Suddenly more awake, I sit up. “What do you mean, someone took her?” I try to think of an optimistic spin. “Like on a date?”
“No, stupid, like kidnapping.” His voice is drenched in sarcasm, and I can only imagine the horrors he’ll put the world through when he goes through puberty.
“Jason.” I say, “You need to call the police, then, not me.”
He takes a shaky breath. “The police wouldn’t believe me. The person that took my mom can do stuff like you.”
I curse without thinking, before hurriedly trying to correct myself. “I mean… Darn. Shoot. Crap. You didn’t hear that.”
I think I hear a small snicker over the line, but I can’t be sure. “Can you come get me? I think the person might come back.”
“Um.” I can’t just leave him there, and if he’s calling me there’s obviously no one else for him to turn to. The magician you met at your ninth birthday party is never a first resort in emergencies. “Sure. Be there in fifteen.”
As I head out the door, I punch Theo’s number into my cell. He may be a horrible big brother occasionally, but he knows a lot more about stuff like this than I do.
* * *
As I pull up in front of Jason’s house, I can’t help but think that it looks eerie in the yellow light of the street lamps. I step out of the van and gesture at Theo to move to the backseat.
“I like Jason a lot more than I like you right now.” I explain, “He gets shotgun, okay?”
He grumbles, but starts to crawl out of the passenger seat as I walk up to the front door. The quiet, natural sounds of suburbia sound foreign to me. I’m used to falling asleep to cars racing past and the sound of re-runs and infomercials blaring from the apartment below mine.
Not wanting to spend anymore time out in the open, I knock on the door. Jason opens it almost instantly, as if he’s been waiting.
“You look different.” He observes, scrunching up his nose.
I make a face. Someone’s not a fan of my frumpy pajamas. “It’s almost three in the morning, how am I supposed to look?”
“Better.” He says simply as steps past me and locks the door behind him.
Before I can reply, he dashes past me. His backpack bounces up and down against his back as he runs and jumps into the car.
I look up at the moon for a second, briefly wondering if this is punishment for all the times I’ve thought angry thoughts about bratty children during my shows. Probably not. Karma isn’t that good at what she does. I think she’s on her yearly vacation right now anyway.
Shaking my head, I walk back to the car. Inside, Jason’s already asking if he can mess with the radio and Theo looks like he’s about to break something.
I slip into the car and get ready to play mom. “Okay, guys!” I point at Theo, “Jason, this is my brother Theo. He can do magic too.” I point at Jason. “Theo, this is Jason. He’s the kid I told you about on the phone. Are you guys going to be friends now?” My voice is perky and sweeter than sugar. It’s not my best, but it’s too early for me to put any effort into sounding genuinely happy.
Jason rolls his eyes, and Theo looks like I’ve just forced a lemon into his mouth. I pretend not to notice.
We drive in silence for awhile. The radio forgotten as the kid begins to get comfortable. His head starts to droop more and more the closer we get to my apartment.
Theo leans toward me and whispers in my ear, “I’ll meet you inside your apartment.”
I nod, even though I’d rather him stay with us. He must have some kind of plan, though.
Moving back into his original position, he starts to whisper the words to a transportation spell. Jason’s eyes snap open and his head whips around just in time to catch Theo finish the incantation and disappear out of the backseat.
“Impressive, huh?” A little pride seeps into my voice. I can’t help it.
He frowns. “Not really. You did stuff without words. That’s way cooler.”
I shift in my seat. “Well, you can do bigger things with word magic. I’m really not that great at-”
“I’m hungry. Do you have food wherever we’re going?”
By Kira Lubahn