Yarra Smythe's cousin Tarot has a secret. And an easy reveal is just not in the cards.
|"It will be just like a reunion."
These words were spoken by Yarra Smythe, immediately after Guenevere Goode put away her cell phone. She had just spoken to Connie, the girls' best friend from childhood. Constance Osbourne, who was eighteen, had just finished her freshman year at Rockford University as an English literature and creative writing double major.
"Yeah," Guen said. "You, me and Connie back together again, with Nautica and Rio."
"At the beach house," Yarra said. "That's gonna rock."
Guen and Yarra had just turned eighteen. Guen was approximately a month Yarra's senior. She featured long, strawberry blonde hair, bright green eyes and freckles. Yarra, half Indian and English, was very attractive, with long black hair and large dark eyes. Both girls had just graduated from Amnesty High School, and looked forward to spending their last summer together with Connie, before Guen was off to the Rhode Island School of Design as an Architecture major and Yarra began her internship at a recording studio in Boston to study music engineering.
The girls and Connie would reunite in Hampton Beach, at the summer home of their mothers, witch queens Charity Goode, Patience Smythe and Pandora Osbourne. They were eager to hang out, catch up and resurrect the old line-up of the girls' band Glamourama, which featured Guen singing lead vocals and playing rhythm guitar, Yarra on bass guitar, Connie on lead guitar and co-lead vocals and the girls' childhood friends Nautica Chen and Rio Delmonico on keyboards and drums, respectively. The stay at the beach house was set for a duration of one week. Nautica and Rio would join the girls in a few days.
"Well, c'mon, girl," Guen said, "let's get packed. We got a lot of stuff to do before we leave tonight."
Hampton Beach was approximately twenty miles east of Amnesty, the hometown of Guen and Yarra. It was known in the area as a summer resort town. The Goode, Smythe and Osbourne summer home was located on a small, secluded neighborhood street that featured a private strip of beach. The house was a Modernist study of steel, concrete and glass with plenty of light, both natural and artificial. This home was a stark contrast to the families' Amnesty residences, which were originally pre-Colonial Large Houses some three-hundred plus years old.
Guen, Yarra and Connie arrived at the beach house at approximately nine o'clock in the evening. The girls decided to take Yarra's parents' Range Rover, for it was the only vehicle available to hold both the girls' necessities and their musical instruments.
Almost immediately upon arrival, the girls knew that something was up.
"OK," Connie said as Yarra pulled up in front of the house, "why are there lights on? Who's here?"
"There shouldn't be anyone here," Guen said. She looked at Yarra. "I don't get it."
"What should we do?" Yarra asked.
"Well, we can't very well stay out here," Connie said. She shook her styled, raven colored hair. "Do you have a tire iron or anything in the car?"
"Yeah, in the back," Yarra said.
Yarra and the girls got out of the Range Rover and went to the back, where Yarra dug the tire iron out from under the hidden space for the spare tire, after the girls had to practically remove all of their things to get to it. After all of the items were returned to the storage space Connie, as the oldest, took the lead.
"Alright," she said. "Follow me."
Connie gripped the tire iron like a baseball bat and cautiously made her way up the walk to the double front doors. To her surprise, they were both locked.
"That's weird," she said. "Who has the key?"
"I do," Guen said. Connie nodded to her to unlock the door. She did.
Connie grabbed the handle and opened the door enough to peer inside. The lights were on in the living room and kitchen, but she could not see anyone around. She opened the door some more.
"Quietly," Connie whispered to her friends and made her way inside, both hands on the tire iron, held waist high on a horizontal plane. Guen and Yarra followed closely behind. Guen spotted a broom just inside the door and grabbed it on the way.
Connie slowly led the trio into the open foyer area of the first floor, created as such by the low hanging second floor (designed in this way to allow the upper level visitor the opportunity to peer down onto the first level and visa versa). Immediately after this five foot wide space, one entered the living room.
"Hello?" Connie called out. "Who's here?"
