Word count: 1,646 words
Date Posted: April 14, 2021 (Tumblr)
A/N: Unbeta-ed work but I hope whoever reads this will like it and let me know what you think. Critique is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Danika practically lunged out of her seat as she woke up, the seatbelt being the only thing stopping her from nearly slamming into the overhead.
She could hear the woman’s voice echoing as she heaved heavily “It’s the only way to break my curse” slender fingers tugged at golden, red locks as the young woman steadied the rapid beating of her heart.
“Are you alright?” the elderly woman sitting next to her asked, lightly touching the younger woman’s shoulder. Danika attempted to smile “I’m alright, it was just a dream” the strawberry blonde turned to look out the plane window.
The dream changed from the ones she had had before. More and more details had become clearer than the previous night. Maybe she would finally get the answers she had been looking for when she arrived.
The plane had begun its descent while Danika slept but now more awake she could see wide ranges of green fields and lines of trees drew closer and closer, farther out she could make out some of the houses and roads.
She allowed herself to smile, feeling the excitement that had been overtaken by anxiousness finally bubble in her chest, maybe she could enjoy herself for once.
Golden red hair swayed as she bobbed her head to music coming softly from her earphones, Danika was one among many who were waiting for their luggage to come around, there was no hurry since her relatives were still on the way. This was the first time she would be meeting them in person, not just hearing their voices or looking at them through a screen, and now wished she’d brought something.
But this wasn’t a vacation, she had reasons for coming here.
The music immediately cut off, the caller ringtone replacing it. Assuming it was one of her relatives she took the call.
The young woman went stiff at the sound of his voice. Her name had been said that way before, coldly, in disappointment and exhaustion as if she was the cause of every problem they had. Her father said it that way often, and it looked like her brother would be picking up the habit.
“Why are you in Ir-”
She hung up on him. She gently pulled at the wires, letting the buds hang around her shoulders, the sounds around her faded until she could only hear the sound of her heartbeat booming in her ears. Numbness was all she felt, too many thoughts were racing around in her mind. Her brother knew she was here and if he were her father she would have a team of bodyguards coming after her as soon as possible, they would bring her home kicking and screaming if they had to then her father would punish her for it.
Her brother was not their father. However, she wasn’t sure that was a good thing either.
When she got out of the building, after finally snapping out of her thoughts and getting her suitcase, the young woman peered around others as she walked out. She was about to walk further down when someone yelled out her name. Turning, she quickly spotted a woman waving wildly at her, holding a sign with Danika's name.
The woman's long, dark hair tangled in the breeze as she made her way towards the younger woman, her light brown eyes brightened with glee.
Danika took in the woman's features as she moved closer and closer, all the young woman could do was stare. She was unsure how to handle this situation, on one hand they were family but on the other they were practically strangers. There was no time for an internal debate, she put on her usual, polite smile and extended her hand.
But before Danika could get a word out of her mouth, the dark haired woman enveloped her in a tight hug. Danika stiffened before forcing herself to relax, awkwardly patting her back in response.
“It’s so good to finally meet you” she grinned at me “I’m Cara” she began steering the younger woman to their car, still chatting gleefully while all Danika could do was nod. “Sean was so excited to see you after so long but there was a work emergency this morning” She laughed “You should have seen his face when he found out”
The name lit a lightbulb in her mind. Sean was one of her many cousins, a little older than her brother. She’d met him a few times when she was video chatting with her aunt, who had also tagged her on social media when he got married at the end of last year.
Sean and Cara lived in a one bedroom apartment in Arbour Hill, upon entering the unit the first thing Danika could see was the small dining table, pushed up against the wall, beyond it was the living area. To the right of the entryway was the kitchen, there were two doors, one beyond the kitchen and one next to the television stand, either one leading to the bedroom or the bathroom.
The apartment wasn’t grand, the furniture wasn’t ungodly expensive and the décor wasn’t massive or famous. Everything was the complete opposite, simple, clean and comfortable.
