Written by Eliabeth Hawthorne
A bundle of joy wrapped in a white feather boa streaked down the hall. Her long blonde hair flowed out behind her. Dressed in a vintage dress several sizes too large, Edaion’s youngest princess had just come out from playing dress up in her mother’s closet. Aniela wore oversized tortoise-shell aviator sunglasses and a necklace of pearls that dragged on the floor, threatening to trip her as she ran barefoot toward her sister’s room. The energetic four-year-old girl pushed open the bedroom door without knocking, still learning appropriate boundaries.
Seven-year-old Tatiana sat on her bed, her dark hair and dark eyes a stark contrast to Aniela’s baby blues. One of their mother’s favorite lamps levitated up and down; it moved slowly through the air. Tatiana never let it exceed six inches from the ground while she practiced her magic. All three of the Dawson children had inherited telekinesis from their mother. Tatiana specialized in large, heavy objects. Her twin, Theodore, who sat at Tatiana’s desk playing solitaire in the air, specialized in multiple small objects. Aniela had yet to develop a specialty.
“Hi Ana,” Theodore said. The door swung shut without any help from his sister.
“Hi Teo,” Aniela replied, sometimes still struggling with her t-h sounds.
Aniela tried to jump on her sister’s bed, but it was too high, causing her to miss and slide down until her feet once again touched the soft rug. She backed up and took a running leap. Aniela’s forehead smacked into Tatiana’s palm and she toppled backward onto to floor. Theodore frowned. His brow furrowed as he shook his head, but he did not comment as Aniela crawled up onto his lap instead. Much like his role in life, his looks fell somewhere between the two girls’. He had Tatiana’s intelligent brown eyes and Aniela’s light blonde hair. While he lacked Aniela’s innocence, he also lacked Tatiana’s smugness. He was the middle; one they could both enjoy.
“What do you want?” Tatiana droned in her ever present annoyed tone.
“Where does magic come from?” Aniela watched the lamp travel fluidly through the air as Tatiana moved it to the floor before answering.
“Everyone knows that a boat shipwrecked on the island and that one of our ancestors was the captain.”
“They were cursed for hunting on the island.” Theodore took up the story.
Aniela looked back and forth between her siblings, watching them trade off the conversation like a ball in a tennis match and quickly lost interest.
“I want to go to the park,” she announced.
“I’ll see if Marcus can drive us,” Theodore offered. Rarely did the king or queen have time to chaperone their children.
Simultaneously, and with practiced ease, the cards moved into a neat pile on Tatiana’s desk as Theodore picked Aniela off his lap and set her on the floor. Tatiana’s eyes flickered with new-found mischievousness as her twin closed the door behind him and waved Aniela over. Excited to be included, Aniela scrambled over, but Tatiana stopped her before she could climb onto the bed. She leaned in close, Tatiana’s voice barely more than a whisper. Something in her voice made Aniela feel the way she did before she snuck into their mother’s closet without permission.
Tatiana’s eyes glistened. “You know what we should do?”
“What?” Aniela bounced as she failed to contain her enthusiasm.
“We should play hide and seek at the park, but you know how Theo always finds you so quick?” She paused, lowering her voice. “So when we get there, you go hide, and I’ll give you a head start before I tell Theo it’s time to look for you.” If Aniela had known about Alice in Wonderland, she would have compared Tatiana’s smile to that of the Cheshire Cat’s.
“Okay!” Aniela agreed enthusiastically. She put her fingers to her lips and turned an invisible key, offering it to Tatiana for safekeeping. Tatiana did not play along, letting the would-be key fall onto the bed untouched.
“And no telling Theo,” Tatiana emphasized. “I’ll tell him, but before we go you had better put Mum’s clothes back where you found them.”
“Okay.” Aniela sprinted out of the room and back down the hall. She placed the clothes back in the trunk at the back of her mother’s closet, pearls and all. She then returned to Tatiana’s room to find Theodore waiting and Tatiana ready to go. They piled into a waiting car; Theodore placed himself between the two girls. The driver would stay with them in place of a bodyguard, for while no one had expanded on the subject, Aniela knew there was some kind of protection in place that made them unnecessary.
Aniela pressed her face to glass as she watched the houses go by. “We here! We here!” she celebrated.
Theodore helped Aniela as she fumbled to get out of the car.
“You’ll want to chew some gum after you smoke or Mum will smell it on your breath,” Tatiana told Marcus as she climbed out. He coughed and Theodore’s eyes narrowed. “What? It’s true!”
