Chapter 1: Coming back here
I hand the taxi driver cash and step out taking a deep breath of fresh country air. The smell of pine and fresh morning dew is like a much needed cleansing from the city smog I was living in.
I take in the familiar surroundings of the little white house with the porch swing still in place, remembering the times I spent swinging on it when I was little. I make my way up the steps and hear my grandmother's sweet voice telling me stories about my mother.
Though I had very little time with either of them in this life, we were very connected.
From a very young age I had the ability to sense the presence of the dead. Guardian angels, wistful spirits, lost ghosts, and the occasional demon I suppose.
My grandmother Cynthia had it and used it to run her fortune telling business from this very house, nestled away in the mountains of Maple Falls Washington. My mother had it, but for her it was more of a curse that lead to her own death when I was 6. My father was so devastated he couldn’t stand living here. Within a year of her funeral he moved us to Thousand Oaks, California where he drowns himself in his work as a psychologist for the rich and snooty.
Like my grandmother I embraced mine as a gift, which wasn’t easy. I had to learn from a young age to hide it from my dad. Any signs of me talking to the dead and he would have had me committed. His idea of saving me was grooming me to become a psychologist like him. He believed science would drown out the paranormal and supernatural. Apparently I got the best of both worlds, my dad's brains and my mom's gift.
No sooner did I graduate college, ready to become a junior partner at my dad's office, did I get the news of my grandmother's death. My dad wasn’t too happy about my decision to come stay in her old house for the summer. He had tried convincing me to sell it, but it was all I had left of my grandmother and my mom. Besides I needed this, to be on my own for a change. My dad had been in the driver's seat the past 18 years of my life. It was time for me to take the wheel even just for a couple of months.
I take a big breath as I turn the door knob and enter the house I haven’t been in since I was 7. The door creaked closed behind me and a slight chill shot through me. Not much had changed from what I remember.
To the left is the “Mystic Room” with a black bead curtain covering the entrance. I walk in running my hand along the table with a blood red silk cloth cover and a big crystal ball. Off to one side was a dresser with candles spread out and a painting hanging over it of my mother. It was almost like looking in the mirror with her long dark burgundy hair, pale smooth skin and sky blue eyes. she looked as though she was the same age I am now. The same age she was when she took her own life. Yet another reason my dad didn’t want me coming back here, afraid he would lose me too.
I venture back to the main entrance checking out the big living room that had been upgraded with a modern look. Black leather furniture and a big flat screen TV on one wall, fireplace on the other. The mantel was full of pictures. My mom and dad's wedding photo, my grandparents, me with my parents when they were both happy and in love before the illness took over.
I couldn’t hold back the few tears that invaded my eyes. I grab my suit case and head down the hall to the spare room that used to be mine. It was still the same; the grey walls with one black dresser under the window next to the closet, the big black iron framed bed in the middle with one small matching black nightstand.
The small rounded dark red chair in the corner with my favorite black cashmere throw that used to be my mother’s draped over the back by the tall black standing lamp. I drop my case grabbing the throw and snuggle with it as I curl up in the chair and let the tears flow.
The sound of laughter soon fills my ears through the darkness. My mother Lily's face comes into view smiling down upon me.
She whispers my name as she kisses my nose. We begin to twirl in an open field beneath the big blue sky as our laughter carriers like the wind. Soon we fall to a bed of grass staring up at the clouds.
Lily: I will always be with you Sky, my sweet little angel.
She looks over at me as a single tear of blood escapes her eye and suddenly she is being pulled from me into a black abyss. The memory of her death haunts my dreams until I am jolted awake by a loud thump. I jump out of the chair. It takes a second for my eyes to adjust as the day has now turned to night. I look over to see my case has fallen over and popped open. I begin to laugh at the scene before me. A slinky black kitten is backing out of the case with a pair of red thong underwear stuck on her head.
Sky: Well now, what do we have here?
I chuckle as I scoop the little thing up removing the underwear and instantly melt as she headbutts my chin, chirping a little kitten cry of gratitude. Her eyes where large and pale yellow like the full moon shining outside the window as we speak.
She nestled in my arms and began to purr with no protest of the name I’d given her. Something draws my attention; from the corner of my eye to outside. Like a shadow, the image disappears the second I walk to the window. I sense a presence unlike any other I’ve ever felt before. The feeling of being watched would normally shoot chills of fear through most normal humans. For me, the chill is of sexual desire and familiarity.
I breath out heavily fogging up the window, pondering why his presence seemed familiar, when my stomach begins to protest. The sound must have startled Luna as she leaped out of my arms, but then soon began a hunger cry as well.