“Sean mentioned a few things about you and your brother. This probably isn’t what you’re used to but I hope you’ll be comfortable even though it’s only for a night”
Danika turned to say something but Cara was already in the kitchen fixing up the take-out she bought on the way home. Sean and Cara had opened their home to her and had been welcoming from the moment Cara saw her at the airport the least she could say something nice.
The strawberry blonde took a deep breath to calm her heart hammering in her chest.
The dark haired woman turned to her “Hmm?”
This was it, just a few simple and kind words “I...uh...where’s the bathroom”
Exhaustion had finally caught up with Danika by the end of lunch. She changed into more comfortable clothing, a loose fitting t-shirt, sweatpants and her favorite pair of fluffy flip-flops. Cara had shown her the bedroom, it minimalistic like the rest of the apartment. The bed was at the center, two nightstands on either side of the bed, the closet by the door and a small desk across from it.
Danika had just settled into bed for a nap but despite the physical exhaustion, her mind had too many thoughts for it to settle. Her brother’s call earlier was on the forefront of her mind, worried about what he might do or if he would do anything at all. Her father had used their family’s considerable resources to empower himself. Used his money to gain the favor of law enforcement, used his status to “befriend” other people of power and used the power to make sure people fell in line.
But he was gone now and Connor had taken his place. Connor was smarter, more charming and had quickly gained the employees’ respect and fear. However, his motivations still eluded her and he would never talk about family business to someone he considered a child, despite her age, someone who still believed in fairytales and curses.
Danika groaned and snuggled as deep as she could into her pillow, and eventually her body found rest, but in her mind, in her dreams, she found herself watching a missing part of an old family tale.
It always felt real when she woke up. Danika could feel the softness of the thin blanket beneath her fingertips, could smell the scent of gardenias from the bouquet that sat on the table and when she began to move around the small space it was as if she were really there.
Once exiting the bedroom, one would see a wooden, square table with chairs on all sides. A small kitchen, two tables and a chimney with a metal pot at the center of the firepit.
But it was always the door, behind one of the dining chairs, that drew her attention. The scene behind it changed everything she knew about the story that was passed down from one generation to another. The garden behind the cottage was lush and filled with all kinds of vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs growing in sections of the garden. However what really drew her attention was a little ways beyond the garden.
She saw a man and woman under the thick branches of the old tree as she moved closer. She could only assume they were the couple in the story, the prince and the healer torn apart by the prince’s choices.
“ I don’t understand why you keep returning when my answer will be the same as before” the woman asked softly, never looking away from the mounds of newly settled soil.
“ My wife is pregnant, she lives in constant fear because of what you have done” he told her “Thea wouldn’t want-”
The woman turned, finally facing him. Her amber eyes bright with fury, looking at him with such hatred causing Danika to flinch.
“You have no right to say her name” she seethed “You are the reason why she had to join her garden, why she and her child needed to be laid to rest beneath us”
Danika’s eyes widened then turned to the two mounds close to the tree, one was much smaller than the other and each had a garland of flowers that hung off a wooden marker, etched on each marker was what looked like a moonflower. It was clear to anyone who saw the markers that it was a burial mound.
The prince’s eyes darkened and his jaw tightened “What do you want?” he gritted his teeth.
“I want Thea’s torque” she said then her eyes moved to look at Danika’s “That’s the only way to break my curse”
“Why are they in Maine?” someone asked me.
Summary: two socially awkward witches from the big city take a weekend to practice their broomstick flying. It involves far more talking and emotions than one might expect.
For Rona, it’s a chance to share a passion with her new friend.
For Naz, it’s chance to experience the culture she was never exposed to, and to understand the mysterious person she’s begun to form a bond with.
Basically a rough draft of an in-between scene in a story I’m writing. Kind of boring, not very eventful. Someone challenged me to write it on a deadline, and this was the result.
Giving credit where credit was due, Rona had to admit that, if nothing else, Naz was persistent. Couldn’t pilot a broomstick to save her life, but persistent.
