The boys reply to our feathers, and we have organised that they will both come over to our house the next day at around two pm.
After hanging with our mothers in the pool for a few hours, we dry off, and hang out in my room, listening to Heather Stemweave’s new album called Transfixed. I’m lying on my queen bed sideways in my bathers, with my head hanging off the edge of the bed, and my long messy black hair brushing the floor. I’m singing at the top of my lungs: “I’m so transfixed, by your eyes, by your hair, by your laugh, by your stare. You’ve got me real good, sending feathers through the air, they can’t compare, to the kisses that I taste, on my tongue, all night long, I’m so transfixed, so I’m singing you this song…” I actually have a good voice, but I sing awkwardly on purpose because I’m thinking about Hark as I sing these words, and I’m thinking about our kisses while we were flying across Melbourne, high on mushrooms. And I finally realise what Heather means about the feathers. Gosh, I’m an idiot!
“I just got what she means about the feathers!” I tell Raina, humming to myself.
“Yeah, me too. I heard that. I always thought when people sang about feathers they were celebrating something, or they were throwing them in the air because they were happy or something.” Raina says.
“Yeah me too. Now I know.” I cackle with laughter.
Grandma Marigold comes into our room with a plate of cookies.
“I was going to charm these up the stairs but I thought I would come in person for a little visit.” She says, putting the cookies down on my small round clothed table and sitting on my bed beside me. I turn my body and my head so my head is resting on her lap.
“You sounded like you were having an enormous amount of fun in here.” She says, twirling my hair around her ringed fingers.
“We are.” I say, laughing some more.
“I heard the music from downstairs. You know, it has changed somewhat since my youth, but the sentiments are still the same.” She sounds dreamy.
“Which ones?” I ask.
“Oh, just the melodies about the boys. Your mammas tell me you both have boyfriends now…”
“Oh, yes. We do.” I say.
“We do, yes.” Raina says.
“Do I know these boys?” Grandma Marigold asks.
“Hark Basswood ring any bells?” I say.
“Wolfe Glynflint…” Raina adds.
“I know both of those last names, yes indeed. I know their grandmothers in fact.”
“You do?” Raina asks excited, joining us on the bed and resting her head in my lap. We would make one interesting human shape.
“Yes, I do. Back when I was at Goldrose, I was friends with Maple Basswood, and Jasmine Glynflint, their grandmothers. We were a great team, we three.” Grandma reflects nostalgically. I look up at her. She looks cute.
“What happened? Why aren’t you still friends with them Grandmamma?” Raina asks, playing with the string on my bikini bottoms.
“We lost touch. We all married, and had children, and they both moved to Mornington while my parents lived in Flemington. We had broom curfews in those days so it was difficult visiting one another. And we only had feathers in those days, mind. For my feather to travel from Flemington all the way to the peninsula, it took an hour. To receive a response back from them, was another hour. So we used to write lengthy letters to one another. We more or less became penpals.”
“And then?” I say.
“Our letters became few and far between, until eventually they just stopped entirely.” she sighs, regretfully.
“Would you like to see them again Grandmamma?” Raina says. “The boys are coming over tomorrow.” She adds excitedly.
“Yes. Your mothers did say that.” Grandma Marigold says.
“We could tell them to invite their grandmothers as well, and we could all have afternoon tea by the pool.” I say, becoming excited.
“That does sound like a wonderful idea, doesn’t it? We could put on a smashing high-tea, couldn’t we?” She says.
“We could. With scones, and sandwiches, and eccles cakes, and the works!” I say, jumping up, and forcing Raina’s head to fall off my lap.
“Send them your feathers. I’m intrigued to hear of their thoughts.” Grandma Marigold says, and gets up off my bed.
“I’ll be down in the kitchen.” She adds, and then leaves the room.
“Oh my Gosh. That’s so bloody awesome. It’ll be like a family reunion. Well, kinda. A Goldrose reunion.” Raina says, and we are jumping up and down like two seven year olds who have just become the new owners of the latest broomstick for girls under twelve.
