excellent news! We could- Err… I mean you could have it tailor made for your little green house too!’

Granny stares at Arthur, feeling her cheeks go pink. “We…” She busies herself with pouring another cup.

TGW-02-30-11 A Moment22

‘I can get the wood needed at the old sawmill for free, there are still good planks lying around… I could always paint it for you later?’

‘I think we- I mean you should keep it basic, Arthur. I will grow some pretty valuable plants in there and I think paint won’t be recommended…’

‘Good. So when do I start?’

‘Err… When are you available? I mean, I’d like to have it built as soon as possible, but-’

‘Why don’t you show me where you want it? And the actual size? I have the rest of the afternoon to fix the wood…’

He stirs his cup, ‘I think I can actually start tomorrow! I’ll have it up in less than a week. The only problem would be the availability of the windows, and then there’s the roof…’

‘We haven’t discussed the payment…’ Granny adds.

TGW-02-30-12 A Moment23

‘Payment?’ Arthur looks suddenly anxious, ‘Err… I’d be happy if you would like to go fishing with me?’

Granny isn’t sure she heard him right. ‘Fishing?’

‘Maybe you don’t like fishing?’ Arthur fiddles with his spoon, ‘We could take the dogs, and you could bring a nice book and just relax in the shadows? I’ve got a little rowboat and know of some really nice spots in the Bayou. And we’ll share the catch 50/50!’ he adds.

Granny laughs, ‘It would be for the fish then!’ When she sees his face crumble, she quickly adds, ‘I’d love to spend the day with you, Arthur. As long as you don’t make me actually fish.’

‘It’s a deal then?’

‘Deal. Now would you like some raspberry pie?’

TGW-02-30-13

Taïga’s days settle into a routine with school and homework, but she notices Arthur’s presence every day during the week. He rolls up in his old battered truck before she leaves for school in the morning, and he’s still hammering away on the green house when she gets back in the afternoon.

‘But why is he building it on the other side of the house, Granny?’

‘Because it’s the best place for a greenhouse, considering the light and-’

‘The light? Since when do we build a greenhouse considering the light??? How on earth shall we move-’

Granny puts a finger in front of her mouth and nods towards Sprinkler who’s waddling into the kitchen, whistling a joyful tune. Taïga glares at him.

‘Oh my, aren’t you a happy lass today?’

Taïga bends over and looks him in the eyes. ‘Knock. It. Off.’

He seems a little taken aback, but then he starts laughing. ‘I love your grandchild! If I was just a little younger I would marry her!’

Taïga stops on the threshold, ‘And if I were a little older I would ask you to bugger off!’

‘Shall we do your homework now?’ He asks, cavorting after her out of the kitchen.

She stoops and pick him up, ‘Nope. I was taking you and Valkyria for a jog through the woods. Would you mind riding in a backpack?’

‘As a matter of fact, I do. It got a bit bumpy the other day… I think I’ll just ride on your dog!’

Bickering they leave the kitchen and Granny sighs. Thank God the leprechaun has taken a liking to her granddaughter…

TGW-02-30-14

Artur Moon puts in an awful amount of time and work to build the solid greenhouse, and true to his word it only took him a week.

‘I’ve installed the thingamajig Juan made, but I think it would be better if he came over and saw to it the electricity is correctly installed.’

Granny nods, admiring the roof that was delivered this same morning. Using the tailor made roof system on the little greenhouse used up the last money Granny had in the bank. But then again, enough light is a necessity for the monstrous plant to thrive…

‘… and I’ll start on the floor tomorrow, if it’s all right with you?’

‘Err… Oh, yes. Are there enough cobblestones?’

‘More than enough. Especially as you wanted the center free. I could do with some help though. I’ll call Juan and see if he can give me a hand tomorrow.’ He nods towards the alarm Juan has made, ’What are you planting anyway? A money tree?’ he jokes.

Granny laughs, ‘If they existed, I wouldn’t have so many problems with leaking roofs and the plumbing!’

Arthur laughs heartily and fiddles with his gloves. ‘I can help you out with the plumbing? And check the roof… Well, see you tomorrow then.’

‘Yes. See you tomorrow.’

He starts toward his car, ‘Don’t forget you promised to come fishing with me one of these days! Shall we say I pick you up Saturday morning?’

Granny smiles, ‘That would be perfect.’

TGW-02-30-15

Friday morning Missy barges into the kitchen, making Granny start.

‘Good morning sister! I decided to pop in as I knew you were canning apples today. Thought I could help a little as Juan and Lucky are out in the greenhouse…’

She puts a large basket full off the largest purple figs Granny has ever seen on the countertop.

‘I could do with some help… Where did you get those?’ Granny asks while emptying the basket in the sink.

Missy bites into a juicy fig, ‘There’s a large bush just behind the burnt down house… There’s an old medlar too, but we’ll have to wait until after the first frost to pick the fruits…’

A medlar? Where had she heard about a medlar… Ah. The little leprechaun! ‘Don’t you think it’s better to rinse it first?’ She nods towards the fruit in Missy’s hand.

‘No need, there are no chemicals on these, and they are really succulent!’

Granny rinses the fruits nevertheless, and puts them on the counter next to the huge kettle. She cuts the stems and starts packing the jars with raw fruit and last she adds the sugar syrup she prepared before Missy’s arrival…

TGW-02-30-16

Valkyria and Ruff are banished from the kitchen, but they stay right outside on the porch, whining while Granny and Missy continue cleaning the figs and filling the jars. Well, Granny cleans and cooks and Missy? She “tastes” the figs…

TGW-02-30-17

Arthur Moon, Juan Darer and Lucky Perkins, are supposed to lay cobblestones in the greenhouse, while the Grey sisters are canning the fresh figs Missy brought.

Arthur leads the way, ‘Thanks for helping me out today! Let’s aim to fix this floor before sunset, guys.’

Lucky Perkins nods towards the wall without leaving Arthur’s face with his eyes. ‘That wall… is all catawampus.’

‘It isn’t.’

Lucky spits tobacco on the ground, ‘Oh yeah, reckon it is.’

Arthur starts rummaging through his box of tools, taking out a spirit level. ‘See? Straight as an arrow!’

Lucky takes the spirit level from his hands and checks it thoroughly. Chewing his tobacco, he hands it back. ‘Who says these little bubbles there, are-’

Arthur opens his mouth and takes a step forward, but Juan holds him back with a hand on his shoulder, ‘Don’t worry about Lucky. He’d argue with a fence post! Now quit your piddlin’ and get to work! I’ll just fix the connections to the alarm outside and I’ll be back directly.’

Lucky and Arthur looks at each other malevolently.

‘Well, hand me that do-hicky…’ Lucky snatches the hoe fork out of Arthur’s hands and grumbling starts breaking up the ground, ‘Should keep his hands off her… Needs a real man… To pretty for a sissy… I’ll show him… grrr…’

TGW-02-30-18

‘Did you say something, Lucky?’ Arthur growls.

‘Yeah.’ Lucky stops digging, ‘I said Yankees are like hemorrhoids: Pain in the butt when they come down and always a relief when they go back up. It ain’t because you live in the South you’re a Southern gentleman!’

‘Being a gentleman isn’t a Southern thing. Look at you!’

TGW-02-30-19

Lucky cleans his ear, ‘I ain’t sure I heard that?’

‘I said you’re a Southerner but you’re sure as Hell no gentleman. Hey! My dog sleeps in the garage – it doesn’t make him a truck!’

‘Well, shut my mouth. Sass me one more time and I’m gonna lay a hurtin’ on ya!’

‘I’m no kid, Lucky.’

‘Can see that.’ Lucky looks him over, ‘If you were an inch taller, you’d be round.’

TGW-02-30-20

Arthur fumes, ‘Well, you’re so skinny, you can’t even see your shadow.’

TGW-02-30-21

Lucky takes a step closer, ‘You’re so fulla shit your eyes are brown!’

TGW-02-30-22

‘Really? If I had a dog as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and make him walk backwards.’

TGW-02-30-23

‘Really?’

‘Really!’

They stare at each other, inches apart.

TGW-02-30-24

Lucky hisses, ‘Me-n-you are gonna mix.’

Arthur hisses back, ‘I’m afraid you’ll bite off more than you can chew.’

‘Hah! I’ll knock you so hard you’ll see tomorrow today.’

TGW-02-30-25

Juan secures the last cable and closes the alarm box.

What’s all the ruckus about? He pushes open the door and stares in disbelief, ‘What in the Sam Hill are you guys doin’?’

TGW-02-30-25a

‘STOP IT!!!’

TGW-02-30-26

Arthur and Lucky reluctantly stop fighting.

Lucky straightens his hat, ‘He’s a snake in the grass, tryin’ to get between Granny and me!’

Arthur snorts, ‘Hah! There must be something going on first, to get between you!’

‘I may have been born at night, but not last night! I’ve seen how you look at her!’

Juan tries to calm them down, ‘C’mon, boys. Don’t lose your head over a girl.’

‘Granny’s no girl!’ Lucky sputters, ‘She’s a… a…’

‘Lady. She’s a lady.’ Arthur adds.

‘Yup. That’s it. I reckon Arthur’s right. A fine lady.’

Juan looks at them, ‘Well, now that’s settled, we’d better get you cleaned up before lunch, or the lady in question will pitch a hissy fit…’

TGW-02-30-27

‘Just look at you, bleeding like stuck pigs!’ Juan chuckles. ‘Now shake hands like grown-ups.’

Lucky reaches for Arthur’s hand, throwing a menacing glance at Juan who’s on his way to amicably put his arm around his shoulder, ‘Don’t even think about it.’

Juan smiles uneasily and puts his hands in his pockets, ‘Err… I’ll just run back to the house and get some beers and ice, and you two-’ he looks from Lucky to Arthur, ‘-should go ahead tryin’ to mend fences. I’ll be back directly!’

Reluctantly Lucky and Arthur shakes hands. Picking up their hoe forks, they stand there a little awkwardly, weighing the dangerous tools in their hands as if waiting for an excuse to use them…

‘Well, I guess all’s been said.’

‘Yup. I reckon we’d better get started.’

TGW-02-30-28

‘Weren’t you supposed to make jam with those?’

‘Oups! Juan! You scared me. I’m just tasting to see if they are ripe enough…’ Missy looks at him with her hands on her hips. ‘What on earth are you doing in the kitchen? Aren’t you supposed to dig up a floor or something?’

‘Well… It’s so hot out there in the greenhouse, you could pull a baked potato right out of the ground. So I was wonderin’-’

‘In the fridge, Juan. You have fresh lemonade… or beer if you prefer.’ Granny says all the while surveying the procedure of heating the filled jars.

‘Thanks.’ He takes a six pack from the fridge, and grabs some ice and a towel before heading out again, pinching his wife’s behind on the way. ‘Ah guess we’ll need that fart blanket tonight, hon’!’

‘Juan! Act like you got some raising!’ Missy swaps at his hand but he dodges her and chuckling vanishes outside.

TGW-02-30-29

Soon the kitchen counter is filled with popping jars, making the dogs outside whine even more.

‘Why do they pop?’

‘The vacuum effect has taken place. It causes the lids to pop down and seal. Would you mind checking the first jars to see if  they have cooled thoroughly?’

Missy touches the jars, ‘It seems they are cool enough.’

‘Good… Can you be an angel and remove the screw bands and label the canned jars?’

Missy pulls up a chair and grabs the labels, ‘What do you want me to write on them?’

