You slap the alarm clock into silence, and rise from bed. You’ve gotten used to sleeping alone because of his working the graveyard shift… but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.
It’s early enough that Jenny is still out cold, so you jump in the shower while there’s plenty of hot water. The freshly laundered dress slacks, the dark pumps with the low heel and your favourite blouse should do just fine for today.
You head to the kitchen and methodically tie on your apron. You’re a very neat cook and you like to keep things spik and span, but accidents do happen, after all. Rifling through your pantry, you eventually decide on pancakes for breakfast. Chocolate chips for Jenny, of course.
As if on cue, Donnie stumbles through the door, visibly worn out from work. He puts his arms around your waist and drops a kiss on your cheek. You smile and tell him good morning, and ask him if he’d like to eat before getting his rest.
Of course, your husband is never one to turn down food. When he searches the fridge for the 2% creamer, you remind him that it’s in the back of the fridge, where he always shoves it. Currently, it’s hiding behind the latest take-out boxes.
You tell Donnie to wake Jenny for her breakfast, and he shuffles up the stairs to Jenny’s room. You put a few slices of bacon in a pan, because you know breakfast isn’t breakfast for him without it. Besides, he tends to burn it when he cooks for himself (you love him dearly, but he’s much better at eating than cooking).
You know the conversation upstairs by heart by now: Donnie tries to wake Jenny and she grumbles about not wanting to get up, then he threatens to dump ice water on her if she won’t get up.
You hear what sounds like a herd of elephants rumbling down the stairs. Jenny must have smelled her chocolate chip pancakes.
Feeding a hungry family is the easiest part of your day. All you have to do is put the food in front of them, and they’ll both devour it. You prefer a short stack of pancakes; you don’t need much to fill your stomach.
Donnie decides to vegetate in front of the TV for awhile, and you usher Jenny out of the house to the corner where the school bus will be picking her up. You smile down at your daughter, as she obliviously traipses beside you while taking in the green, leafy branches above. She’s a combination of the best of you and Don, and you couldn’t be happier to be her mother.
The large yellow bus pulls up, and there’s your little ritual of giving her a quick hug (she’s been insisting lately that she’s too big for kisses now), and wishing her a good day at school. You wave as the bus leaves, then turn and walk back to the house.
Donnie’s nodded off in front of the TV—he must be really tired from work. You gently nudge him awake and encourage him to head for bed. He shuffles back up the stairs and, about a minute later, you hear the shower running. Shrugging, you get your Skin Pretty supplies together and head out the door.
Sitting in the driver’s seat of your Toyota Camry, you pull out your compact mirror from your purse, and gently whisper at it. The mirror fogs with your breath, then the fog disappears, and you see brief scenes of what happened during the night while you were asleep. The scenes from when Donnie was at work.
You watch with your heart in your throat, as Donnie pursues a man down a dark alley, and then sigh in relief when he and his partner successfully apprehend their perp. You offer up a prayer of silent gratitude for his partner.
You do know exactly what Nick is. It’s not like you just fell off the turnip truck. But, as far as you’re concerned, Nick’s a nice guy with a sun allergy and a plasma-based diet. He’s very protective of your Donnie, although your husband doesn’t seem to be aware of that enough to fully appreciate it. And you’ve peered back far enough into history to know that Nick doesn’t kill anymore, and hasn’t for decades. He’s the only non-human being you’d really trust to look after the one you love.
The experience of running after a man with a loaded gun would certainly be exhausting. As you put your compact away, you decide to cut Donnie some slack. He’s got a tough job, even with the supernatural help he doesn’t realize is backing his plays.
The rest of your day goes smoothly; you make some good commissions on the Skin Pretty beauty products, and enjoy some pleasant conversation with quite a few interesting people.
* * *
After your “day job” is over, you go visit your Aunt Clotilda.
“Still doing the levitating table trick, Aunt Clo?”
“Bah, that’s for the tourists,” she replies. “Most of them don’t want the truth, just something that’ll comfort them.”
You shrug. “I suppose.”
“And you need to get Don off that ‘see food’ diet of his,” she grumbles. “He’s a heart attack waiting to happen.”
You nod, though inwardly you groan. The last several times you tried to get him to eat a little healthier, he took exception to it. Loudly.