Rona tried to hold onto that thought, a reminder, perhaps, of why her friend was worth this trip in the first place, when suddenly Naz sent them into another plummeting, mid-air corkscrew. The force of the spin was as jarring as it was familiar, the bite of wind and rushing blood as well known a sensation as blinking or holding a breath. She could tell that the ground was approaching at an alarming rate, a fact noticed also, it seemed, by Naz, whose panicked shriek was only somewhat heard over the whipping wind.
More instinct than conscious action, Rona reached around Naz’s waist to take control of the broom handle, gloved fingers tightening around the bumpy grain of the wood, steadying their course just before they met the ground. She let them float there for a moment, gently bobbing over a veritable sea of wild grass and foliage while Naz, shaking from the exertion, caught her breath.
The other witch released her white knuckled grip on the handle. She coughed twice into the crook of her elbow, and then shakily turned around on the broom to face Rona, who adjusted her own position in kind.
“Woo!” Naz finally uttered after a moment. “That sure was- that was-“ she broke down into breathless giggles, as much out of nerves as excitement, and flashed the other girl a weak but sincere grin.
Eyeing her sweaty face and cherry tipped ears, Rona asked, “You’re not about to pass out on me, are you?”
Naz waved a hand at her, smiling good-naturedly. “Oh no, I’m just-just” she paused for another breath, still oddly pleased. “Well, you know.” She gestured at her plus-sized body, certainly larger than Rona’s own stick-figure frame, and then leaned in as if to share a secret. “I’m a little out of shape,” she fake-whispered. “The excitement is just starting to get to me is all, and well. . .” Naz glanced down to her grip on the broom, where Rona caught sight of the other’s trembling arms.
The older witch groaned. “I thought I told you to relax your grip.” She let out a huff. “Look , I admire the enthusiasm-“
“Mortal terror, actually.”
“-but you’re never going to get anywhere if you’re constantly holding the broom handle like you’re trying to choke it to death. We’re witches, Naz. We laugh in the face of gravity. Just. . .” She reached out with her left hand to adjust Naz’s grip. “C’mon, you’ve got to calm down. Loosen up your joints. And your fingers! Be strong, not stiff. You want as much contact with the handle as possible- channels the magic better that way- thumbs on top, like that.”
Rona leaned back to inspect the other girl, tilting her head at different angles. “Yeah, that’s better I guess. But you’ve gotta correct your posture. I’m tired and aching just looking at you.” She made another motion with her hand. “Lean forward- a little more, yes - and bring your feet back too.” Another scan with her eyes. “Hm. . . Pretty good.”
Naz made a face. “This feels terrible.”
Rona waved her hand. “Part of the process. Trust me, a few more months of practice, and you’ll hardly even have to think about it. After a year it’ll be like sitting in an easy chair.”
“Months? A year?” Naz gaped. Probably out of anticipation, Rona surmised.
“Better than you thought, huh? The ancient and noble art of flying on a broomstick, passed down by our ancestors for generations, and it’ll all be taught by yours truly, a veteran flyer.” Rona placed a hand on her chest and bragged, “I won the annual festival race twice back in my hometown, you know.” Mazerine, for the record, took broomstick races seriously.
Naz only stared back silently, her smile so stiff it reminded Rona of the rigor mortis one might see on a zombie.
“Hey, you know it won’t be a total slog, right?” Rona couldn’t bear to look her in the eye when she admitted, “You’re the first actual friend I’ve had in ages. I wouldn’t make this a complete bore for you.”
Naz’s lips finally parted, her face by far too nervous and sweaty to be mere exhaustion. “Uh, Rona, I don’t quite know how to tell you this- and Heavens know I’m not intending to hurt your feelings, but I didn’t . . . uh, that is to say, I wasn’t planning to really. . . Oh, Goodness.” Naz brought her hands together in front of her face, as if in prayer, and said, “Give me moment.”
Naz was a rather awkward creature, Rona surmised, although that was the extent of what this conversation had made clear to her. Perhaps she was having confidence issues, or wasn’t sure if Rona would be up to the task after all. Well, that notion would have to be fixed.
