"Hey, I'm back!" Mia announces, as she carries multiple bags of groceries into the kitchen. She sets them down onto the countertop and she delves through one of the bags. "Sorry for being late. A motorbike accident happened in town and it slowed the traffic down." She pulls out a plastic container and hands it to Veronica, smiling sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Mrs Dagenhart. I couldn't find the coconut yoghurts that you like, but I got you a fruit pot instead. I hope you don't mind."
Veronica rests her back against the counter, her hands tapping behind her restlessly. She seems as though she hadn't moved from that position, just staring senselessly ahead. She jerks her head towards Mia's direction, as if noticing her for the first time. Her eyes are wide and unsettling, and her complexion is paler than usual. She accepts the fruit pot.
"Thank you," she croaks out.
"Um... is everything okay?" Mia asks, feeling uneasy.
Veronica places the container down onto the countertop. She stares at it for a while, like it was the most fascinating object. Then she sighs inwardly.
"Look... I know this sounds crazy, but..." The older woman stops, second guessing herself. There is a look of profound contemplation across her features.
"What is it?" Mia presses on. She begins to sort through the grocery bags, wanting to store everything in its place. "Is it about the wedding? Did something go wrong?"
"Oh, no. Everything's fine in that department. Don't worry," Veronica replies with a wave of dismissal. She exhales sharply through her nose. "It's just... it's about Max."
"What about him?" Mia asks. She automatically stops fiddling with the groceries, paying full attention. "Oh god, is he okay? Did something happen?"
Without waiting for an answer, Mia is heading towards the door, wanting to abandon the kitchen and search for her child. However, there is a sudden grip on her arm, preventing her from moving any further. She pauses in confusion, seeing Veronica holding her back.
"Listen to me. He's not... normal."
Mia feels a sense of déjà vu. Hasn't she heard those words before?
"What do you mean?"
Veronica's lip buckle upwards, her eyes more wild than a deer caught in the crosshairs. Her hand shakes, as she holds onto Mia's arm tightly. She seems nothing like the composed and stern-faced woman that Mia is used to seeing. She takes a deep breath, before she begins her explanation.
"It was around four in the afternoon when you were out buying groceries, and you asked me to keep an eye on him. Everything was fine. He was on the computer, but I wasn't too pleased with that habit of his. So, I opened up the backyard and let him play outside, since a bit of fresh air would do him good. Don't worry, I made sure he wasn't harming any animals!"
"He didn't hurt himself playing, did he?" Mia asks worriedly.
Veronica shakes her head in response.
"Like I said, everything was fine for the most part. It was twenty minutes past, when I decided to make him a special smoothie. He was playing nicely. Well, he was actually roaming around outside, and then he laid down on the grass and stared up at the sky. He didn't hurt any animals or damage anything out there. So, I decided to reward him with a small treat. I believe in positive reinforcement, as much as negative reinforcement!"
She squeezes Mia's arm reassuringly. "And, don't worry, it's a healthy smoothie. I made it from tree-ripen bananas. I told him to come inside and sit down on the couch. I gave it to him and he drank it all up..."
"Oh god, did he throw up? Is he sick? Does his tummy hurt?" Mia interrogates, unpleasant scenarios flashing through her mind. "Where is he? Max!"
The woman seems ready to leave the room again, but Veronica tightens her hold. She pulls her back, as she shakes her head.
"No, Mia. That's not it."
"Then what is it?"
Veronica gazes into her panicking green eyes, answering in a solemn tone.
"He can fly."
Veronica reads the recent entry in her diary.
Back when society was non-secular and superstitious, witchcraft was seen as a crime and punishable by death. This is because witches were associated with black magic and devil worshiping. They were seen as transgressing nature with their alleged superpowers to control people or events, typically with their sorcery. Even King James I took an interest in witches and he published a book about it!
