We sat there like two idiots mulling over spilt soup. “So uh,” I said, not able to put two and two together without sounding like a conspiracy theorist. “There’s a, uhm, the board was overridden by another board. Which mister Jade is part of.”
“Mister Sanscrive. Not Jade. Jade isn’t even their names,”Aaliyah said tartly. I shriveled away from her. She put the tablet down. “Kyrie. Tell me exactly what happened. Again.”
I cleared my throat, then did. Again, I skipped over the whole ‘I ate something’s SOUL!’ and went on to how I flew up to the tower. How I caught in the grid. How I saw a teacher and these other men there, and the shiny (literally!) new principal bowing around at them all. How they were congratulating themselves on hiring her.
“And that was it.” I finished, wringing my hands in the blanket around me. Because now that I said it all out loud, and that we had that business card… things were stinking like fish. Old, mucky, fish.
“You don’t see anything strange about this?” she asked, eyes wide and judging me.
I gulped. I picked up the card. “I thought at first that it was strange for them to host a meeting up in the tower. When I saw the principal and she mentioned it being déjà vu- which is not the right term!” I added before Aaliyah could scold me for that again “I thought that I only saw the vision in the tower, but that it had happened somewhere else. Somewhere where meetings should happen.”
“Like all the meeting rooms around the offices? Yeah,” Aaliyah snapped.
I slowly held up the card. “But this proves they went to that tower.” Aaliyah nodded. I twirled the card in my fingers. “Maybe I was seeing what was going to happen this morning.”
Aaliyah was frustrated. “Why take a new principal all the way up to the tower? For the view?”
I cringed. “Maybe? Aaliyah, I don’t know,”
“And why would those businessmen be there instead of the actual hiring committee? They’ve got no business being there!”
“Parents?” I suggested. “They’re parents maybe that are, on the committee?”
Aaliyah deflated. The air all seemed sucked out of her. “Yeah,” she muttered, looking down at her tablet.
I drew myself up, setting the card on her knee. “Your turn,” I said. “What’s bothering you? You’ve not been okay since, well,” since she found out the principal died. Duh. Right. Uhhh.
“I don’t like her. My – If I had magic senses, you know how I can kind of sense magic even though I haven’t bloomed?”
I nodded eagerly. Aaliyah was the closest to blooming of all of us! Well, except me now. I guess. But she had powers!
She fiddled with the card. “There’s something wrong with that woman. That’s why I wanted to go up the tower. I don’t think,” she slowly chewed on air. “I don’t think something’s right about this.”
“Well,” I said slowly, “she is really weird.” I patted my face. “Did you see her skin? It’s like, plastic I think. Do they do that? Replace the skin on your face with plastic?”
Aaliyah laughed. “No! Silly.” And for a moment she was back to herself. Beaming, smiling, and brilliant. The star in my life. But then a frown crossed her face. “Don’t you find it odd the tower exploded?”
I let out a huff despite myself. “Old magic? The aether in old lamps was pretty unstable I’ve heard. And if there was spells in that room, they could have all just let go at once.”
She frowned and tapped the card on her leg. “But still,” her eyes slid back into focus and she fixated on me. “You’re the bloomed one. Doesn’t this set your magic senses tingling?”
I bit my lip. Could it be that, even bloomed, I was less magical than she? “I, uh,” I rubbed my nose. “I mean, she creeps me out.”
A wave of disappointment came over Aaliyah. I struggled, trying to find words for that creepy feeling that would come over me – but it was just weirdness. It wasn’t anything to do with magic. Magic was, it was what I had felt in the sprite’s soul. What the principal had was just weird.
But Aaliyah seemed to have understood. “I think I’m just upset,” she mumbled.
“Well,” I said half-heartedly. “The principal did just die.” And he loved us.
Aaliyah slapped the card onto her desk. “Yeah,” she said miserably. “And he got replaced with a sparkling dipwit.”
I chuckled. “Sparkling is the word. And so is dipwit, if you’re being kind.”
She grinned at me. “Are you hungry?”
Of course I was. I’d never finished my lunch, remember? So we raced each other to the kitchen, skidded into the fridge, and dug out some snacks. Then we returned to Aaliyah’s room.
“Study, you must study,” she said, impersonating her mother.
“Get a job!” I crowed, throwing a nut in the air. I tried to catch it with my mouth and got smacked on the forehead instead.
“Here,” she said, snatching up a nut and aiming for my face. I nodded, mouth open and waiting for it.
Again, I got the nut in the face. And the next, and the next. On the fourth try I caught it. “Yeah!” I said around it, throwing my fists into the air.
“Alright, now we really have to study,” Aaliyah said, putting the bag of nuts down between us.
And we did. Mister Mackmaney would have been proud. We sprawled on her bed and were very studious. Then, before supper came around, I left to begin the walk home.
It was only when I made it home that I realized that I hadn’t let my mom know in any way where I had been going. But she smiled at the sight of me. “Were you at Aaliyah’s?” she asked knowingly from the oven, where she was pulling some potatoes out.
I nodded, and that was that. “I did my homework,” I announced.
“Good for you.” She said warmly as she set the baking tray on the table with a hot pad beneath. “Now go wash up for supper.”
Supper was scant, but it was heartwarming. I told mom all about the explosion, leaving out the fact that it was me and my friends who had triggered it. But I didn’t leave out one thing. “The new principal touched us!” I said loudly around a mouthful of potato and leeks.
“Really?” she asked, not at all chiding me about my terrible manners. Aaliyah’s mom would have, but my mom never did. She spoke with her mouth full too, on some occasions.
“M-hm!” I clapped myself on the shoulder. “Just laid her hands on us!”
“Well that’s not right,” mom said. “Maybe it was a mistake. She is new, after all.” Then, shaking her head she said “an explosion on her first day on the job.” Chuckling, she shook her head some more. “Poor woman.”
I was miffed. “I don’ like her!” And then I gulped down the potato and shoveled more into my mouth.
Mom gave me a chiding look. “She’s got a hard job. It’s not going to be easy replacing someone dead, and especially not mister Mackmaney. He was really good at it.” Then, after a regretful pause, she said “He was really good to you.”
I pushed that away otherwise I’d feel cold and clammy. “I still don’t like her. Her suits- no mom I’m serious! Her suit is weird! It sparkles!”
Mom shook her head, but this time it was about me. “Teenagers,” she chuckled. “All about clothing.” Then, prodding me on the shoulder and plucking at my sweater she said “You should know better than to judge someone by their clothes!”
“Sequins, mom,” I blurted. “She’s wearing sequins.” Who does that?
Mom was having none of it. “M-mh,” she shook her head in yet another way. “No judging. Sequins or not – it’s her business.”
I pouted, poking at my food. “I don’t like her,” I announced one final time. And that was that.