Rona leaned forward as close as she could, looking Naz straight in the eyes, attempting to write as much passion and sincerity on her face as possible when she said, “On my honor as a witch, Naz, you won’t be getting off this broomstick the same as when you got on. I. Will. Help you.”
Somehow, Naz was starting to look even more nervous and sweaty. “You know what,” she started. “We can continue this chat later. I want to focus on the flying for now.”
Rona sat back, overjoyed. She snapped her fingers and then pointed at Naz. “You won’t regret it! Honest to the moon, you’ll end this lesson flying like a champ.” Rona couldn’t conceal a grimace when she added. “I know a bunch of those posers in the city like to tout their ‘speedy’ one month introduction courses, and their ten-step plans - as if that’ll make anyone a freaking genius on the handle- but I actually know what I’m doing. You asked the right lady to teach you this, Naz.”
As they both got into position, Rona preparing for Naz to take control, she exclaimed, “And hey, this next try might even be your best yet!”
Naz couldn’t remember a time she’d been so dizzy and nervous. Dizzy, because spinning around in every possible direction, mid-air, at risk of life and limb, wasn’t exactly first nature to her, and nervous because, though Rona was a thoroughly sweet and helpful person beneath her prickly exterior, she could also be alarmingly intense. Especially, Naz had found, when it came to sharing a passion of hers.
Of course she did her best to take the excited instructions in good stride (she had, after all, asked for lessons for a reason), but at least a dozen more failures later, both of them were feeling rather low on both spiritedness and energy. Rona seemed to take the physical exertion well, sweating and red-faced though she was, but Naz could hardly get her hands into position anymore, she felt so worn and unbalanced.
Rona had shifted behind her then, conveying, somehow, a sense of bashfulness that normally seemed so at odds with her character. She had asked if Naz wanted to go somewhere, for a rest and some food she explained, and, well, Naz hardly had a reason to say no, did she?
As they flew towards the town that Rona had mentioned, the grassy field that they’d been practicing over gradually gave way to a sandy beach, then a series of rocky cliffs, until finally they flew to a small fishing village nestled amongst a peaceful cove.
The sight was more captivating to Naz than if someone had taken the time to describe it to her in loving detail. The floating cities of Galum, Upper Grenn, and Talley, the only places Naz had ever known, were unlike anything this little village had to offer. The buildings were stout instead of towering, wood and stone in place of glass and metal, little boats bobbing in the water like rubber ducks. Even with the overcast sky and the extra chill in the air, she couldn’t help but find it so. . . so picturesque. Like something she’d find on a postcard somewhere!
Naz had seen pictures of places on the Lower Ground before, of course, but seeing an actual town, on the actual earth, in person, was something else entirely. Her heart went out to the trusty camera back at her apartment, which she’d stupidly left behind in her haste to leave.
Resisting the urge to twist around so she could peer at Rona’s expression, whose hands were stretched around Naz’s waist to grasp at the broom handle properly, Naz pondered over whether the other girl was similarly affected. She was taking them in a circuitous route over the buildings and boats, close enough that one villager even offered a friendly wave from the ground (to which Naz eagerly returned, of course) but the ultimate destination was unclear.
The answer to the other witch’s route soon became apparent, however, when Rona slowed the broomstick over a specific building.
“Hey, you’re not allergic to seafood or anything, are you?” asked Rona loudly, speaking over the sound of the waves and wind.
“Not that I’m aware?” Imported food was expensive in the city, and besides that Naz wasn’t sure she liked the taste of it anyway. She was willing to try it here though, for the experience if nothing else.
“Good enough,” Rona answered, and immediately the broomstick plummeted, coming to float barely a few feet off the ground.
Naz, having stiffened at the drop, turned to slap Rona’s arm. “Don’t do that,” she scolded.
The other smirked. “Oops.”
Naz tried to maintain a stern expression, but couldn’t stop her lips from quirking into a tiny smile as well, despite the initial irritation. Rona could be so ridiculous, she thought.