Women would be captured, dragged away from their families, and tied to a stake, as they were burned alive in front of everyone. Burned in front of their crying children, their husbands, and their friends that would suddenly fear them because of their label. During that unfortunate period, many women were falsely accused of being witches and they had lost their lives due to people's paranoia.
There's a general misconception about witches. They aren't all bad. Some would use their gift to help and cure others in a village full of Quacks - fake doctors that would recommend absurd treatment which only made their patients worse. These types of witches were a walking miracle. Unfortunately, in a ruthless, unforgiving society with sheep mentality, these poor witches would also face extreme torture that resulted in their death.
Many witches remained hidden and suppressed their gifted abilities. Then came about modern paganism and Wicca that changed everything, encouraging witches to embrace themselves and no longer practice in secrecy. I've believed in certain aspects of Wicca, such as respecting nature, performing healing rituals, and celebrating solstices. However, I've also believed in Christianity too, such as Jesus' resurrection, his virgin birth and his second coming. While the two traditional religions might deem it impossible to be both Wiccan and Christian, I still feel that I'm a combination of the two.
Despite the progressive shift in society, Jerry had always disliked that I practice witchcraft. Frankly, he was always a worrypot, fearing that I'll wind up in a troublesome situation. On his deathbed, he made me promise that I'd stop performing rituals and making potions. I didn't want him to suffer anymore than he already was... so, I agreed to his request to give him peace of mind. I've managed to hold on to that promise, until now.
Today, I made a potion in my son's kitchen. I felt quite guilty about it, but it was inevitable. I've never been one to keep promises for long, especially in the face of trouble. I have been gravely concerned by Max's problematic behavior for some time now.
There's a certain mystery about that kid and I wanted to unravel it. I've tried observing him, but still, I couldn't find the answers that I was looking for. So, I invited Molly, my psychic acquaintance, who joined me in my observation. She informed me that Max had 'several dark entities within him.' Clearly, he's possessed by a demon. Multiple demons. What else could she possibly mean?
As a result, I wanted to make a harmless potion that would expel the demons within him. I intended to cleanse his soul, to remove anything that might otherwise be stifling the natural growth and development of this kid.
When I gave him the potion, in the disguise of a banana smoothie, I wasn't prepared for the outcome. At first, he was making this weird grunting noise and he was pulling a face that reminded me of... well, constipation. Naturally, I thought he was going to have a little accident there and then. I was ready to drag him into the washroom - when suddenly I noticed that he was levitating! I thought my aging eyes were playing tricks on me. So, I went closer to inspect him. The next the thing I know - he's flying everywhere!
He flew above the couch like a bird. Then he rose so high that his head touched the glass chandeliers, making the glass clink against each other. He dived down, heading straight for the coffee table, only to make an abrupt u-turn at the last second. The papers and magazines all flew off the table. He almost knocked over the antique vase, had I not caught it in time! Everything felt so messy and muddled. He was flying so quickly that I was beginning to see various versions of him and it was hurting my head.
Then, once again, he flew straight towards the ceiling and he crashed his head against it. I managed to see his face whilst he was hovering in mid air. He looked confused. He was tumbling down and I knew he lost control of his powers - if he had any control in the first place! Instinctively, my body wanted to move forward, to reach out and cushion his fall. But I stopped myself.
He crashed against the ground. I expected him to have broken his limbs at such a rough fall. Maybe if he's lucky, he'd have a bruise. But there was nothing. He appeared to not have the faintest scratch on him! Even though I didn't show it, I was scared. Scared of him. Scared of what creature this little boy was. He picked himself up, like nothing had happened, and he held out the empty glass to me.
He wanted more of my smoothie.
"Wow..." Mia murmurs, blinking in surprise. "That's an... um... imaginative tale."
"Imaginative tale?" Veronica echoes with a glare. "I'm telling you a factual account."
Mia gives her an incredulous look, seeming unconvinced. "Hmm... Did you know my grandma had dementia? She would have these crazy hallucinations at spontaneous times. It's what happens to some people as they get older..."
