A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 1f: OF WITCHES AND DEMONS
I realized I must have vocalized that last thought aloud. “Oh, uh, it’s just, Melissa, she’s so well organized. She’s picked her calling in terms of supernatural balance, she’s observant to the point of being able to anticipate events surrounding it, she often seems to have an answer for everything… she knows what’s coming.”
“You once told me she’d be broke by now if it weren’t for you helping her plan out some investments,” Amy pointed out.
“Well, there’s that. No one’s perfect.”
“Also, she’s rude and insensitive.”
“Not out of spite. You just have to get to know her.”
Amy continued to look at me quietly for a moment. “You talk a lot about Melissa,” she said at last.
I blinked. Did I really? “Oh. Um, sorry?”
Amy shook her head. “Don’t apologize, it’s just… I don’t know. Never mind.”
Amy pulled away and rose off the bed again. “I should probably get ready to sleep,” she concluded, moving towards her overnight bag. Setting the knife on the side table, she stretched her arms over her head before reaching down to pick her bag up. “Now, no peeking,” she added, teasingly waggling a finger.
“Of course,” I retorted, pressing a hand to my chest and looking indignant as she vanished into the bathroom.
Though, truth be told, I was still a little hung up on Amy’s prior remark. With her out of the room, I used my eidetic memory to flash back to a few of my conversations over the last three weeks. Melissa had, in fact, come up in a lot of them, in one form or another.
Was I really living a life without Melissa? And was that really what I wanted?
For a minute, I worried that I had turned into one of those guys who’s always obliviously droning on about his ex-girlfriend. If that was the case, why hadn’t Amy said something sooner? After all, Melissa sure would have said something if… damn it, there she was again.
Amy was right, I couldn’t get her out of my head.
I forced myself to calm down and assess things a bit more rationally. It wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed. Yes, Melissa had come up in conversations, but usually only in passing, in connection to a topic already being discussed. I wasn’t purposefully mentioning her name, or drawing comparisons between the two girls, like an idiot. Melissa had simply been THERE the entire time I was in university.
Consider that game ‘Taboo’, where you have to make a person guess a word without using any of five words associated with it. Not as easy as it sounds. In the same vein, Melissa couldn’t help but be associated with a lot of words in my life. So to speak.
It finally dawned on me that I’d been treating the last few weeks almost like a vacation, like “down time”. But a vacation from what? Was it in the back of my head that I’d be going back to Melissa’s agency?
Also, while I’d been enjoying my time with Amy, I hadn’t felt like she needed me the way Melissa did. Oh sure, I was helping Amy out, but I’m she could just as easily have found someone else to be a bodyguard. Could the same thing be said of the help I gave to Melissa? Because honestly, I didn’t mind helping her with organization or finance. It helped give me purpose, and she was appreciative.
Also, what of the way Melissa had been helping me to see the world?
One other point of comparison flashed into my head then, as Melissa had predicted three weeks ago. For the record, I’m not exactly proud of what I did next. When Amy came out of the bathroom, dressed in her pyjamas, I moved in close… and kissed her.
This wasn’t completely out of left field. We had almost kissed on one prior occasion, a goodnight kiss when dropping her off, and I’d been the one to turn away at the last moment. Which might be why Amy went along with it now, not shoving me or saying “what the hell?” or anything.
No, she simply kissed me back for a second or two before marginally tilting her head away.
“Why James, what prompted that?” she said coyly, slightly raising an eyebrow.
“I…” Words failed me. ‘I wanted to see if I’d enjoy a kiss with you as much as I had with Melissa’ was definitely the wrong thing to say. I wondered if Melissa would have said it anyway. “I wanted to make sure you had pleasant dreams tonight,” I managed.
I think Amy sensed there was more to it than that, but either she didn’t want to confront the issue, or she didn’t want to admit it to herself. Instead, she smiled. “Works for me!” Giving me a quick hug, she then went back over to the desk to pick up the knife, meaning she was facing away from me.
I brushed my fingers against my lips. Had Amy’s kiss been better? Worse? Well, it had been different. And maybe, in the end, that’s what was at the heart of the matter. Did I want new and different, like Amy? Or back to more of the same with Melissa? Not that any of Melissa’s cases could ever truly be called “the same” as another.
“Would you mind holding this until I actually fall asleep, then slipping it into my hand?” Amy requested, turning back and holding the knife out. “I want to minimize the chance that I’ll roll over and accidentally impale myself.”
I latched onto the change of subject. “I wouldn’t mind. But it might be that you have to be holding it when you nod off. I don’t want to be responsible for screwing up the enchantment.”
“Huh. Well, at least hold my hand too, until I’m sleeping then?”
“I… sure,” I agreed after a momentary hesitation. After all, after having kissed, that seemed like a perfectly reasonable request.
Amy got under the covers, with the exception of the arm holding the knife, and I stretched out next to her on top of the sheets, reaching over to clasp the knife along with her, as requested. She then activated it using the trigger word. The knife seemed to glow momentarily.
“Hopefully after tonight, we can put all this supernatural craziness behind us,” the dark haired girl finished with a sigh.
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer. Because to hear her say that finally helped me realize that I didn’t WANT to put it behind me.
I didn’t want to go through life doing a mundane job with normal people. I wanted life to be a little adventurous, a little crazy, a little… Melissa. And as far as the romance angle went, sure, Melissa only had two settings. Hot and cold. While Amy, she had layers. But with Melissa, you always knew where you stood.