She hopped onto the wooden walkway, only a few feet from the ‘Crab Shack’s’ entrance, never imagining before that a steady place to set her feet could be so relieving. She might have kissed the boardwalk, if common sense didn’t warn her of splinters, filth, fish guts, and who knows what else.
Naz turned to her friend, still sitting on the broomstick and floating just above the wooden planks, and held out a hand. Rona must be well practiced at getting off her own broomstick, Naz knew of course, but offering a bit of help seemed like the right thing to do.
“Oh?” Rona looked down at Naz’s hand like it was a foreign object, or a beast never before encountered. She hesitated in taking it for a second, but grasped Naz anyway, firmer than she had expected. “Uh . . . thank you,” she said, awkwardly.
Then, so smoothly that Naz suspected she’d needed her hand even less than previously thought, Rona slid off the handle and lifted the broomstick upright in one single, slick motion. Her satchel, expertly tied to the broom long before even the start of their lesson, was soon relocated to her shoulder.
Naz looked at her and noticed that, held upright, the broom in all was about the same height as Rona herself, possibly more if the birch twigs and handle weren’t so crooked. It made for a rather striking picture, and, once again, Naz was struck by Rona’s old fashioned flair, the way aspects of her dress and posture so often reminded Naz of old illustrations and dusty historical books. Was this how witches acted and lived in their home country, Naz wondered, or was it just Rona?
The other witch always managed it with a bland look on her face, unaffected and unaware it seemed by the oddity of her own nature, but in Naz’s mind it seemed akin to bringing back the so-called ‘art form’ of witchcraft itself, almost a picture to go along with the stories of old that Rona had once shared on a rainy evening, waiting for a storm to pass. Naz pondered on whether Rona would ever submit to posing for some photos of herself. She took pride in her appearance enough, but so often had trouble sitting still, or resisting the urge to rush after whatever idea was ricocheting about in her head.
“Well?” Rona asked, nodding her head at the entrance.
Naz jolted out of her thoughts. “Oh, uh, ready when you are!” she replied, awkwardly adjusting her goggles.
Rona made a curious face at her, but strode in without another glance, broomstick tucked close to her side. The door noisily swung shut behind them, and a rush of unfamiliar smells and sounds flooded Naz’s awareness. The scent of seafood, citrus, and tartar sauce was thick in the air, a jukebox in the corner playing a song she’d never heard. It was a cozy atmosphere, although besides a fisherman drinking a beverage by himself, and two tourists chatting at a center table, the place was rather empty.
At a bar devoid of either customer or barkeep, a tiny bell sat on the wooden countertop. Rona strode towards it purposefully, reached over to grab it, and rang the bell twice, quite clearly. No one showed up. Rona rang the bell again, somehow even louder. Their only response was the jukebox changing songs.
Seeming neither irritated nor in a hurry, Rona started ringing the bell continuously, as if she was not only in the right, but fully entitled to ring that bell however she wanted.
Naz felt herself blush, mortified. What if the owner was busy? Before she could even make a comment though, someone from the back rushed out. He was a middle aged man, balding, wearing a tacky sweater, an apron, and a rather displeased frown. He looked at the two a moment, thoughts whirring, before stepping forward.
“Take a seat wherever you like,” he instructed evenly. “Menus are by the door,” and he pointed there at a leather pouch on the wall holding, as he had said, menus for the restaurant. Right after, he bustled back through the door he’d come through, busy it seemed with something he considered more important.
After grabbing one each, they took a seat at a booth table by a small window. Rona swiped her finger over the seats, muttering something under her breath about stickiness, before placing her broomstick upright beside her and carefully sliding in. Naz, although wearing white overalls that would arguably be harder to clean, seated herself with much less concern. Clothes weren’t a glaring priority for her and, despite the color, Naz didn’t tend to wear materials that wouldn’t come clean with a good wash or two anyway.
Almost by chance, Naz’s eyes were drawn to Rona’s satchel. There wasn’t much time to look at it before the other witch placed it below the table, sandwiched snuggly between her dark boots. The two of them took a moment to look at their own menus, a list more or less of fish sticks, fries, and sandwiches, when Naz’s mind unintentionally drifted to the thought of Rona’s bag again.
