It seemed like no matter how crazy the circumstances, parents are going to act like parents, and in Darien’s case, that meant…
“My parents really are dorks. Sorry about that,” Darien said, thumbs tucked underneath the straps of her backpack. Her mom had told her when she walked like that, it made her elbows flare out and she looked like a chicken. She had made a point of reminding herself not to do it the first couple days of school. But she was with one of her best friends now, and she didn’t care how she looked.
“Your parents are cool,” said Bobby. “And your mom reminds me a lot of my dad, actually. He had a way of having these little in-jokes with a lot of people. So, I know she wasn’t teasing me. ”
“Really?” said Darien. “I hope that’s OK…I hope it doesn’t upset you. Talking about your dad, I mean.” It was the first time they really talked about his father. He had been so honest and open about things in his letter, she was starting to wonder if he had written it thinking he’d never give it to her…or at least would never be able to talk about it with her if he did give it to her. “Bobby, your letter was—”
“I know. It was a little much. I just wanted it to be genuine enough…to work, ya know? I wasn’t sure if it would or it wouldn’t. But you, ah—You’re special. And like I said,” he took a deep breath. “You make me feel brave.”
That hung between them as they walked up the street. Darien had no idea what to say. So Bobby broke the silence he had created.
“Man, how cool is it that you literally are magic? Or like, have magic powers or something?” he said with a huge grin.
“It’s pretty crazy!” Darien smiled. “But as long as you’re saying such nice things…I think I have to tell you something. Something I figured out after I read your letter.” “What?” Bobby asked.
“I’m not sure if my magic…or powers…or whatever it is—I’m not sure if it works without you,” Darien said.
Bobby stopped dead in his tracks on the sidewalk. “Say what?”
“Well, I didn’t find your letter right away. I tried jumping back into some old newspapers, and it didn’t work. I was down in the basement of the library, surrounded by all these magazines and newspapers on one side of the room…and all these first edition books on the other. Everything we had been able to jump into before…together.” She paused as he looked at her, confused but enthralled.
“I tried everything to…I don’t know—channel my energy or summon my powers—it sounds crazy, I don’t even know what to call it. But nothing worked. The only story I was able to jump into without you around… was yours.” She patted him on the shoulder and started walking again up the sidewalk.
Bobby was absolutely stunned. He was so flabbergasted by the realization, so lost in thought about what it could mean, that he had to run to catch up to Darien.
“You’re not being serious…are you???” he asked, half out of breath.
Darien smiled at him. “I didn’t really put it together until I thought about when we all jumped back to that night at the lighthouse.” She could see Bobby looked confused. “Kim could barely swim. She was dragging me under, and then you held onto her hand and she turned into like…a mermaid. The only times I’ve ever jumped into books or any other kind of story have been with you. So who knows.” She shrugged. She was having fun blowing his mind with the revelation.
But then she thought about it a little more, stopped walking again and turned to him. “I will say this, though. I thought for a long time—and now I completely, absolutely, no-doubt-about-it believe that there’s magic inside of all of us. And we all just need to find the right way to let it out. So thanks for helping me find it.”
She smiled at Bobby. And he had nothing clever to say and nothing to add. So the two of them just started walking back up the street together in a comfortable, welcome silence.