"You’ve gone through nearly all the books in the house, missy. All we’ve got left is a sports book."
"Actually, mummy, I was wondering if we had any books on real life magic?"
"Real life magic?" Cassandra perched herself on the edge of Ana’s bed, the aforementioned sports book in hand. Ana wriggled up slightly, propping herself up on her elbows.
"Yeah, of like real life witches and stuff. Not the fairy tale ones."
"Why would you want to know about that?"
"I think I am one." Cassandra froze momentarily, before attempting to change the subject.
"Really? Well, this guy holds the world record for the number of goals scored in a soccer match. 57! That’s amazing!"
"Are you trying to change the subject?" Rats… She’s cleverer than I give her credit for.
"No, of course not. Why do you think you’re a witch?" Ana chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, looking up at Cass cautiously. Cass gave her her best encouraging look, silently telling her that it was okay to tell her what was going on.
"Well… In school the other week, I saw a colony of ants. And, like, there was one ant, who was walking funny, and I picked him up and one of his legs was really twisted something awful. Then, I dunno, I kinda felt bad and kinda wished for him to get better, and his leg twisted back round and I put him down and he was walking all good again! Then, I thought it might have been… Co… Coin…”
"Yeah! Coincidence! But I kept trying to find other injured ants and it worked every time! I think I’m magic!" It was Cassandra’s turn to chew her lip. She knew that Ana would eventually discover her powers, but she didn’t imagine it would be so soon. She hadn’t even reached 10 years old yet.
"Well… It certainly sounds like you have a gift, Ana, but I think you might want to leave it alone for now."
"What? Why? I’m fixing injured animals, that’s not wrong?"
"No… It’s not, but… Some people just won’t understand, baby."
"What? No, I understand, more than you know, Ana…"
"Then why are you telling me to stop?!" Cassandra stood up from the bed and placed the book down. Ana wasn’t ready to give up without an answer though, and climbed on top of the covers.
"Mum! I just wanna know why!"
"There are bad people out there, Ana, you don’t want bad people to find out."
"I haven’t met any bad people."
"Bad people are very good at disguising themselves. Sometimes, you can’t tell, even when everyone else around you can."
"That sounds silly. I could tell."
"Go to sleep, Ana. We’ll discuss this in the afternoon."
"Why not now?"
"Because it’s late, and you have school tomorrow." Ana exhaled loudly out her nose, but realised that the conversation was over. She climbed back under the covers and rested her head on the pillow, eyes still following her mother as she walked to the door, hand hovering on the light switch.
"Good night, Ana. I love you."
"I love you, Ana." Ana pursed her lips stubbornly, but guilt built up quickly in her chest as she saw her mothers eyes fall.
"Love you too, mummy."