// THE MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC //
Wednesday, bloody Wednesday.
She’d received little rest the night before. After she’d notified her husband of Kevin’s disappearance, he’d vanished into the night with the squeal of spinning car tires.
Presumably, he’d gone to see the Count.
But he’d not returned at all that night as she laid awake in bed listening for any noise to give her a hint about Kevin. A knock on the door, perhaps, that he’d got tired of playing hide-and-go-seek and he wanted to be let back into his bedroom.
She prayed that was all it was. A game gone awry.
Myrtle rose from bed much the same as she did every morning, between five and five-thirty in the morning. She needed to be awake before the children began to track around the house with their toys and games.
She and Vincent had closed the door to Kevin’s room the night before. Somehow, she kept imagining perhaps he’d hidden himself away in an attic corner, and, by closing his bedroom door, she would have locked him in the hallway to be seen by the Orphans.
But there was no telltale creak of footfalls on this or any floor of the house.
With a gentle hand, she pushes the door open to one of the Orphans’ bedrooms. Each bore two bunkbeds and a pair of dressers. The retrofit had allowed them to install closets in each of the bedrooms, a luxury the original house had not afforded. This particular bedroom houses the children Tzu, 8, and Friday, 9.
Tzu was a habitual early-riser and often waited in the sunrise for the Crone to open the door for the day.
GOOD MORNING, HEADMISTRESS.
GOOD MORNING, TZU.
HOW ARE YOU?
Such a simple question.
I’VE BEEN BETTER.
BREAKFAST WILL BE ALONG SHORTLY.
And she leaves the room with the door cracked, Friday’s uneven snores fading into the corners of the house.
The day begins as it always did, with different lessons filling this and that hour of the day. They break for lunch and Myrtle hides away in the dim kitchen, trying to catch her breath between worries.
She has not heard from Vincent, though she hardly had expected to. It had been more a hope against hope, that he might send word to silence her fears.
But nothing came.
A stolen moment of silence falls upon the old woman. The warmth of the teapot reminds her of days long past and she falls asleep standing up, lost in Dream, until she is stirred by the voice of one of the Orphans.
HEADMISTRESS, AREN’T YOU TAKING ANYTHING UP TO KEVIN?
Myrtle blinks back to consciousness.
YES, I’M TAKING UP HIS LUNCH NOW.
I WAS JUST RESTING MY EYES.
YOU COULD ALWAYS TAKE A NAP.
GIVE US KIDS THE AFTERNOON OFF.
She ignores him and retreives one of the trays she generally used for Kevin’s food.
She waves her hand, incanting a few small Latin words.
In an instant, the tray is heaping with a generous salad and rice, green grapes beside. A steaming mug of tea and a ice-cold glass of skim milk sit in the upper right-hand corner of the tray. A sumptuous meal for a boy not even present in the house.
D’YOU WANT ME TO TAKE IT UP TO HIM?
Myrtle’s response is swift and commanding, more so than she expected.
Seeing his embarrassment, she tries to ameliorate the situation.
THIS IS SOMETHING I MUST DO.
Myrtle takes the tray and leaves the kitchen where the young Larry stares despondently at the back of the Headmistress’s head.
Inside Kevin’s bedroom, his bedclothes are still torn apart from her scry. She sets the tray down on his bedside table – the same place she would every afternoon – and looks upon the comforter.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN GET FOR YOU?
A NEW BOOK?
Kevin’s voice would have been small but certain. His voice was just starting to deepen toward its adult form. In her mind’s ear, she could still hear his child-voice, but knew it was something that was lost to the annals of time.
She considers continuing to speak to Kevin’s shadow, but thinks better of it. It was impossible to know what the Orphans were listening in on, and though they bustled about with their little businesses, she always suspected they were watching, waiting, wondering about the strangeness that was the Marscapone family.
She didn’t want any of them to know her son had disappeared.
Myrtle had practically collapsed into an armchair when one of the older students approaches her.
HEADMISTRESS? ARE YOU ALRIGHT?
Leaving her eyes closed, she raises a hand to her forehead, threatening to throb with headache.
I’M FINE, HERMIONE.
COULD I BOTHER YOU FOR A SECOND?
I’M TRYING TO WORK ON MORPHIATE.
NOT RIGHT NOW, HERMIONE, PLEASE.
Myrtle’s refusal has left a rift between the two women, Hermione unable to understand what could have the Headmistress in such a tizzy.
When, when would she hear something back about her son? Her husband?
IS THERE…ANYTHING I CAN HELP WITH?
It was kind of her to inquire after her well-being.
NO…NOTHING YOU CAN DO.