We send the boys our feathers, and our feathers accompanied with Hark’s green feather and Wolfe’s brown feather come back five minutes later. “Our grandmothers are delighted. See you all at two pm.” They must both be at Hark’s house together and have choreographed a matching response. Their feathers leave through my bedroom window, and Raina and I run downstairs to give Grandma Marigold the good news.
“Your friends are coming to tea!” Raina broadcasts from the staircase loudly, swinging her arms upward and outward for extra effect.
“Oh splendid! This is wonderful news my honeysuckles. Wonderful. Will you both help me make the scones?” Grandma Marigold asks, pulling stainless steel trays out from the oven, and putting them on the bench – with her hands.
“Help you make the scones?” I say. “What do you mean?” I ask, confused.
“My lovely little buttercups. We are going to make high tea the wilted way.” Grandma Marigold looks pleased. Raina and I just stare at eachother. I think Grandma Marigold has lost her marbles.
“Umm, why wouldn’t you just cast a spell to bake them?” I say, in a tone that suggests it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“There is one thing you need to know about scones darling. No amount of wandwork can make them how I make them. Move aside.” Grandma Marigold wants to open the fridge. I’ve never seen such bizarre behaviour in my life.
“Did you just open the fridge?” Raina is in deep shock.
“Yes, Raina, I did.” Grandma Marigold closes the fridge door – with her hand – and puts butter, milk, and lemonade down on the granite marble benchtop. Raina and I are giving eachother very funny looks. I’ve never seen Mum bake anything in my whole life, and I don’t think Aunty Alyssum has baked scones from scratch either. Mum and Aunty Alyssum walk in from the backyard, their towels going crazy, drying their bodies, as they walk. Mum and Aunty Alyssum hang their wet towels up in thin air, cast a drying spell on them, and then fold them and put them on the dining table, like they are new.
“Grandma Marigold is baking scones wilted.” Raina sounds disgusted.
“And?” Aunty Alyssum says. “Watch her. You might learn something.” Aunty Alyssum points her wand at herself, and her bikini is immediately swapped for a red tshirt and navy jeans and white socks. Mum does the same. She’s wearing a beautiful, floral, flowy dress.
“What’s the special occasion?” Mum asks her mum.
“My friends are coming to tea tomorrow with their grandsons.” Grandma Marigold looks chuffed.
“Aha! So they are!” Aunty Alyssum says, sitting down on a tall black leather upholstered benchstool. Mum sits on the stool beside her. Raina and I are still leaning against both ends of the bench in our bikinis; our wands are lying in front of us.
“How long since you last saw them Mum?” Aunty Alyssum asks Grandma Marigold.
“Bracken. Forty six years I would say.” She says.
“Wow. That’s a long time.” Raina says.
“Tis a very long time. Way before you two petals were even born. Just before you two were born.” Grandma Marigold eyes Mum and Aunty Alyssum after looking from her right to her left, at Raina and I. Grandma Marigold who is sixty five, had Mum at twenty and then Aunty Alyssum at twenty one.
Raina and I finish helping Grandma Marigold with the scones and then we retreat back upstairs to my room where we had left the freshly baked cookies. I grab one from the plate and lie on my back and stare at all the planets and stars on my ceiling that I had charmed there that morning.
“I’m looking forward to the flying finals actually.” Raina says, munching on a cookie, her head right beside mine.
“Hmm, me too. It’s exciting.” I say.
“Three days with no parents. We can do whatever the hell we want.”
“Literally whatever the hell we want.” We laugh.
“Go out to dinner. Go shopping. Drink a bazillion Firestix. So exciting!”
“The boys better be paying for everything.” I say.
“I’m sure they will.” I can tell Raina is smiling.
“What will you do if Hark wants to, you know?”
“I dunno. I’ll probably chicken out.”
“Don’t be a chicken.”
