The Witches Son & The Werewolf Girl

A story of serialized flash fiction

I Don’t Trust Him — March 1, 2015

I Don’t Trust Him

Lina still looks at him funny when he comes in for his morning coffee, even though Tessa smiles like nothing had happened between them. But then again, Lina looks at everyone funny. Oscar focuses on Tessa, smiles back as she prepares his drink.
“I almost forgot what your order was,” she says. She hadn’t, of course, but it draws the smile out of him.
“Oh come on, you couldn’t if you tried. It’s far too simple,” he replies, handing her the cash.
“Like you then,” she says, and behind her, Lina laughs, sharp and insincere.
“You wound me Tessa, you really do,” he says, clutching his hand. God, he’d missed this, just talking, just making her laugh.
“You probably deserve it. The things Anas says about you, truly you’re a terrible person,” she says, crossing her arms, her eyes twinkling.
Oscar staggers back a little, his hand on his heart tightening a bit. “If he’s still able to talk, clearly I haven’t been working him hard enough.”
“He’s a jinn, not a slave,” this is added by Lina, a harsh growl that makes even Tessa jump a little.
If his silently moving jaw is anything to judge by, Oscar has nothing to say to that, and with a shake of Tessa’s head to prompt him, he goes and sits in his usual seat silently.
“He was joking. Anas is fine,” Tessa says, her hand hovering close to Lina’s shoulder without actually touching it.
“I don’t trust him,” is the only response.
“You don’t have to trust him, but at least be nice, to your customers, that visit your business. Like, it’s just good business sense at least,” she says, wiping the counter, “But if yiu work out why you don’t trust him, let me know, since he’s like my best friend.”
“If he’s your best friend, he’ll come whether I want him here or not. May as well let him know what I think,” Lina says.
Tessa just sighs, and goes to clean tables. When she reaches Oscars table, she’ll apologise, and maybe they’ll joke again, but he doesn’t look like he wants to talk just yet, so she starts at the other end of the coffee shop.

Missing You — February 15, 2015

Missing You

Both Marcelle and Tessa were glad Cerys was there, when they finally reunited after that party. It’s hard to be awkward around someone like that, who’s standing in Tessa’s tiny kitchen with all the cupboards open, simultaneously trying to find coffee, any coffee, even that nonbranded rubbish, and checking Tessa is eating well, and “Cerys come on, I don’t even like coffee, and I wouldn’t keep it with fruit and vegetables.”
Cerys steps back, holding half a bag of apples, “This is the only thing that counts as fruit or vegetable in this here.”
“Well, there’s no coffee, get over it,” Tessa says, snatching the apples back and putting them away, “I have tea, cocoa, juice.”
“Wine?” Cerys asks with a sly grin.
Marcelle snorts, “Not at four in the afternoon.”
“Not ever. You want coffee or alcohol, bring it yourself,” Tessa says, stepping back against the counter.
Cerys had, of course, planned this get together as soon as she got back from her job, just the girls, according to her, and who was Tessa to argue now that everyone was back on speaking. It felt unspoken that the topic of the drunk kiss was not to come up, not yet and not with Cerys around. Maybe they’d talk about it some other time.
Instead they were indulging Cerys in every avenue possible. Marcelle would buy wine in an hour, once it became socially acceptable to drink, and until then she’s have to make do with tea.
“Why do you have half a bag of apple, but an entire shelf dedicated to tea?” Cerys asks while the kettle boils.
“If I admit I’m a pretentious hipster will that suffice?” Tessa asks. In actual fact she has so much as her own form of medication. Before magic came into her life, she made do with whatever, and if she drank an extraordinary amount of chamomile tea before the full moon, well that was her business.
Cerys laughs and hugs her. “I missed you. Both of you. Come on, tell me what happened when I was gone. How has Oscar embarrassed himself without me?”
They head over to Tessa’s sofa, squish themselves on together. Tessa’s heart almost bursts. She’s missed Cerys as well. She would have sorted everything out immediately, and then told Tessa something strong and confident about how useless boys are, and Tessa wouldn’t have cried into her pillow a straight week after the party. She almost wants to tell her now, but Marcelle is here, and she can’t go talking about this crush in front of her.
So she puts her legs across theirs, and laughs as Marcelle talks about some blunder, because for now, this is fine.

