Carmen's world turned completely on end around three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon.
Looking back, she probably should have seen it coming. There'd been more than one sign before then, even if they'd been significantly smaller and much less noticeable. Still, she should have put it together. Especially since Richard had warned her it was a possibility back when she'd first found out she was pregnant, before their relationship had disintegrated to the point where they had stopped talking unless they had no other choice.
But, no. She'd let herself shove any thought of it to the back of her mind as the weeks and months and years passed by without anything too out of the ordinary happening. Marcus was two-years-old already. If anything was going to happen, she'd been certain it would have happened long before then. She'd let her guard down.
Who knew that the universe had a sense of humor?
Carmen pulled her cellphone away from her ear and tried to cover the speaker as best she could with her hand. "I'm on the phone with Grandma Grace and Abuelita Sofia, sweetie," she told him, giving him a smile that she hoped would hold off the inevitable tantrum for at least a few minutes. "I'll get you a snack just as soon as I'm done talking."
The look that appeared on Marcus's face was almost identical to the one Richard used to get when he didn't get his way, down to the way his lip jutted out ever so slightly. The only real difference was that his eyes were brown, almost glowing gold in the afternoon light streaming in through the window, instead of the light blue of his father's. Carmen felt a slight pang of nostalgia in her chest at the sight, and she quickly shoved it down as she turned her attention back to the phone.
"No, no, I'm listening to you, Mom," she said quickly, picking up the thread of the conversation where it had left off. "Dinner with you and Mama on Sunday night at five, and we'll make sure to leave before it gets dark so you'll have time to get ready for the full moon. See? I heard you."
Across the room, Marcus held both of his hands up above his head, his mouth still twisted into an obvious pout. His eyes still looked more gold than brown, and... and...
Carmen felt her breath catch in her chest as a packet of animal crackers sitting on the side table beside her suddenly floated into the air and started flying rather haphazardly towards Marcus's outstretched hands. It was moving slowly, dipping up and down in midair, but it was definitely moving in his direction. There wasn't any denying that fact, no matter how much she might have wanted to just then.
"I'll have to call the two of you back," Carmen said, her voice a little fainter than she'd intended. She clicked the button to end the call despite the worried protests she could hear starting on the other end of the line. Her mothers clearly knew her well enough to tell when something was wrong.
She stood there for a moment, staring as the packet of cookies continued along its path. Marcus had pushed himself to his feet and was leaning against the edge of his playpen, arms still outstretched as he reached for the bag that was getting closer and closer to him. And in that moment, she realized that she was probably in over her head.
Carmen blinked once before her brain kicked in, and she dashed across the room to grab the bag of cookies just before it reached her son. They probably weren't dangerous, but she'd heard enough horror stories of early bouts of magic doing odd things to the things it was cast on that she didn't want to risk letting him eat them just then. Marcus pouted at her, whining in a way that she knew was going to quickly turn into tears if she didn't do something.
"Don't make things fly when you're in the house," she said as sternly as she could manage, trying to hide just how much it had thrown her to see him floating that bag towards him like it was the most normal thing in the world. Marcus stared at her, his nose wrinkling in confusion, like he knew he'd done something to upset her but couldn't quite figure out what it was.
Her heart was still pounding in her chest, the surprise of seeing Marcus using magic sending her anxiety skyrocketing. It may have just been a bag of animal crackers this time, but what if next time it was something dangerous? A knife? A pair of scissors? A chair? One of the cats? How in the world were you supposed to childproof a house when the child in question could apparently move things with his mind?
Especially since she didn't have any magic of her own to counteract his if anything went wrong. She was completely mundane, without the slightest bit of magical talent. If something went wrong, she had no way to—
Marcus made another whining sound, this one louder than the first, and after taking in another shaky breath and letting it out, Carmen reached down to pick him up. He was clearly hungry if he was taking things into his own hands when it came to his afternoon snack, so that was the first thing she needed to deal with. Then he would hopefully let her put him down for a nap.
And then? Well, then she supposed she owed her ex-boyfriend a phone call. Richard was the sorcerer after all. If Marcus had magic, it had to have come from his side. At the very least, maybe he could give her some suggestions, even if he was still dead set on not being actively involved with the parenting side of things.
Carmen had the feeling she was going to need all the help that she could get.