“I’ll try not to be, but the thought of that gives me butterflies.”
“Hmm, me too, but Wolfe is insanely hot.”
“Hmm, he is pretty goodlooking.”
“Hark is nice looking too. We’re pretty lucky babe.”
“We are. The Goldrose cousins going out with Grandma Marigold’s schoolfriends’ grandsons! What a small world!”
“Tomorrow is going to be hilarious! Can’t wait!”
“Me either. Can’t wait to see Grandma Marigold’s face. She’ll probably cry.”
“She probably will. She gets emotional with stuff like that.”
“Forty six years is a long time.”
“Imagine if she could see Grandpa again, what she would do.”
“She would cry for sure.”
“I think we all would.”
“Hmm. It would have been nice to meet him.” I say, somewhat resentfully.
“Dude! I just remembered! We’ve got homework!”
“Fuck. We do too. Ugh. Kill me now.” I say, annoyed.
“I wish there was a way we could make our wands do it all for us.”
“There would be, if there wasn’t anti-cheating spells on them.”
“Wish we knew how to take those spells off.”
“Maybe Wolfe or Hark would know? Let me send them a feather.” I say, writing to Hark: “Hey. Saffra here. Do you know how to remove the anti-cheating spells from wands?” I tap the air, blow the tip of my wand, and my feather flies out my window and away.
Harks’ feather returns with mine: “No. I don’t. If I knew that I wouldn’t be studying my butt off right now for Global.” I read his writing out loud so Raina can hear. “Looks like Meridian have the same homework as us.” I laugh. “Looks like it.” She says. I write in the air: “Chapters Seven and Eight. You too?” My feather follows his out my bedroom window. Our feathers return: “Yes. And Government Chapters Four, Five and Six. You?” I write back: “Yep. Exactly the same. We must have the same lesson structure.” My feather follows his out the window again.
“Pretty sure it’s because all of our teachers are married to eachother.” Is his reply.
“Raina did you know all our teachers are married to Meridian’s teachers?” I ask Raina.
“No, who said that?” She asks.
“Hark.” I send him back my feather asking how he knows. And he tells me it’s because he and Wolfe were told. When I ask him by who, he says, by Adalle Freestone, their principal. Adalle Freestone, as in Mrs Freesia’s husband? I ask Hark. And he says, yes, the very same one.
“I just learnt something new.” I tell Raina.
“Me too. I had no idea. And Mum has never said. Ever.” She says and then screams: “Mum!” Aunty Alyssum runs upstairs.
“What’s up buttercup?” Aunty Alyssum asks, peering into the room, and holding onto the black wooden doorframe.
“You never told us our teachers are married to all the male teachers at Meridian.”
“I didn’t know I had to tell you their business.” Aunty Alyssum say, and smirks.
“Besides, darling, I thought that much would have been obvious. There are only TWO schools in Melbourne in our realm. Where else are they all supposed to teach but at Goldrose and Meridian?” Aunty Alyssum says, and then leaves the doorway.
“Fair point.” I say, never really having thought about it before. I guess it’s true what they say: like attracts like.
It completely explains why we girls and Hark and Wolfe have the same homework then. I plan to use this to my advantage, and I tell Raina as much.
“How?” She asks.
“I’ll wait till Hark has finished all his homework and then I’ll just copy it.” I say.
“Like you’ll be able to. Your wand won’t let you.” Raina laughs at my stupid idea.
“I’ll just get mum’s wand to copy it then.”
“What’s he going to do? Bring his books with him here tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Why not?” I say, as though it was exactly what I was thinking myself, even though it wasn’t.
“If only we still had BloomerPix. Then he could just snapshot the whole page at once.” Raina says.
“I know. Technology is so much better than this feather stuff!” I say, annoyed, and picking up another cookie.
“But just think of it this way. If we had our phones, and a TV, and our cars, and our laptops and ipads, imagine all the magic we couldn’t do.” Raina says. She has a point, but seeing as I have never lived a life where technology has stripped us of our magic before, I can only imagine how annoying that would be. But it could not be as annoying as having absolutely no technology and ALL magic. I tell her this.