The Aftermath — February 9, 2015

The Aftermath

At this moment in time, Oscar’s brain is solely devoted to regretting his choice of cardigan. It was knitted with thick needles, and as such, leaves plenty of holes for someone to hold on to, say a siren surprisingly stronger than him.
His brain is devoted to this because if he thinks about why Marcelle is clinging to his knitwear and dragging him along the street, he panics.
They are on the corner leading to the Little Bean. Marcelle has been muttering under her breath every street, and Oscar has been struggling uselessly.
“Why are you even doing this?” he asks, clawing at her hand.
“Because you haven’t seen her since the party, and even if it isn’t weird and a little unhealthy for you to suddenly stop, I can’t see her until you see her,” she says, slapping at him with her free hand until he leaves her alone.
He frowns, “That makes no sense.”
“Look at this guy, thinking he’s in love, doesn’t even know her,” she says to the space next to her, before facing him, “She’d tear herself up with guilt if she saw the girlfriend of the guy she kissed, or ask me about you, and I don’t know what you want to say to her, so you’re going to smooth this out first. For instance, are we broken up? I don’t fucking know?”
He sighs, and lets himself be dragged along until just before the window. Marcelle must have anticipated the revolt because he only trips up a little but before she stops, and lets go of him.
“Problem?” she asks, hands in hips.
“I just, well, what if she just wants to forget about it?” he asks.
“Then you come to mine in an hour and we get silly drunk and forget about it,” Marcelle says, shrugging.
He looks as if he wants to laugh, but there’s already another question, “But what if she liked it?”
Marcelle smiles, claps her hands in his shoulder and pushes him in front of the coffee shop. “My friend, that is the opposite of a problem.”
He flails helplessly, frowning and shaking and trying to open the door without moving his arms, until he notices Lina looking at him, sharp eyebrows cocked. This settles him somehow, and he adjust the sleeve of his cardigan, and pushes open the door.

Maybe It Has Always Been There — January 1, 2015

Maybe It Has Always Been There

She has no idea where the second beer had come from. Maybe it has always been there, half full, condensation chilling her palm. She takes another swig, and nods her head to the music. There had been a purposefully weak vodka and coke in the beginning, and a shot of something green and biting possibly after that first beer.
Cerys comes up to her, the definition of glamourous even blurry as she is, and takes the bottle off Tessa. Tessa does not argue.
“This is pretty great, by the way,” Cerys says, and her voice is just a tad too high to be sober, “Thanks for doing it all.”
Tessa, even in her inebriated state, is aware of how much she cannot make proper speech, and so makes a bashful arm movement with a clumsily warm grin.
“You’re trashed. This is hilarious,” Cerys says as her hand is taken, and swung around by Tessa, overcome with the desire to dance. “But you should probably lie down or something. Let me find Oscar.”
Tessa nods as Cerys sashays away. Or maybe she just walks normally and it is Tessa’s disintegrating vision that adds the side to side movement. She doesn’t remember being this drunk since she was a teenager, and then there were no friends to support her when she blacked out. Actually, thinking back, it took a little bit more than this to black out. She’ll have a headache like a tornado tomorrow though.
“Tessa, oh man. She can’t even stand up straight,” Oscar sees her with Cerys in tow. Tessa had thought she was straight, but maybe not. Whatever.
He didn’t even need to ask to help her. She feel into his arms as soon as he got close enough, immediately, he set her straight, leaning against his arm with distance.
“I’m going to take you to my room, and you can sleep for a while, and then Cerys will take you home. Is that okay?” he says while struggling to walk. She nods floppily.
He sits her on his bed like she’s made of glass, brushing his thumb over her shoulder just to reassure them both that she’s okay. Then he steps back, and just smiles, shaking his head lazily. He has had a single beer with little affect.
She pushes herself up. It takes two attempts, and Oscar steps forward, his hand raised to help, but she has managed, and she is now there, right there, almost touching him. She wavers on her feet, and he carefully touches her shoulder to balance, his thumb brushing once again.
And then she topples forwards, just enough for her lips to touch his. They stay like that just long enough for it to not be an accident, and then she sits back down, suddenly, her head flopping down against the duvet.
Oscar stands there, looking at the sleeping girl. As the door shuts, she opens one eye, and then the other. It takes another few seconds for her to let out her shaking breath.

