The Silent Waters (Elements #3)(15)

by Brittainy C. Cherry

“Maggie!” Daddy shouted, shaking me from my thought.

I reached for the oversized white towel on the counter and wrapped it around my body. Stepping out of the tub, I moved in front of the mirror and grabbed my hairbrush. As I began to get the knots out of my hair, I stared at my blue eyes that matched Dad’s and the sculpted cheekbones I had also received from him. The small freckles across my nose came from my grandma, and the long eyelashes, my grandpa. So much of my ancestry could be seen each day simply by staring into a mirror. I knew it was impossible, but sometimes I swore I had Mama’s smile and her frown.

“Maggie,” Daddy hollered again. “Did you hear me?”

I debated not responding, because I was pretty irritated that Mrs. Boone thought it was okay to drop by so late in the afternoon as if I hadn’t other things to do. Twelve noon was when she was supposed to come. We had a routine, a planned schedule, and she had gone against it that afternoon. I didn’t even truly understand why she bothered to stop by each day, or why I allowed her to come over for lunch. She was ruder than rude most of the time, telling me how stupid I was and how ridiculous it was that I wouldn’t speak a word.

Childish, she called it.

Immature, even.

I guessed I kept dealing with her each afternoon because she was one of my few friends. Sometimes her rude comments were so harsh they’d pull a reaction from me—a small grin, tiny, silent chuckles only I could hear. The seventy-year-old fart was one of the best friends I ever had. She was my favorite enemy, too. Our relationship was complicated, so the best word to described us was frenemies—friendly enemies. Plus, I still loved her cat as much as I had when I was a child, and she still followed me around the house, rubbing her soft fur against my legs.

“Maggie May?” Daddy hollered again, this time knocking on the bathroom door. “Did you hear me?”

I knocked on the door twice. One knock meant no, two knocks meant yes.

“Well, let’s not keep Mrs. Boone waiting, okay? Hurry downstairs,” he said.

I almost knocked once against the door to show my sassiness, but I refrained from the act. I braided my still soaked hair into one giant braid that hung over my left shoulder. I put on my underwear, then slipped my pale yellow dress over my head. I grabbed my novel from the side of the tub before opening the bathroom door, then hurried down the stairs toward the dining room to see my favorite frenemy.

Mrs. Boone always dressed as if she were off to meet Queen Elizabeth. She wore jewels and gems around her neck and her fingers, and they always sparkled against the faux fur she wore around her shoulders. She always lied and said it was real fur, but I knew better. I’d read enough books based on the forties to know the difference between real fur and fake.

She always wore dresses and tights with sweaters and short heels, and then she’d place a shimmering colorful collar around Muffins’ neck to match her outfit.

“It’s rude to keep the elderly waiting, Maggie May,” Mrs. Boone said, tapping her fingers against the cherry oak table.

It’s rude to keep the young waiting, too, Mrs. Boone.

I gave her a tight smile, and she cocked an eyebrow at me, displeased. I sat down beside her, and she pushed my cup of tea toward me. “It’s Black Earl Grey tea. You’ll like it this time,” she said.

I took a sip and gagged.

Once again, she was wrong. She smiled, satisfied by my displeasure. “Your hair looks awful. You really shouldn’t let it air dry like that. You’ll catch a cold.”

No, I won’t.

“Yes,” she huffed. “You will.”

She always knew the words I didn’t say. Lately I wondered if she were a witch or something. If perhaps when she was a child, an owl showed up to her windowsill and dropped her an invitation to attend a school for witches and wizards, but then somewhere along the way she fell in love with a Muggle and came back to Wisconsin to choose love over true adventure.

If it were me, I’d never choose love over adventure.

I’d always accept the owl’s invitation.

That idea was ironic, seeing as how the only adventure I’d ever lived was through the pages of novels.

“What have you been reading?” she asked, reaching into her oversized purse and pulling out two turkey sandwiches. I couldn’t see the sandwiches because they were still in the brown paper Sweetest Addictions wrapped all their food with, but I knew they were turkey. Mrs. Boone always kept our sandwiches the same: turkey, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on rye bread. Nothing more, nothing less. Even on the days I wanted tuna, I had to just pretend my turkey was fish.

She set one in front of me and the other she unwrapped, taking a large bite. For a tiny lady, she sure knew how to take big bites of food.

I placed my novel in front of her, and she sighed. “Again?”

Yes, again.

For the past month, I’d been rereading the Harry Potter series, which might’ve had something to do with the fact that I believed Mrs. Boone to be a witch. To be fair, she did also have the classic witch mole next to her nose.

“There are so many books in this world, and you find a way to read all the same ones over and over again. There’s no possible way the stories still surprise you after all this time.”

Obviously she hadn’t ever read or reread Harry Potter.

Each time was different.

When I had first read the books, I’d seen the excitement in the story.

As I reread them, I saw much more of the pain.

A person never reads an outstanding book twice and walks away with the same beliefs. An outstanding book always surprises you and awakens you to new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, no matter how many times the words have been read.

“I’m going to start believing you’re into Wicca,” she said, chowing down on her sandwich and sipping her tea. A peculiar thing for a witch to say to a Muggle, if you asked me.

Muffins came from under the table and rubbed against my leg to say hello. I bent down to pet her. Hello, friend. Muffins meowed before turning on her side for me to pat her belly. When I didn’t pat her the way she wanted me to, I swore she muttered a curse word at me in cat language, then she wandered off, probably to find my mother, who was a professional at petting Muffins.

“What’s wrong with your face?” she barked, narrowing her eyes at me.

I raised an eyebrow, confused.

She shook her head back and forth. “Your eyes look awful, like you haven’t slept in days. You should really have Katie bring you some makeup. You look horrid.”