“I’m sure when we leave school, there’ll be things we can do with our wands that we aren’t allowed to do now.” Raina says, cleverly.
“Yeah. True. Being seventeen sucks. Can’t wait to go to uni. Ugh!” I fall back down onto my bed backwards.
“What are you going to study there?”
“Dunno. I’m thinking maybe Business. Own my own clothing store. Take a leaf from Mum’s book.” I say.
“That sounds good! I’m getting fifty per cent discounts all the time okay?” She says laughing.
“What are you going to do?” I ask, curious.
“I dunno. I wouldn’t mind working for the ministry. Helping them catch rooks and stuff.”
“Like a cop?” I ask.
“Kinda. But the magical kind.” Raina smiles.
“I would hate to work for Dahlia Derefelle.”
“Hopefully by the time I’m working there, I won’t have to work for her.”
“She’s so snobby. And strict. I feel sorry for Daisy.”
“I don’t. I don’t think Daisy sees her that much to be honest. Think about it. Daisy lives here and she lives in Canberra.”
“Yeah I’m sure Mrs Derefelle is always disappearing between the two states regularly.”
“Ah yeah. I guess. Probably. I’m not close enough to Daisy to know.” I say.
“I wonder if she has a dad.”
“Probably. But if she does we have never heard about him.”
“Nah, they keep their personal lives personal.”
“That’s how they should be. I’d hate it if everyone knew my business.”
“Yeah, me too. But it’s okay for the ministry to ask a bazillion questions on the census.”
“They need to keep us all in line somehow.” I say, yawning.
“You don’t need to help the ministry again anymore, do you?” I ask.
“Nope. Nobody else has disappeared so it’s all good. I’m listed on the register and that’s that.”
“An eternal mark against your name.” I joke.
“Ha-ha. Very funny. No. Besides, it’s not a mark. It’s a good thing. It means I can see things nobody else can.”
“So can I when I eat mushrooms.” I laugh.
“Ha-ha. Very funny. We should have some again tomorrow.”
“Hmm. I’ll tell Hark to bring some.” I send Hark a feather asking him to bring some mushrooms tomorrow, that we can eat after the afternoon tea festivities are over. Hark says he can get some, definitely, but it will cost us twenty stroms each. I tell him that won’t be an issue.
“I’ll buy yours.” I tell Raina.
“Thank you.” She smiles, and kisses my hair.
“Girls. What do you want for lunch?” Mum bellows up the narrow stairwell.
“Pizza!” I yell.
“Same!” Raina yells.
“What kind Saff?” Mum’s annoyed.
“Margherita!” I yell back.
“Same!” Raina adds.
Five minutes later two plates with three slices of margherita pizza each float into my bedroom and plonk themselves in front of us on my floor, where we have moved, to do our homework.
“How’s that for room service?” Raina says, grabbing up a slice, and chewing off a large piece, and chewing ravenously.
“Bloody brilliant as usual. What are mothers for?”
“Ha! They didn’t do a thing! Their wands do it all.”
“True. Lazy shits.” Raina laughs with her mouth full. She just called our mothers lazy shits. Bracken – she’s hilarious! And she knows it.