Once Aniela was freed from her booster seat, she shot out of the car and went to find a suitable hiding place. She looked around and chose the jungle gym. Hiding in one of the many colorful tunnels, she listened for either of her siblings to start counting. When she did not hear any, she assumed she was safely hidden. Excited about the game, she was determined to stay put, at least until her short attention span got the better of her. Her gaze fell on two boys sitting in the gravel near the swing set; one was holding a vehemently protesting cat while the other pulled its whiskers.
“Stop it! Stop being mean!” her voice echoed through the tunnel. She crawled out and ran back to the twins.
She pulled on the hem of Theodore’s shirt with one hand and pointed with the other. “Mean boys are being mean to a kitty!” she screamed and turned to Tatiana. “Fix it!”
Aniela’s anger elevated once Tatiana’s eyes fell on the boys, able to read her sibling’s mood whether she wanted to or not. She moved behind Theodore, pushing on his lower back and keeping directly behind him as if he were an impenetrable wall. Tatiana walked over with an intimidating gait, so quiet in her movements that despite Aniela’s yelling, the boys did not look up until her shadow was upon them. One look at her and they both shot off in the opposite direction, leaving the cat to run off as well.
“Awe!” Aniela yelled, “Kitty! Kitty come back! I wanna take you home! Tia get it!”
“Ana, don’t be silly. The cat is not going to want to be caught after that.”
“But I wanna make it feel better. Tia use your ma-muh…” she was muffled by Theodore’s hand cupping her mouth. She huffed at him, but his hand remained firm as he began forcibly walking her back to the car.
“Not a word until we get home,” he hissed.
Confused, she looked up at him, unable to understand why he was angry now that the cat was free, but he remained silent.
“Marcus, gum please.” Tatiana shot out a demanding hand between the front seats once she joined them. He handed her two pieces and she passed one to Theodore.
“I want gum,” Aniela whined. The first and only time she had been given gum, she had swallowed it.
“You’re too young,” Tatiana gloated, blowing a large bubble and popping it with her teeth.
“Am not!” Aniela puffed out her bottom lip and made sad puppy dog eyes at her brother who she no longer felt was mad at her.
Tatiana reached across Theodore and pulled one of Aniela’s shoestrings, untying it in one fluid motion. “You’re too young until you can tie your shoe.”
“I can,” Aniela shot, bringing her foot up close and playing with the laces. Her tongue wiggled around, poking out of the corner of her mouth in determination. It kept her busy the whole way home until eventually, Theodore reached over and helped.
“Ana, you still want gum?” Tatiana asked once they were home.
“Yes please!” she held out her hand expectantly.
“Here.” Tatiana took the piece of gum out of her mouth and placed it in Aniela’s hand. A familiar grin spread across Tatiana’s face.
Aniela’s jaw dropped and her nose wrinkled in mortified disgust. Saliva pooled in the palm of her hand as it slid off the damp wad while she stared at it until Theodore took it from her. Aniela wiped her hand on Theodore’s shirt and he made no signs of minding, but as soon as Tatiana started to do the same, he gave her a dark glare and she wiped her fingers on her own shirt instead.
Theodore took Aniela by the hand and walked her to her room. “Stay. I will be right back and we can talk about why I had to cut you off in the park,” he commanded. He closed the door behind him. She waited for his footsteps to fade down the marble hallway before tiptoeing out of her room and back into her sister’s.
“What now?” Tatiana groaned.
“Why can’t we use magic outside?”
Tatiana had been lying on her back but rolled over on the bed before she answered. The same grin she had worn that morning pulled at the corners of her lips. “If you use magic, or mention it outside the house, in the middle of the night, when the lights are out and you’re sound asleep…”
“You just don’t!” Theodore interjected firmly. The door to Tatiana’s room had swung open so forcefully it collided with the wall, cutting Tatiana off mid-sentence. “Inside is one thing, but outside it is forbidden.” Theodore informed Aniela before Tatiana could contine.
Tatiana pouted and rolled back over, but Aniela could not help but worry where the story had been going. All sorts of terrible scenarios played through her vivid imagination involving monsters in the closet or bugs that came and carried people away in their sleep, but she did not want to know badly enough to ask Tatiana to continue. Theodore took her by the hand, this time more gently, and led her back to her room.
“Ana, don’t let Tia scare you. Magic is not scary; it is a gift. You will understand when you are older. For now, you do not want to get in trouble, do you?”
Aniela shook her head.
Image courtesy of Eliabeth Hawthorne