Getting Ready — December 30, 2014

Getting Ready

Like usual, he puts on music. Later, he will put on something better, more upbeat, that floats through people without leaving a mark. Cerys’s party is in seven hours, and Oscar is not ready. The things he listens now are not exactly happy, but they are fast, swinging his hips, and tripping him up with unexpected anger.
Tessa will arrive in approximately five hours, with food, and drink, and probably a party dress that fans out when she twirls.
He puts Tai Yuan in the garden room with the window open. It is not locked yet, but eventually he will move a sofa in the way, and pretend it’s so there’s more space.
Because that’s what he’s trying to do. It looks like he’s standing in the middle of his living room in pyjama pants and a t-shirt, with the music too loud to think, but as he slowly rotates, his arms out in front of him, twitching, he is thinking. That end table over there, the TV next to it, or maybe in that corner but still plugged in.
He starts moving things as the current song starts it’s rising crescendo, the singer spitting out words like burning poison, and it aches to heave these wooden objects around, over there, then back, keep it straight, parallel, just keep moving.
And once he’s happy with the way first the front room and then the kitchen are with big furniture, he goes through the house, picking up picture frames and lamps and little trinkets and putting them in drawers, or on high shelves, and then remembering he only kept that there because of the stain, or the jammed window and skidding back to where it went, socks on smooth wood.
He enjoys this. As he notices a coffee table that is not exactly perpendicular to the wall and adjust it, the stress seeps away just a little bit more. It is manic and unhealthy, but cleaning like this, wide eyed, helps.
By the time he is done, he is exhausted. By the time he is done, he is ready.

Confrontation — December 28, 2014

Confrontation

Oscar does not yell. The coven is, in general, a loud place full of yelling, but never in an angry way, unless directed at a misbehaving client. Oscar has never had to raise his voice. He’s unused to confrontation, and usually just avoids it.
Usually, with Marcelle, there is no confrontation, because they accepted long ago that there are no mistakes they can make that really affect anything. Everything is one big mistake, and the only benefit of this is the lack of conflict.
He did not expect that tonight, of all nights, to be the end of all that, though perhaps he should have.
They were on a date. Marcelle wore a dress that made her look more like a being of the ocean than usual. It did not feel quite real. She could not meet his eyes, and she held his hand with the precision of a factory worker, and the conversation was lightly pleasant.
And then she told him where she’d be the day of Cerys’s party. It was not, as Oscar had expected, at his house. She was going to her family for the weekend. She would not be there.
He didn’t raise his voice as he told her he needed her there. To his credit, he barely even sounded desperate. At this point, he almost felt confident about his chances.
Marcelle knows how to be angry. Not the cold, sharp way Cerys can go, or the roundabout way of his sister, but properly angry. She is much more used to confrontation.
She doesn’t yell immediately. She’s better than that.
They bicker, almost good-naturedly, whilst leaving the restaurant. Oscar cannot drop it. He goes from saying he needs her, to saying he needs Tessa, to saying he needs help for this crush. Marcelle says he doesn’t need her, or Tessa, and that help is not a person to bring to a party.
The yelling happens in the middle of a street, when he tries to kiss her. She has no problem with the kissing, and truth be told, would like to kiss back, but she can’t let him. She is under no illusions as to what this relationship is, but she thought they were at least still friends. Friends treat each other with respect. Friends do not act as if one if only there as a crutch for how ridiculously heart sick the other is.
She tells him as much.
He does not reply, which just makes her louder. She is used to saying her concerns, loudly, into a void of noise that doesn’t listen. The space to speak, properly, only makes her worse.
And Oscar is stuck, not understanding that this woman just wanted to pretend for one night like they didn’t fuck everything up when they kissed that first time, just needed to tell him about something she was dreading and get sympathy.
But instead she yells and he twitches out excuses and not even pretending can stop this train wreck.

