Author: MissKittys Ball O Yarn
Tara had finished her dinner, so she busied herself with the task of clearing the dishes off the table. she took her father's plate first, but was careful not to make eye contact with him, as he sat there staring at her through cold Grey eyes. Tara ducked her head as she went to pick his plate up off the table. Head down, she walked carefully to the kitchen sink. Running the cold water, then the hot she tested the temperature by putting her finger into the clear stream of water. Tara watched the bubbles from the dish soap form in the sink; all the time listening for the sound of her father leaving the kitchen. When she heard his chair scoot across the linoleum she let out the breath she had been holding in.
Tara stood there at the sink scrubbing away what was left of the meat loaf her mother had cooked. Her thoughts began to drift away from where she stood, to a more pleasant location. She mentally traveled back to this afternoon and the meeting with the red head <Willow...> Tara reminded herself. how nice it had been to see someone her own age again. Summer was only mid way through and the last person she'd seen outside her own family had been on the last day of school over a month ago. The only other person even remotely close to her age was her brother Donny, even though he was three years older than her he acted much younger and definitely wasn't someone with whom she could confide in. In some ways he was worse than her father, not in the obvious way, his ways were more subtle but none the less hurtful. Her mother was the closest thing in her life to a best friend. The other girls at school were not always kind to her and Tara often felt like an outsider. even among her own family.
She liked the thought of Willow and the possible friendship they would share. Tara blushed when she thought of how bold she'd been in talking to the red head out on the road this afternoon. She couldn't understand it, but there was something special about the other girl.. All Tara knew about Willow was from what she could pick up from disjointed conversations she'd overheard her father having had with Old Mr Nelson himself, who was in ill health and preparing to sell the property... Tara had found out that Willow's father was a CEO of some big name company in Los Angeles and she also knew that he had rented the Nelsen place months before he and Willow had arrived this morning. But that was all she knew. Tara was curious to see the girl again. Really, she couldn't figure out why she was feeling so bold. It was a mystery.
So immersed in thought was she that Tara didn't even notice the sound of her father entering the kitchen again until he was already speaking to her.
"Tara aren't you done with those dishes yet?"
"N-no sir." Tara flinched at the anger in her fathers voice. He looked at her scornfully before stalking heavily from the kitchen once more.
Tara was grateful he was leaving in the morning. her father was a salesman and spent most of the time on the road. Tara didn't know how long he would be gone this time, but she suspected it would be at least a few weeks. She had seen her mother ironing his good pants and that always meant that he'd be going as far as the corporate office, which was located three states away.
Tara dried the dishes then put them away. Looking out the kitchen window, her eyes sought out her father's present location. She was relieved to see that he was outside loading boxes into his old truck. Tara dried her hands and headed upstairs to see if her mom needed help with anything.
Tara found her mother in the bedroom packing the last bits of her father's clothing into a worn suitcase .
"Did you finish the dishes honey? You know how your father is about that." her mother said softly.
"Yes Mama." Tara said, sitting down on the bed next to her mother. She noticed how worn and tired her mother looked. It made Tara sad to see her that way, and she diverted her eyes to the old pair of socks laying on the bed. Tara didn't know how much more time her mother had before the cancer would send her from the world but by the slow way her mom was moving she suspected there wasn't much time left. Tara knew the only thing keeping her mother going as long as she had, was her deep devotion to Tara and her brother and the rosemary she burned once a month in a secret ceremony.
Things like magic had to be kept a well hidden secret in her household. If father knew that her mother was still practicing... well Tara didn't know what would happen... but she did know for a fact that it was something she never wanted to find out. Odessa Maclay was a well respected woman in their community and this didn't sit well with her father. He did everything in his power to keep the women in his family in their "place". But the Maclay women couldn't be broken so easily and each time her father left for the road, her mother would teach Tara new spells and secret magics that had been passed down from generations before them. Tara loved this special time with her mother and dreaded the inevitable day it would end.
As if sensing her daughter's thoughts Odessa leaned over to kiss Tara's forehead. "honey, why don't you go on upstairs and get some sleep." She suggested.
Tara nodded "Goodnight Mama." She said kissing the woman's cheek.
Tara and her mother shared a knowing smile...for tomorrow, her father would be gone and the Maclay women would get some much needed rest.
Willow lay tossing and turning on her lumpy mattress doing everything but sleeping. Currently she was thinking about Tara and had been thinking about Tara for the past sixty-seven minutes.
This morning had started normal enough, if you discounted the fact that Willow was in an actual rundown farmhouse playing "father/daughter" with Ira. But she supposed that up until the horse incident this afternoon everything had been as normal as it was going to get.
"The horse incident", as she now referred to it, was precisely the moment when things in Willow's brain had gone all wonky. Not to mention the fact that she hadn't expected to see anyone who wasn't dressed in overalls or had some form of hay sticking from their teeth anywhere in the vicinity. Tara, had been a total shock.Willow had been drawn to the girl right away... even know something about the girl called to her so much so Willow could think of nothing else.
