Gloom and Doom

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Cora couldn't wait to leave school

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Cora couldn't wait to leave school. When the last bell rang, she was with the throng of students hurrying down the steps of Thornpoint High. She didn't even say goodbye to Eva, which she thought earned her zero points on the friendship scale but at least one point as a sorceress.

Eva might try to get her to stay for the Halloween dance, and Cora wasn't in the mood. She took the bus home, sitting across from a man who muttered to himself. It was a usual occurrence for the occupants of public transportation to be not so right in the head. Cora kept her gaze on the window, until she'd reached her stop.

"Thank you, ma'am," she said to the bus driver and then gritted her teeth for being so polite. Her politeness would be the death of her magic. She wore it like second skin and wished she could take it off, unleashing her wickedness once and for all. She had it in her, but she forgot herself sometimes.

As she walked home, she repeated her mother's words in her head, "The Emersons do not cower." How strange that word. It was certainly contradictory. All they did was cowering. One day she would be sick of hiding who she really was, and maybe that day would come sooner than she'd hoped.

Cora walked with her head down, allowing herself to step on fallen leaves. She enjoyed the way they crunched under her boots. It was the month of knitted scarves, mittens, big sweaters, coats lined with faux fur, peppermint and cinnamon hot chocolate, and dreary weather, all of Cora's favorite things. Still, she couldn't quiet her heart. By the time she got home, she still hadn't made up her mind about Beau.

Inside the Emerson house was quiet. "I'm home," Cora said, as she did her usual routine of kicking her shoes off at the door and tossing her coat into the hall closet. No one responded. In the kitchen, she grabbed an apple, which flew out of her hand when she turned and saw her grandmother.

Agatha smiled. "I didn't mean to frighten you. I thought you were Stella." Her horn-rimmed reading glasses dangled on a chain around her neck. She bent down to pick up Cora's apple, groaning as she did, took it to the sink, and rinsed it for her. "How was school?"

Cora pulled out a stool at the island and sat with her elbows on her knees and chin resting on her fists.

"Oh, oh, I know that look," Agatha said, laughing. She gave Cora the apple, but the dark bruise on it turned Cora off so she didn't eat it but she did pull off the stem.

Agatha sat on the stool next to her. "Why don't you tell your grandmother what's wrong?"

Cora didn't respond.

"Is it a boy?" Agatha patted Cora's lap.

Cora stared at the bruise on the apple.

It's a good depiction of my soul.

She didn't know how to say to her grandmother that she didn't want to go through with the ritual just yet and that she needed more time to find someone new.

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