[Cheerless #6] CheerSoaked: A Tale Of Two Freaks

The Buddha Of Sabrinia

WOW. That tripped me up for a few seconds; she had me dead to rights.

"Well, Libby? That was what you were going to ask, right?"

"You... you didn't tell me witches were psychic!"

"We're not," Sabrina said resignedly, leaning against a telephone pole. "Or at least, I'm not. But I'm also not stupid; if I were in your shoes, I'd be asking me the exact same thing."

"Then... then you can't," I sighed dejectedly. "Otherwise, I hope you would have volunteered."

Her eyes were busy studying the patterns in her stockings. "Yeah, I would have. Unfortunately, there's no Lazarus spell in my spellbook. I'm sorry, Libby, I really am. In fact..."

"What? What is it?"

The guilt on her face was absolute; whatever she was about to confess wasn't something she was proud of. "Well, I was going to try to get around that for you; in fact, I was all set to do it, or so I thought. But... there was nothing doing."

Once again nursing the broken remains of hope, I asked, "Hmm... and how's that?"

"Well, once upon a time, my Aunts did this cool thing for me. See, they bought me a present where I could bring back anyone who had died for a whole half-hour; it's called a Reanimation." When I didn't do much in the way of... well, anything, she continued. "Gosh, it was all I could do to contain myself; I got to see Granny again, even if only for a little while! So, y'know, I went to Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda as soon as we got back into Westbridge on the redeye."

"And... and they said no."

"Bingo." She shrugged helplessly. "For one thing, they're expensive - and not just saving a few paychecks up, we're talking mortgage, here. Also, I clean forgot they only work on Hallowe'en, which is pretty damn inconvenient. But... those, we could get around, or at least wait for. Unfortunately, there's one ginormous roadblock in your way that we can't do anything about."

"Let me guess: I'm not a witch."

There were actually tears in her eyes over this - it wasn't even her grandmother we were talking about! She really needed to cut that out, it made me nervous. "The Reanimation Room is in the Other Realm, and- and like I told you that night, mortals aren't allowed. Sorry."

"Come on!" Even though I had been telling myself to accept that my very last hope of seeing her was over, my willpower reared its ugly head, forced me to start spewing out inane notions. We were so close! "Can't I like... convert or something? I'll be a good little witch, I promise!"

She laughed weakly. "You would, but it doesn't work that way."

"I'll pay you! There's my nest egg - that should at least make a dent in-"

"Libby!" She was starting to look exceptionally bleak about this. "You have to know I'd sell both my kidneys if money was all it took!"

"I- I know," I whispered, and even though I wasn't sure of it when I said it, it felt true. "And... thanks for trying, it means a lot. But damn, it would have been great to see her one last time..."

After a few seconds of the wind whipping at our black dresses, she blurted, "Is there anything else I can do for you? I mean it, just say the word and you can have an almost-new Saturn, or I could-"

"Hey," I snapped. "You didn't take my car when I offered it, and I'm not going to take yours. There will be no vehicle-donating between friends, got that?"

Oops. We weren't friends anymore... were we? Oh well - it was too late to take it back, and I found I wasn't that concerned. On the upside, the dimples returned to her cheeks the instant the word slipped out from mine, and even though it wasn't quite the old familiar ear-to-ear grin, the one that glowed so bright it lit up the night sky, it still gave me back a hint of warmth.

"Gotcha."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Everything was eerily quiet in my grandmother's old house. It was probably a dumb idea, staying there; I couldn't close my eyes without seeing her in the casket, couldn't begin to drift off without remembering her laugh, or something she'd said to me once upon a time. But there was no way I'd want to be staying anywhere else, so I guess there was going to be no sleep for Libby tonight.

What's more, Dad and I were the only ones there; Adymm, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (that's what I'd been calling T.Q. and Milnot when they got into one of their petty, meaningless squabbles) were all at Sitanzp Inn again, and Mom was at the HoJo. Obviously, Sabrina and Roxie were home, and Ophelia had opted to crash on their couch, despite the weirdness between her and Sabrina. Though over the past year it being just me and Dad has come to feel normal, tonight the number two seemed awfully small.

Admitting defeat, I crossed to the window, staring out at the trees; my legs felt chilly without pants on, but it was too much effort to dig a pair out of my suitcase or find the robe I'd thrown off before bed. Why was life so hard? Was it worth it? In the end, it ended. That seemed like such an obvious statement, but before now it had eluded me. Was there a God? Was there Heaven, or Nirvana, or whatever? Or was all this crap totally worthless?