The afternoon tea festivities with Grandma Marigold entertaining her old school friends went off with a bang – literally. Mum and Aunty Alyssum shot fireworks out of their wands as the four guests walked into our backyard. Raina and I had decorated the verandah railing in ivy, and all sorts of creeping flowers; it looked really pretty, so pretty our mothers told us we could keep them there, provided we remembered to water it. Jasmine and Maple hugged Grandma Marigold so tightly – it was a Kodak moment – one I could have captured with either a phone or a wilted camera and then put on BloomerPix. However such a luxury did not present itself to me, so I had to make do with drawing a square around the hugging, elderly trio, with my wand, and then waving it so a photo would develop in thin air. Once the photo was developed I gave them a copy each, and they murmured comments like “bless her”, and “little angel”. We all sat down to an afternoon tea of scones, tea, coffee, lemonade, and sandwiches, Hark to my left, then Raina on my right, and Wolfe to her right. I asked Mum if she would cast a photo of us, and she did. She cast a spell to make four copies, and we had one each. I folded mine in half, looking at me and Hark, with his arm over my shoulder, and stuffed it into my pocket in my black doily-cloth-esque dress. Wolfe and Hark stowed theirs in their breast pockets inside their blazers. I must say – did they look dapper! Hark wore a baby blue cotton blazer, with royal navy silk lining, with a matching royal navy silk hankerchief, and beige chinos, with grey brogues, and no socks. Very stylish! Wolfe wore a light grey blazer over a white shirt, black jeans, and black brogues. Very cool! The afternoon was a great success – Grandma Marigold became reacquainted with her old school friends and Mum was able to interrogate the boys about their plans for our little trip to Sydney for the Flying Finals.
When Jasmine and Maple said it was time that they were leaving Hark and Wolfe walked their grandmothers to the front garden, watched them hop onto their brooms, and then waved them off.
“Staying for dinner?” Mum asked the boys.
“You could say that. Saffra suggested we all go for a swim. Wolfe and I brought our boardies just in case that was the plan.” Hark says.
“That was the plan, but now I have a better idea.” I say, holding Hark’s hand, and leading him inside the house. Raina and Wolfe follow.
We all enter my room and I close the door behind us.
“Did someone need forty stroms?” I ask Hark, throwing myself on him, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and kissing him hard.
“Aha! Is that what you want to do? Okay. Are you sure? Won’t someone come in?” He ask me, giving me small kisses back.
“We won’t be here if they do.” I say giggline.
“Where are we going to be?” Hark asks me.
“Out there. Flying.” I say. I have the biggest grin on my face.
“Aha. I see. And if someone sees us without brooms, they’ll know what we’ve taken. It’s only five o’clock. Not dark for another few hours yet.” Hark says. Wolfe is holding Raina around her waist.
“Let’s just take our brooms then.” I say.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Raina says.
“Mmm. I know but we don’t have a choice.” I shrug.
“We could just stay in your room.” Hark says, cheekily.
“And if they come in?” I ask.
“I know a spell that makes it appear to anyone else who opens your door, that we are just watching a movie…”
“Do you know that spell?” I whisper to him.
“I do. So does Wolfe.”
“What if they talk to us?”
“We would answer them.”
“Would we sound high?”
“No. They’ll think we are sober.”
“Okay. Let’s do it.” I say.
“Do you have a cauldron in here, or a pot or something, that I can charm the mushrooms with?”
“I do. My potions cauldron. It’s in my wardrobe. Let me get it.” I say, peeling Hark’s arms off me, and going to my wardrobe. I hand Wolfe my small 20cmx20cm cauldron and we all sit on the floor.
“I’ll do that spell now. Wait!” Wolfe says, and then he says “Zekandolti” and nothing happens. We continue as we are sitting on the floor watching Wolfe light a small fire inside my cauldron.
“Nothing has changed.” Raina says, noticing… nothing.
“It has; don’t worry. Just not to us. If your Mum comes in here now, we are all sitting on your floor playing Monopoly…” Wolfe smirks.
“Monopoly?” Raina asks.
“That’s the only boadgame I know.” Wolfe laughs and swats Raina’s arm.
The mushrooms turn purple, Wolfe pours ten mls of water onto the small fire, and it extinguishes itself. He shrinks the mushrooms to a digestible size, and gives one to each of us. We all put them in our mouths and swallow.
Half an hour later, I start feeling the effects of it. Hark has noticed.
“Which country would you like to go to madam?” He asks, holding my hand.