"I'm not hallucinating," Veronica says bluntly. "My mental health is fine."
Mia winces, worried that she might have upset the older woman. "I'm sorry... I just think that... you know... it's best to get checked. Just in case. When my grandma wasn't diagnosed, she had one of her... moments... and she fell off a balcony at the old folks' home. She wound up being paralyzed in her legs. That's why it's important to get checked soon. These hallucinations can get you in dangerous situations if you're not careful..."
"I appreciate the concern," Veronica says drily. "And I'm sorry to hear about your grandma. It's an unfortunate situation. But I assure you, I'm completely fine. I know what I saw. And I saw your little boy flying in the air, like a bird or plane would. Actually, he reminded me more of a bee on a windy day - he was flying everywhere uncontrollably."
She tips the blender over to one side. Inside, there is a small amount of the banana smoothie left.
"If you don't believe me, I'll prove it to you!" Veronica says, determined. She pours the thick, creamy-white mixture into a glass. There is enough to fill the glass to the brim.
"You don't have to," Mia replies, biting her lip hesitantly.
"I don't have to, but I want to," Veronica states, throwing her another cold glare. "What's wrong? You don't seem too enthusiastic about this. Don't you want to see your little boy fly, or are you scared of facing the truth?"
There it is again. That déjà vu feeling. Mia has heard these words before, but she can't pin her finger from where.
"Come and see for yourself," Veronica instructs.
She carries the glass of smoothie into the study room. Mia follows behind her, watching her warily. The five-year-old boy is sitting on the spinny chair behind the computer, playing his online game. Veronica stands next to him, clearing her throat to grab his attention.
"Here you go, Max," she says loudly, holding the glass to him. "Drink up."
The little boy pauses his activity. He looks at the beverage in her hands and he accepts it without hesitation. Mia holds in her breath, watching him consume the smoothie as he holds the glass with both of his little hands. He finishes everything in one go.
"Now we wait," Veronica says.
The noise of characters screaming and gun shooting fills the background. For some reason, Mia feels nervous energy shooting through her body. She studies her child's face closely. He appears to be indifferent, showing no particular emotion.
"Well?" Veronica barks, eyeing the little boy impatiently. "What are you waiting for?"
"It's okay, Mrs. Dagenhart. I don't think..."
Mia is silenced immediately, seeing her son jump to his feet. He holds out his arms, spreading them out in front of him, and he races around the room energetically. His black, tousled hair sways in different directions while he's dashing around without a care. For the first time, he seems like a normal child wholeheartedly engaged in pretend play.
"Awww!" Mia coos, clutching her chest and an expression of awe crosses her tanned face. "This is the most cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Look at him go!"
Veronica pulls a face of distaste. "What is he doing?"
"He's flying!" Mia exclaims in delight. She wipes away a happy tear and a proud smile lights up her face. "He's my little Superman!"
"Flying?" Veronica huffs, unamused. "That is not-"
"Thank you so much for bringing this out of him!" Mia chirps. She claps her hands eagerly. "Oh! Let me get my camera! I'll be right back. Make sure he doesn't stop!"
Then she bolts out of the room, as if she's racing against time.
After seeing her leave, Max stops in his tracks. He lowers his arms. Veronica storms up to him with her sharp finger pointing at him accusingly.
"What do you think you're playing at? Are you trying to make me look crazy?"
Max looks up at her, his black eyes blinking emotionlessly.
"Listen here, you brat. It's bad enough that you stole hundreds of my son's money and he doesn't care! That you walk all over your own mother, who loves you to death, and she doesn't even care! It's infuriating those two are so spineless, they let you do whatever you want. But I'm not the same, do you hear? Don't think you can get away with making a mockery out of me!"
She towers above him, looking cross. Max has learned to recognize that specific facial expression, which conveys that he's going to be disciplined soon. Veronica tries to grab for him, but she merely strokes the air.
He had slipped through her fingers and flown away.