For reasons I didn't even want to fathom, my attention was automatically drawn to the bandage on my left wrist. Wouldn't it have been easier to have gone through with it? Then I would never have had to experience losing my grandmother - in fact, if the afterlife were real, we might have arrived at the same time!

But no. Everybody knows people who commit suicide don't get past the pearly gates; they go the other way, don't they? How careless of me - though the past week of my life couldn't have been much better than Hades, that's for sure.

Still... if I let myself die, for real or just on the inside, there would be nothing else. As tempting as letting go is, as much of a relief it would be, there was so much more to be done! I was the only one who could turn my life around, and if I threw in the towel I'd never get to see a light at the end of any tunnel, whichever tunnel I ended up in. Maybe it was worth it just to see where my spiritual GPS would lead me, no matter how painful and bumpy the road might get.

With a snort of disgust, I realised my soul-searching had led me to that well-worn phrase parents always tell rambunctious children on car trips: "Getting there is half the fun!" Damn, I'm deep, aren't I?

But I was going to start now. Out of all the things that were beyond the scope of my ability to effect change, there was a situation that I could better right now - or the moment I acted. But I didn't want to act later. If only I had known how wriggly that can of worms I was poised to open would be...

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

RIIING... RIIING...

"Hngh... Hello?"

"It's me," I whispered. "Can you come over?"

"Nghxlbfff." There was a rustling and some grunting on the other end. "Now? It's... God, it's almost two."

My voice faltered. "Oh yeah."

"Libby, are you okay?"

"No, I'm fine, everything's fine. You're right, it's too early and I'm- I'm sorry, this is so stupid of me! But, see, I wanted to... to talk. And I mean really talk, y'know, through some things, and obviously this can wait until tomorrow, so nevermind I called, okay?"

"Okay." But the voice was coming from behind me; I whirled, hand clutched to my chest.

"S-Sabrina! B-but-"

"Did I really startle you?" she whispered, clapping her cell phone closed and stomping toward me, her movements sluggish from lingering sleep and clumsier-seeming still due to the rumpled, lacy pink pyjamas she was wearing. "Guess knowing something and being used to it are two different things. Sorry."

"Oh, d-don't be," I stammered, taking slow, deep breaths to make my heart stop doing the samba. "See? Almost regained my center already!"

She smiled, sitting down on the edge of the bed and rubbing at her face. "Alright, let's talk. What do you want to know about the fearsome and arcane world of magical crap?"

"Well..." Oh, I wished she hadn't opened with that - there was so much! But my will is strong when I need it to be. "No. No, that's not why I called you."

"It's okay if you want to know stuff," she reassured me. "Believe me, when I first found out? Look out, world, Sabrina needs info and make it snappy!"

"Found out? You mean... you didn't always know?"

Her smile widened. It was working! The temptation to ask all the selfish questions was unbearably great, and from the moment I decided to call her I became increasingly afraid that I would blurt all those awful things first without asking what was really important. Luckily, it was easier than I thought, because when it came down to it, I knew this was the stuff I most needed to understand: what it's like being a witch.

"I came into my powers when I turned sixteen," she began, folding her legs under her Indian-style. "Y'know, right after I got to Westbridge. Before that, I didn't know any more than you did last week; that witches were ugly hags with warts on their noses, and magic usually involved hiding an Ace of Clubs up your sleeve. Not only that, but my Aunts tried to tell me what I was turning into BEFORE I turned into it, which only made me think the two of them were totally wacked."

"So is that why you moved in with them? Because... because they're witches, too?" Hey, I didn't want to throw around false accusations, especially not now.

"Yep; they've been training me, teaching me how everything works. As for how things don't work, well, I tend to learn all that on my own, and usually in a very painful fashion."

"But what about your mom? Wasn't she one, too?"

Her face fell slightly, and while she tried to look away fast enough that I didn't catch it, but the pain was so obvious. "No. Unfortunately, she's just an archaeologist."

"Oh... and that's bad?"

"Very bad. From the moment I came into my powers until my eighteenth birthday, I wasn't allowed to see her... or else."

Obviously, this was going to be a long night.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~*~ END Chapter Four

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