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How Was Your Day? - Chapter 29

by Querencia


Finnley woke up early, before his mother, to slip out of the house and begin walking towards school. She’d let Dr. Lark stay the night, because she had come all this way, and because his mother was determined to be polite. As if her unexpected visit hadn’t triggered a whole chain of memories and emotions for Finnley.

The idea that thoughts of Allie had only been suppressed, not gone entirely, troubled Finnley, but not nearly as much as the way his mother continued to ignore the issue. Maybe a therapist was necessary, maybe not, but she hadn’t tried. She ran away from it, just like she ran away from everything else. From his father’s death. From Allie’s death. From magic. And now Finnley could sense the need behind the compulsion: he was, after all, running away from her now.

He told himself that he wasn’t, though. That he was just getting an early start to school, taking the time to check in on Mia again. Her parents were finally moved from their apathy and were busying themselves in a flurry of motion — getting ready for work. A smile flitted across Mrs. Hart’s face when she opened the door for Finnley.

“Oh, hi Finnley,” she said, and her voice seemed to have a color in it that it hadn’t had yesterday. Not a strong color, but there was something there. “Mia woke up yesterday evening. She’s doing a little bit better now. She won’t be back in school for a while though; she’s still recovering.” That was the emotion: relief. Finnley felt it swallow him whole and he couldn’t resist smiling back.

“Come in! We’re just going to work. You can see Mia for a minute, though. Right in there.”

She gestured to the door which led to Mia’s bedroom, then continued grabbing papers she needed to go to work. Finnley grabbed the door handle with sweaty palms; he wasn't sure if he was excited or anxious. The way she’d looked yesterday made him think she’d never recover, lying in bed almost lifelessly…

Finnley firmly shook himself of the thoughts and opened the door. And stared.

Mia was indeed looking better, her cheeks filled out and her brow increased, her breathing even. She was stretched out on top of her covers as if she'd just taken a nap. Like she was perfectly normal. She was probably the only normal thing in the room.

Most of the plants closest to Mia — the ones by her bed, on her nightstand — were dead. The leaves that had been tall and green yesterday, stretching towards the sun, now lay scattered across the floor, shriveled and curled into themselves. Finnley’s spine tingled at the sight. The noise of the Harts’ preparation outside faded as the situation in the room consumed all of his attention.

The leaves crinkled and crunched ominously beneath the soles of his shoes as he approached the bedside. Cautiously, he lifted up one of the potted plants to inspect it. Its leaves shivered as he gently shook it. The plant was entirely dried up and dead. An odd sense of fear settled into Finnley’s stomach, and he began to turn the plant on its side. There, on the bottom of the plant, was a spell. It was shakily done, but it was a spell nonetheless. Finnley’s hands started to shake, but he couldn't move. He just stared and stared at the dead plant.

Footsteps sounded at the door, and he hastily returned the pot to its place by the table. He turned to see Mrs. Hart in the doorway, an odd look crossing over her face.

“Oh dear,” she said. “I'm afraid that I haven't had time to look after these plants the way I should. What a pity. Mia loves them, you know.”

Finnley could only nod. Looking for an escape, he glanced at his watch. “Thank you so much for letting me see Mia,” he said, flashing her a smile much more forced than the first. “I really must go; school will be starting soon.”

“Of course, dear. Feel free to come back around after school if you wish! Mia may be up by then.” She grabbed her keys and went to speak with her husband, so Finnley showed himself to the door

He had just barely set foot in the hall when he felt the prickling sense of someone watching him. He quickly turned back, only to find Uncle Fred staring at him. As if he knew that Finnley had seen the plants, the spells. Fred nodded once, slowly, and Finnley shut the door between them.

Fred and Mr. Vaughn knew each other. More than that, Henry had said that Fred was once Mr. Vaughn’s apprentice, that he would've made a great magician. He had to have been the one to put the spells on Mia’s plants. But how, and why? The spells seemed to be lending Mia energy from the plants. What had happened to her to make him that desperate? Finnley had seen the way he was sitting at the table the day before, like carved stone. He had to know something. Was it about the other magician, the one who might’ve enchanted the horse?

No one was being useful. Mr. Vaughn’s shop was still closed and off-limits according to his mother. Finnley didn't know how he would handle the mystery — and potentially the danger — of another magician while he still had to face his dang therapist. And of all things, he was going to school. He laughed aloud, a short, sarcastic laugh. Things always seemed to fall apart around him.

If he thought that the normalcy of school would hit him hard, he was wrong. Something was different about this walk through the hallways: he was noticed. The stares followed him, and puzzled him until he started to hear the whispers that came with them.

“That's him. He's the one who’s friends with Mia the Maniac. Ran off into the forest with her.”

And then he saw it, in the very literal sense. Someone had found one of Mia’s demonic burning horse drawings, and the rumors were spreading like wildfire. 


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Thu May 10, 2018 9:05 am
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Panikos wrote a review...



Yoo, Querencia! Sorry it's been so long. Uni has relinquished its grip on me so I'm trying to slide back into my old reviewing routine.

She’d let Dr. Lark stay the night, because she had come all this way, and because his mother was determined to be polite.