‘Err… Today’s date and “Homemade Fig Jam”! And on the jars with whole fruits in them, you write “Homemade Canned Figs”.’

TGW-02-30-30

Missy quickly labels the jars and returns watching what Granny’s doing. ‘How many jars can you can at the same time?’

‘Three.’

‘But it will take the whole day to finish all those figs!’ Missy gestures towards the half full basket.

‘These are the last three. We’ll make a pie with the remaining figs, that you can bring home tonight.’

‘Oh, yes. Fig pie! Yummy. Do you remember Mrs. Brown’s fig pie?’

Granny nods. ‘Yes… It’s actually her recipe I’ve got.’

‘Brilliant!’ Missy claps her hands. ‘I’m a little hungry again, can I take a yoghurt or something?’

‘Of course. Help yourself.’

TGW-02-30-31

Missy rummages through the fridge and starts out from the kitchen with her tray.

‘Missy! I thought you said a yoghurt?’

Missy sighs. What!?! Has she got eyes in her neck now??? But obediently she turns back and slams the tray down next to Granny who’s preparing the pastry.

TGW-02-30-32

Granny glances at the loaf of bread and the peanut butter on Missy’s tray. She lost count after ten or so figs, and now peanut butter… Last time Missy went on a food binge was at fourteen after Magnus Darkling had rejected her advances…

She works the pastry quickly to a smooth crust with the baking pin on the marble surface and lines a porcelain pie plate, before starting to add the figs, all the while glancing at Missy and wondering if she should say something. It’s her little sister after all, and maybe she’s not happy in her marriage. Juan could seem brutish at times… Maybe he hits her! OhmyGod…

TGW-02-30-33

Missy furiously spreads peanut butter and then generously adds jelly onto two slices of bread and jams them together. She licks her fingers but stops when she meets Granny’s disapproving look.

‘What?’

‘I’m just worried, Missy.’

‘About what?’

Granny sighs, and adds a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, salt and nutmeg. ‘I’m just worried about your… eating habits.’

‘Oh, come on, Granny! I’ve never had any “eating habits” as you so nicely put it!’

Granny pours some flour onto the fruits to absorb the juice and tops it with the second crust. She presses the edges together, avoiding eye contact, ‘Really?’

‘Really what?’

Granny puts the pie into the oven and dries her hands on the apron. ‘Don’t you remember how utterly sad you where after Magnus Darkling turned you down, and how you took refuge into eating!’

Missy stares at her, openmouthed. Granny picks up the second bowl and energetically starts to whisk eggs into it.

H™tel RITZ Paris - 1720

Missy blemishes, ‘Let’s put this straight. He preferred you, yes. Because you’ve always been beautiful and he could compel you to let him feed on you!’

Granny stares at her sister, ‘He didn’t feed on me!’

‘Oh, yes he did! I’ve had a cup of Vervein every night since I was a kid to be able to sleep, so I guess I was so overfilled with it he couldn’t drink from me, even less compel me…’ She draws her breath, ‘Yes, I was madly in love with him, for real, and yes it was me who went to his room. You may as well grit your teeth and accept the fact!’

Granny has to hold on to the counter to steady herself.

Missy stares defiantly at her older sister, ‘But wait, there’s more! He took my virginity because I went to his suite and practically threw it on him, and yes! I’m glad he didn’t turn me away!’

Shocked, Granny draws for breath. Missy continues, ‘It was the best night in my whole life! Still is! And I was devastated when he sent me away because I was too young!’

‘14! You were 14 for God’s sake, Missy!’

‘Well, that was 43 years ago, I’m over it now. You should get over it too.’

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Grabbing her plate, she turns on her heels. ‘It smells from the oven by the way.’

‘Missy, I…’

But Missy is already stomping out of the kitchen. Granny looks after her sister, feeling the hatred of Taïga’s father grow in her chest. The damned vampire only did this to sow the grain of discord between the two sisters, she knows it. He didn’t succeed in 1973 and she mustn’t let him succeed now.

TGW-02-30-36

Sprinkler appears on the counter next to the stove. Granny quickly recovers her composure and smiles at the sight of the little leprechaun.

‘I’ve been checking on the late roses and that made me hungry. What is this? Smells good.’

‘It’s Chinese food – Dim Sum.’

‘Are there po-ta-toes in them?’

‘No. Fish and vegetables. Try one!’

Sprinkler hesitates before popping one into his mouth. ‘Ouch!’ He waves his little hands before his open mouth and rolls his eyes, ‘You forgot to say chili pepper!’

‘Ohmygod! Are they too spicy?’

Sprinkler licks his fingers, ‘No. But a little too warm for my taste.’

Granny puts some Dim Sums on a plate for the little leprechaun.

‘Can I have some pie too?’

‘Of course, if that troll Lucky Perkins leaves some. You know what? I’ve baked another one just for you.’

The leprechaun settles by the window and starts telling her about the little rabbit that lives under the old Banyan tree… Granny nods and hums, but her mind is elsewhere.

So Magnus Darkling slept with her little sister. If she had known, she would have killed him! Or at least tried. But maybe that was what he wanted, the scheming bastard! Of course he’s a being without heart or morals, and when he was born in Scandinavia in the 10th century, marrying 12 year olds was probably common… If they even got married, those Viking barbarians!

TGW-02-30-36a

Her thoughts wander back 43 years, to Paris in 1973…

Granny and Missy stayed at the Ritz with their father who had business in France, but Granny was mostly alone with her teenage sister. They went window shopping at the Place Vendôme, fantasizing about the expensive jewelry, and bought new clothes and shoes at the Galeries Lafayette.

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Granny felt weirdly restless in the romantic city, and was intrigued by the blond stranger who checked in on a boring Sunday. Everything about him was fascinating and their day-to-day existence totally changed with Magnus Darkling at the hotel!

