Now that Maria’s hands are healed, she takes a turn driving. I sit in the front, and Toby and Jude are in the very back of the van, talking about something. Whatever it is, it’s making Jude upset. Well, more upset than he already was, anyways. Good. He deserves it.
Maria glances over at me and I notice her gripping the steering wheel so hard that her knuckles are turning white. I pull back my emotions, realizing my mistake. I was making everyone else feel my anger. I lost control for a moment. I shake my head. I haven’t lost control for years. What the heck is wrong with me?
“No one hates you, Hazel. We just…” Maria starts.
“You just trust Jude more than me?” I snort. “What a joke.”
I feel anger flare up from Maria. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
I roll my eyes. “Like you don’t know.”
“Well, let’s see.” I look at the ceiling and count off on my fingers. “He abuses pills, he can barely control his own emotions, if I wasn’t around to save him every time he started going crazy he would have killed himself by now, he sleeps with every attractive girl he comes across, he drinks way too much, need I continue?” I look over at Maria, gauging her reaction.
“Please, go on. I’m intrigued,” Jude says angrily from the back of the van. “Tell me more about how horrible of a person I am.”
“I will!” I turn in my seat, shouting back at him. “You don’t care about me at all! You only keep me around so that I can save you every time you start drowning in your own emotions!” Jude visibly winces, looking like I just stabbed him in the heart. I gape back at him, horrified at the things that just came out of my mouth.
“Pull over,” Jude says quietly.
“Jude, I…” I try to find the words to apologize.
“Pull over the fucking car!” he shouts. Maria abruptly pulls over to the side of the road, and Jude jumps out before we are fully stopped. He starts walking down the side of the road; a long stretch of empty highway. Who knows how many miles. I jump out after him and try to follow him.
“Jude! Wait! I’m so sorry!” I cry after him.
He turns around long enough to shout, “Stay the hell away from me!” I turn back to Maria and Toby, looking for help.
Toby stalks past me after Jude. “Get in the van. I’ll go with him,” he grumbles. I let out a small sob and get back into the van.
There’s a long, awkward silence, the only sound being me crying quietly. Finally, Maria says, “Are you jealous? Is that it? Because, I already told you, I’m not interested in being anything more than friends with him.”
I shrug. I honestly don’t know. I have no idea what is going on with me. “I don’t know. Maybe?” I sniff and wipe away my tears. Maria reaches over into the glovebox and silently hands me a Kleenex. “Something is going on with my abilities. I can’t control it anymore. I mean, I can, but not all the way. It keeps slipping.”
Maria snorts. “I think it’s happening to all of us, Hazel. I keep feeling like there’s something near me, but no one else seems to notice.”
“I didn’t mean any of that, about Jude. I mean, most of it is true, but I love him anyways. He’s my best friend. Or… he was…”
“Even best friends fight sometimes. Jude cares about you. He’ll forgive you eventually.” I nod and there’s another awkward silence. “So…. Should we wait here or…?”
“I think wait. How far could they actually walk?”
“I’m pretty sure Jude would walk all night to avoid you right now. Just to be clear, I’m mad at you, too. Even if you couldn’t control yourself.”
I nod. I don’t blame her. I’m mad at myself. “Would it help to point out all of my faults?” Maria snorts with laughter.
“Well, for starters, you hang out with a bunch of weirdo psychics.” We both have to laugh at that. Our group is pretty strange. It’s a miracle that we ever get along with each other.
I shift in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position. We may be here for a while. While moving, I feel something poking me in the leg, and I reach into my pocket.
“Oh!” I pull out the locket, remembering that we have the key now. “Where’s that key?”
Maria looks excited for a second, then lets out a groan. “Toby has it. He put it in his pocket because he didn’t want Jude accidentally touching it.” I slump in my seat, disappointed. I don’t know if this thing will actually have any clues in it or not, but I don’t want to wait to find out. We wait for about 10 more minutes before losing patience. Maria starts up the van and takes off like a maniac.
A couple minutes later, we find Jude and Toby sitting on the side of the road. They gave up quickly. Maria pulls over and jumps out excitedly.
“Toby!” she shrieks. Jude pointedly avoids looking at me. Maria practically skids to a stop next to them. “The key to the locket! Give!”
Toby looks at her like she’s lost her mind. “Seriously? And I thought you were here so that Hazel could apologize. Jeez.” He stands and digs the small gem out of his pocket. “Here. Have fun.”
I approach them much slower, moving until I stand next to Jude. “I’m sorry, Jude. I didn’t mean any of that,” I say quietly.
“Oh, really? To me, it sounded like you meant it. How long have you been holding all that in?” Jude says, not looking at me still. I look over at Maria and Toby, and they get the message. They both go back to the van so that we can be alone.
“I haven’t been holding anything in. I swear, I didn’t mean to say that. I don’t know what happened. I… lost control of my emotions. Or something. I don’t think it was actually my emotions.”
“Don’t try to blame this on someone else!”
“I’m not trying to blame anyone! I couldn’t control my ability. Literally. I was feeling everyone’s emotions all at once, and it overwhelmed me. I was even pushing my emotions on the rest of you without realizing it.”
Jude looks at me, actual concern on his face. “How long has this been happening?”
I shrug and try to think of when it started. “After we met with the Harrisburgs, I guess.”
“Not before that?”
I lift my eyebrow at him. “No? I don’t think so. Why?”
His head drops. I can’t tell if he’s disappointed or relieved or both. “I thought maybe it had something to do with that thing that I saw on our way to the Colton house.”