I then wondered whether a mild form of Stockholm Syndrome could have been involved.
I took more time to turn things around in my head again, as Amy slowly nodded off. But ultimately, I arrived at the point where you entered this story. Looking down at my childhood friend, then at the knife, then towards the window, I realized that Melissa Virga was the one for me. Or at least, that she was the one for me at this point in my life.
At last, I had a pathway forwards.
Noting Amy’s regular breathing, I carefully pulled my hand away from the knife, pulled my phone from my pocket, and texted Melissa that Amy was asleep.
About two seconds later, the motel room door flew open, revealing a freckled redhead, sporting two twintails. She was dressed in a sleeveless collared shirt, which was grey with blue highlights, along with a short skirt and matching stockings. The outfit screamed “schoolgirl”, but while she looked sixteen, I found out later that she wasn’t much younger than I was.
The first words she hissed at me were, “Don’t send Melissa a message.”
The redheaded teenager’s voice clicked right away. I realized we’d spoken on the phone once before. “Trixie?” I said uncertainly, and quietly, so as to not wake Amy.
“Duh,” Trixie retorted, her voice similarly muted. “Oh, wait, let me guess, my cousin didn’t mention that the two of us had taken a room at the motel too?”
“No,” I admitted, rising gingerly from the bed to approach. I glanced at our motel room door. “Also, I was sure I’d locked that.”
Trixie made a show of waving her palm in a large arc in front of her. “Hiiiii. Witch. Locked motel door, not a problem, they open for anyone with a ‘key’.”
She paused, then canted her head to the side in a way that I can only describe as being remarkably cute. “So, you’re James. Wow, you’re a LOT more drab in person. Missy is actually terrible at disseminating information. Why did you leave her, exactly?”
“Hey!” I protested. “I didn’t… leave her. Not really. I just needed some time away.”
“Psssh. You don’t hire your cousin to handle your technology if you think your ex-boyfriend is coming back. Not that I care about your relationship, you realize. I simply wish Missy could’ve shut up about you for longer than five minutes.”
That remark caught me off guard. “Mel used to mention me?”
“Duh, she sure did. It’s partly why I was interested in meeting…” Trixie’s voice trailed off and her eyes narrowed. “Are you having second thoughts about her? Oh lordy, you are. C’mon, you’re not THAT plain. You could do SO much better than Missy. Even within the magick community. You know that, right?”
“There are witches who do tech, y’know. For example, there’s me! A witch who’s nearly twenty, and who can actually carry on an intelligible conversation on Skype.” She smiled and clasped her hands behind her back, leaning forwards alluringly. “I dress better than Missy too, hmmmm? You like?”
“Uh, yes. I mean, no. I mean, you dress different, but why are you even dressed that way?”
I was a little troubled in the way my eyes responded to her lean by slipping away from her face. I registered only that Trixie probably had the ability to do bikini modelling the way Melissa could model jeans, before forcing my gaze back up. In my defence, I was tired.
“I like keeping people off balance,” Trixie answered, flashing a smile. “Also, if someone’s talking to my chest, they’re not noticing the evil look in my eye.”
I felt like this conversation was going off the rails. “Look, Trixie, why exactly should I not have sent that text to Melissa?” I questioned.
Her eyes widened. “Sent? Past tense sent, as in she’s about to attack the vampyre, sent?”
“Yeah, uh… vampire?”
Trixie strode forwards and smacked the back of my head. “Idiot, when I tell you not to send a message, don’t let me flirt, tell me right AWAY that it’s too late,” she muttered.
She then pulled a small device out of a pocket in her top. It looked sort of like a cellphone with built-in keyboard, as in an old style Blackberry, but it seemed to have a glowing red crystal embedded in it. Trixie began to poke at the buttons with her thumbs.
“Sh-Should I wake Amy up?”
“No, idiot, that just means Missy wouldn’t know what object to destroy. Assuming she even can, given how she’s not expecting to have to fight a vampyre to get to it… you know, maybe I CAN see why you ended up stuck with Melissa for four years. What’s going on in your head, James?”
“Trixie, please back up, when exactly did vampires enter the picture?”
“Vampyres, elongate the i. And they came in about five minutes ago, when I finally clued in as to the nature of the phrase Charlie Halko uses in his .signature file.”
“Okay, so, Charlie’s a vampyre…?”
The redhead continued to tap away. “No, but he’s gained the ability to emulate one. Which is surprisingly unhelpful given the twelve dozen or so vampyre variations there are out there. I’m trying to narrow it down.” She turned her screen briefly to allow me to see it. “See? TV Tropes, Our Vampires Are Different.”
The screen of her device was faintly glowing red, as opposed to blue. My best guess was that the red crystal was giving Trixie internet access via a nearby wifi. Whether she had a password or not.
“I’d better text Melissa again,” I realized.
“Oh sure, because Missy’ll drop everything to read a TEXT,” Trixie said, rolling her eyes in a good imitation of her cousin. She was immediately back to her web surfing. “For that matter, why not just PHONE Missy, alert EVERYONE to how she’s breaking and entering? Man, just when I thought you couldn’t be even more of an idiot.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” I demanded, starting to feel panicky but still wanting to keep my voice down. Behind us, Amy let out a little moan and twisted a little in the sheets.
That’s when things got really crazy.
END ACT 1