Tarts

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Chapter Fourteen. Again.

Chapter Fourteen. Again.

Looking away from J, I saw Auggie shuffling through his deck of tarot cards, soon settling with a spread and tapped each card once, all of them face down. The cards started shuffling themselves, seemingly trying to decide on the right way to be arranged.

Auggie’s brow furrowed and he straightened his bowtie. The cards finally settled on a pie-crust like pattern, going over top one another. Auggie smiled at the cards and then turned to the class.

A loud pop sounded in my ears and I had to cover them, surprised by how loud it was. I felt my skin go on fire and a headache begin to form. It was like someone took a hammer and just started hacking a way, trying to bash my head in.

I felt hands wrap around my shoulders and they shook me lightly and then I remember it as J that was with me. She was looking at me, telling me to uncover my ears and to do so quick before others recovered.

I did so and looked at her, blinking rapidly as she chuckled, pulling out that paste and gave me a small glob to help soothe my ears. I did so willingly, the paste cool against my skin that felt like it had been dipped in lava.

After telling her thank you, she took back the small tin and we looked around to exactly where we were and if we would be in danger but instead, we were greeted with something abit different than what we were expecting.

We stood in a square, one of those carnival things that hold ribbons into a teepee towering over everything, ribbons of silver cloth that was sparkling in the sun sprouting from the bright wooden structure. Homes of what seemed to be birch, as some still had the bark of the tree on them, lined the streets and people were muddling about, talking about things from food to worrying about when it would rain next.

It was beautiful though. Absolutely captivating. It was so… bright, even though most of it was varying shades of red, it was still entrapping. The quartz jutted out and many of the people here had homes built into the side of the stone. Bright wood and darkly colored stone, brick that had been pigmented to look like a glossy pearl and steam-punkish lanterns that glowed like new headlights of a car.

Absolutely entrapping.

When I went to move, I realized that surrounding us was this misty white vale and when I went to poke it, it rippled like water and turned solid for a second before fading into a clear film again. That vale J mentioned. Maybe this was it? I could see the wonder in other people’s eyes as well. They were just as enthralled and enticed as I was with the whole thing. One kid kept staring at the one snake wearing a miner’s hat, slithering about as it wiggled it’s way onto one of those window washer elevators and waited for a human to push a button to send them down.

I was starting to like those snakes. They're really kinda adorable, honestly. Besides the eyes that stare into your soul and t-rex arms. You know, the normal. Reminded me of a snake I saw the one time wearing a wizards hat and had weird colored eyes when I was little and my father had taken me to get ice cream at this cute little shop that made their own cones.

J also seemed rather enthralled with a large smile plastered on her face. Her face lit up when she saw a doctors office, these lilac dragonflies buzzing around this plant that J told me she had been trying to find for months because it helped paralyzed victims who were trying to gain feeling back.

I was more enthralled by the music shop. On the outside, a small chalkboard had a crudely drawn stick figure waving hello to passerbys, encouraging people to come and look around at guitars, clarintes, drums, anything and everything musical.

And then a young man passed by, thin hair that was bright pink and eyes that looked dead behind the beautiful green of moss. He looked peaceful.

“That man, is Red. The Red. Nothing too scary, really. But if you were to look at his eyes, you can tell something is wrong. Of course, most people don’t normally notice that kinda stuff, why would they? They had gardens to sow, people to meet.” Auggie told us, sweeping a hand to motion to the town of Redcliffe.

“At this time he was twenty. Just started school for his form, a late bloomer, you see. This was really the seed of everything, him going to Greenwich. They were blatantly favorable of so-called proper metas, that I know all too well, and those who weren’t were normally ignored.

“He grew up in Redcliffe, one of the most open towns as he was growing up. The town is still known as one of the largest producers of embeadable gems, Wickroot which is used for helping most paralyzed issues and quartz output for weapons and decor.” Auggie told us and he looked at me with a soft smile as I stared at the man that had me imprisoned. Tortured but not even by his own hands.

And he was the one that set the camp on fire. And I was willing to bet he knew I was going to go there, that Ace and Blitz were going to go there. I was willing to be my left eye and tongue for that and it pissed me the hell off.

Herrbull came scooting over to me as the class started to get antsy, and I quickly tried to compose myself as my fist were balled and I could feel my skin growing hot. But J saw her and she made a rather disgusted face, grabbing my hand, dragging us closer to the music store.

I looked at her, and asked her why she did that. She replied that she was one of those people. I didn’t need her to explain what she meant by that and I realized why she made such a face at me.