“Have you been having any issues with your abilities?”
He smirks. “Really?” I have to smile at that. He has nothing but issues with his abilities. Always. There’s no way he would be able to tell if anything changed, because nothing is a constant for him. Other than seeing ghosts. “Wait, I’m supposed to be mad at you!”
I laugh, only because I can tell he’s not actually angry. He smiles up at me, looking thankful.
“Got it!” Maria shouts triumphantly from behind us. We both turn to look. She’s holding the necklace in the air like a trophy.
Jude briskly jumps to his feet. “Holy shit!” We all look at him, baffled. “Get over here, now!” He sounds so frantic, that they both sprint toward us as fast as they can. Seconds later, a large semi-truck clips the side of the van, knocking it several feet forward, and tipping it into the ditch. Had Maria and Toby still been standing there, they would have been badly injured, possibly even killed. The truck driver doesn’t even bother to stop. The truck flies past us, throwing a gust of wind at our faces.
We all stare at the van, breathless. “I think you just saved our lives…” Toby rasps. “Did you see that happen? Like, see the future?” Jude nods, speechless. “How often does that happen?”
“Never,” he croaks. “I mean, I’ve seen people die before it happened, but only once or twice, and only when I was touching them.”
“Well, I guess that answers my earlier question,” I say quietly.
“Wait…” Maria holds up a hand. “Did you actually see us die?”
“How else would I know that it was going to happen?” Jude says rudely.
Maria looks like she’s about to cry. “You had to see us die?” She says it in a choked whisper.
“Please, don’t start crying. You didn’t actually die, so it’s all good. Don’t make things weird.” He turns away uncomfortably. Maria swallows her tears and composes herself.
“Does anyone want to explain to me what is going on here?” Toby nearly shouts. I guess I forgot that nobody has discussed our out of control abilities with him yet. Oops.
“Have you been having any abnormalities with your ability to see auras?”
He looks surprised. “Yeah, actually. I have. How did you know?”
“When did you notice that it was different?”
“Hmmmm…. Seems like right after Jude did his seizure bit with the necklace. I started seeing auras a lot more. They’re clearer, too.”
Jude snaps his fingers and points to the necklace hanging from Maria’s hand. “Open it.” Maria lifts the necklace and starts to pry it open with her acrylic fingernails. “Carefully though,” he adds.
“I’m not gonna break it, Jude,” Maria says in annoyance.
“I mean because… never mind. Just… be careful.”
Maria finally pulls open the little metal heart. We all gather around, looking down at it, curious. I’m expecting a picture of some sort. A family portrait, or a picture of one of the family members. It’s not a picture though. Inside is a small, rough blue green stone. We all stare at it silently.
“What is it?” Toby asks.
“Chrysocolla,” Jude says slowly.
“Huh?” Even I didn’t know what it was.
“It’s a type of mineral. If you have a witch enchant it, it can enhance your psychic abilities. Which explains everything. Well, almost everything.”
“So, this rock is screwing with our powers?” Toby asks.
“Why do you know this?” Maria asks.
Jude bristles and puts up a defensive front. “Why do you care?”
“I was just curious…” she mumbles. She plucks the stone out of the locket and holds it up to the light. “This little tiny thing did all that? I guess it kind of saved our lives, huh?”
“No, actually. If it hadn’t screwed up Hazels emotions, we would have never pulled over and you would have never been in danger to begin with. Technically, it kind of tried to kill you.” Jude crosses his arms. “And this is why you don’t mess with witchcraft, Hazel.” He turns to look at me with piercing eyes.
I glare back. Nothing I got from Amy is supposed to affect our abilities, so he can’t use that argument. “I only got protection charms. That’s all.”
“Do you even know how witchcraft works?”
“Kind of. With, like, spells and stuff.”
“Anything with an enchantment has to have some sort of sacrifice. Whether it’s a bug or a human being. It has to have some sort of soul for it to work.”
“You’re worried about some bugs being killed?” I snort. He is being too ridiculous. I feel his anger pulsing toward me. Maria’s curiosity. Toby’s anxiety. “Crap.” I close my eyes and try to block out all their feelings. It all just jumbles together and becomes this tangled web of awfulness in my head. After taking a few deep breaths I calm myself.
“Who’s to say it was bugs that she used? For a protection spell, you need something a lot bigger than a bug. Unless you use like a thousand of them or something. She could have used a cat or a racoon or something.” I keep my eyes closed to stay focused. “Are you listening to me?” I feel Jude’s hand touch my shoulder and hear him gasp and pull away. My eyes fly open.
“What? What is it?” Jude has his eyes shut tight and has his hand against his face, like he has a headache. “Are you okay?” I start to reach out for him, but he jerks away.
“Don’t,” he gasps. “I’m okay. Just don’t touch me. Nobody touch me.”
Maria wrings her hands nervously and shivers. “What do we do? Can we just throw it away? Will that stop it from affecting us?”
“No,” Jude says. He pulls his hand from his face, looking a little better. “We have to find a witch to break the enchantment. We can’t just leave it for someone else to find.”
“Good thing we know where one lives,” Toby says.
“We’re not going back to Amy!” Jude snaps. “I know someone better. That I trust.”
I have no idea who he could be talking about. Earlier, he didn’t want anything to do with witches, now he says he knows one? One that he trusts?
“One small problem,” Toby says. He’s looking over at our van. “How are we gonna get that out of the ditch?”
“Oh. Right,” Jude says.