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With Jason on the couch munching on some cavity-inducing cereal, and a bowl of leftover macaroni and cheese in front of him as well, I let myself rest for a second. I think about how Theo waited for us outside the apartment, instead of inside it like he had said he would. The beginning of Theo’s questions distracts me from my thoughts, however, so I focus on the two of them.
Theo is sitting across from Jason. I can’t believe my luck that both of them have managed to avoid the broken part of the couch. My brother looks thoughtful. His forehead is wrinkled in thought, and his fingers are in a steeple beneath his chin.
“Jason, did you see the abduction?” he questions.
The kid takes a minute to chew the food in his mouth. “Yeah.”
“Could you describe what happened?”
He gives my brother an insolent look. “I could.” After a pause, he looks down at his cereal. “But I wanna talk to Ollie.”
Theo purses his lips, then looks at me. I shrug and go sit next to Jason on the couch, careful to only sit on the edge of the broken part.
“What happened?” I ask.
He raises his large brown eyes to mine. “My mom went to the grocery store after the party. When she got back, she told me to help her bring in the groceries. I didn’t want to, so I walked super slow on the way down the stairs.”
“I don’t like bringing groceries in, either,” I say with a soft smile, trying to encourage him. Theo looks as if he’s about to ask why I don’t just use magic to bring them in, but I make a ‘Stop’ motion with my hand at him.
Jason takes another bite of cereal before continuing. “When I got to the garage, she was talking to a lady down on the sidewalk. It sounded like they were talking about directions. My mom’s really good at giving directions.” He slurps all the milk in the bowl, then reaches for the macaroni and cheese. “I took one bag in, but when I got back that lady, she—” Cutting himself off, he looks down, as if not sure how to continue.
“Yes?” I say.
“She was yanking on my mom’s braids, yelling about how we’d stolen something from her,” Jason pauses to take a few bites of his noodles, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Then, her eyes turned gray and the skin on her face went tight and thin-”
“Like someone was stretching it over her bones, so you could see the veins underneath?” Theo butts in, his eyes narrowed.
Jason only nods, so I try to prevent him from clamming up. “What happened after that?”
“My mom vanished.” He swallows, “The lady walked up the garage and smiled at me after that. She tried to reach out and grab me, but something stopped her.”
“Did she say anything?”
“Yeah.” Jason mumbles. “She said, ‘I’ll be taking this until you give me back what’s mine.’”
By Kira Lubahn