The next three weeks slid past in a blur that alternated between happiness and worry. My job at the bank was going pretty well, and I hadn’t seen any sign of Darnell following me to work; but on the other hand, he hadn’t shown up on campus again either.
I tried to put him out of my mind long enough to invite both sets of parents to dinner one evening about a week before the election. Mine showed up. Jason’s didn’t. Or rather, his mom didn’t. His dad did and he surprised us by appearing at the door two hours ahead of time, accompanied by a delivery man and a wedding present of a dining table with six chairs. The delivery guy was willing to take my old set away and we suddenly had a place for everyone to sit down and eat for the evening.
Jason retrieved the terrarium from the top of the cupboard, set it in the center of the table and challenged me with a look. The ivy did look a lot happier under the light so I left it alone.
My parents got along well with Jason’s dad, and the evening ended on a pleasant note, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. The election was one week away, and the only sign of Darnell was his face leering from posters and yard signs which had sprung up all over town. A feeling of impending doom had settled over me and refused to go away.
Election Day dawned with Darnell still at large. I called in sick and spent most of the day pacing the tower property, waiting for Jason to get home so we could head for the courthouse to help count votes. We weren’t supposed to be there until six, but I wanted to be in the building long before, just in case Darnell showed up early. I had no idea what I’d do if he did, but my common sense had taken a vacation and my emotions were currently in charge.
Jason got home at three, plopped down on the couch and refused to budge. “He’s not going to show up before six.” He kicked his shoes off, pulled his socks off and tossed them on the floor. “If he shows up at all. I’m not going down there and stand around doing nothing for three hours.”
“He could be down there now!” I was pacing again, prowling from one side of the living room to the other. “If he’s going to cast something, he’ll have to set it up. He’ll have to...”
“Because you don’t just snap your fingers and cast spells, Jason.”
He twisted around and looked at me over the back of the couch. “You do.”
“No I... well, I do... but just easy stuff. Locking the doors and stuff.”
“I’m still not going down there early.” He turned around, put his hands behind his head and settled against the back of the couch.
I was furious with his lack of concern. I stomped around to the front of the couch, glared at him and considered adding a few special effects for emphasis. Smoke pouring out my ears or lighting flashing from my eyes. Jason opened one eye, grabbed my wrist and pulled me onto his lap. “Explain something to me.”
I pushed away and tried to get up. His fingers found my ribs and I wound up shrieking for him to stop tickling instead. “I’ll stop, if you’ll calm down and listen to reason.”
“Okay! Okay!” I wriggled, grabbed for his hands and dissolved into hysterical laughter. “Jason no, stop! Please! All right, I’ll listen!”
He stopped tickling and allowed me to sit up. “Explain something to me.”
I debated another attempt at getting off his lap and decided on the safer course. I stayed put. “What?”
“If he has to set things up early, why couldn’t he have already done so. Yesterday. Last week? Or some other time?”
I started to answer and paused. He could have, come to think of it. Since I had no idea what he might do, I also didn’t know how much lead time he’d need. I squinted at Jason through one eye. “I guess he could have.”
“Then he probably did. So going down there early is going to accomplish what?”
I sighed. “Nothing. Your lap’s boney, can I get up now?”
He released me and I stood then wandered into the kitchen and stared at the terrarium. Jason joined me a minute later, put his arms around me and started nibbling on my ear.
“Stop that, I’m not in the mood. How come you put that back on the table?”
“I didn’t want the plant to die. Why?”
“I didn’t think you’d ever want to see it again.” I turned around and looked into his eyes. “Aren’t you afraid I might use it on you?”
He gave me one of his lopsided smiles. “A little. Are you going to?”
I shook my head. “No. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. It’s been too long since I reversed the shrink spell. I’d have to cast the whole thing all over again.”
“Good.” He grinned, licked the end of my nose and ducked out of my reach. I chased him into the living room and spent a few minutes paying him back, then tried to find something with which to occupy myself. Jason solved that problem by dragging me down to the café for an early dinner.
We got to the courthouse at fifteen minutes to six. Darnell hadn’t shown his face, the polls would be closing in an hour and darkness was falling. The feeling of impending doom cast a dreary pall over the evening and the weight of the world settled down on my shoulders. If Darnell won the election, the city was going to become a very dangerous place to live... for the wizards more than anyone.
Copyright © 2006 by Crystalwizard