Asking J why she didn’t complain about Auggie, I stretched and cracked my entire back and oh boy, did it hurt but felt wonderful all at once. I hardly had any aching, thanks to J and her magical petals but I was seeming to get more headaches; Although, that was something that I could easily deal with. A shower and sleep normally fixed the pesky things.

J replied with the fact that Mark was in charge of the school and he was highly respected by most people because of what he did at the start of the rebellion, when it was just full out brawls upon land. He saved countless lives because he let his power go out of control.

But that caused him immense pain and he, apparently, can’t fight as well as he could before and it caused him lose a lot of his strength when he would go to the other Earth. Like trying to recharge an old Iphone but all it does is charge in three hours and last you about thirty minutes.

So Mark was really important once? Well, he still is but neat! But how come the war was just… boiled down at this point? There didn’t seem to be a lot of fighting and I - but my thoughts were interrupted by Auggie. Again. Thanks, really.

“Feel free to roam around town as well. The protective vale should hold up and leave us protected from the people of the past. If you want to go back just tell me and I’ll give you a Lovers card to return back to the present. Enjoy this while you can, seriously I’m rather worried what Mark’ll do. Now go!” He said, throwing his hands about to shoo us and everyone went running.

And I mean running. A bunch of people must’ve grown up here because many of them went running toward the ice cream shop and sat down on an empty table, smelling the rich chocolate and baking cones wafting through the open door. A few people went around back and into the doctor’s, no doubt to watch them perform surgeries.

I rather liked standing in the middle of everything. It all seemed familiar, in a way. The way the red sparkled in the sun pouring from above, the nets used to catch sand that blew in from the desert and bridges that allowed animals and people to cross from above.

And the baking cones.

“Hey, I’m, I’m gonna go check out the ice cream shop. It smells wonderful.” I almost mumbled to J and started walking away. I could here Auggie walking behind me but didn’t try to stop him as I think he knew what I was doing. Maybe.

White roses were growing in flower pots that had started to cascade down the wall. It was small, quaint almost with gold-painted metal furniture and red cushions decorating the outside of the place. Walking in was like getting hit with nostalgia over and over again. I could see a girl baking the cones, the sugary smell engulfing the area as another employee was scooping ice cream.

Chairs lined the walls with napkin covered tables and spoon jars, not to mention a wide variety of drinks like coke, milk and a brand called Dip. Dip. Dippity dip. I liked it. A fun word to play around with.

I ran my hands along the glass covering the ice creams that sparkled and shined, some oozing gooey substances that looked sour and others that resembled cheese. Cottage cheese, which I quite liked. Suck it.

But the decor on the inside was familiar. Vintage records hung on walls, a record player, part radio, softly playing Nirvana as smally trimmed butterfly bushes hung from the ceiling as butterflies rested upon them.

A little girl sat in the corner of the store, munching away at a purple ice cream with cottage cheese like cream, none of it on her face somehow. She took a bite, furrowing her brow and scrunching her nose in pain. A brain freeze.

The man with her laughed, telling her to hold the base of thumb against the roof of her mouth and that might help get rid of the pain as he teased her with the fact that he couldn’t get brain freezes, running a hand through his darkly colored hair.

I walked toward the little girl with, at this point in time, short black hair, hazel eyes that were getting darker in color and wearing jeans with a white shirt. Her eyes were happy, laugh high-pitched like wind chimes and didn’t seem worried as she looked at her father.

He sat in that chair, laughing as he rolled up his flannel sleeves, pulling out a tarot card from what I could now finally tell after years of wondering, was hidden under his sleeve. He showed it to me, saying he stole it from Auggie, tapping the frosty-edge card that glimmered in the parlor’s light.

I stared in awe at the card as the me now just sat on the floor and watched as my father showed me the magic of the card, telling me about the past and present as he re-froze my ice cream and added more to it in the process and I just sat there, on that floor, feeling defeated.

It wasn’t a crystal cave in Virginia that we’d go to once a week. It was home. His home. And I didn’t even remember the magic.

“Nayleth… I know he lied. We lied. But Muluth didn’t want to raise you here during the war. She still doesn’t want you here. But…” Auggie told me, walking up from behind as I watched my father clean off little me’s cheek, tucking the card away in his flannel pocket.

“Jesse was an Ace until he used most of his magic to protect the ravine, to stop hordes of Groves from infiltrating his home. He had a job to do while he was here as a general, Nat.

