It had been two weeks since she had blocked Jordan from her phone and she had not felt better about it. Since blocking in from her mind, she had been able to focus on things that were more important. That was what she told herself, at least. She didn’t actively search him out, and she did not actively think about him. Save the nightmares that she had each night, Alexis believed that she was able to move past it. She had gone on a lunch escapade with a few of the musicians she had met and helped her mother with the yard more. She’d been on dates with Nate, and she had been able to completely forget the door.
Jordan Brooks mean nothing. She did not long for a part of his song, and his chaos. She did not care about his random messages in the night, and she did not think about his smile. She was, certain.
“Hey!” Jim called out. Nia turned from where she stood with Alexis and waved out at him. It was the first double date that they were going on and Alexis had prepared for hours on what to wear. Alexis felt bad about not inviting Jordan out, but after asking Jim and Nia, Jim had said that Jordan was too busy. Yet as Jim arrived, Nate was not with him.
Alexis felt her heart sink at the sight. Nate had messaged her earlier that day that Jordan was sick and that he was helping Jordan out and would not be able to make it. It had been a last minute thing and Alexis had agreed to it. She’d spent forever on her clothes, and had hoped that Nate would be able to make it last minute. It was why she had not canceled with Jim and Nia. In that moment Alexis felt odd being the third wheel on their date, but she knew better than to complain about it. She had been the one who had not told Nia and Jim to cancel.
“What’s the plan then?” Jim asked Alexis as he got to her vehicle. She motioned for him to get in and the three of them got in. Nia sat shotgun and Jim sat in the back.
“Bowling.” Nia answered from the front. “Are we meeting Nate there?”
“No. He messaged me saying that Jordan is… ill.” Jim spoke with a harrowed tone as if he were not annoyed but worried. Was Jordan’s illness worse than Alexis thought? What had happened? Was he alright?
“Sucks about Jordan.” Nia hissed as she sat back. “Why did he have to pick tonight to be sick?”
Jim laughed from the back but did not give an answer. Alexis shot her sister a glare and then started off towards bowling. Nia messed with the radio, singing along to tunes with Jim. Bowling itself was rather boring and sparse. After bowling, Nia convinced them to go out towards the national parks to see the stars away from the city.
Alexis sat on the hood of her car as Nia and Jim sat on a blanket. The stars were beautiful, elaborate and detailed. She knew that seeing them in such fullness was not something she was used to seeing and just taking the time to do so was awe-inspiring. Alexis felt as if the whole thing were romantic and as she sat on the hood of the car, she wished that she were not alone. Her soul began to harmonize with the music of the world around them. It longed for something else.
“The stars are so pretty.” Nia sighed.
“They are.” Jim told her.
Alexis saw that Jim was not looking to the sky but Nia, and huffing to herself she wanted to try to give them so distance. Hopping off the hood of the car, Alexis went around the back. As she walked by a bit more, her mind began to drift to the white noise of the world around her. The world began screaming at her. Why was everything shaking? The sounds of the world were in discordance. A spiraling cacophony was consuming her to the point where she was afraid she would not be able to breathe.
A nightmare while she was awake?
If one could dream while awake, could they not have nightmares?
“Alexis?” Jim’s voice startled her. Alexis found herself standing in the center of the street. Nia had her hand and Jim was standing next to her. They both looked perturbed. How long had she been standing there?
“I’m sorry. I just…” Alexis could not understand what was she doing. When had she gotten there and why was everything so quiet now?
“We should go home.” Nia agreed. “You must feel awkward.”
Alexis nodded. She touched her head and then took out her keys. Everything was too quiet? Was her head pounding? She didn’t know. Something was wrong but she didn’t know what. She got into the car and Nia grabbed the blanket and put it in the back, before she shut her passenger door with a thud. “How could he just bail. Is Jordan that sick that he needed someone to watch him?”
“Nia…” Jim shook his head as he got in and Alexis sped away from the spot.
“Is he?” Nia turned back. “Then he should have gone to the hospital. He has enough money for that.”
“It’s a normal cold.” Alexis tried to reason with her, even when she knew it could not be the case. Nate had called it a cold and she had wanted to believe him.
“He doesn’t have a family to help him.” Jim told her.
“Then the hospital.” Nia sighed. “I’m telling you, this was supposed to be a great night for the four of us and Jordan had to ruin it. He’s great and all, but he sure does have a habit of making everything about himself.”
“He’s been sick for a while and…” Jim started.
“A while? Then he should go to a doctor.”
“It’s not something a doctor can fix.”
“What?’ Nia asked. “Like—“
Three things happened at once. Alexis mind split into a mind shattering headaches, the door pressed at the forefront of her memory. Alexis did not see the flashing lights and broken do not cross sign. Headlights blinded them from Nia’s side. Then nothing. They were on the other side of the tracks and the horn was blaring in the distance.
For three sharp breaths, Alexis realized and recognized that they should have been hit. They should have died. They should have been on the ground struggling to breathe if they had not instantly died. Instead, Alexis’ car was parked a bit away from the intersection. The train that would have hit them passed behind, with the click on tracks in a repetitive rhythm that gave her no solace.
Alexis clenched her steering wheel, gasping out breaths.
“How.” Nia sat in her seat crying. “How? How!”