He took her with storm, and must have compelled their father because he didn’t argue when they wanted to stay in Paris while he continued his business trip to the South of France. Magnus Darkling was an artist, and of course she modelled for him. He was bohemian at heart, so arrogant and reckless, never worrying about right or wrong. “Rules are made to be broken” was his favorite saying.

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Once, after a late night at the Opera, he took them both to a restaurant for oysters and champagne. Back at the hotel, they sneaked into the new ballroom. Expertly swigging directly from an indecently expensive bottle of Moët & Chandon 1943, he hammered away at the grand piano, ash from his cigarette falling onto the keys as the tones of the Beer barrel polka filled the ballroom.

His green eyes didn’t leave hers as she danced with Missy, swirling round and round until they fell into a giggling heap on the polished floor…

TGW-02-30-39

They spent the month of May visiting Paris. Magnus seemed to know everything about the beautiful city and took them to places as varied as La Butte Montmartre, the Catacombes and the Louvre. She got her portrait painted on the place du Tertre and they shared their first kiss on the Pont Neuf…

On a whim he took them as far as the English Channel when he decided to go to Deauville for a polo game. Granny had some afterthoughts when he showed them their ride, but Missy was excited at the view of the old battered Citroën, ‘It’s so typically French! We should do this like the locals!’

The old car faithfully took them in a cloud of exhaust fumes to Versailles and Fontainebleau and to Monet’s home and marvelous gardens in Giverny… They had romantic picnics on the banks of the river Seine and Loing, unfortunately never alone. Magnus was really kind to Missy and always saw to it she had fun during their daily discoveries of the City of Lights and the surroundings, plying her with ice-cream and just about everything she pointed at…

But Granny longed for the evenings and their romantic dinners, and of course the partying. Magnus knew everyone worth knowing and the Champagne flowed. He introduced her to Charles Aznavour, Johnny Hallyday, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo. She discussed hot topics like abortion with Simone Veil and philosophy with Jean-Paul Sartre…

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But everything must come to an end, and Missy was devastated when it was time to take the fast Concorde for the four hour flight over the Atlantic to Falls Harbor, followed by a 6 hours flight across the country back home to Moonlight Falls. Granny thought it was a simple “teenage in love” thing – until today!

So Magnus Darkling had thought he could destroy them by bedding them both! Why does it hurt so much to think that she had shared the devilishly handsome vampire with her sister? She trembles with rage thinking that Magnus also seduced her daughter Shasta… the nerve! And against all odds, Shasta became pregnant with Taïga!* Oh God, what a mess.

All this because of what happened back in 1779, when their ancestors took out Yggve Darkling, Magnus’ father and maker. Magnus swore revenge and has hunted the Grey witches since, swearing to make their lives a misery – and kill them. For the moment they’ve escaped his wrath thanks to her promise to cloak him from the Council, but then again, she hasn’t included him in the monthly spell for quite a while now. Maybe he’s lost his edge – who knows… Or maybe the fact that he knows he’s a father might have cut them some slack.** She hopes that he will just leave them alone forever…

‘… so the little rabbit would like to have his share of carrots!’

‘Uh-huh, yes. Of course.’

*Part I – Chapter 49

**Part I – Chapter 51

TGW-02-30-41

‘I’m so hungry I’m fartin’ cobwebs.’ Lucky rubs his hands together, eyeing the goodies on the table. The men tuck into the plates with Dim Sum and the potato salad Missy brought.

‘This is gooder’n grits. Can I have some more?’ Arthur and Juan grunt in agreement, asking for seconds.

The potato salad looks delicious but Granny tastes it suspiciously. It’s real! She meets Missy’s triumphant eyes. ‘It’s really good! You made it yourself?’

‘It’s nothing special, really, just an old Southern recipe. I would have made hot fried chicken, but we didn’t have any chicken…’

Juan stops with his fork halfways to his mouth, ‘Why are you smilin’ like a goat in a briarpatch? You didn’t cook this!’ He looks around the table, ‘My Missy is such a bad cook, anythin’ that comes out of her oven ain’t fit to eat.’

Juan glares at Missy who glares back, ‘Well, thank you, Billy Sunday. Next time you’ll eat with the pigs!’

‘She’s a sweet little heifer, that wifey of yours! When she’s not pitching one of those hissie fits! Hehehe!’

Juan joins in the laugh, ‘Sure enough, Lucky! I reckon my Missy could start an argument in an empty house. And win! She’s always right, indeed she is! Even when she’s wrong!’

Missy raises her chin and opens her mouth but Granny cuts in, changing the sensible subject, ‘So how’s it going with the cobblestones?’

‘Fine!’ Arthur looks relieved, ‘A couple of hours and we’re done.’

‘This was mighty fine, Granny! I’m full as a tick!’ Lucky glances at the lime pie and pats his stomach, ‘But I reckon there’s just enough place in here for a slice of that sweet pie…’

Granny smiles pleasantly and asks Missy if she can serve.

‘Sure.’ Missy cuts the pie and nods to the newspaper on the floor, ‘Did you hear about the school buses, Granny?’

‘No, what about them?’

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Granny rises and picks it up. Arthur’s dog, Ruff, has a bad habit of bringing in the newspaper, and Granny hates to read the chewed pages.

‘Well. Didn’t you read the paper this morning? They are going to cancel the school buses to the Bayou because of the maintenance fees during winter, and there aren’t enough kids living here.’

‘Good we ain’t got no kids, huh?’ Juan adds.

‘Well, school’s just down the road, they can bike there.’ Lucky adds, using a piece of bread to soak up the sauce from his plate.

‘What? Down the road? It takes Taïga more than a half hour to bike to school! They can’t do this to our kids!’ Granny protests.

‘We did at their age.’ Everybody looks at Lucky who adds, ‘Biked to school. And we didn’t even have bikes.’

