While I walked home, I wondered who else had witnessed my little floating cone show. The last time Sol and I tried the wand out, we were in a relatively quiet part of Emerson Park. There weren’t as many good hiding spots along York Avenue, and we couldn’t keep going back to the park every time we needed to recharge the wand or test a new spell.
Those kids were likely to share their photos and videos with their friends, who’d be more inclined than their parents to find my magic display “cool”. Still, I needed to be careful not to overuse my newfound powers. A little notoriety for casting a harmless spell was one thing, but if something bad happened that couldn’t easily be explained, like someone getting sick or dying under mysterious circumstances, then there was a good chance it would be blamed on “magic” or “witchcraft”.
When I made it back home, I opened the front door with my left hand instead of my right. There was no danger of me burning my hand again, but I still didn’t want to risk further injury.
“Dad? I’m home!”
It took Dad about a minute to come downstairs after I called for him.
“Oh… Hi, Didi,” he said with a yawn.
“Sorry, Dad. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“No worries. I was just upstairs watching a movie. Almost put me right back to sleep.”
If Dad really had been taking a nap before I arrived, he definitely wasn’t after seeing a familiar gleam in my pocket. “What do you have there?” he asked.
“A magic wand,” I said.
“I can see that.” Dad’s voice suddenly sharpened. “Where did you get it?”
My resolve had shaken a bit, but I answered Dad’s question as confidently as I could. “Marisol gave it to me. She said she couldn’t use it anymore.”
“The same Marisol you were hanging out with earlier? The same Marisol whose wand nearly wrecked your hand?”
I felt a bit of malice in Dad’s voice whenever he mentioned Sol’s name. He didn’t sound ready to forgive her as easily as I did.
“It wasn’t all her fault,” I admitted. “I wanted to help her out and I grabbed the wrong part of the wand when she passed it to me, and that’s how I got hurt.”
“If you know the wand is the reason you have that hole in your hand, then why are you still carrying it? You should give it back to Marisol and let her take care of it.”
“I wanted to give it back to her, Dad, but she wouldn’t take it.”
“Do you even know how to use that wand, Deanna?”
I heard Mom enter through the door behind me before I could answer. When I turned around to greet her, I saw that she was also looking down at the wand in my pocket. Now I was really in for it.
“Deanna? Van? What’s going on here?” she asked.
I sat down on the couch as Dad walked over to Mom’s side. This was usually the time he went over to give her a kiss, but Mom walked in just as he started grilling me. A light intimate moment between the two would have made the situation even more awkward than it already was.
“Hi, Pam!” Dad said. “Our daughter was just telling me about her shiny new toy.”
“Shiny new toy, you say?” Mom rested her chin on her right hand and gave me a playful look. “Funny you should mention that… I overheard someone talking about a couple of young ladies hanging out on York Avenue who were playing around with traffic cones and a ‘shiny toy’. Did you see who they were, Deanna?”
News traveled around Sharonia a lot faster than I expected. Either those kids had already gone to the library by the time I was finished, or they already uploaded their pictures to the internet and Mom “just happened to find them”.
It looked like Mom had forced me into a trap. I’d focused so much on explaining how I got my new magic wand without thinking about their reactions to me using it. Once again, lying was out of the question, as I had photo and video evidence working against me. I had no choice but to suck it up and admit my involvement.
“Technically, only one of us was playing around with it,” I said.
Mom dropped her arm and her playful stare. “Which one?”
Bracing myself for a longer round of questions, I meekly answered, “It was me.”
“What compelled you to use such a potentially dangerous object?”
“We weren’t going to do anything dangerous with it. Marisol – the other girl who was with me – told me that her wand still didn’t work, so she asked me to try it out. Picking up a cone was the safest thing I thought we could do.”
“And you decided to do this where other children could see you because…?”
“There wasn’t anyone around when we started! The kids didn’t show up until later. We were just doing it for our own amusement.”
“You’re lucky no one tried to scare you or find some other way to break your concentration,” Dad cut in. “If you’d lost control of that cone, you could have broken something! That certainly isn’t amusing, and neither is having to spend a week’s salary to fix a broken window, is it?”
I shook my head.
“I didn’t think so.”
“By the way,” Mom said, “you haven’t told me how your doctor’s visit went. How is your hand doing?”
“It still feels fine,” I said, opening and closing my right hand a few times, “but the doctor wants to take some X-rays on it just to be sure.”
“May I see it?”
I showed Mom and Dad my hand, pointing out the markings from the enchanter’s sign in the center of the hole. Mom recoiled at the sight, but Dad didn’t look as disgusted by it.
“Wow! That wand did this to you?” Mom asked. “I should tell you to get rid of that stupid thing, but I have no idea who you should give it to! Do this Marisol girl’s parents know you have this wand?”
“I’m not sure what her dad thinks,” I said, “but it was Sol’s mom who told her to give it to me.”
I nodded confidently.
Dad, confused by my story, looked at Mom and pulled her aside. “Could you excuse us for a moment? Don’t go anywhere; we’re not finished yet.”
As they snuck toward the dining room, I discreetly leaned my head back while pretending to watch television, hoping to catch a snippet of their conversation. They must have noticed me trying to eavesdrop on them because they moved even faster toward the kitchen before I could get my head all the way up. I wished I could hear what they were saying from where I was sitting. All I could do until they came back was watch a rerun of Starr Studded and wonder why I didn’t remember half the jokes the first time I saw that episode a decade ago.
Mom and Dad returned to the living room after several minutes. I sensed them staring at me, so I quickly sat up straight to fully pay attention to what they were about to say.
Mom spoke first after taking a deep breath. “As much as your father and I object to you carrying that magic wand given the…unusual circumstances that led you to it…”
“We’ll allow you to keep it for now,” Dad added. “You’ve already demonstrated that you have some idea how to use it, and we know we can trust you to use it responsibly.”
“And, let’s face it – you’re pretty much stuck with that thing anyway.”
I scoffed at Mom’s side comment, but I admitted she had a point. Since Sol couldn’t use the wand even after I gave it back to her, there was little reason for me to believe anyone else could, either. Even if someone else found a way to unseal it for their own personal use, I wouldn’t be able to stop them if they suddenly went on a killing spree, and I’d be in serious trouble if the wand could be traced back to me in any way. For better or worse, this magic wand was mine now.
When Mom and Dad tried to squeeze onto the couch on either side of me, I felt my new wand digging into my abdomen. There was no reason for me to keep it in my pocket any longer, so I stood up and pulled it out, pointing it toward the carpet to keep from accidentally casting a spell on anything.
They then took turns laying down a list of ground rules for me to follow if I was to continue to keep my wand. Most of the rules were pretty obvious, such as maintaining it regularly, keeping it secure from thieves, not using it to commit crimes, and not casting spells on anyone without their permission. They couldn’t think of anything to say if I ever violated any of those rules. It seemed that public ridicule and possible jail time would be a harsher punishment than anything they could come up with.
Without anything further to say, Mom and Dad stood up again, each of them placing a hand on my shoulder and pressing down firmly as if they were trying to keep me rooted to the floor. “We know this is all new and exciting for you,” Dad said, “but don’t forget that magic can be dangerous and potentially deadly.”
“Are you absolutely sure you want to go through with this?” Mom asked. “There isn’t much either of us will be able to do if something bad happens to you…unless we somehow found enough free time to study this ourselves…”
Mom and Dad looked more worried than I’d ever seen them. Hearing them talk about me risking my life was intimidating, but I knew I had to say something to reassure them.
“Don’t worry, you guys,” I said as I tried to put on my bravest face. “There’s still a lot I don’t know about this wand yet, and I won’t stop until I figure it all out. After all, you guys told me how important it was for me to see something all the way through, right?”
Dad relaxed his grip on my right shoulder, only to slap down on it even harder and say, “That’s my girl!”
“Hey, she’s my girl too, you know!” Mom said, pulling me in for a hug and rubbing the shoulder Dad just slapped. She then whispered in my ear, saying, “Just promise me that you won’t skimp on your artwork or your regular work for this, okay?”
“Yes, Mom,” I replied.
“Good. It’s going to be a little while before dinner, so why don’t you go and find a safe place for that wand for the time being?”
I nodded, gave Mom and Dad a big hug, and went back upstairs to my room.
All of the drawers in my room were filled with clothes, pencils, pens, paints, and other art supplies. There was no real “safe” place for me to store my wand, as anything I tried to hide could easily be found by someone rummaging through every drawer and door until they found what they needed. The best fit I could think of for it was in the top drawer of my art desk where I kept all of my colored pencils. I wished Sharonia High had woodshop classes so I could have learned to craft my own safe or secret compartment.
My painting of Sol holding the wand above her head was still on the easel facing my bed, reminding me of what could have been. I originally planned to try to sell it for some extra cash, but after everything that happened in the last day or so, I was tempted to scrap it and do another one like it with myself as the focus, eventually asking Sol to pose for a newer, better painting once she got a wand of her own.
Another wave of inspiration hit me as I took a closer look at the sign on my right hand. The drawer to my art desk was closed, but the markings still gave off a faint golden glow, allowing me to see each dot and line in vivid detail. I had no idea how I was going to incorporate it into a painting, or even why I wanted to take a picture of it. Morbid curiosity? Irrefutable evidence of my newly-obtained witch-hood? Surely the wand in my drawer would be proof enough for most people, but I couldn’t carry it with me everywhere I went. Either way, going to work the next day was going to be awkward. I hoped my new gloves would arrive in the mail soon…