21 Little Lambs

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My molecules pulsate as I break apart. I float higher and higher, weightless and unshackled, with limbs that feel like cotton candy.

This is a foreign feeling. I think it's called freedom.

Like snapshots, the past whirls by me. I see images of Mercy and me in the bathtub together as toddlers. The time I broke Mom's red fingernail polish bottle, but blamed it on Mercy. My first kiss with Eli Vargas, and how Mercy scrunched up her face when I told her how wet it was. Or maybe her face looked like that because she liked him first. Our fights, the teary make-ups. All of the memories are like a steaming, hot meal; I gobble them up.

Drifting over the brick chimney and broken shingles on Aunt Shannon's rooftop, I realize I can fly anywhere and everywhere. From up here, the moon's face looks close enough to touch. On the ground, Mr. Thatcher's tent struggles against the fierce wind. The bones on the ground fumble towards each other, connecting with loud clicks.

Dirt and grass spin in a cyclone around Aunt Shannon's cartilage. Her skull latches to the neck bone. When the rest of the skeleton snaps together like legos, I'm not surprised. It's like I knew this would happen. Should happen.

"It's crazy, huh?" A voice that sounds just like mine comes from over my shoulder.

I know that voice.

Bright embers shoot from my hair as I spin around in the night sky like a tornado. My eyes come to rest on my sister in her white-lace dress. The one she was buried in. Her skin radiates with shimmering golds. With Baby's Breath braided into her hair, she wears a serene expression, kicking her legs absentmindedly from Aunt Shannon's roof. Like she's lounging at a backyard pool.

"Hey Mercy," I say, warmly.

In a flash, I'm seated beside her on the rooftop. It feels like a dream, but when our fingers touch and interlace, I know it's real.

"We've always had relationships with spirits, Moriah. Remember when we saw the ghost of our old landlord, Mrs. Newberry?" Mercy asks, nonchalantly. "She'd creep around our bed and call us names?"

"How could I forget?" I chuckle, sparks of light cascading from my mouth. "You literally peed yourself in the bed. That we shared."

Mercy smiles a lopsided smile, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. "I just didn't know the power I had. But now I do."

It's funny. Us sitting on a rooftop, watching lightning zig zag around us, casually talking like we're discussing the weather or the Kardashians. This is how it's supposed to be.

It's like I understand everything. The cosmos, death, life. It all clicks together like Aunt Shannon's bones below.

"Am I dead?" I ask Mercy.


"I feel dead. How did this happen?"

"Whenever a conjurer raises the dead, they die a bit themselves."

"Will I go back?"

"Yes. In a moment."

We sit silently for a moment, watching Aunt Shannon's thick veins pulse under sinew and flesh below. Tawny brown skin forms on the corpse, spreading across her chest and wide hips, filling out the thread-bare, blue dress. She sits up in the grass, legs splayed in front of her, with a back as straight as an arrow. Her white hair stands at end, like her finger's plugged into an electrical socket.

"There's something we must do before you go back," Mercy says in a flat tone.

Fearlessness must come with being dead because I find myself nodding. "Ok. Let's do it."

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