The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 28

the man who wasnt thereThe storm seemed to be attracted to Marissa. Her father made her a charm, but it came out more like a hex bag. It didn’t cause the storm, but it certainly made it come after her. The teens and Dora head to Brian’s house.

Dora flounced off and Maribelle went to the sidebar in the dining room. The teenagers stared at one another.

“No one has a clue where that came from?” Jordan looked directly at Marissa.

“Maybe? Nothing specific, but when I look back, I do think it was after me. It seemed determined to get at me. If Dora hadn’t arrived when she did, I think it would have.”

“But why you? I don’t think it was just your dad’s hex bag. It didn’t feel powerful enough for that,” Chase said. “I think it would have gone for you regardless.”

“That makes me feel so much better,” Marissa snapped.

Chase put his arms around her, kissing her tenderly. “Why you?”

Jordan cleared her throat. “Not to be mean, but could it be a situation of going after the weakest link? Not that you don’t have skills, Marissa. You haven’t had the training like the rest of us.”

“Because of my father,” the other girl concluded. “Yes, I thought of that. If I’d had your training, I could have opened that door without Chase.”

No one refuted her statement. It was true. They could all have done it right away, without help.

“I’m more of a liability than I am an asset,” Marissa complained. “I can’t do anything.”

“That’s not true,” Chase said, somewhat angrily. “There’s no one in the group better at medicinal aids. Your healing skill is getting really good.”

“And you make great teas,” Jordan said. “I can’t make herb tea to save my life, but you can.”

“Oh, whoopie, I can make tea.” Marissa pouted, eyes watering.

Jordan took her hand. “Remember last month when I was so sick with cramps and you made that tea mix for me? It worked really well. Now, at the first twinge, I’ll drink it. That’s a skill, Marissa. One I don’t have.”

“No one is better at curing a headache,” Chase said.

They all looked at Brian. He was racking his brain trying to think of something she was good at that they hadn’t already said. “And you sing better than the rest of us too,” he added.

“That’s not a magical skill,” Marissa said, punching his shoulder.

“I dunno. Some of the spells require chanting, even singing. Dad said that some of the most powerful rituals need good pitch, so a lot of people don’t even attempt them. You just need training. You’ll get that now.”

The doorbell rang three times and someone knocked loudly. Brian ran to the door. Marissa’s parents stood there, wide eyed and pale.

“Is she here? Is she okay?” Nadine said, rushing inside.

Marissa ran to her mother’s arms. Her parents embraced her.

“Your charm was shit, Harold,” Dora Finley said from behind him. “Nadine needs to make her one.”

“Whatever you say,” Harold said quietly. “I tried, honey,” he told his daughter.

“It’s okay, Dad. We can learn and practice together.”

“Let’s go home,” Nadine suggested. She hugged the children and Dora. “Thank you for protecting my little girl.” Sobbing, she followed her husband and daughter to the car.

“Too much excitement,” Dora said. “Chase, let’s go home. I need to start dinner.”

“Let’s stop and pick up pizza, Mom. I don’t think either of us feels like cooking.”

“Just one large, right?” she said with a wink.

“Yeah, that’d feed me just fine. But if the rest of you are hungry, we should probably get more.”

Laughing, they said goodbye.

Jackie drove up just after they left. She rushed to the door. Brian saw her coming and opened it.

“You’re okay!” She pulled Jordan to her, nearly breaking her ribs.

“Mom, it’s all right. I’m fine.”

“I was coming back from Vicksburg when Mamie called. I went at least ninety the whole way.” She hugged and kissed her daughter. Her attention turned to Brian and she hugged and kissed him too. “What caused it?” she asked Maribelle.

“We’re still trying to figure it out. Miles and Heath haven’t called back yet. I couldn’t reach Cliff, his phone went directly to voice mail.”

Brian’s phone rang. It was Chase. “Hey, Chase….”

“Brian. Get over here fast.” His voice held panic.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just come. Please.”

“On my way.” Brian grabbed his coat, heading to the door. “Something’s wrong. Chase needs me.”

“I’m coming, too,” Jordan said.

Her mother followed them. “Maribelle, you stay here. Try to reach the men.”

“Of course.” She was already on the phone when the other three left the driveway.

“What’s wrong?” Jordan asked Brian as he sped along the road to Chase’s house.

“No idea.”

They pulled up to the Finley house and he saw what was wrong. The grove where they had the bonfire, was flattened. Trees looked as if a giant foot had stomped on them, smashing them to match sticks. The shed where Cliff and Chase practiced was gone. Only the foundation remained. The house looked fine until they got around back. The rear wall was peppered with slivers of wood. Half a tree stuck out of the roof.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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