It took me a lot of energy to make it upstairs to my bedroom, especially without catching my dad’s attention in the kitchen or my mom’s in her office. The hallway was still spinning, despite what I told Ainsley in the car. I closed my door with a soft click and sat down on my bed, moving slower than I ever thought possible. All the magic in me was completely still, trapped deep within my lungs where I couldn’t reach it. Every shadow of my room seemed to expand, covering my light blue walls with darkness I couldn’t imagine. I closed my eyes, willing the room to stop closing in on me. I carefully raised my hand to my head and touched my hair. I needed a shower.
The walk to the bathroom was made with silent steps, both my hands drifting along the hallway walls to stay upright. I closed the door and steadied myself on the counter, my hair falling in front of my face like a shroud. Even my eyes looked drained like the rest of me.
I turned the shower as hot as I could stand and got in, letting the water rinse away all the traces of the encounter from my skin. It felt like the spirit left a residue in my lungs, constricting my breath and the magic inside me. The hot water helped still my head and clear my vision, but I still felt kind of rotten when I stepped out.
“Diantha?” Dad called from downstairs. “I didn’t hear you get home. How was your day?”
I froze in the hallway, my hair dripping cold water down my back. “It was good, learned lots of stuff,” There was no way he’d be satisfied with that. It was the student equivalent of saying “Good” to any question.
“I’m glad, learning is important. It’s getting late dear, don’t forget to grab dinner.”
Going downstairs wasn’t nearly as hard as going up, but trying to look healthy and rested to my dad was. He was a wizard when it came to picking up on when I’m hiding something. He had made vegetable pasta for dinner, so I grabbed a plate as gently as I could. Mom would have a whole moment if I stumbled and broke a piece of her favorite flatware.
Dad wasn’t in the kitchen when I snuck out, saving me from having to explain why I look like I’d been raised from the dead. My footsteps were soft and light as I climbed back upstairs, clutching my plate in one hand and the wall in the other. I sat on my bed, the shadows of my room staying where they’re supposed to be along the floorboard. The message light on my phone flashed, snatching my blurred attention. A text from Ainsley was waiting for me. I didn’t even read it as I flopped down on my bed, not feeling like doing anything else for a while.