12 Days of Interred continues with
Mara’s Interment (a short story)
My skin is still red from all the scrubbing. Even now, standing in the waiting room, I can feel it tingling.
Not far from me, the Attenborough twins talk incessantly about Andrew Jacobs. I bite my tongue, drawing blood. The mere mention of his name causes me to swear out loud and that’s the last thing I need today.
“Mara Huxtable,” the woman calls my name, and carefully, I walk to the door, still wearing the white bathrobe with the letter “I” embroidered in gold over my chest.
I follow her through the long corridor until she stops. On the door, the family motto, Fide et Marte, is written on cardboard with a poorly designed family crest. Taking a deep breath, I push the door open and smile. It’s not difficult to smile when everyone expects you to be pleased. It just hurts your insides because you don’t feel a thing.
My grandmother, Eleanor Huxtable, is sitting in the big armchair beside the fire. On the other side of her, my mother and father wait. I can see my dad’s eyes glistening with tears as he grins my way. My mother, though clearly moved, remains standing stoic, her expression neutral, but her eyes threatening to let the dam open.
“I’m leaving. Just wanted to give you this.” My father smiles as he moves closer to me and gives me a quick hug, of which I know grandmother Huxtable disapproves.
“What is it?” I ask, frowning. Usually my birthday is celebrated a week before it really is. For one, mortals don’t know about the Magical World, and two, my birthday is on October 31st, a very sacred date in our world. It’s the night when we remember those who have died because of magic.
The fact that my interment is on Halloween makes the occasion that much more solemn. There is a ball to celebrate our Magical gifts. The American Council leaders will be speaking about our past and the way the future should be.
Even if it’s a celebration, it doesn’t go unnoticed that since the English Council Leaders and others who disapprove of the New York Council’s Absorber leaders are here, everyone is on high alert. The last time they joined us, there was a massacre.
My father places a gold chain around my neck as I stare at the beautiful locket. It has gardenia flowers engraved on the gold metal, and my name on the other side with my birthday.
“It’s beautiful.” I smile as he hugs me again before quickly walking to the door. I see him wiping away tears.
“Now…do you have a partner for the ball?” my grandmother asks matter-of-fact, sitting and holding onto her cane.
I see that she’s wearing the onyx pendant. The damn thing is never off her neck. People in the family believe she’s in touch with the boy associated with it, which is slightly creepy. A woman of her age shouldn’t be hanging around a sixteen-year-old boy.
“No,” I reply when I hear the cane banging against the floor, clearly to make me divert my attention back to her.
“Well, it’s a good thing that we asked Andrew Jacobs to escort you then,” she says.
My eyes widen and I turn sharply toward my mother, who smiles and moves closer to me. “The Council approved it,” she says.
As she takes my hand, I really want to ask what the hell they’re thinking. Instead, I ask, “Did the English approve it?” I ignore my grandmother and stare right into my mother’s eyes.
“Yes,” she says, clearing her throat before leading me to the divider where the beautiful blue dress she sewed for me is hanging.
“Are they mad? Have they lost the little shred of humanity that they had?” I ask in a muted whisper.
She cups my cheek with her hand. “Darling, listen to me,” she whispers as her eyes glitter in the light. “The Readers know of your abilities.”
“What?” My voice is louder than I want it to be as panic courses through me.
“After my mother told us, she had to inform them.”
I swallow hard as I look at the floor.
“Mara,” she says softly, “you belong to one of the oldest families in the Magical community. The Huxtables have always been very powerful, and my family leads the Puerto Rican Council. No one will ever harm you.”
“But he’s an Absorber.”
She smiles. “You used to like him.”
“That was a mistake,” I huff. I grit my teeth as she smiles and moves to the other side of the partition.
“Maybe not,” she calls.
I shake my head before moving to grab the dress. Once I’m changed, I stare at my reflection and sigh. I smooth the skirt of my dress and then walk out and see Eleanor’s face twitch. Fearing the worst, I brace myself for more disapproval. The fact that my main ability will be Necromancy hasn’t settled well with her or the Huxtables. They fear reprisals from the English Council…a loss of position or something even more dramatic. I wouldn’t mind watching her getting a dress-down.
“Where is her head?” I hear Grandmother say as I roll my eyes.
“I’m right here.”
“I’m talking and you’re ignoring me then?” she asks.
My cheeks burn. “No, ma’am.”
She frowns. “Madam.”
“No, madam,” I repeat. She smiles one of her twisted smiles which usually foretell pain coming my way.
“I said Andrew is outside. He’ll escort you to the Power Room. Once you’re done there, you’ll join the ball,” she says, standing up. “Make sure that you pass the Interment with high marks. Your mother and father would be disappointed otherwise,” she adds before she walks out of the room.
As the door closes, I spy Andrew standing outside with my father, dressed in a tux, looking more handsome than the last time that I saw him.
“Ass,” I mutter.
My mother smiles as she approaches me. She pins my hair back with one of the special barrettes she made for the dance. They have flowers and tiny blue sapphires on them.
“These are beautiful,” I say so I don’t say anything else about Jacobs.
“I don’t know what happened between the two of you,” she begins as I turn around to look at her. She runs a hand through my blonde ringlets. “You might feel different after tonight.”
“I don’t think so,” I say vehemently as she kisses my cheek and then grins.
“I’ll bet you twenty dollars you will,” she sing-songs on her way to the door.
I frown. “What do you know?” I ask, watching her, but she never slows down. My eyes move to Andrew, who is holding the door open for my mother. Clearly scoring points.
“You look…” he says breathlessly as he stares at me.
“What?” I say, glaring his way.
“Come on, Huxtable.” He grins and I can feel the smile chipping away at my annoyance, but stand my ground.
“I’m going to say this once, Jacobs. It’s never going to happen,” I declare, mainly because I’m still hurt that he broke up with me because he thought we should cool our relationship down before we ended up having to elope. I turn, walking out the door, ignoring the arm he’s offering me.
He lets out a slow whistle. “Good thing there’s no time,” he says as I glance at him and notice the grin on his face.
“Dream on. All you’re getting out of tonight is me stepping on your toes when we dance,” I say as I stalk away from him.
~ ~ ~
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*originally posted here