Yesterday, you were an only child. Your mum smiled at you absently, her head filled with appointments, stocks, and equity. Whenever you spoke, your dad ruffled your hair and called you "Squeak" while he thought about the next book on the stack he had to review. You played Hangman during class at Bishop Laud secondary school in North London, and your best friend was dead. You could do things you couldn't explain, strange things, only they seemed normal to you, because you'd always been able to see and do and know these things. You were still a normal girl. Well, within reason, you supposed.
It was easy for you to believe that perhaps people ignored the things you saw because they didn't want to see, just like the way they ignored children, ugly people, and the bag ladies on the street. You didn't mind that dead people didn't look very nice most of the time because they couldn't really help it. But the girl with the black hair, the one who wore the necklace you liked, the one who came for the dead -- she was beautiful, and you couldn't imagine why anyone would pretend she was invisible. You thought she might not want everyone to know, though, not until it was time.
Yesterday, your Grandmothers visited you at night when you used the torch and called their names. "Hello, Lainie," Grandma Shaw said, her face green and kind. Grandma Dickman arrived next to her and called you darling, and next to her, Grandma Furness cackled and said, "Tell us old biddies about your day, poppet."
"You already know about my day, Grandma," you told her. "You were there." They were near you always, like shadows or musty perfume, and it was okay that they watched. You thought you might mind it when you got older, but that wasn't something you worried about yet, because there weren't any boys you fancied.
Mona wasn't as permanent as some of the other ghosts. She faded and disappeared sometimes because she wasn't as strong as your Grandmothers. That was okay, too; it wasn't as if you could hold it against her. Last night, Mona sat at the end of your bed, and together you sang, "If you, put two and two together, you will see what our friendship is for."
Yesterday, the most trying thing you had to do was write an eight-line poem with alliteration in for Miss Post. Your poem wasn't very good, but it didn't matter, because it made your dad laugh.
Things are little bit different today. Your parents aren't your parents. Your real mum is a stranger named Jude, your dad is an angel, and poor Mr. Easterman is dead. No relation.
Mona's gone for good, and now you're all alone. Things, you think, are going to be a lot quieter without having a best friend to talk to. You don't like singing by yourself.
Michael gives you back your Grandmothers, but they're silent now like they never were before, just a shiny marble you plan to keep on the nightstand next to your bed. You want to put it there so you can see them every time you wake up. Seeing your Grandmothers there will probably the best part of your days after Lucifer finally takes you home, because you know he won't be staying there with you.
You hope your Grandmothers have enough room in the marble; Grandma Furness likes her elbow room, or so she always said.
You sit alone at the table with the umbrella overhead. It's still warm even though the sun is going down. You've never seen palm trees before now, and all the buildings are painted in pastels. You wonder while you sit there alone in Los Angeles. You wonder things like: if Michael is your real dad, and Lucifer is his brother, does that make Lucifer your uncle? If he is your uncle, can you live with him here? The palm trees are nice, and Lucifer doesn't lie to you like your mum and dad.
Thinking about the devil is all right, like maybe he's watching you on the other side of the white door. You'd rather think about him than the other thing, the thing that makes you cry after a little while -- the thought of your brothers and sisters, your half-siblings, like the Holt children next door.
Four thousand generations, the bad angel said, that's how long he'd kept Michael in chains. You decide to figure the maths while you wait, writing the numbers on the table with your fingertip. Twenty years in a generation, so your dad's been trapped for eighty thousand years. Eighty thousand times twelve months is nine hundred sixty thousand months. You don't know how long it takes to make... things like you, but you divide by nine months anyway, because you want to know.
One hundred six thousand six hundred sixty-six.
Too many sixes. Too many brothers and sisters. Suddenly your family is much, much too big. And you're the youngest, not the only. You know in your heart that there are probably more than you've calculated, but you don't have to think about that right now, because someone is coming.
When Lucifer steps out of the door, he shines brightly; his eyes are white with power, but his skin looks more like warm honey than stone. You think maybe this is what you're supposed to look like after having sex -- not that you've done anything close to it yet, but you read all of Mona's banned magazines at her side. You can't hear his mind and you can't see into his body like you can with almost everyone else, but suddenly you want to very badly.
You don't mean to, but you say, "You look..."
"Do I?" Lucifer says. He smiles then, and you feel it in your breast, in your throat and lungs, because you've never seen him smile before. Not really, not like this, like he's happy. You hear a sound like laundry snapping in a stiff wind as his wings fold. He lifts his hand to your face, and you lean into his palm as his thumb brushes over your cheek, still damp with tears. The white colour finally fades from his eyes, but when you meet his gaze, it's like looking at the sun coming out from behind the moon.
"Come, child," he says. "It's time to put you back where I found you."
The night sky cracks wide with noiseless thunder, and suddenly you stand outside of Thirty-Three Crescent. It's the middle of the night. The lights are on all through the house. A dog barks in the neighbour's yard.
"I'm not on your side, Elaine," the devil says by way of farewell, and his voice is like sparks in your mind. "You're on mine."