Girl of Nightmares


Page 12


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"Have you ever heard of anyone coming back, after they've crossed over?" I say finally.

Gideon's pause is appropriately thoughtful. "Never," he says. "It simply isn't possible. At least not within the realm of sane probability."

I squint. Since when do we live in the realm of sane probability? "But if I can propel them from one plane to another using the athame, couldn't there be some other thing that could get them back?" The pause this time is longer, but he's not really taking it seriously. If he were, I'd hear the jostling of a ladder or the rustle of turning book pages. "I mean, come on, it's not that far-fetched a thought. A to B to G maybe, but-"

"I'm afraid it's more like A to B to pi." He takes a breath. "I know who you're thinking of, Theseus, but it just isn't possible. We can't bring her back."

My eyes clench shut. "What if she already is back?"

There's wariness in his voice when he asks, "What do you mean?"

I hope a laugh will put him at ease, so I twist my mouth into a smile. "I don't know what I mean. I didn't call to freak you out. I just-I guess I just think about her a lot."

He sighs. "I know you must. She was-she was extraordinary. But now she's where she belongs. Listen to me, Theseus," he says, and I can almost feel his wizened fingers on my shoulders. "You have to let this go."

"I know." And I do. Part of me wants to tell him about the way the athame moved, and about the things I've thought I've seen and heard. But he's right, and I'd only sound nuts.

"Listen, don't worry about me, all right?" I say, and stand up. "Dammit," I mutter, feeling the wet backside of my jeans.

"What?" Gideon asks, concerned.

"Oh, nothing. I've got a huge wet spot on my ass from sitting under this tree. I swear the ground around here never dries up." He laughs, and we hang up. On my way back into the school, Dan Hill hits me in the arm.

"Hey," he says. "Did you get the history notes from yesterday? Can I borrow them during study hall?"

"Yeah, I guess," I say, sort of surprised.

"Thanks, man. Usually I borrow from one of the girls, you know"-he flashes this rake's grin-"but I'm pulling a low C and you got top score last test, right?"

"Yeah," I say again . I did get the top score. To my extreme surprise and my mom's utter glee.

"Cool. Hey, I heard you were on acid or something at the mall last night."

"I saw a dress Carmel wanted and pointed it out to Thomas Sabin." I shrug. "People make up some crazy shit at this school."

"Yeah," he says. "That's what I thought. Later, man." He walks off in another direction. Dan's pretty cool, I guess. If I'm lucky he'll pass my mall alibi on to a few others. Not likely though. Retractions show up in the back of the newspaper. The boring story loses out, truth or not. That's just how it goes.

* * *

"How can you not like roasted garlic chicken pizza?" Carmel asks, her phone out to place the order. "Seriously? Just mushrooms and extra cheese?"

"And tomatoes," Thomas adds.

"Just regular, cut-up tomatoes?" She looks at me incredulously. "He's unnatural."

"I'm with you," I say from the refrigerator, where I'm grabbing sodas. We're chilling at my house, streaming movies off Netflix. It was Carmel's idea, and I'm choosing to believe it was because she wanted to relax, not because she wanted me away from the public.

"Maybe he's trying to be a gentleman, Carmel," my mom says, walking through to get a refill of iced tea. "Keeping away from the garlic for you."

"Gross," I say, and Thomas laughs. It's Carmel who blushes this time.

My mom smiles. "If you order one of each, I'll split the tomato one with Thomas and you and Cas can split the other."

"Okay. But you're going to want the chicken when it gets here." She orders, and the three of us head into the living room to watch reruns of Scrubs until the pizzas arrive and we start the movie. We barely sit down before Carmel jumps back up, her phone between her fingers, texting away.

"What's up?" Thomas asks.

"Sort of a finals studying party-thing," she says. She heads for the front porch. "I told Nat and Amanda I'd show up there if the movie didn't get over too late. Be right back."

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