‘Lucky Perkins. You didn’t even go to school in Fairview!’ And as far as I’m concerned, you didn’t go to school at all…

‘There’s no need to get on your high horse here, Missy!’

‘I think it’s one of Mayor Ashcroft’s ways to save money…’

‘Save money? He’s as tight as the pages in a book. You’d think he’s financing everything with his own money, not ours!’

‘Yeah. And he turns a blind eye when it suits him. I’ve heard he’s tight with Joey Moroni.’

‘Nah. They hate each other! But I think he’s got some business with Nat Kempinsky, letting him buy property on the beach and build there.’

‘That politician’s so crooked he could hide behind a cork screw!’ Granny pesters, and they finish the meal animatedly discussing politics.

Armed with another pack of beer, the men return to their doings in the green house, while Granny and Missy settle down with a cup of sweet tea and cupcakes.

‘Why didn’t you tell me, Missy?’

‘Would you have listened? Or rather – would you have believed me?’

Granny looks at the tea swirling in her cup. ‘I don’t know, Missy. I guess I would have thought you… fantasized about Magnus.’

‘See? That’s why I didn’t tell you. Nothing would have changed anyway, I was sent to boarding school and a couple of years later you met Rune Blackwood and had Shasta. And I… Well, I moved to Transylvania…’

TGW-02-30-42

As soon as Arthur, Lucky and the Darer’s have left, Granny hurries upstairs to change into gardening gear. Now the cobblestones are installed, she must get down to business with the little leprechaun. The hard part will be to trick him into moving the cowplant from the shed and into the new greenhouse, but Granny has an idea…

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Granny brings a curious Sprinkler with her into the greenhouse to plant her special seeds.

‘Special seeds? What is a special seed?’

‘Err… It’s special. Wait and see.’

She pours soil into one of the planters and makes a hole with her gloved finger. She buries the seed, and empties the water can over it.

‘So what have you planted here?’

‘I don’t know, Sprinkler. We’ll see…’

‘We need some fairy magic to make those seeds grow faster!’

‘Yes… It’s a pity we don’t have any fairies in the vicinity…’

‘I’m a fairy!’

‘You’re a leprechaun.’

‘Exactly!’

‘So you mean you can make these seeds speed grow?’

‘Speed grow? No. I don’t have that kind of magic.’ Granny just snorts and continues mixing soil and adding it to the large pot. ‘You don’t believe me, do you?’

Granny glances up at him, ‘I know you can you can eat huge amounts of food-’

‘Lime pie. Almost as good as po-ta-toes.’

Granny hides a smile. ‘-and move really fast-’

‘Teleportation.’

’Right. And teleport weed…’ Sprinkler looks proud and nods. ‘But teleporting something big is impossible!’

‘It’s not!’ Angrily he moves the water can closer to Granny. ‘Mind your head!’ He boasts.

‘Really?’ Granny glances up, the water can is hovering over her head. She scratches her chin, ‘That was impressive. An empty water can…’

‘Lucky for you it was empty or you would have been soaked!’ The little leprechaun lets the water can fall back onto the ground with a loud clang. ‘Go ahead and tell me what to move then! Yourself? The car? The whole house?’

Granny pretends to think about it. ‘The cowplant.’

Sprinkler stares at her, and Granny fakes being sorry. ‘How stupid of me! Nobody can move a cowplant! I’m sorry…’

‘I didn’t say I couldn’t! But it can only be done once. It’s not the kind of thing you harvest and replant every season…’

Granny raises an eyebrow and reaches for her trowel. ‘Better leave it alone…’

‘But then again, I might do it – just to annoy you!’

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A second later a loud thud behind her back announces the cowplant landing in the middle of the greenhouse.

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Granny watches in awe as the sprawling roots snake through the air and dig into the rich soil…

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Wide eyed she stares from it to Sprinkler, who nonchalantly whistles a merry tune and jumps off the water can. Gosh! She really had not expected it to be so easy to make him do it…

‘Time for dinner! Hurry!’

Always hungry, that little one…

TGW-02-30-46a

Granny can’t find her sleep when she goes to bed that night. She thinks about Missy’s revelations and about Magnus Darkling… Irritated, she finally gets up and walks over to the huge wardrobe. She pulls up a chair to climb, and rummages around on the shelf, pushing aside pullovers and cardigans. Ah, there it is. An old orange and brown box lettered Hermès.

Carefully she steps down from the chair and brings the box to her bed. With trembling hands, she unties the strings and lifts the lid… The timeworn box is filled with old letters and postcards, notebooks and dried flowers. She rummages through it and finds what she was looking for. A little black book that still smells of leather when she lifts it up. She opens it, and there he is. Magnus Darkling… and on the first page his sketching of the Eiffel Tower. She turns the pages filled with drawings, poems and even phone numbers and some addresses. With a sigh she puts it back into the box. Now what is this?

TGW-02-30-46b

Carefully rolled in silk paper is one of the sketches Magnus drew of her…Her finger traces the outlines of her face. So like Shasta… And Taïga. For a moment she hesitates, then she crumples it and throws it viciously towards the fireplace. And she misses.

She doesn’t even notice she’s crying before her vision is totally blurred. With the box in her hands, she rises and picks up the crumpled drawing. She doesn’t care to smooth it before replacing it in the box and closing the lid.

I should burn it all… She stands in front of the fireplace, but finally sighs and climbs up on the chair again and hides the box behind the old clothes she never wears.

Should I tell Taïga about her father? She has the right to know… But she’ll probably want to see him, and that might not be such a good idea. What if he claims her to stay with him? No, she must go through the ritual, and then we’ll see how things develop…

TGW-02-30-47

Taïga is waiting in the kitchen for Linn to pick her up. Her bag with her riding gear is ready, and she’s a little nervous. It will be her first day at work…

She eats one of the leftover figs telling Granny about what happened at school yesterday, ‘… and they both dragged me away to-’

‘Who?’

