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

The Defreaking Room

"Or-" I gulped, trying to re-wet my throat. "Or else... what?"

"Or else she'd turn into a big ball of wax," she laughed. "Some sense of humour the Witches' Council has, huh? Of course, I messed up a couple times, circumvented the rules, and now... now I can't see Mom until I'm 21. It's a giant drag, yes."

"That's awful..." Reevaluation time: here I had been so angry at my mother, when at least I had the option of seeing her. "And... and I'm getting this equally awful feeling that magic's not always so fun."

"It's almost never fun. There's so many rules, it's like-" She paused, thinking. "I guess it's like driving a car."

"Uhh... huh?!"

"Well, y'know how you have to get a permit first, and then you have to learn all the rules of the highway, and even when you finally get your license you still can't drive anywhere anytime you want to, and if you do the slightest thing wrong it could not only put you on suspension, but also get you and a dozen other people killed?" She shrugged, taking a breath. "Basically, it's like that. That day we were talking about in New York - when I had just met you, and you smeared the lipstick all over your face? I didn't even mean to do that; it was a mistake, like backing into a mailbox. Things like that are always happening, and it was even worse when I was new to my powers. I mean, I'm doing the best I can, y'know?"

I was starting to freak out again. When I made the decision to reopen the can of worms I promised myself I'd keep a level head, no matter what she told me, but it wasn't working. "And... and all those other things that happened to me, those terrible things. How many of them were you, or just witchcraft in general?"

"Well... as for the stuff that happened to you at Westbridge High, maybe... half?" Her arms were already shielding her face. "Whatever you can think of that was totally out there, it was probably my fault. Please don't beat me!"

"Like... like the day I ruined my chance at having a brand new Homecoming Queen throne, even though I couldn't remember exactly what I did."

"Yeah." Her nose wrinkled in a permanent wince. "I was... well, I was in your brain."

As much as these things were almost starting to sound like something akin to normal, that one was a doozy. "In WHAT?!"

"Uh-huh; I mean, I had literally shrunk down to microscopic size and was in your brain by way of tiny... spaceship. Wow, I just realised how retarded some of this stuff sounds, even if you are a witch."

"But why?" I had to stop to further examine this one. "Seriously, why in God's name would you want to park your ship there? Not that my head's a bad place to park, I'm sure, as far as brains go!"

"It was an accident!" she whined. "Salem got this spaceship replica from eating a boatload of cereal, and-"

"Salem who?" Then it hit me. "Oh. The cat. Why not? Of course the cat would get a spaceship. Par for the course."

"Hey, if it makes you feel better, I spent most of the time I was in there trying to find a way out. Y'know, I like you, but... gross, gross, GROSS!"

My mind was racing. "That time everybody thought I was the one streaking instead of you?"

"Neither of us were streaking," she whispered maliciously. "It was a double I'd concocted... though it looked like you, so yeah."

"But you got me in trouble!"

"You were trying to get me to streak; you deserved it!" A couple seconds later she bit her lip. "But for what it's worth, I'm sorry for slandering your reputation."

"Other things, more... how about the time Godzilla attacked the school?"

"Yep."

"And when, for a some reason I could no longer comprehend the day after, I turned all supreme geek and joined the science club?"

"Guilty."

"And-" This one hit me like a ton of bricks, but I quickly disregarded it. "No, you wouldn't do that."

"What?"

"My mom randomly throwing me out of the house... it couldn't have been you, right?"

This time, her face fell and fell hard. Her eyes got much shiftier, and she looked like she was fighting the impulse to skip out. Meanwhile, my stomach had gone completely cold.

"No..."

"That was a total accident, and not my fault!" she cried, hands clenching at the bedspread. "I was working at the Other Realm Rumour Mill, and- and I made it up, innocently thinking a few kids would talk about it and laugh, then- but all the rumours came true! God, Libby, it- it was horrible!"

"You... you did that to me?"

"Mr. Kraft and Mrs. Quick started going out, and Harvey was pregnant, and-"

"You made me think I was going to be living on the streets."

She stopped babbling. "I... I did. That is, I fixed it as fast as I could, but... but I'm sorry, I never meant for you to go through that, not in reality."

"No. No, I'm sure you didn't, but it still happened. Sabrina, I don't know how I can forgive you for doing that to me."

Her vocal cords squeaked for a moment before she bowed her head. "You're right. I wouldn't forgive me, either."

"But I'm going to."