“Nayleth… I know we lied. But it was for you, for the better. Please, I don’t want you ending up like your mother too. I know you don’t want that either.” Auggie almost pleaded with me and I saw him watch my father and I could see the pain in them. He missed him just as much as I did.

I got up and hugged him. But emotions decided a hug wasn't enough and I started bawling; that ugly, heart-breaking sobbing. Auggie soon cried too - he was never one to hide emotions and I loved that about him. We just stood in that parlor, hugging one another as he whispered sorry over and over until it was just a hoarse whisper and I had to wipe away some of his tears as the past me left with my father who looked back and smiled softly at no one.

“People hide things. I know my father has more secrets,” I began to tell Auggie as he smiled softly, cleaning his glasses and fixing his bowtie. “But for now, I’ll just ask you all of my questions and hold a grudge against you.” I said with a small smile as I felt my eyes begin to burn and rubbed them. Auggie rubbed his again and sniffled, gaining his compsurse.

He was still teaching, after all.

Putting his glasses back on we turned around and were greeted by Herrbull, whos face was scrunched up in confusion but the venom in her eyes was easily directed toward me.

“Sir, not to be rude, by why are you talking with… her? I know you have a complete form too but her? She looks so depressing.” She said, looking at me but smiled at Auggie with a honeyish grin.

Auggie glared at her and straightened his tie that had been comfortably crooked upon his collar. I had to hold in a chuckle, as she had angered my uncle and it was obvious she hadn’t realized a vital part of information.

“Miss Herrbull, I’d like you to respect Miss Warren. She’s been through a lot with my brother’s death and I’d like for you to also welcome me the delight of a weeks detention.” He said, grinning snidely and walked away as her jaw dropped.

I laughed out loud at that point, maybe from wanting to end tha awkwardness after crying or because I felt stressed but having to stop myself from choking on my own spit became difficult. J looked over at me practically dying of laughter, a confused looked on her face as I pointed to the girl, hardly even breathing and she just shook her head and told me to breathe and dragged me away.

“We should go back, class ends in about five minutes,” She said, glancing up at the sky then at a large clock nested in the teepee thing. “And you looked adorable as a little girl. Your father was definitely a catch for everyone.” She said and snickered at my astonished face as I stared at her, leading us over to Auggie who was laughing softly and I was willing to bet he had heard what J said.

“See you soon, Nayleth. And J, stay out of trouble.” Auggie quipped quickly and held out the Lovers card for us to touch and we were wooshed back into the present, sitting at the same place we were. Most people had left by this time, apparently taking the time when class ends into their own hands.

I just sat down at the table, even after people returned from that time long ago and even after a loud screech sounded through the halls and rooms, telling people class was over and they were free to do whatever they needed.

Auggie was back by this time of course but he didn’t make me leave and J had left to go clean up the room and make sure the guys didn’t leave any food out before we went for lunch. So I just sat there, staring at the fish bowl on Auggie’s desk, the fish inside staring right back at me.

How didn’t I notice the fish before? The fish was see-through though, dark red streaks all over with large, round eyes that resembled the night sky. It seemed to like staring, as no matter how I moved, the fish would follow me.

Auggie chuckled as watched me messing around with the weird fish, clicking and unclicking a pen that he had taken out of his pocket.

"That's Gus. He likes to stare." Auggie blurted out, staring at his pen and twisting the metal cap.

I looked at him with a slight smile, cocking my head as I did so. I didn’t want him thinking I was upset. I mean, I was, big time, but I just, I couldn’t focus on something, another thing, that people, that people had hidden from me. Not yet.

And Gus seemed nice. But his staring was a little weird, let's be honest here.

I sighed, rubbing my eyes. I saw my dad, after ten years. Ten years of doubt, wonder, anxiety, judgement and my emotionally abusive mother. Even if it was just the past. But sometimes that’s exactly it, the past.

Holds a lot of unwanted answers, doesn’t it?

After standing up and stretching, a headache came raging through and I had to almost sit back down because of it. I rubbed my eyes and temples, trying to calm down the sudden pain.

Once it finally dulled a bit, I noticed that Auggie was just looking at me, the stack of papers in his hands about ready to take that leap of floppy-flying faith onto the ground. Gus was staring at Auggie now, his long, fat fins waving around like flags in the wind.

He asked if I was ok, asking if I wanted to talk to Gram about everything. And if I needed some water. I only replied with it was fine and that I had to go Gram’s anyways. I had questions for her. And for the people that would be with her.

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