‘Darryl and Tyler, Granny. I already told you. Anyway, they told me to close my eyes and-’

‘Do you mean you followed two boys who dragged you away? Eyes shut?’

‘Granny! I know Tyler and Darryl, they wanted to show me something!’

The doorbell chimes. ‘I’ll take it, Granny!’

Taïga hurries after a whining Valkyria, expecting to find Linn on the threshold.

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Smiling she opens the door and Valkyria rushes out to greet Ruff.

‘It’s Mr. Moon, Granny!’ she calls over her shoulder. ‘Good morning, Mr. Moon! Come in!’

‘Just call me Arthur, Taïga.’

‘Yes, of course, Mr. Mo- Arthur. Err… Granny’s getting ready.’

Granny appears from the kitchen, ‘Oh my god, Arthur, I’m sorry but I didn’t notice what time it was! Why don’t you wait in the living room, while I change and throw something edible in a basket for our picnic?’

Arthur smiles at her, ‘I’ll just wait outside, keeping an eye on the dogs… Will you bring Valkyria?’

‘No, she’ll come with me to the equestrian center.’ Taïga cuts in. ‘We’ll take the horses jogging on the beach, and I think Valkyria will enjoy running a bit too.’

‘Oh, yes.’ Arthur scratches his chin, ‘Tara told me you got a job. Grooming horses, is that it?’

‘Uh-huh.’

‘We had a horse when I was a kid. It was a race horse and my dad had won it playing dice…’

They continue discussing horses while Granny hurries upstairs to change.

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‘Wow! That was fast!’

Granny grabs the picnic basket in the kitchen.’ Be careful, Taïga! Promise you’ll wear a helmet and don’t go to fast on the beach-’

Taïga ushers her out, ‘Have a nice day both of you.’ She whistles for Valkyria, ‘You’ll stay with me…’ She holds on to the collar as Valkyria whines when Ruff gets in the truck.

Granny slides down the window and leans out, ‘And don’t forget to close the door when you leave!’

Taïga smiles and waves. ‘No worries, Granny!’

TGW-02-30-50

Arthur parks his truck and they walk down to the water.

‘Let me introduce you to the Sea Queen!’ He says proudly, gesticulating towards an old rowboat. ‘It has never seen the sea though…’

Granny laughs. ‘As long as she doesn’t sink…’

‘Oh, she won’t.’ Arthur pulls on the chain to bring the boat closer and unlocks the padlock. ‘Just a second.’

He jumps aboard and starts scooping out water with a little plastic bucket.

‘Are you sure it won’t sink?’

‘Hey. Do you seriously believe I aim to drown you?’

He reaches out his hand and she hands him the picnic basket, before letting him help her aboard.

TGW-02-30-51 A Moment10

Arthur manoeuvers the little boat through the meandering reed and out into more open waters. Ruff is whining and soon jumps into the water, making Granny scream and lean over reaching for him, ‘I’m so sorry. I should have held on to his collar, but I never imagined he would jump. Stop rowing or we’ll lose him!’

‘Don’t worry. He does this all the time…’

‘But what if there are alligators?’

‘I’ve never seen any around here… He’ll be all right…’ Arthur rows and smiles at her. ‘Isn’t it beautiful? If we’re lucky we’ll see deer, and water birds.’

Granny nods. He’s right, the water reflects the sun, birds are singing and she likes the peaceful sound of the oars hitting the water.

TGW-02-30-52 A Moment07

The day in the Bayou with Arthur Moon turned out to be everything he had promised. Granny brought her camera, and took some really lovely pictures.

TGW-02-30-53 A Moment06

She lounged in the shadows, reading, while Arthur was fishing. It felt strangely soothing to see him just a few feet away, pulling up fish after fish, smiling and waving at her.

TGW-02-30-54 A Moment08

Granny had prepared a simple but tasty picnic; hot dog wraps, pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes, fig pie and a bottle of Richebois rosé wine. Even Ruff had a bone…

TGW-02-30-55 A Moment09

It was already late afternoon when they made their way back.

TGW-02-30-56 A Moment05

Arthur told her stories from his childhood in Canada, making Granny laugh. When they pulled up in front of Bayou Oaks Mansion, he jumped out and gentlemanly held the door for her.

‘I would like to take you out sometime… Again.’

‘I’d love to.’

‘There’s a magician in town next week, he’ll perform at “On the Rocks”. Would you like to go?’

‘I have to check my appointments, but yes. I’d very much like to go.’

‘So… Err… Can I call you?’

‘Of course you can!’

TGW-02-30-57

As soon as Granny gets inside, she calls Taïga and they both go out to the new green house to feed the cow plant. Usually it enjoys fresh fish, but now it just gapes, swallows and hangs its head.

‘Maybe it’s the move…’

‘Yeah, you said Sprinkler said it’s not the kind of plant you replant…’

They leave the greenhouse, closing the door and programming the alarm.

‘But if it dies… Isn’t that a good thing, Granny?’

‘Well. If it dies of old age it will wither like a normal plant and just vanish – or become compost if you prefer. But if it dies at the height of its age, its poison will contaminate the ground for miles around. It would be a catastrophe, everything-’

‘-would die…’ Taïga finishes Granny’s sentence and holds the door for her.

‘Yes. Even the ground water would be contaminated and kill people.’

‘Do you think Sprinkler could help us?’

‘I don’t know, but we’ll ask him at dinner. I’ll make a potato salad, he liked Missy’s the other day.’

Taïga follows Granny into the bathroom to wash her hands.

‘I’ll just take a quick shower. Why don’t you tell me about your day riding on the beach?’