It wasn’t an overly pretty or ugly thing, by all rights rather unassuming with its pale grey color, the fake leather worn but well cared for. However, something about the bag called to Naz’s attention nonetheless. The young witch couldn’t remember an instance when she hadn’t seen it on Rona’s person, slung over her shoulder or clasped in a hand. Even on their flying lesson it had been tied rather expertly to the broom stick, perfectly within Rona’s reach. It was always with her, as much a part of her ensemble as her lucky hat or her boots, and yet somehow at odds with her clothes too. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was the incongruity of the bag, the way it felt more like a rushed afterthought compared to the meticulousness that otherwise overtook Rona’s traditional sense of style.
It was an odd train of thought to have for a friend, Naz thought, let alone a person she’d only known for a relatively short time. Was it odd though? Naz didn’t have much experience with making friends. Rona, from what had been observed, didn’t seem to do such a great job at it either. Naz stared intently at her menu, a picture of a crab cake seen but not appreciated, when a smack jolted her out of her thoughts.
Naz looked up. Rona had slapped her menu on the table and was now leaning back with an arm stretched across the booth, unconcerned with the noise she had made or the supposed messiness that she had complained about before.
“Soooo . . . “ she began. “Any idea what you’ll be getting?”
“Oh, um.” Naz quickly scanned her one page menu. “The fish sticks sound good,” she said, not managing to sound very convinced of that idea.
“Eh, they’re okay.” Rona rose forward slightly to tap at an item on Naz’s menu. “Personally, I like this a lot better. It’s not too fishy or drowned in sauce either. Unless, you like that sort of thing?”
Naz glanced at the item in question. Fresh crab meat with a choice of any side. Naz looked back at Rona. “Have you been here before then?”
“Oh, a few times,” she answered nonchalantly, fiddling with a ketchup bottle, as if traveling outside to villages on the Lower Ground was something people like them made a habit of. Although, maybe it was? There were those two tourists a few tables away. . . But, no, their style of dress and manners reminded Naz more of the people who lived around Big Water, a smaller place that floated somewhere else off the coast. Clothing styles were very distinctive, between floating cities and smaller towns.
Naz wanted to ask more questions of Rona, when she’d come here last, where else she’d gone, why did she travel so much in the first place, but was interrupted by the arrival of the middle aged man they’d met before.
“Your order?” he uttered gruffly, holding a small notepad. Naz wondered if he’d be less abrupt if Rona hadn’t rung that bell so much.
“Cherry soda, your number four, easy on the lemon juice,” Rona rattled off easily. “And . . . Uh, Naz?”
The younger witch snapped to attention. “Oh, right! I’ll have the, uhhhhh. . .” she worried her lip, hoping she wasn’t irritating the man too much. She scanned the menu, once, twice, three times, before landing on Rona’s suggestion. “Crab meat!” she said, a little too loudly. She pointed and showed him the menu. “This one.”
He nodded, wrote something down on his notepad, and left for the back room again without another word.
“Well, gee, he’s a real smooth talker, huh?” commented Rona, nodded her head after him. Her lips pursed after a second. “I wonder if management’s changed. I don’t remember him from my last visit,” she pondered aloud.
Naz hummed softly, agreeing about his demeanor but not wanting to say it aloud. The urge to ask Rona more questions about her travels persisted, but the idea of actually saying anything was daunting. The chance to inquire felt as if it had passed by. She fiddled with the paper napkin set on the table, feeling uncharacteristically sullen. The day’s failures seemed to be catching up finally.
Her mood must have been easily visible, because Rona next tried to grab her attention. “Hey,” she started, voice unusually soft and quiet. “You okay? You feeling, um, nauseous or something?”
“Huh? Oh, no that’s-“ Naz shook her head, trying to perk up. “I’m fine, really.”
“Well, yeah, it sure looks it,” she answered sarcastically.