“Hmm. I’d like to go to… India!” I say, kissing him softly. All of a sudden, we are no longer in my bedroom, but standing in a very busy market in India where Sikh men wearing long dresses and turbans are standing in front of dilapdated stalls chatting in their language on mobile phones.
“This is wilted! Oh my Gosh Hark. How did we get out of our realm?”
“We haven’t got out of it. We’re still in your bedroom. You just think you’re in India in the wilted realm.” He says.
“What? Really? That’s amazing. Does this mean I can go to Bridge Road and Lygon Street?” I ask.
“Yeah, if you want, but you can’t like shop or anything. No one can see us. At the moment we are observers.”
“Observers? Observers of what?”
“Observers of life. The mushrooms have allowed our minds to travel without our bodies. It’s a bit like astral projecting, but our bodies are wide awake.”
“This is amazing!” I say, hugging him.
“Pretty cool huh?” He winks at me and then kisses my forehead.
“We could totally like, you know, and nobody would know…” I say, grimmacing.
“Saffra! You included. Let’s keep our first time for the physical world okay?” He says, pulling me to him.
“Ah yeah. Ok.” I say, giggling. “So HOW are you here with me right now?”
“You were holding my hand when I asked you where you’d like to go.” He explains.
“Oh. I get it. Where’s Raina and Wolfe?”
“In your bedroom still. But probably overseas somewhere too.” He winks.
“It’s a great way to see the world for free.” I say.
“This will be the only way you can ever see the wilted realm again love.” He says.
“Hmm, I know. It’s nice to know there is still this way though.”
“It is nice. You know, I thought I would miss it, but I don’t.”
“Hmm, I miss it a little. Being able to send you feathers every day is nice.”
“Hmm, best part of my day.” He grins.
“My kitchen. I want to spy on our mothers.” I laugh like crazy.
“That’s a brilliant idea!” And I am standing in our kitchen, with Hark standing beside me, and Grandma Marigold is cooking something on the stove, Aunty Alyssum is sorting through her student’s homework books at the table, and Mum is doing the ordering for her shop, facing her.
“They can’t see or hear me, can they?” I ask.
“This is so cool. Raina! Come to the kitchen.” I yell.
Raina and Wolfe come downstairs – Raina’s hair is a mess.
“Well I guess you stayed home.” I laugh.
“Yeah, we found our way to my room.” Raina smiles. “Ha! This is so cool. What are you doing? Spying on them? That’s so smart. Why didn’t I think of that?” Wolfe is standing behind Raina holding her waist.
“You guys had other ideas.” I say.
“Shame it wasn’t real.” Raina says. “It was all in my head.” She sighs.
“Don’t worry. There’s Sydney for that.” Wolfe kisses her head.
We all go back upstairs to my room, and close the door behind us. We spend the next two hours lying on the floor, Wolfe holding Raina on top of him, and Hark holding me while I lay on his chest. I can hear his heart beat. It’s the most amazing sound in the world. I think I’m going to marry him.
“Careful with your thoughts.” Hark whispers laughing.
“What? Can you hear them?” I ask, shocked.
“Yes, every word.” He laughs and pulls me into him more tightly. Oh my gosh. I’m so embarrassed right now. Saffra!
“Okay, now you’re berating yourself. Think nothing.” Hark laughs.
“How can you hear my thoughts?”
“One of the perks of being mushed I guess.”
“Fucking hell. I’m going to be more careful from now on. Why can’t I hear yours?”
“You could if you wanted to. Try it.” He says. And he starts thinking: “You are so beautiful and gorgeous and I kind of wish we were sober and alone right now.”
“Oh my gosh. I heard every word!” I’m grinning broadly.
“Is there a way we can make ourselves sober?”
“Yeah, but I’d have to ask Wolfe to break the spell he cast and then that would put him and Raina in a risky position. They’d have to want to be sober with us, so your mum doesn’t see them mushed.”
“Damn. There goes that idea.” I say.
“It’s ok. There’s no rush. One more week. Sydney.”