TGW-02-30-58

Taïga takes a seat on the edge of the bathtub, ‘Linn and I didn’t ride on the beach, but Ana and her dad took their horses for a quick jog…’

TGW-02-30-59

‘It was OK because I passed almost the whole day with Linn. Ozzie took us to the Blackwater’s to check out a new horse. Her name’s Brandy and she’s a Pinto, just like Sweet Thing!’

TGW-02-30-60

‘The Sempill-Lovatt’s are looking for a typical American horse for their niece who comes over for Halloween, I think she’ll stay the whole school year… So Ozzie asked me to take Brandy out and test her.’

TGW-02-30-61

‘She was cool but a little lazy; as soon as I let the reins long, she tried to graze, and then we had to catch up with Linn and Scarlett…’ ‘Will you recommend the horse?’ ‘No. The Lovatt’s niece is pretty good – show jumping and stuff. Hawk Blackwater has several other horses they will try this week, so I guess they’ll eventually find a good one.’

Granny quickly dries her hair and curls it. The magical spray she vaporizes generously over her wet hair makes it take less than a minute.

‘Could I ask you something, Granny?’

Granny smiles, ‘We don’t have enough money for a horse, dear.’

Taïga laughs. ‘No, Granny. It’s something entirely different!’

She grabs her grandmother’s hand and drags her over the landing and into her room…

TGW-02-30-62

‘So I was thinking I could redecorate a bit, now that Rowan’s gone and everything.’

‘You’re right. Your room looks a little out of fashion for a young girl… But I’m not sure to have enough money to redo it completely…’

TGW-02-30-63

‘I thought…’ Taïga takes a deep breath, ‘I thought we could use magic.’

‘Magic? But you know it will put an awful strain on me.’

‘I said “we”. I could do the practical part, you just tell me what to say and I’ll do it!’

TGW-02-30-64

The tapestry is a nice shade of blue, but it would look better in my room than hers… And the furniture was already second hand when I bought it in Midnight Hollow. She’s not supposed to use a wand before the ritual, but I know she already has. One more time won’t hurt, as long as the counsel never find out…

‘Granny? Hellooo.’

With a sigh Granny focuses on Taïga again. ‘What color were you thinking?’

‘Oh, thank you Granny!’ Taïga hugs her grandmother, ‘Will I be able to put up pictures too?’

Granny knows what her granddaughter is aiming at, ‘Only pictures you already have, dear… I can’t create something that doesn’t already exist…’ But maybe you will be able to do it… one day…

‘Oh…’ Taïga looks a little disappointed.

‘Why don’t you pick out the pictures you’d like to have on your walls, while I go upstairs and search for a suitable redecorating formula?’

A half hour later Granny teaches Taïga the magic words, and reverently Taïga picks up her mother’s blue wand and weighs it in her hands.

Granny is a little nervous, Taïga is so unexperienced. I hope she’ll remember the words correctly…

Taïga is nervous too, she hasn’t touched the wand since the cowplant, and that was a huge mistake…* And then she almost killed the Arrington sisters…* I guess my wand curriculum isn’t extraordinary…

‘Are you ready, Taïga?’

Taïga nods and closes her eyes to concentrate. She can feel a warmth radiating from the hand that holds the wand, up the arm and seeping all through her body. Suddenly she knows she can do this. She visualizes the room she’d always wanted, raises her arm and pronounces the magical words.

*Part II – Chapter 24

TGW-02-30-65

Granny bends under the weight of the magic Taïga unleashes as she murmurs the ancient words, eyes shut. Gaping, she tries to stay on her feet as the room seems to distort when her granddaughter transforms everything in the room at once!

‘What do you think?’

Granny looks around her. Light grey walls, new curtains in the windows and hiding the door to the walk in closet. The floorboards are now a shade of grey and there are star shaped lights in the windows. The old dresser has become a modern desk, with an ergonomic chair, and in the corner hangs the same kind of chair as when she was young. The bed is huge, with a soft blanket. The small photographs and clippings from teen magazines are now hanging glossy on the walls… Her eyes fill with tears.

‘Don’t you like it?’

‘Oh, Taïga. It’s wonderful…’ She hugs her granddaughter. ‘All this… at once. I can’t see why we have to wait for the blood moon to start your apprentice training…’

Taïga doesn’t really know how she feels about the training. She was apprehensive to use the wand to make over her room, even with Granny by her side.

‘It doesn’t matter, Granny. We’ll start when the counsel tells us to.’

Granny nods, ‘You did all the magic, but I feel exhausted anyway. I think I’ll just skip dinner and retire with a book… Goodnight, darling.’

‘Goodnight, Granny. Can Linn sleep over tomorrow? I’d like to show her my room.’

Granny nods and closes the door behind her. Taïga’s magic is powerful for an inexperienced witch… When the council finds out- If the council finds out, they’ll never let her go. Maybe she’ll need Magnus protection after all… He’s certainly the only one who can stop the marriage! I have to talk to Missy about it…

TGW-02-30-66

After spending the day at the stables, Linn stays for the night at Taïga’s place. She’s impressed when she discovers the new decoration.

‘Wow, I love your room! Granny has gone all out to surprise you!’ She plops down on the bed, ‘And your bed is comfy! Good to know I won’t have to sleep on the floor anymore,’ she says and winks. ‘I love all the pictures of Damon Salvatore, he’s so utterly handsome.’ Her gaze falls on the pictures over the desk. ‘Doesn’t it hurt, seeing Derek?’

Taïga nods. ‘I would hate to forget his face… And this is the only picture of him I’ve got, the others were saved on my cell and…’

Linn remembers that Taïga threw her cell into the wall, breaking it beyond repair. She bites her lip and changes the subject. ‘I guess these guys are from APYR? You didn’t talk about them a lot…’

‘Well, I did. But I guess you only listened to what I had to say about… Derek.’

‘Well, I’m all ears now!’