Suddenly, from out of the kitchen area, a young girl came into view and entered the adjoining living room. She was cute, approximately fourteen years old with shoulder length golden blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Guen and Connie looked at the girl (who looked very familiar) and then to Yarra, who recognized the unexpected guest immediately.
"Tarot?" Yarra said. She was in a state of confusion as to why her first cousin stood before her in her mother's beach house. "What are you doing here?"
"Hi, Yarra," Tarot said. A small wave and a nervous grin. "Everybody. Yeah, it's me."
"We can see that," Connie said. She lowered the tire iron when she saw who the intruder happened to be. Guen had done the same with the broom. "But I think the question was, 'what are you doing here?'"
Hesitation on Tarot's part.
With a sigh, the girl headed for the sofa and plopped herself down on it. "I ran away from home." She said.
Yarra did a double take. "You what? Tarot, why?"
Tarot shrugged. "I don't know. I just felt like it, I guess."
"Great answer," Connie said. "I feel like going to the bathroom. I'll be back in a few."
When Connie had left, Yarra turned her attention to her cousin, who intently watched Connie's departure.
"OK, Tarot, what's wrong? Since when do you feel like running away?"
"Like now." Tarot said.
"But why? Is something wrong at--"
"No, not really."
"Is it aunt Serena or uncle Edgar?"
Serenity Smythe was the younger sister of Patience Smythe, Yarra's mother. Unlike the Smythes, Goodes and Osbournes, Serenity and her husband Edgar did not live in Wiccan Amnesty but in Hampton Beach, about a mile from the beach house. Although a Wiccan and rightful claimant to the title of Witch Queen, Serenity chose to practice Wicca on her own, not as part of a coven, but as a solitary witch. She also taught the Craft to her daughter Tarot, who was also a solitary at present. (Of course, Hampton Beach, not exactly of the Wiccan persuasion, did not have many covens readily available.) The Smythe sisters, although not both living in their hometown these days, were still close. Whenever Patience stayed at the beach house, she always made it a point to visit Serenity, as Serenity visited her sister when in Amnesty.
"No, mom's fine. Dad's fine. Everyone's fine. We're all fine."
"So, what's wrong, Tarot?"
Tarot did not meet her cousin's eyes. "I'd rather not say."
Yarra looked at Guen, who was as puzzled as she was.
"Tarot," Guen said, "we can't help you if you don't tell us what's wrong. Obviously, there's something wrong, or you would be home and not here." She stopped with a quizzical look at Tarot, as if just remembering something. "And while we're on the subject, how did you get here? And how did you get in?"
"And how long have you been here?" Yarra asked.
"Oh, I haven't been here long," Tarot said. "Honest."
"OK, honey," Yarra said. She felt for her cousin. But what, exactly? Sympathy? Anxiety? Remorse? Disappointment? Hard to say. "We believe you. But we still don't understand. Don't you want to tell us?"
"I can't," Tarot said.
Then it happened.
"WHAT THE-- GET OVER HERE!"
"OW! AAAAAH!!! THAT HURTS!!!"
"YOU THINK THAT HURT? WAIT 'TIL I KICK YOUR BONY ASS DOWN THE STEPS, YOU LITTLE PERV!!!"
Guen and Yarra exchanged startled glances.
"Oh crap," Tarot said.
Yarra's startled glance now exchanged with her cousin. And at the spectacle played out on the stairwell.
"Look who I found, trying to watch me in the bathroom," Connie said. With a sardonic grin, she made her way down the stairs. Connie had a forearm across the back of the neck of a young teenage male, approximately the same age as Tarot. Her hand firmly grasped a clump of the boy's long, wheat colored moppy hair, his head tilted back at a forty-five degree angle. Once at the bottom of the steps, she roughly pushed the boy forward, who stumbled to his knees. Connie looked at Tarot with piercing dark blue eyes. "Anyone you know?"
And in that very instant, every question that Guen, Yarra and Connie had for Tarot but had little hope of getting answers for were now conveniently answered. For the girls, everything was suddenly very clear. Everything made sense. But for Tarot Smythe, it was all just a little too lucent. Too fourteen years old. All a bit too much.
"Oh, crap." She said again.