Invitations — December 24, 2014

Invitations

When Tessa visits Cerys, she knows now to wear waterproof shoes. The street is often filled with puddles, both visible and non-visible. Even after that, Cerys’s house floods a lot. Although she takes the necessary precautions to prevent water damage, she lets it pool around the coffee tables for weeks.
Today there is a centimetre deep layer of shimmering purple water that clings to Tessa’s red rainboots thickly. She stirs her toe through, before walking through it. Tiny waves like gemstones harmlessly crash into Cerys furniture.
“Just ignore it. It feeds on attention. The spell does nothing unless you pay attention,” Cerys says, ahead if Tessa with her feet partially submerged. The liquid rolls straight off Cerys like it isn’t even there.
“And if I do?” Tessa says, pretending it isn’t there while waddling slightly to avoid slipping.
“Well, you might get compliments on your hair, but that’s about it,” Cerys explains, opening the door to the front room.
Tessa takes an extra long, attentive look at the liquid before joining her. “So, your party. Obviously, I’m planning it, but I can’t really keep up with all your friends, and ‘friends’ and out and out enemies.”
“Well, yes, it does get bothersome at times. All wizards are an automatic no, they’re a bore. Except Isaiah, he can make origami golems, and doesn’t engage in that pathetic feud with the witches,” Cerys says.
“The feud that you’re continuing right now.” Tessa raises one eyebrow, trying to refrain from chuckling.
“I’m not feuding. They can’t come because they make terrible conversation. I can guarantee, I am perfectly pleasant at parties but if one of them were hosting, I would not be invited,” Cerys says. She looks intensely offended, but Tessa isn’t bothered. She looks that way any time anyone implied she wasn’t a shining beacon of moral goodness.
“So, a single wizard, as proof you’re not bigoted against wizards. Any other sea witches?” Tessa asks, and Cerys laughs harshly.
“Remember when we first met? Do you want that again? Leave them out of it. I’ll say goodbye privately. There is a nice ghost you could invite. They’re gorgeous, I promise, and they won’t eat anything,” she says.
“A ghost,” Tessa says.
“I promise, they’re not a poltergeist, they’re really wonderful. Okay, what about a fey, or would that make it awkward?” Cerys says.
“Why do you even know a ghost?” Tessa says, her eyebrows slowly knitting together.
“Sometimes I’m hired for services I can’t provide. Tessa, dear, you really need to get out more, make some friends that are not a pseudo-witch. This can be an education,” Cerys says.
“No, it’s your party, that’s what we’re doing. Just give me a list,” Tessa says. She pats down each of her pockets until she finds an old receipt in one, and a biro in another. The stare she gives Cerys manages somehow to keep her quiet until the list is done.

Let’s Have A Party — December 22, 2014

Let’s Have A Party

He hears the bell above the door ring without registering it, and Anas’s idle chitchat, while checking his phone. Nothing much of importance is happening, on his phone or in the kitchen. It is a slow day in every respect.
The beads that separate the kitchen from the shop are disturbed noisily. It can’t be Anas, who goes straight into them; or Cerys, who sweeps them to one side. He knows who gathers them in her hands to avoid the noise, but he turns to check, just in case.
“I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages,” Tessa says. She is wearing a dress that brushes against her ankles, and Oscar can barely stand to look at her. How can she just stand there not realising how important she is. He looks at a spot just left of her face instead.
“Man, I know right. We should get together sometime,” he says, looking away, checking on the oven he knows is fine.
“Cerys is leaving, isn’t she? It’s, what, a job that she never shuts up about. Something weird, I don’t know. But we could have a going-away party for her,” she says. The way she stands, it’s like she knows Anas shouldn’t have let her in, but of course she would anyway.
“A whole party dedicated to her. She’ll love that,” he says, and it manages to come off friendly for once.
“Yeah, she would. But I don’t know where we would have it. My place is definitely not big enough,” she says.
“You planning it to be big?” he says, finding himself walking closer to her.
One side of her mouth quirks up thoughtfully, “Bigger than just you, me and Marcelle. I know she has more friends, and it’d be nice, you know, to celebrate in style. Well, not celebrate, don’t tell her I said that.”
He laughs. “No promises. My place is a little bit bigger. It’ll be a squeeze, but I guess we could do it,” he says.
“Oscar, you are wonderful. Cerys is going to love you,” she says, “So, you know, she’ll stop trying to one-up you for, like, a week.”
“Oh, thanks. So grateful,” he says, and swats her in the arm, “Go on, get out. I’m working. Send me some thoughts about this tonight or whatever.”
She smiles at him. “Seriously, thank you,” she says, knocking him with her shoulder and leaving.
It takes him about twenty minutes to realise what he’s just agreed to. As he rescues a collection of slightly burning loaves of bread, he thinks what could go wrong with this. A party, in his own house, with Tessa, and probably alcohol. A recipe for disaster.