It shocked both of us, trust me. What was I doing? This arrogant, self-righteous magician had put me through one of the worst experiences of my young life - how could I be saying this?! I'd been so grateful for her support when I was suffering as a homeless teenager, and all along- wait. Was I forgiving her? I cared about her a lot, but it seemed as if I was backing down from this fight too quickly. Even so - if it was her doing, if magic was the unseen force compelling me to say these words, then so be it. Either way, there was no fighting these feelings welling up so strongly. These truths.

"L-libby-"

"And even if you're the one who sent me to Swords... I'll forgive you for that, too."

"Libby..." She stood over me, hands suddenly digging into my shoulders. "Damn, please, you have to know I didn't do that! It- if anything, I wanted to bring you back from there! But I found out way too late to interfere, I- if only I had known-"

"Wh-what are you talking about?"

Tears were leaking down her face again - how could I make this poor girl who never cried do it so much? "If I hadn't been on that stupid trip to Hawaii - which, as it turns out, I couldn't have gotten out of even if I had known - maybe I could have done a spell to change your mother's mind about sending you away. More importantly, you have to know I would have - I would have in a heartbeat, even if I had to chop off my leg or something!"

I was shocked to hear this. "What- Sabrina, how long have you been keeping all this bottled up?"

"Since it happened," she sniffled, sitting back down next to me. "I didn't find out until like, weeks later - damn my scatterbrained Aunt Hilda! By then there was nothing I could do. Even if I made your mom have a change of heart, it was way too much tampering at that point, and- and if it worked at all, you would probably still have had to finish out the semester. Mostly, I just figured I'd missed my window of opportunity, so all I could do was send you that lame letter. God, you must hate me."

Sure, I considered having some fun with that briefly, but... "No, I don't. You... you couldn't have known they would lose what little sanity they had and pack me off to Crapland Central. Besides, they still wound up moving to Japan, and then I would have to bow at people and eat nothing but sushi."

"Which isn't as fun as it sounds, is it?" she laughed wetly. "Geez, Libby... we've been through a lot in our short nineteen years."

"More than our fair share." Another thought occurred to me. "Just so I'm clear, because I want to be certain of my own life story... since I got outta boarding school, how much really happened the way I remember it?"

"All of it," she swore, nodding vigorously. "And I know you've probably been thinking about this, so... yes, the hypothermia thing was totally how everyone said it happened. What they don't know is that I used my finger to heat myself up extra warm so it would work on you faster, that's all. Hell, it didn't even occur to me 'til we were already- uhh, y'know."

"Oh, Sabrina!" I suddenly cried out, burying my head in her lap. "You... what am I supposed to do about you? I d-don't know if I should be awed, or afraid, or mad, or- or- and you're just so much! There's so much Sabrina, and sometimes I'm not sure I'm a big enough person to handle it all!"

"Libby," she said anxiously, "wh-what are you talking about? I mean, I know this magic thing is massive, but it's me! It's the same me it's always been!"

"Maybe so, b-but Sabrina the person is still so much deeper than anybody I've ever known!" I sniffled, clutching her waist. "And- and why didn't you tell me? I mean, m-maybe I would have freaked, but I'd have understood, I'd come around! Why couldn't you be honest with me?"

She laughed humourlessly, stroking my hair to calm me; it felt good, and tickled the back of my neck slightly. "Believe it or not, there's a solid, magical rule about that; it's not just me being all Area 51." When I only looked up at her blearily, she continued, "Any witch who outright tells a mortal what she is has to be stripped of her powers. If I told you, or anybody else I love, or even some stranger on the street... I'd lose the magic forever. Iron-clad, no loopholes to be found."

"But... but I know, and you're okay."

"Ahh," she said with a stately nod, "but I didn't tell you, did I? You found me out with that wily Chessler brain of yours... which I've spent an afternoon in," she added quietly. "Trust me, I'd much rather have sat you down for a long talk than have you find out like you did, but... at least you know, and maybe now we can be okay, right?"

"Mmm." Sitting up, something she'd just said floated back to the surface; it had almost slipped by unnoticed, but we wouldn't be that fortunate. "Wait, what?"

"I said we'll be okay. We are, right?"

"Not that," I whispered, looking up into her face, scanning those delicate features for clues and swallowing hard. "You... did you just say what I think you said?"

"Uhh, I don't know," she said nervously, and I could tell she wasn't being evasive; she honestly hadn't caught it. "What did you think I said?"

"That... that you love me."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~~*~ END Chapter Five

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