mug bunny and a destroyed, lifeless bat phone. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t go to the bathroom. I didn’t even really think that much. I just … stared.
Mug bunny, meet dead bat phone. Dead bat phone, meet mug bunny.
The truth finally settled around me only once I was in the dark, on my bed. I could just barely see the outline of the mug bunny scooting around my bed, glimmers of reflected moonlight shimmering off the smooth ceramic, and one moment, I was watching it, removed from everything. Then it tumbled off the side, and something inside me shot to life. I gasped and caught it and drew it to my chest and snuggled it, and that’s when I knew. That was the moment when I accepted that this was all real, that there were people in the world that had magical power and I was one of them.
“Huh,” I said out loud to no one in particular. I patted the mug bunny, and realized I was starving. I put the mug bunny in its shoebox on the floor so it wouldn’t get hurt, and I stumbled downstairs in a haze, glancing at the clock on the wall in the kitchen as I went into the refrigerator; it was only nine-thirty. It felt like it should be later, that somehow, days should have passed.
Nothing in the fridge appealed to me, and then I remembered the bag of conjured pastries Betty had sent me home with. I wandered out into the hallway, but they weren’t there. I searched the living room: nada. Finally, I went out onto the porch, flicked on the light, and there was the big brown paper bag Betty had stuffed full for me, sitting on the porch railing.
Huh. I couldn’t even remember leaving them there. Then again, when I’d stumbled back from CCB’s that morning, I’d been in something of a daze.
I sat down on my porch swing, pulled the top Styrofoam container out of the bag and opened it.
Chocolate cake. Eight gazillion calories of glorious, chocolaty goodness. Then a thought hit me, and I wondered if conjured food has the same calories. What if it had no calories? A momentary shiver of glorious wantonness shot through me, and then I came back to reality.
Even I couldn’t stretch my imagination that far.
I looked up to find the source of the voice, and there was Peach, running in place on the sidewalk in front of my house. Her blond hair bounced behind her in a ponytail, and her running outfit clung to her perfect curves as she jogged effortlessly in place. I hesitated at the thought of talking to her while digging into chocolate cake with my bare fingers like a crack addict sucking on a dirty pipe.
If only I’d thought to grab a fork …
I set the cake down beside me. “Hey, Peach.”
She kept jogging in place, then said, “I’m sorry about before.”
I shrugged. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. I was being jerky, and I suck. I’m sorry.”
I looked at her and smiled. “Apology accepted.”
She grinned back, slowing from jogging in place to just moving her legs a bit. “Good.” She waved me toward her. “Come on, run with me and we can talk about everything. I was almost done, but I can squeeze in another mile or two without dropping dead.”
I busted out with a sharp laugh. “Seriously? You think I’m going to run a mile?”
She rolled her eyes, smiling. “Fine. We’ll power walk. But I tell you, exercise is the best thing when you’re feeling like hell. You breathe in the air and your heart gets pumping and it’s just … whoo! Invigorating. Know what I mean?”
I stared at her. I had just been contemplating downing an entire chocolate cake in one sitting. Of course I didn’t know what she meant.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, but I don’t think so.”
“Okay.” She touched her neck with two fingers, glanced at her wristwatch, and slowed down the jogging to walking in place. After a few seconds, she stopped moving altogether, then rested both palms on the tree, stuck one leg straight out behind her, and stretched.
“So, are we doing Confessional on