I definitely agree with Blue that that is is weird. Aside from the fact that she probably would've planned ahead and booked a hotel or something, there's something distinctly unprofessional about a therapist staying over at a patient's house.

Mia was indeed looking better, her cheeks filled out and her brow increased, her breathing even. She was stretched out on top of her covers as if she'd just taken a nap.


This phrasing made me think that she was now awake, so I was a bit perplexed as to why she then didn't say anything. Something like 'as if she was just having a nap' might make it clearer that she's still asleep.

The leaves crinkled and crunched ominously beneath the soles of his shoes as he approached the bedside.


Adverbs aren't evil, but I don't like adverbs that tell me how I should interpret the scene. It's something we should be shown rather than told.

Fred and Mr. Vaughn knew each other. More than that, Henry had said that Fred was once Mr. Vaughn’s apprentice, that he would've made a great magician. He had to have been the one to put the spells on Mia’s plants. But how, and why? The spells seemed to be lending Mia energy from the plants. What had happened to her to make him that desperate? Finnley had seen the way he was sitting at the table the day before, like carved stone. He had to know something. Was it about the other magician, the one who might’ve enchanted the horse?


I feel like there's something distinctly unclear about this chapter, because I don't really get why Fred needing to sap the energy from the plants is treated as so terribly foreboding. I mean, we don't know how much energy a plant gives out, so for all we know Fred could've just used the spell to speed the healing process up a little. It is a slightly strange thing to do, but it doesn't make me assume 'oh man, this is definitely tied to something bigger' so I found it a bit weird that Finnley instantly leapt to that conclusion. It might just be me, though.

“That's him. He's the one who’s friends with Mia the Maniac. Ran off into the forest with her.”


'Mia the Maniac' feels like a pretty limp insult. Like, I know name-calling can be upsetting even when the name doesn't seem that inflammatory, but I didn't really feel the punch of this line. It almost doesn't feel true to real-life bullying, which tends to be a lot slyer and a lot more subtle. If someone came up to Finnley to ask if he 'had fun in the woods' the other day or something, I might find it more unsettling. In my opinion, there's no worse kind of bullying than when you feel like everybody else is in on a joke that you don't understand. But again, that's my take on it.

That's all for the specifics. Another decent chapter, though I still feel like we're skirting very tenuously around the matter of what really happened to Mia - I get the sense that you're not sure what happened, so you're not all that sure how to allude to it yet. Still, I trust in you to figure it all out. I'm looking forward to finding out who this other magician is.

Hope this helped! Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:21 pm
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BlueAfrica wrote a review...



“That's him. He's the one who’s friends with Mia the Maniac. Ran off into the forest with her.”


FIRST OF ALL

*insert rude name starting with a b and ending with a mosquito bite here*

#RUDE

How heartbreaking, especially after we had that sort of flashback in the last bit where Finnley remembered how tough school was for him in California and how everyone thought he was a weirdo - he's come all this way, and thanks to circumstances beyond his control, it's back again.

ALSO HOW DARE THEY TALK ABOUT MIA THAT WAY okay I'm over it

*inward seething*

This also sort of makes Mia out to be such a sad character, because how many real friends could she have had in school before Finnley arrived? We know she had a falling-out with what's-her-face, but she's been so chipper and friendly and cheerful since Finnley met her, you'd never suspect that her schoolmates would be so quick to cast her aside as a "maniac." #tragic

I liked the detail with the spell a lot - at first I was like "oh no, her plants are dead, who has been working Evil Magic?" but it made so much sense that it was Fred using her plants' energy to keep her alive. Still sad though, because those plants mean so much to her and I can't even cull the weaker seedlings like I'm supposed to when I start plants from seeds

I thought it was bizarre that Dr. Lark is sleeping over. For one thing, I know his mom's in denial and not doing the best job right now, but it seems really callous of her to have his therapist actually sleep at their house when they just had a conversation about even seeing her totally derailed him and Mom had to come find him at a park and stuff.

Plus, okay, yeah, Dr. Lark's come all this way, but why the heck wouldn't she have booked a hotel before leaving/on her way/easily now that she's here? Unless there's literally one little knockabout hotel in town that is booked up despite its creepy and disheveled state, I don't buy it that she has nowhere to stay except their house.

Prediction for the future, except that it doesn't actually make much sense because she's all set up in life half the country away: Dr. Lark is the Evil Villain somehow.




Querencia says...


Oh, right, a hotel. that's what normal people do, isn't it. Wow I can't believe I didn't even think about it! Haha.
Also I just read a book where evil lady was disguised as a counselor so that's not what will happen here. I sort of realized how it sounded after that book, though! I didn't count on Dr. Lark at first, so I'm still figuring her out and everything.
But yeah feel free to go to alternate universe Wyoming and beat up those mean kids at school.



BlueAfrica says...


Omg here I thought she didn't go to a hotel b/c maybe you had a Plot Reason that she needed to be in such close proximity to Finn (which honestly is probably why I thought Evil, even though it doesn't make sense since there's a whole family background for Mia & monster hunting and Dr. Lark has been in CA until just now). I didn't realize you just didn't think about it!



Querencia says...


Yeah haha! I've been trying so hard to figure out the way things work out that I just forget the really obvious little things. 100% blame LMS panic.




There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.
— Christopher Darlington Morley