reblogged: A Difficult Funeral, aka a scene from Dowser 1.5
I noticed that a few visitors to my blog found this piece of flash fiction from Sept 20, 2013 today. I’d practically forgotten all about it. I think I’d intended on writing more shorts, but then just focused on the novels. I thought you might get a kick out of it, so I’m reblogging.
This 1300 word flash fiction — inspired by the Spin the Wheel of Conflict challenge issued by Chunk Wendig — is set three weeks after the events in my urban fantasy novel, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic. As such, it contains SPOILERS for that story. Please read the following at your own risk … wow, that sounds ominous.
Also, this has not been professionally edited or proofed (yet), but I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse of Jade in between novels none-the-less.
A Difficult Funeral
I hadn’t been sure what shoes to wear. What shoes I was supposed wear to the funeral of the man my sister murdered and then ate.
Actually, I had that order wrong — consistently — in my head. But I couldn’t seem to bear the understanding when I reversed it.
So, yeah. Shoes. And cupcakes. I baked cupcakes. A new recipe, but I didn’t mention that part to anyone.
It wasn’t really a funeral, as in a ceremony set in a church or anything formal. Rather a day set aside by the family for grieving … for saying condolences.
Gran had insisted we make an appearance. But now, faced with the dingy around the edges Georgian mansion of the Novaks, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I’d make it out in one piece. Mentally. With Gran and Scarlett by my side, no one would lift more than a sneer to me. If that. The Godfrey coven was formidable. A fact I’d only just learned even though I’d been a de facto member for twenty-three years now. I’d chosen boots instead of shoes. My black Babycake Minis, to be exact. The Vancouver spring had been unusually warm and dry. But today, it was appropriately threatening to rain.
“Ten minutes,” Scarlett murmured to my right. I was getting a crook in my neck from staring up at the house. The Novaks were old money, as old as money got in Canada. But I hadn’t known that until Scarlett turned the car towards Shaughnessy five minutes before we’d arrived. I’d hoped the drive would take longer.
Scarlett brushed her fingers down my arm. Her charismatic magic tingled in a wake across my skin. I should have worn a sweater, not just a black lace scarf. And the boots were wrong too. Not formal enough.
Gran stepped forward, and I automatically followed. She’d rolled her long gray braid in a bun today. That was as formal as she got. Scarlett, of course, outshone us all — in her navy dress that was cut just so and the perfect length — as always. Her strawberry blond hair gleamed against the gray backdrop of the cloudy day.
“Should we be here?” I asked and not for the first time. No one answered me. They’d stopped after the first two times.
Other cars lined the curved driveway. We’d parked at the curb. Vancouver boasted a very small Adept community, but this was still a tiny turnout. And we were late.
As we approached, I could feel the magic of the Adept gathered in the house even with the familiar taste of Scarlett and Gran beside me.
Something caught my eye and I looked toward the blooming rhododendron bushes edging the property. The vampire, Kett, showed himself to me and then slipped further into the shadows. His presence didn’t help. Sienna had tried to kill us all not three weeks ago. I didn’t need the reminder.
A necromancer opened the door. Not Rusty’s mother or sister, who I’d never met, but some familial connection. I could tell by the underlying taste of her magic. An aunt, perhaps.
She smiled tightly at Gran. “Pearl. Thank you for coming.”
“We won’t stay,” Gran answered.
We stepped into the entrance way. It was marble. Stairs, the carpet runner down the middle worn with use, swooped up from in front of us to the second floor. A few more Adepts — their magic tingling my senses — stood through an archway that led to the drawing room. They’d all stopped to pretend they weren’t staring at us.
Someone — deeper in the house — was weeping. The handle of the plastic tray I was holding cracked in my hand. The cupcakes tumbled to the side. Three landed on the ground before I steadied the tray. A boy, his features painfully similar to Rusty’s, darted forward to pick the cupcakes up.
“Oh, so sorry,” the necromancer aunt said. “I should’ve taken those. You’re lovely for bringing them.”
Her apology hit me in the gut. I smiled. My clenched jaw shot pain into my temple, which was good as it cleared my head a little. “My condolences,” I said as I passed the tray to her. I kept the broken piece of plastic clutched in my left hand. The boy — a cousin I guessed from my little knowledge of the familial line — placed the three squashed cupcakes on the tray and then carried the whole thing through to the drawing room.
The person — a girl, I thought — was still crying. It was obvious that no one but I could hear her.
“Those cupcakes won’t last five minutes,” the necromancer said. I was fairly certain I was supposed to know her name though she was from out of town.
I wondered if she was here for moral support during the tribunal that was set to start Monday. I hoped so.
“Danica?” Gran asked.
“Of course. Please, this way,” the necromancer said. She turned to lead us into the drawing room.
I followed Gran. Scarlett stopped to speak to someone I hadn’t even noticed as I passed. I felt muffled, as if I was wrapped in gauze. Even all the magic swirling around me barely made an impression. Normally, I’d be getting a buzz off being around this many of the Adept.
The room was filled with pictures. Literally every inch of the wall and table space was covered in family photographs. Some black and white dated way back. Some showed the characteristic yellowing of the seventies. Even more were obviously recent additions. And if they weren’t of Rusty then they contained someone who looked like him. Obviously, genes ran true in the Novak clan.
Gran bent over a woman sitting on an overstuffed, floral print armchair by a bay window that overlooked the lush green of the side yard. Danica. Rusty’s Mother. However, it was me Danica locked gazes with over Gran’s shoulder. Her red-rimmed eyes were the shape of Rusty’s, and her hair a shade lighter. The underlying tone of her magic — sugared violets — the exact taste of her son’s. She wasn’t the person weeping. The weeping that was suddenly all I could hear, but then maybe that was just because everyone had just dropped the pretense of conversation.
The boy from before passed Rusty’s mother one of my cupcakes on a china side plate. She accepted it and didn’t drop my gaze as she bit into it. Then she smiled at me. A tight smile full of pain.
Some people thought I laced the cupcakes I baked with a bit of my magic. These chocolate carrot cake with chocolate cream cheese icing cupcakes I called, Solace in a Cup.
I turned and left. It was rude and probably unforgivable according to Gran, but I still couldn’t hear anything but the weeping. My own tears were lodged in my chest, collected around the permanent pain that was all I had left of my sister, because how could I cry? How could I mourn for a sister who’d murdered her boyfriend all because she wanted to be special? Because she wanted to be more special than me. So Rusty was dead because of me. Because I was stupid, slow, and foolhardy.
And still I couldn’t cry.
I stepped out into the fresh air. It had started to rain.
I began to walk home. The vampire followed never showing himself, but always at my back.
It was cold comfort.
I looked down at the piece of broken plastic in my hand. It had sliced the skin of my palm — cut that would have needed stitches on a human. The wound, released from the plastic shard, instantly healed.
I wished that Sienna had stabbed me through the heart instead of twice in the gut, because at least that would have a chance of healing.
Before she ate and then killed Rusty.
Well, at least I had the order straight now.