“I just mean, I’m, well. I’m tired, that’s all.” Naz’s gaze drifted to window, where she noticed that the sky was becoming even more grey and overcast. Naz rested her chin in her hand. “It’s a little rough getting beaten up by a broom all day, you know.”
Rona sat back. “Is that what this is about? Oh, c’mon, everyone is terrible when they first start out with something. I’ve loved flying since I learned to walk, and you wouldn’t believe how many times I lost control, or fell straight on my face.” Rona pointed at herself. “I even broke my nose once, and don’t even get me started on the rest of my injuries.”
She felt irritation then, at Rona trying to talk her out of a mood she didn’t understand, but Naz felt a little silly about it all too. Embarrassed, that the other’s words made some amount of sense. But still. . .
“I don’t expect myself to be perfect, “ Naz finally said after a moment of silence, still looking out the window. “Or at least, I know it’s not the proper standard to hold myself to. It just feels. . . I suppose I’m just. . .”
“I’m just sorry,” she said, and the words felt like pulling something sharp out of a wound. Outside, it finally began to rain. Naz turned to look at the other witch again.
Rona shifted on her seat. “Sorry?” she echoed. “What kind of answer is that?” Her tone was angry, but Naz knew that it was really just her being confused.
“It just feels like such a waste,” she explained further, sounding glum. “You brought me out here to flail around on a magic stick, and, on top of that, you’re more committed to me learning how to do this than I am. You’re so strong, and smart, and talented, being able to fly the way you do, and I’m not even sure I can do this at all,” Naz confessed, and it felt taboo in that moment, to admit such a thing, when she usually tried so hard to always ignore the very idea of not being able, of failing something completely.
Naz looked away then, but sensed that Rona was pressing the heel of her palms into her eyes. A sign of frustration, if Naz ever knew one. She wondered then if she had ruined, not just their day and any future lessons, but also their friendship as a whole, something already unfathomably precious and dear to her, but still so fragile in its newness.
“Just admit it,” Naz finally said, mood further soured. “You expected me to pick this up right away, and now you’re wondering if I’m even a witch at all. Because I’m not, not magic enough, or don’t dress like you do, or- or-“ Naz waved a hand. “Some other, ridiculous standard I don’t know about.”
“What? No! That’s- I don’t-“ Rona adjusted her hat. “Alright, maybe for the first ten minutes, but I mean, I never doubted your heritage, Naz. That’s terrible. And, in hindsight, it was pretty ridiculous for either of us to expect that you’d pick it up on the first go anyway, witch or not, you know?” She reached a hand across the table, an intentional invitation or an accidental one, Naz wasn’t sure. “I’d never want to place those expectations on you, about what a witch shouldn’t be, or what you have to do, or anything else like that.”
Rona started to look very uncomfortable then, eyes darting away, words ineloquent but sincere. Naz didn’t doubt in that moment that Rona really did know what she was feeling then. The other witch made the act look so effortless, so seamlessly apart of her. She dressed traditionally, and knew about all the old fashioned customs that Naz had never had a chance to learn, but maybe their experiences weren’t so unlike each other, when it came to trying to live by certain standards.
Rona cleared her throat. “I think we both get enough expectations from everybody else so. . . I just, what I’m trying to say is that I. . . I don’t want to make you, um. . .”
Naz placed her hand atop Rona’s. “I know what you mean.”
Rona looked back at her, at a loss for words, and then down at their hands. A question formed on her tongue, she was going to-
“Your order,” the man from before interrupted, holding up their meals in some type of plastic basket stuffed with paper.
The two of them straightened up. “Thanks,” Rona muttered.
“I’ll be waiting by the front when you want to cover the bill,” he informed them, and then once again retreated elsewhere.
They looked at each other, and then Naz broke the silence by picking up a condiment of some kind. “Have you tried this sauce before?” she asked, and the ensuing conversation, now much more lighthearted, took up what would have been the rest of their lesson. They would have to do this again sometime, Naz thought. And next time, she’d remember to bring her camera.