Willow thought's skipped to wondering what Tara was doing right at that very moment. She pictured her asleep in a cozy bed... A bed without lumps... a bed that had actually passed the child welfare regulatory mattress check. Not like the one Willow herself slept on, Hers felt more like it was stuffed with hay and had been left out on the side of the road. Willow flipped over onto her back. It was no use, there was no way she was going to get to sleep tonight. not to mention the fact that her pajamas insisted on twisting around her body even when she was was lying perfectly still. Willow tugged at her yummy birthday cake pajama top, pulling it straight around her body.
After another fifteen minutes of listening to the incredibly loud sound of crickets Willow kicked her blankets to the side. "Ugh... forget this..." She groaned. Willow got up and padded over to the bedroom window. She pushed it open and looked out. Willow's eyes directed themselves in the direction of Tara's house. She could see it standing alone in the middle of the large expanse of grass that surrounded it. Willow noticed there was a single light burning and it appeared to be coming from what might have been the attic. Slipping her sneakers on, Willow ducked through the window, resting her feet outside on the black, shingled roof. The air was a lot cooler out there, it was a stark contrast to the afternoon heat she had experienced earlier. Willow examined her pajamas and deciding that the cows wouldn't care if she wore them outside, Willow pushed herself the rest of the way out the window. Once out on the roof, she took a look around for any possible escape routes.
"How convenient" Willow thought when her eyes fell upon the tree that grew on the side of the house. It was a perfect hight for climbing and it would do nicely in getting her to the ground. she was a little nervous though. Willow hadn't climbed a tree since the time she was five and her and Xander had climbed the tree in his front yard to get a better look at the fire trucks that were parked outside his house... to this day she was sure that Xander still thought she'd set the fire just so he could see real fire trucks on his birthday.
Willow wiped the palm of her hands on her pajama bottoms, tucking a strand of red hair behind her ear, she mounted the tree and slowly made her way down to the ground.
Not until her feet touched grass did Willow worry about how she was going to get back inside the house without being noticed. She decided she would worry about that later... right now she would take a walk and see if things looked any different at night.
Willow had been walking for quite a while before she looked up and found herself standing outside Tara's house...She blinked, and was momentarily confused as to how she had gotten there. She'd been walking and thinking and then "Poof!" there she was, standing in the dark, outside Tara's house in her yummy birthday cake Pj's and sneakers. Willow looked up in time to see a flash of blond hair pass behind the uppermost window. Willow realized that the light she had seen from her house must have been Tara's room. She instantly felt like a perverted peeping Tom. Willow started to back away, that was until she bumped into something furry and familiar. Realizing, she'd just bumped into Kaneeda, Willow let out an uncontrollable shriek. her hand shot up instantly covering her mouth and preventing her from making any further noise even as Kaneeda attempted to eat the faux chocolaty goodness off of Willow's Pajama top. Willow stood absolutely still, hoping Tara hadn't heard her, but the sound of the window sliding up and the sight of a blonde head poking out dashed any hope Willow might have had about getting out of there undetected.
"W-who's there?" came a whispered voice from up above.
Willow planned on remaining silent but that plan was soon ruined when Kaneeda butted Willow on the back with her head. Willow lurched forward, stumbling into the light that spilled from the bulb that burned above the back door.
"Willow... Is that you?"
"Sort of..." Willow whispered loudly.
"What are you doing down there?"
"Are you alright?" Tara called down when Willow hadn't responded.
"I'm fine... Just a little... confused... kinda chilly... and a little sweaty. Willow realized that she might be giving too much information but the thought had occurred too late. Tara had asked if she was alright after-all, not to give a full report on every vital sign...
"You want to come up?"
Willow didn't really have to think about this very long. In truth she was sure that coming up was the only cure for whatever fever she had. Willow nodded, unsure if Tara could see her response in the dim, yellow light.
"Can you climb that?"
Tara indicated the lattice work woven against the side of the overhang. It went up to the second story roof and from there willow saw she could climb the five feet up the ledge straight into Tara's bedroom window.
Willow set herself to the task as quietly as she could. she knew that it would not due if Tara's parents woke up and found Willow dangling off the side of their house like a demented superman under the influence of green kryptonite... She wasn't afraid that they might call her father, in truth she wasn't sure he'd even care, but it would be unseemly nonetheless.
The climbing part wasn't hard at all, Willow made short work of it, reaching the ledge took about five minutes. The part posing the most trouble was hefting her slight weight in through the actual window... She felt Tara grab her arm and gently pull her in through the small space.
"Hi..." Willow said cutely after she'd recovered from her awkward entrance.
Tara's hand still held Willow's arm and the red head felt a tingly sensation underneath where those slim digits touched her. Willow looked curiously into Tara's blue eyes.
Tara, realizing herself, self consciously pulled her hand away. But there was no turning back the spark of something had passed between them.
The girls stood silently on the edge of destiny as fireflies gathered unnoticed outside, whispering secrets. Their own glow seeming dim under the radiance of the meeting taking place behind the wall above them.