“I missed it.” Alexis answered. How were they alive? Or how did Alexis make the mistake? Alexis was not sure she had the answer to either.
“That fucking sign has been broken for months.” Jim hissed.
“How?” Nia whispered again. “We should have—“
It was then that they heard the sound of glass breaking. Alexis snapped around. Fear welled up in her chest expecting him to be injured. Instead he had something in his hand and tendrils of blue light disappeared into the car from beneath his fingertips. Alexis starred at the pendant for a long moment before she saw Jim look to the pendant. There was a long moment where his peace existed before it shattered and dread appeared.
“He’s going to kill me.” Jim’s face was pale and he removed the necklace from around his neck.
“Did you use…” Alexis knew it sounded mad. However she had almost driven them into a train and had not realized it at all. She had almost died and had not. She had no answer for what had happened. There was no answer but magic, and the lights in his hand were not the lights of the sky or her car.
“He’s going to kill me.” Jim repeated. In his hands there was a necklace with multiple beads. Alexis noted the location where one should have existed before, if the pattern remained the same.
“Magic? Was that—“ Alexis knew the word sounded wrong. It couldn’t be real, but she saw the blue. She knew what happened. Alexis had no reason to believe that magic was real, however she did know that when she said the word she felt fear from Jim. Jim blinked at Alexis and then glanced to Nia. Alexis saw her sister looking back at them both incredulous. She too had to believe. There was no other explanation. Nothing made sense. Alexis knew she had not saved them.
“Drive to Jordans.” Jim stated before there was another sound of shattered glass and in his hands two more beads popped turning to blue smoke, light, and dust. Jim looked at his hand and then sat back defeated.
“Was that magic?” Alexis repeated.
“We need to get to Jordan’s right now, before…” Jim stopped when the sound of a ringing phone buzzed on the seat. Jim looked to the phone and paused before he saw the name and blanched. He hesitated and the phone stopped ringing. Almost immediately the car started ringing.
Alexis pressed the answer button before the first ring completed.
“Are you okay?” Nate asked gasping. “Alexis. Are you okay?”
“Can you use magic?” Alexis repeated the question to Nate. There was a long moment of silence.
“Come to Jordan’s.” Nate said before he hung up. Alexis looked back to Jim who hung his head in disappointment and then to Nia who looked shaken to her core. Starting the car onto the road, Alexis got them to Jordan’s house in a tenuous silence. Nia and Alexis continued to share looks with each other, neither wanting to speak.
Magic was real. Neither Jordan nor Nate had disagreed.
Alexis pulled into the yard of Jordan’s house to see all the lights off in the house. Nate stood on the porch illuminated by the boon alone, arms crossed. Alexis turned off the car and slowly got out, followed by Nia and Jim.
“You had better give me a good reason why your new amulet broke.” Nate snapped as he walked towards them. “Seven years. Jim. That bullshit took me seven years to enhance.”
“I know. I should have used one of the others, but by the time we were in danger, I just channeled. Stronger magic supersedes weaker magic. I’m sorry.” Jim said softly. “I’ll pay you back.”
“Pay me back?” Nate stood infant of Jim. “Pay me back? No. No amount of Eald Wyrm Blood will make me make another one of those bullshit safety’s for you again.” he then hugged Jim. “It was made to keep you safe.”
“But I could have used the others.” Jim whispered. “It wasn’t a magic attack but a physical one.”
“Forget it. I’ll make you another. Not all the beads broke, right? I can fix it.” Nate shook his head.
“Seven years?” Alexis repeated? “What did the necklace do?”
“Its a failsafe protection charm enchanted to ensure that the user survives whatever near death experience threatens them. Nate made it particularly strong. Strong enough to protect the wearer from the fire of a dragon, even.” Jordan answered from the porch. “I assume the girls now know?”
“Yes. They know!” Nate snapped back at Jordan. “Why are you outside? Get back inside.”
Jordan stood on the porch wearing a parka and mittens. He had to be hot, but he looked cold, as if he were shivering. “They’re alive. That’s the whole point.”
“I said, get back inside.” Nate started to Jordan, reaching as if he’d pick Jordan up and drag him inside, if need be.
“Magic is real?” Nia repeated.
“Yes, Nia.” Jordan answered.
“Jim why don’t you drive them home? They look a bit shell shocked.” Jordan suggested.
“No.” Alexis shook her head. “I want to know what happened.”
“Tomorrow.” Nate agreed. “When I’m not angry, and Jordan isn’t dying. Tomorrow. First thing, come back here and we will tell you everything. Jim will make breakfast.”
“Yes.” Jim agreed. “I’ll take you two home.”
“How will you get home?” Nia asked.
“He’ll use his own magic.” Jordan answered.
“Get. Inside. Now.” Nate huffed. Alexis grabbed Nate’s arm and heard the multiple layers of fear warped into its current form. At once the song of the world returned to Alexis, where she had not realized it had vanished to begin with. When Alexis touched him, he faltered and then crumpled into her arms. He was terrified that his best friend had died. She could not imagine that fear, knowing it and then knowing that you couldn’t do anything to save them.
“Tomorrow.” Nate whispered to her. With a nod, she gave him a kiss and then grabbed Nia. Without Jim, however, Alexis left. She did not need him to drive for her. She could hear again, and perhaps they’d be able to tell her why she’d lost it to begin with. Tomorrow.