I fingered the black envelope with trepidation. Black...it was as if she could tell that I was...dangerous to the populace. My eyes shot around the place in which we had stopped. But there was no populace here.
I shot Aidan a look, also taking my time to peer at the other passengers. They were an odd bunch, dispersing as quickly as they had set foot on the dusty street. Soon, the bus was just a smudge in the distance.
Tearing my eyes away from our only means of exit, I began perforating the paper with my long nails, holes appearing in the envelope as I counted them out like the numbers in my head. When I was done, out tumbled a set of keys, their metallic chain rusted as if it had been burnt, a tiny entwined pitch-fork and halo dangling down, scalded too. On the other hand, the bodies of the keys were shining new.
"Meggie..." Aidan crept up to me, his voice soft but a concerned look furrowing his brow. In his hands was the envelope I had briefly set my eyes upon after the lady, introduced as Isis, had given me my own. Instead of being drenched in darkness like mine, Aidan's was brilliant white, innocence, and instead of keys, he held a small piece of paper, black ink visible through the translucence. As he pushed the paper down to my level, I was surprised to see that his hands were shaking.
“Look at this.”
As the typed words faded into view, I identified an instruction of sorts, a compelling direction for us both.
Miss Meggie Greene and Mr. Aidan Bible, a house for two- or more- awaits you here. Meggie has the keys.
“I thought…?” Again, I cast my eyes around, searching the other bus-residents. In one sweep of my eyes, I spotted what I needed to, and began to play the images back in my head. A man with converses- nice shoes!- and a cross similar to mine hanging from his neck was jogging towards the mansion at the back of the town; the werewolf, now in his human form, had taken his silver envelope and ambled off, whilst Isis and her companion were nowhere to be seen. It seemed that most had their own set of keys, except the boy, Russell, who was hanging around Mog, waving the envelope as if he was intent on casting a spell. It crossed my mind that I would, at some point, have to make conversation with them, but I first had to turn myself to the matter at hand.
So…this was a new side to destiny, was it? At least I knew that my mother could not be behind a slice of pleasure like this.
That only begged the question: who is behind it?
“Come on.” My grin to Aidan lacked the confidence I wanted to enrich him with, but nevertheless, I took his hand in my own, and began walking. As I did, I watched the curve of a number begin to etch itself into the two keys I held. Lucky for some, as I’d always believed, the two digits called out my birthday.
“Mr. Bible, look out for a house with the number 13,” I called back to him, slipping into my old, not to mention: embarrassing, habit of calling him by his former title.
I had no interest in the places we passed on our short journey; my mind was lost in trying to discern how I had ended uphere. One minute: Ireland, the next: a deserted town. When I finally let my eyes settle onto the surroundings, it was because my companion himself had pulled me to a stop.
My head shot up from staring at the keys; not many things made Aidan’s breath catch in his throat.
The house was a picture-book crossed with one of my daydreams. From the little picket fence that bordered the two stretching gardens, right up to the worn shade of red brick that the home comprised of, it contained remnants, like memories, of the house I had grown up in before my father had followed his best friend’s advise and left my mother and me.
Aidan, too, stood beside me, gaping. His eyes swept across the façade, taking in the neat rows of tiles that dressed the roof of a third story, and I noticed that he was busy counting the number of rooms by their windows. Not a mind reader (unfortunately), I wondered what worries had now begun to run through his serious mind.
“It must be an illusion,” I breathed, since I had believed that I would never spend the remainder of my human days with Aidan in such a ‘quaint’ dwelling.
This house was for us, and it was certainly not the opposite of a lovely house, drawing me closer to it with every look I took; my senses told me that I hadn’t stepped onto that bus for no reason, but my time spent in this town was suddenly going to become very awkward indeed.