Chapter Eight

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I stayed in the kitchen with Mom that afternoon. She was preparing some food to take to a potluck that night, and she said she needed my magical touch. I knew that was a lie; I'm not much of a Kitchen Witch, and Mom has certainly had years of experience making amazing food, but I let her lie to me. I wanted to be close to her, too, after the shock of the morning.

Mom had the kitchen window flung open and the crisp air was wafting over us. I laughed when she said she wanted to make apple pie.

"How TV family is that?"

She chuckled. "There's nothing wrong with wanting things to be perfect for an afternoon, is there?"

I took down the flour tin and tossed some on the counter. "I guess not," I said, patting the flour down and tracing shapes in it, like I did when I was little. Mom came up beside me and chuckled when she saw what I was doing.

"I think you learned your first spell in this kitchen with me, playing with flour. Do you remember?"

Instead of answering, I smoothed the flour and began deliberately drawing symbols. Mom squeezed my shoulder.

"That's the one. The spell to make sure the food you cook won't burn. You did that so naturally the first time, I only had to show you once! And you were such a little thing. I was sure—"

She broke off as a shadow crossed her face.

"What?" I asked, even though her expression begged me to stay quiet. She turned to the sink and began washing the apples.

"Oh, it's nothing." She wouldn't look at me.

Now I really wanted to know. "Mom. Please tell me what you thought when I did that spell."

Her shoulders slumped, and she kept her back to me when she whispered, "I was sure that you were going to be a Green Witch like me."

Silence filled the kitchen, and I stared at her back for a moment. Dad had always talked about how great it would be if the whole family was Green, but Mom had never pushed. I should have realized that she'd want me to follow in her footsteps, but it had never occurred to me. And the fact that I'd declared to a weird and dangerous form of magic that was about as far away from Green as I could get probably wasn't helping the situation. I struggled for a minute, trying to think of something I could say, but I gave up and turned my attention back to the dough. We continued our work in tense silence.

She was peeling apples over the sink while I rolled out the piecrust when I heard her gasp.

"Oh, sugar and salt!" Her tone was sharp, despite her quaint words, and I turned around quickly, hiding a smile.

"Can't you just say shit, Mom? What's wrong?"

The blood on her hand answered my question.

"It's just a little nick. I was clumsy, that's all." She wrapped her finger in a paper towel and sat down at the table. I couldn't look away from her blood, and instead of feeling unsettled, I realized I was—hungry. I felt my head begin to spin, and even though she kept talking, her words sounded as if she were underwater.

"Darlena! What is it, sweetie?" Mom leaped up in concern, her own injury forgotten at the sight of my pale, confused expression.

"I don't know. The blood—"

Mom glanced down at the crimson-stained paper towel and shrugged. "But it's not a deep cut, sweetie. Don't worry about me; I'll be okay." She put her uninjured hand against my forehead. "You're cold as ice! Go lie down in the living room. I'll finish up in here."

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