Avoidance — December 20, 2014

Avoidance

It is not yet light, and Oscar’s in his apartment kitchen, eating cereal and trying to stop Tai-Yuan from dipping his paw into the milk and licking it. He is wearing only a pair of argyle pyjama bottoms, and his hair is in as much of a scruff as it is possible to be.
“Why is it that you never call me, Oscar?” Minni Khu says, audibly pouting.
“I’m a very busy person,” he replies back. His mobile is on the counter, and speakerphone is causing his sisters voice to crackle terribly.
“You’re not avoiding me, are you? It’s been months since I’ve even seen you. And the only time I can talk to you is six in the fucking morning. I set three alarms for this,” she says.
“Well done. I promise, I’m just busy, and it just slips my mind until night. I know how you like your sleep,” he says, and takes another scoop of cereal, “Besides, I’m too busy avoiding other people to dodge you as well.”
“Should I be worried?” she asks. Oscar decides she must have a weird phone charm because he swears he can see her eyes roll back, as vivid as if she was here.
“No, of course not. You should never worry about me, I’m fine. Just some people with misplaced concern,” he says and then chuckles.
“Sounds a lot like me. Oscar, I am going to kill you if you’re secretly talking about me,” she says.
“I would never. You know, let’s stop talking about who is avoiding who. How’s your life been, Minni?” he asks.
“It’s good. A-bó landed a contract with a big company wanting hexes for their enemies. I’m not sure how legal it’ll end up, but we’re not breaking laws making them,” she says.
He’s not quite sure who he was talking about. Tessa is the obvious one, for him at least, but it’s also important that he doesn’t act like he’s avoiding her. It could be Cerys, who bugs him about everything when she sees him. And he was lying; talking to Minni makes him feel like he hasn’t got his life together at all.

Creatures of Routine — December 18, 2014

Creatures of Routine

It is not yet routine. Both Tessa and Daniel are creatures who find comfort in knowing what’s about to happen. Eventually they always agree to make it a part of their plan, but for now, it is still a pleasant surprise.
She does not know what he does for a living, but one week she notices they enter the building at the same time. His looking after her after a full moon has made her fond of him. She surprises the both of them, and as they unlock their doors at opposite sides of the corridor, she asks him if he’d like to come in for a coffee.
The next week, she gets held up, and doesn’t see him, but thinks nothing of it. It is not yet routine, after all.
She catches him again the week after that, and plays with her keys building up the courage to do it again. He has almost shut his door by the time she coughs and asks him, abrupt and hoping that it seems less meticulously planned then it was.
And now she is running late, because Lina had held one of those rare, full length conversations, and Tessa had been too shocked to excuse herself. Besides, she likes Lina, even with the aggressively pessimistic tendencies.
She’s not thinking of Daniel. She’s thinking of whether she should have a shower or not, and what she should cook for tea, and then she’s wondering why her mysterious neighbour who she should have missed, has just opened his door and is looking at her.
“Tessa. Would you like to come in for tea?” Daniel says, and he hasn’t quite worked out how expressions work, but he looks as pleasant as he can be.
She nods, and runs her hand through her hair breathlessly. Running up those stairs always takes it out of her.
This is the first time she’s been in his apartment. It’s functional and impersonal. The only sign that someone actually lives there is the collection of religious texts on the mostly bare bookcase.
He stiffly gestures to two-seater sofa, and she sits. It’s not as firm as she expected. The apartment looks unlived in, but maybe he just likes the minimalistic look.
While she glances around, thinking of how much a mirror or a vase of flowers would help, he brings in a tray loaded with crockery. This isn’t Tessa flicking on the kettle, and spilling milk on the kitchen counter. She isn’t surprised at how formal he makes it look, but she is surprised at how much she enjoys the careful ritual nature of waiting, and pouring, stirring and the little looks he uses. It is not yet routine, but she enjoys it all the same.

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