“I know why you’re here,” she says finally. “You are worried about him… but not about his eating habits. It’s about the trip he’s planning to take.”
“Yeah,” you admit. “I’m worried. I’m getting some really ‘bad vibes’ about it.”
Aunt Clotilda nods. “With good reason. It’s a trip he won’t be coming back from.”
Your heart drops into the pit of your stomach. “Oh no.”
She nods. “I had a vision of fire in the sky. I’m sorry my dear, but he’s not long for this world.”
As you fight back tears, you mutter, “And I can’t tell him because he won’t believe me.”
She nods. “A true skeptic, that one. Pity. He’s a good fellow, and the world will be the less without him.”
“There’s got to be a way to stop it,” you cry. “A way I can save him!”
She nods, and goes to her shelf full of potions and oddments. She takes a bulbous phial with blue liquid inside off the shelf and hands it to you. “Mix this into his drink. It will dissolve, and he will taste nothing unusual. You must make sure he drinks the entire potion. It will tether his spirit to this world, and you will be able to transfer it to another body so that he may live again.”
You contemplate the container in your hand now. “Will I have to dig someone up?” You shudder at the thought. A new life as a zombie-like creature would be a fate worse than death.
“No. You can place his soul in a living form, if you choose.”
You nod and thank her. You’ve got a lot of thinking—and reading—to do.
* * *
As you flip open your mother’s old grimoire, you find that ensouling a soulless body isn’t as difficult as it sounds. But you have a very specific idea in mind, which will be a little trickier...
That afternoon, when Donnie wakes and looks for something to eat, you brew him a large mug of coffee and, while his back is turned, quickly slip the potion in. Then—and it can’t possibly hurt matters—you pray.
He drinks the whole thing, and you inwardly sigh in relief. Now you have to wait for the right moment.
* * *
After dark, Nick shows up at your house. His expression is grim. You know before he even says a word that Donnie is dead.
Well, as far as the constabulary knows, anyway.
You sit with him for awhile, consoling him as much as he consoles you. You might have lost your husband temporarily (if the spellwork holds), but Nick has been deprived of one of the few friends he’s had in his long and lonely life. You pity him that and think to yourself that, once the final spell is cast tonight, you’ll do something nice for him as well.
* * *
Midnight. Nick is gone. Jenny is in bed. You’re still awake.
You slip downstairs into the basement. Far from being dank, dirty and dark, it has been made quite comfortable with a hardwood floor overlaying the concrete and softly painted walls. There’s sufficient lighting to read by, and it’s essentially a spare room that no one uses.
No one but you.
All your special items are down here, and a pentagram within a circle has been painted in purple on the floor. This is the place where the final spell will be cast, as only this room has all the requirements for this most difficult phase of the transference.
You step into the middle of the pentagram, and whisper softly in Etruscan. Latin doesn’t have the same effect, and each word must be chosen carefully when spellcasting.
You know the drill by now. You are strega, as is your mother and aunt, and all the women in your family that came before them. The ways of your family are the old ways… long before Gerald Gardner got ahold of a spellbook and tried to make witchcraft more accessible to the world.
But witchcraft isn’t something to dabble in, and every spell cast comes with a price… some smaller than others. This will be the most costly spell in your life, in more ways than one.
A soft shudder goes through your body, and you hear him now. Huh, what the heck is going on? Where am I?
It’s alright, Donnie. You’re with me.
But… the fire… the heat… I thought I was a goner.
Your body is gone, yes. It was completely incinerated in the explosion. But you’re with me now.
I… but… how?!
My family have gifts, Donnie. And I couldn’t bear to let anything happen to you.
You knew?! His mental tone is accusatory. Why didn’t you tell me?!!
Would you have believed me?
Silence. But you sense him listening.
Jenny needs her father. And I need you. Just say the word and I can give you a physical body.
I’m not going to possess someone, like that demon-thing in the Exorcist.
You won’t have to, you soothe.
You sense some misgivings in him, but his desire to live is far stronger; he still has much he wants to live for. Okay, hon. Let’s do this crazy ooga-booga stuff already.
Oh, and one more thing…
When I get home, I want a nice big souvlaki.
You chuckle. You’ve got it, champ.