Sky: Ok, ok. Let’s go see what we have.
I glance back out the window one last time and could feel he was gone. I shook off the feeling and followed Luna to the kitchen. At first glance in the fridge I saw my grandmother had made arrangements to have it stocked with my favorite foods and drinks. Well, all accept for the Heineken beer. I didn’t drink, so that was a curious thing that I would have to figure out later.
Later came sooner than expected when I remember the letter she had sent me before she passed away telling me about the neighbor who comes periodically to do maintenance around the house. Payment for his work I imagined and giggled to myself. I grab the pre cut spiral ham and toss it in a pan.
Luna was rubbing against my legs but there wasn’t any cat food anywhere.
Sky: You’re one lucky kitty for me to be sharing my ham with.
Once the ham was fried and my tea was ready I ventured into the living room and plopped down on the giant black leather sofa, setting a small plate with chopped ham on the table for Luna, while I turned on the TV. To my amusement the first thing that came on the TV was one of my favorite older movies “Sixth Sense”. I curl my feet beneath me and nibble on my ham as I sip my tea.
After the movie I realized poor Luna had nowhere to go. I open the back door hoping she’d be like a dog and do her business and return right away. Thankfully she did.
Sky: Looks like I’ll have to go in to town tomorrow and get you a few things.
She looked up and meowed with her big yellow beanie boo eyes.
Sky: Well I suppose I should unpack and take a quick shower.
I spoke out as if she could understand me. In part I swore she could, the way she looked at me and followed me everywhere. Curiously I ponder the idea of reincarnation, but I estimate her age to be about three months. My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago at the end of May. So Luna can’t be a reincarnation of Cynthia. I shake my head laughing at myself as I walk back into the bedroom. After a quick steamy shower I put my things away and reach for my bag on the bed when I see my phone lighting up with a dozen missed calls. All from my dad.
I must not have turned my ringer back on after the flight. I dial him back quickly.
Sky: Hi Daddy.....
I say with my I’m sorry daddy’s girl voice.
Alexander: Sky Levy you’ve had me worried sick.
Sky: I’m sorry dad, I forgot to turn the phone back on after I got off the plane.
Alexander: Is everything alright?
Sky: Yes, dad everything is fine. I got to the house safe and sound. I guess the jet lag caught up to me and I fell asleep before seeing any of your calls
Alexander: How are you feeling? You feeling ok?
Sky: You mean normal dad. Yes, as normal
as can be. I feel fine.
Alexander: Sky I know you are a grown woman now and can take care of yourself, but please if anything feels off promise you’ll call me and catch the first flight home.
I can’t help the chuckle in the back of my throat.
Sky: I promise I will call you.
Alexander: I love you Sky.
Sky: I love you too dad.
A ping of anger and guilt hit all at once. I know my dad means well. He loved my mother more than anything in the world and I know he feels like he failed her. He couldn’t save her from the illness of her own mind, so he has done everything he can to keep me from the same fate. I am sure coming from a long line of witches doesn’t really help matters either; which was a part of my history he desperately tried to keep hidden from me, but ultimately could not.
My great aunt Celia made sure of it. She passed before I was born and sort of became my guardian angel. She told me all about our family's blood line and stories of ancient times. One of my favorite stories she told was about Willow Grayson. A story that linked a past forgotten to more recent times of goddesses and werewolves. There was even a book written that I have read probably a dozen times “Goddess of the Moon, Last Born.”
Celia was the most powerful witch of ancient Prussia, and happened to be the best friend of Luna who was the goddess of the moon. Luna, who had lost all of her children but one in a decade long battle with Hades, entrusted Celia with her last born.
Celia raised the princess who later became more powerful than any god or mystical creature ever known in history. My grandmother says Willow and her husband Liam still live just south of Maple Falls in Snake River.
I can relate to her story in a strange way. Willow had to suppress her powers for hundreds of years so no one would discover who she truly was. I have had to do much the same, but from my dad.
For some reason this memory causes me to look back out the window in thoughts of the male presence that had been out lurking behind the trees earlier. My grandmother Cynthia had told me before my dad moved us away that I was destined to come back one day. The why is unclear, but oddly I was beginning to feel something changing inside of me. In the far depths of my mind was a seed planted by my father that this was the change he was afraid of. That I would lose my mind. But that wasn’t the kind of change I was feeling. This was something different, there was some sort of an energy source humming through my body.
My attention was drawn to little Luna already asleep on the spare pillow on the bed. In a sudden drowsiness I soon joined her.