With Mia occupied in the hospital with her mother, Finnley didn’t want to burden her with what Mr. Vaughn had told him, about magic. He had promised his mother that he would talk to her more, but he wasn’t used to being open with her, and he wasn’t sure how he would take the whole “magic exists too and I’m going to learn it” thing. Not that he was entirely sure he would learn magic- he hadn’t technically accepted Mr. Vaughn’s offer yet.
Finnley had been walking home, but now his feet steered him to the other end of the neighborhood, passing by the small houses to a nearby playground. A brisk wind was blowing, and a few dry leaves scraped along the sidewalk, skittering underneath Finnley’s shoes. He was alone. Finnley sat cross legged on a park bench, with his back to the sun to absorb what warmth he could. He wasn’t ready to tell his mother yet, he didn’t want to burden Mia... he needed someone else to talk to. He needed Monica.
Almost as if he had thought her into existence, she was there. Dressed in a long sweater and stylish boots, her purple dyed hair blowing around her chin, she walked towards him from behind the playground.
“Hey,” she said as she got closer, as if she hadn’t just disappeared the other night. As if she hadn’t ditched school that day. Finnley spread his hands in a helpless, questioning gesture, and 5hough Monica seemed to know what he meant, she just shrugged. “I’m sorry. I panicked. After everything that happened... I had to get away.”
“That’s not an excuse,” Finnley said, though he often used it as an excuse himself. “You can’t just run away from your problems.”
“It seemed to me as if the problems were over,” Monica said crossly, “considering I just helped to get rid of a demon. And what business is it of yours whether I attend school or not? I have things of my own to worry about.”
“Sure. Come on, though. What about communication?” Finnley crossed his arms.
“What, are we friends now?” she scoffed.
“Does going through an epic adventure together not make us friends?”
Monica shrugged and nearly smiled, which essentially meant that she conceded, and stepped a little closer.
As much as Finnley had wanted to tell her about Mr. Vaughn only moments ago, he now felt that she owed him an explanation before he told her anything. “Monica,” he said, surprising himself. It would be yet another confrontation that day- he already felt tired of it. “That thing that happened, when I hit my head in the car... you turned colorless. What was that? Monica, what are you?”
Monica blinked, staring at Finnley, before sighing and sitting down next to him. “Look. I know some things, alright? Not much, so don’t get your hopes up. Sometimes when people hit their heads or sometimes alters their vision, they can see a different world. The spirit world, if you will. You already believe in demons- may as well believe in this too, right?”
“So you’re telling me you’re a spirit?” Finnley asked skeptically.
“Not at all.”
“But I saw you,” he protested. “No one else looked like that.”
Monica put a hand on one hip. “Finnley. Did you even look at anyone else?” Finnley was silent. “That’s what I thought. Look, it’s nothing big, I just... I know people who are into that kind of stuff. They like to tell me about it sometimes.”
Finnley sighed and leaned forward, rubbing his forehead. “I’m overthinking everything. What is going on with it all? And, there’s something else.” He turned to Monica and told her about what had happened with Mr. Vaughn that day. “Did those friends of yours tell you anything about magic? Why couldn’t we see you in the plate?”
“Finnley.” Monica put her hand on his shoulder and looked straight into his eyes. “I don’t know anything about this. I promise you. I just know a bit about some supernatural stuff, and I don’t even understand all that. This magic? That’s beyond me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t be seen, and I’m sorry if that makes you trust me less.”
“It doesn’t,” Finnley said, not realizing it was true until the words were out. “But I don’t think you’re telling me everything, Monica.” He shifted so he was facing her more. “Even if you’re not some strange spirit, who are you as a person? What’s your story?”
“My story is your story,” she said, then shook her head. “I mean, it’s like yours.”
She grinned at this. “It means that neither of us know anything about each other, and I don’t see why I have to start first.”
Finnley smiled back at her. Wanting to know Monica’s background didn’t make him want to tell about his own. They could both remain mysteries for the time being.
“Fine. I’ll tell you something trivial.” She tucked a strand of purple tipped hair behind her ear as if she was embarrassed. “I love watching Disney movies and eating twizzlers. I eating chicken noodle soup when I’ve had a rough day.”
Finnley shook his head in amazement. “Pfft. Get a life!” Though he said it rather affectionately, Monica looked offended. Trying to make amends and keep her talking to him, he asked another question. “Tell me. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”
Monica laughed a little bit. “I really wanted to be an Olympic skier. Only, I’d never skied in my entire life! I would put all my winter gear on and stand in front of a poster of a snowy mountainside in the middle of the summer and just pretend until I got too hot to stand it.”
“And now? What do you want to be, Monica?”
Her smile slowly faded and she looked away. “Something that’s not possible any longer,” she muttered. Finnley didn’t press the issue, and they fell into an uneasy silence.