// MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC //
Several weeks have passed since the widow MYRTLE MARSCAPONE has relocated to the corner lot of a complex of townhouses located in Queens, New York.
It is a homecoming for the elderly sorceress. After her time as a healer during the Great War, she returned to the city of her birth and bought all the land she could afford. On this land she established a school for young Mages and gave it the name her husband had given her.
In this time, the knowledge of magic was still reserved, as it is now, for the few who had seen its mysterious workings. The Talent ran in families – and most places mothers taught their daughters everything they had ever learned – but after what she’d seen, she wanted to bring the Knowledge to those who had not had mothers to teach their ancestral potions.
For MYRTLE herself had been one of these children. Motherless since before she could remember, and raised by a father whose only interest in value he could neither touch nor feel began and ended with the all-mighty dollar, MYRTLE had discovered her Talent slowly in her childhood and teenage years. By the age of twenty she could bind broken skin by her will alone. But she still paled compared with the brightest minds nurtured by great family and vast empire.
She enlisted in the Great War a nurse, but returned a Witch.
Her New York school operated covertly, still under the non-disclosure act. She took in orphans and those abandoned because their mothers believed they could speak to the dead. She took in old women, young women, even men, despite the rhetoric she encountered among the mages of far-away-lands that men would never, and could never, express the Talent that a woman would be capable of. Young boys who could cause a feather to rise in windless air would be forgotten against a sister who could set a doll’s hair alight.
But MYRTLE took in all she could find. And instead of developing her potion of immortality, a sort-of rite of passage for even the most ordinary Eastern witch, she found herself repeating the same lesson on vapor condensation or levitation that she’d done just months prior for the most recent admit.
And so the months turned into years; the woman’s hair began to grey as she threw herself into her husband’s battles. She closed her school. Her notes on her potion stuffed away here and there with the promise she’d get back to it once the world had calmed down, the papers yellowing like her teeth.
After the death of her husband, despair slowly began to eat at her resolve. The world became increasingly dark; MYRTLE left her home and purchased a small ranch home where she intended to spend the twilight of her years.
But her son wouldn’t have it.
When she attempted to sell the apartments, he let her sell – to him.
At his command, she’s left the desolate house ‘Rindle Rose’ and returned to the site of her former school.
Something in her insists that she never left.
Today, she sits at a small ‘netbook’ computer elevated above the setting of her library.
The home’s empty space has been filled by three allies, AGNES SEPAL, a friend of MYRTLE’s from the War, GEORGE HENRY, a vampire who’d been an associate of her late husband, and SUMMER HOLIDAY, a seemingly ordinary young woman who’d been cleared by VLADISLAUS STRAUD.
The three shuffle about the house, each keeping their own hours, each using their own doors and their own keys. MYRTLE, alone, maintains watch over the house, her need for sleep long-since gone.
She has impressive facility at the keyboard.
G.H. told me you have been taking babysitting jobs.
What a tattletale.
This is serious.
I'm down to eight cigarettes a day.
Seven, even occasionally six.
You need to protect yourself.
We don't need the money.
Most of why I got you back in that house was so that you could continue your work.
What if you are exposed for who you are?
Who I was.
Who you are.
Just because you're not a headmistress anymore doesn't mean you don't have enemies.
Your father worked until the day he died.
Father didn't need...
I wish he'd helped you more, Ma.
The Potion is a highly personal development. Each witch must discover for herself what ties her soulstuff to the prime material plane. I'm not sure he could have helped me.
It's just my own ineptitude that keeps the secret shrouded from me.
You'll get it, Ma.
I just don't want you to get too distracted scouting around for students for your school.
What? The school is closed.
And we won't be reopening.
You know me too well.
You'll be happy to know I'm going to stop dyeing my hair.
It never bothered me.
Whatever made you happy.
Well I've come to really hate the smell.
Besides, Agnes looks great.
I don't think they sell grey color.
So I just have to wait for it to fade out.
But it will.
It always does.
It sounds like the tattletale is walking about.
I'm going to go say hello to him.
Get back to work.
Take your own advice.
And with that, she closes the protocol and flips the screen down over the keyboard.
She walks downstairs into her library. Bookshelves tower over her, crammed full of spellbooks. Dusty scrolls are tucked between tome and shelf.
(thinking) What he doesn’t know is that women always work best in tandem.
(thinking) ‘Lucia’, he’d say.
(thinking) But that girl doesn’t need me.
She looks up toward the top of the bookshelf. A stiffness in her neck twinges a tight muscle. She brings her hand up to her shoulder and attempts to massage the pain.
I GUESS I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO.