Writers (in order): Jade Stone, Claire Bing, M.S., Christina Ding, Cherice, Ava Cheng, Ash Mehta, Alyssa Tang, Keiss Chan, Langston Wu, Sophie, Yuika Sun, Eileen Hung, Editor: Irene Tsen.
The smooches of pureed parsnips and charred salmon filets pierced Sonya’s senses. Stimulated, she gazed at her family’s silverware. As her twin sister lifted a bite to her mouth, she did nearly the same. Twisting the base of a glue stick and breaking it with her teeth.
“Sonya, don’t stare at Margery, finish your glue stick,” Mother said, sharply elongating the last letters of “glue stick.” Mother would only ever ignore Sonya or chastise her for something and remind her of her peculiarity. Margery, however, received all of Mother’s kindness despite being the cause of her brother’s disappearance.
Or maybe not despite what Margery did to Sam, but because of it. Margery, the proud witch hunter, Mother’s pride and joy, who selflessly sold out her own brother when she found out he was magic. One would think that Sonya would be the most against magic in her family, since she was the cursed one after all. The worst part of the curse wasn't the glue sticks though—she had gotten used to their sticky, chalky taste. It was the way Mother looked at her, like she was a constant reminder of the magic Mother despised. So when Sam told her about his magic, Sonya had hugged him and promised to help him keep his secret. And when Margery outed Sam as a witch in the town meeting almost a year ago, Sonya distracted everyone long enough for him to disappear.
Since then, Sonya and Sam had met up exactly twice.
The first time, the neighborhood had been sleeping. Her boring town so often was. 10:23 p.m., December 24. The lights were flickering a hazy indigo, the streets shining with each step. She’d been meandering through the streets, vision hazy from exhaustion, trying to clear her mind, when his hands had appeared.
Just for a split second, placing a Christmas gift in her hands, dusted with a cloudy, violet film.
Unmistakably him, though, and that had given her hope.
The second time was more planned, if any meetings with Sam could be called “planned.” August 3. She had just known he’d be there to give her a birthday gift, even if it had felt conceited to assume her birthday would be anywhere near the most pressing of Sam’s priorities.
Still, she’d waited out in the courtyard earlier in the evening, but at a time it was still abandoned enough to be safe. The trees shone with an almost lavender glow as the sun kissed the horizon. She’d traced her pendant—Sam’s Christmas gift—for a mere three minutes before he’d shown up.
“Sonya! Happy birthday!” He leaned in for a hug, then froze. “Trackers—”
“I get it.”
He shuffled around, an eager, unfazed smile adorning his face. “Happy birthday!” A gift in her hands, a refraction of lilac light bending, and he was gone.
Since then, she had learned to watch out for purple lights—signs of her brother’s magic—and anticipated the day they would meet again.
Sonya set down her now-empty stick and pushed her chair back. The legs made a harsh squeak on the hardwood floor like nails on a chalkboard. She headed to the front and laced up her sneakers. As she popped in her earbuds and opened the door, she saw a flicker of shimmery purple light.
Sam’s signal, she thought. Ecstatic to finally see her brother again, she took off, strands of hair fluttering behind her like birds taking flight and her complexion reddening. She started running to the forest clearing she and her brother had designated as their meet-up spot.
“You haven’t been excused yet, Sonya!” her mother called out, to no avail. Sonya was already gone.
Racing through the trees, Sonya privately wished that she had magic as well, if only to keep her brother company as he fled from settlement to settlement.