TGW-02-30-67

‘… and next to Chase Bayless is Evil Bitch Elspeth.’

‘The girl who was preggers?’

‘Yeah. I wonder what she’s doing now…’

‘Do you think that famous guy in Bridgeport married her?’

‘You mean the baby’s father? It was Matthew Hamming’s brother, Michael Love. Gosh what a name – she should have seen it coming!’

‘He’s making a name for himself though, he’s the new guy in that TV series “Zombie Apocalypse”.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. Who’s the buff guy with the Mohawk? He looks mean!’

‘Yeah.’ Taïga giggles. ‘It’s VJ. His bad boy image was kind of destroyed when he won the Work Related Award!’

‘What’s that?’

‘An award they give the kid who’s progressed the most, working hardest etc.’

‘Wow.’

‘Next to him is Jupiter Belle, he was trying to ditch a drug problem and I think he was interested in VJ.’

‘Belle like in Lola Belle?’

‘Uh-huh. Didn’t I tell you?’

‘I guess you did. The guy with the shades must be pervert Lil Bling?’

Taïga laughs, ‘Yeah… And last one is Thomas Castor. He’s a computer genius, probably the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg!’

Which bring them onto the subject of Computer science at school. After discussing the pro’s and con’s of extra PE, they had finally settled for computer science instead. They are happy now they didn’t sign up for extra sports, especially when they saw the assault of girls wanting to sign off. Which was denied, BTW.

TGW-02-30-68

The phone starts ringing right when Linn and Taïga heads out to school the next morning. Taïga hesitates, then she remembers that Granny is away with Arthur somewhere.

‘Tell the driver I’ll be right out if the bus comes!’ She throws her bag on the floor and runs into the study, ‘Rowan!’

Taïga is delighted, her brother doesn’t call often. He’s probably too busy with school, especially as the private school he’s going to is fancy but terribly strict, there are no girls allowed.

TGW-02-30-69

‘Hey! You sound out of breath!’

‘Had to run back in. Has something happened?’

‘No. I just wanted to talk to Granny.’

‘Well, she’s at the beach.’

‘The beach? But she hates the beach!’

Taïga hesitates, ‘Do you remember our neighbor who was at the wedding? Arthur Moon?’

‘Err… I’m not sure.’

‘Well, she’s at the beach with him!’

TGW-02-30-70

She continues before her brother has a chance to say anything, ‘I think she’s falling in love, Rowan. She’s so happy and he’s so awkward and sweet around her. They go to all sorts of events and fishing and to the beach-’

‘Ugh, that’s gross!’

‘No, it isn’t!’

‘It is! I can’t shake the vision of them in bathing suits doing pedal boats or something!’

‘They might be old, but they aren’t monsters! I’ll remember what you said when you’re 50! Or 60!’

‘Hahaha! I’ll never get old, sis!’

TGW-02-30-71

‘Hey, aren’t you supposed to be in class? What time is it over there-’ she checks her watch and quickly adds 6 hours, ‘-1:30?’

‘Yeah, but it’s lunchbreak so everyone’s at the canteen. I just wanted to know if you’ll come visit over Halloween.’

‘I’m sorry Rowan, but the blood moon will occur during Samhain and I can’t miss it – again.’

TGW-02-30-72

‘Dang! I had it all figured out…I’ll fly in to surprise you then!’

She can hear him talking in rapid Italian with someone.

TGW-02-30-73

‘Rowan! I have to run…’

‘Gimme a second!’

The animated discussion continues for a minute. Taïga sighs and taps her feet, thinking of hanging up.

TGW-02-30-74

‘Sorry, sis. It’s just there’s someone who would have loved to meet you.’

‘Meet me?’

‘Yeah, we’ll take a selfie and- Vieni qui!- I’ll send it on Snapchat – you’ve got four seconds to guess who it is!’

‘C’mon Rowan! Ten!’

‘Six.’

‘OK.’ Taïga bites her lip. I wonder who can possibly be in school with him…

TGW-02-30-75

But suddenly realization hits her, ‘Snapshat? But I don’t have a cell anymore!’ Where’s my iPad? ‘Granny!?!’

But of course Granny is at the beach with Arthur, and the bus is impatiently honking outside. She grabs her bag and hurries out. I know what I’ll do with my first paycheck!

TGW-02-30-76

Rowan waves to his friend to join him, ‘Prendiamo un selfie per mia sorella!’ (Let’s take a selfie for my sister!)

TGW-02-30-77

‘What shall we write?’

‘Ciao mia stella!’*

‘Huh?’

‘She’ll understand…’

*Part I – Chapter 35

TGW-02-30-78

‘… so Rowan said he’ll come here.’

Linn doesn’t answer, just blushes.

Taïga raises Linn’s cell against the window. ‘Finally! She quickly logs into snapchat, ‘Are you ready?’

‘Yeah! Shoot!’

TGW-02-30-79

Taïga opens the message and quickly takes a screenie.

‘Hey, that’s cheating!’

‘You sound like my brother. How on earth would I find out who that is if I can’t take my time?’

She opens the screenshots, Linn peeking over her shoulder. ‘Hm. Ciao mia stella. Hi my star… or Goodbye my star…’

She squints at the picture, ‘Mia stella… mia stella! What was his name again? The Italian boy I met when I stayed the summer at my mom’s… Spaghetti sauce… Goopy Carbonara! It’s Goopy Gils Carbo!’ Excitedly she looks at Linn, ‘Gosh, I should have recognized those blue eyes of his! Can you imagine I was a little in love with him?’

‘He looks kinda cute – at least half of him does!’

The girls giggle, ‘Guys… Can’t even take a selfie correctly…’

Part II – End of Chapter 30

Next Chapter


Special thanks to RomerJon17. All interior school scenes have been staged at his awesome school, Lucas College.