After a full day at Animal Kingdom, I thought I’d be sore, exhausted, and have slept like a rock.
Instead, I felt fine and hadn’t really slept much at all.
As I sat up in my bed and stared down at my phone, a phone that I imagined was very out of date now, I braced myself with the knowing that this Christmas morning would be unlike any other. But I was excited for it and that was unexpected.
“Knock knock.” I looked up to see Nora standing in the door with a tray of food. “Merry Christmas.”
I genuinely smiled, happy to see her.
“Come in!” I waved her in and tossed my phone to the bedside table.
“Bad call?” Nora set the tray down and motioned towards the phone.
I shook my head and screwed up my face at the same time.
“My mom. Evil incarnate for Christmas.” I smiled as big as I could to emphasize the awfulness.
Nora just laughed and poured syrup over the most amazing smelling pancakes on Earth.
“Your mother’s narcissistic, not evil.” She came around the other side of the bed and sat beside me.
“Potato-potahto.” I cut off a piece of the stack with my fork and stuck it in my mouth. “Oh my God, what are these?”
Nora beamed with pride and grabbed the second plate for herself.
“White chocolate chip, cream cheese, with raspberries and a condensed milk drizzle.”
~ 1 ~
“Oh my God, I’m in heaven. I only want these from now on.” I ate two more bites in quick succession.
“And if your mother were evil—” She shrugged one shoulder. “—how do you explain me?”
I looked at her imploring me to agree. I suppose evil was an overstatement, but like everything these days, it was complicated, and I had enough complicated already.
“Can we just discuss the pancakes and discuss my mother… uh… never?” I asked brightly while shoving more in my mouth.
“I’m just saying, evil is an overreach.” Nora ate as she talked.
I mostly just ignored her and changed the subject.
“Probably all that activity yesterday.” Nora grabbed one of the glasses of milk from the tray and left the other for me.
She knew me so well. I loved milk with pancakes. It was my favorite thing.
“It was a long day, but honestly, I wish we could have stayed longer.” I actually admitted it. “But I’ve got a surprise for them for later.”
“A surprise. Tell me.” She stopped eating and stared at me like a ticking bomb.
“Nope. No one is getting their gifts until tonight and that’s that.” I continued to eat, wondering if there were more for when I finished these.
Nora moved back a little and looked at me with a curious gaze.
“Something’s different. What’s up?”
What a question.
It would have been easiest just to say, nothing, and brush her off. But this was Nora. I’d known her almost all my life. In so many ways she was like a sister to me and I didn’t brush her off… most of the time.
~ 2 ~
Still, I didn’t know how to put into words what I was feeling.
Hope, definitely, but it was more than that. I was feeling strength again and there was a lightness inside me that had been gone since I woke up.
I took one more bite, a long sip of milk, then drew a breath and looked at her. This was Nora, pink-haired, nose ring, didn’t care if she was fat or thin, rich or poor, liked or not, Nora. I could tell her anything.
“Okay, ever since I woke up, part of me didn’t.” I tried to gather the words from around my brain and present them in some coherent fashion. “It’s like something in me had still been dead. But yesterday, I don’t know if it was the park, Finding Nemo, the tigers, the music—” I wasn’t ready to add the musician to the list aloud. “—or what, but yesterday, that part woke up, too.”
Maybe it didn’t make sense, but inside, I felt different.
I was different.
I don’t even think I hated Rafe as much.
“Sabrina, that’s amazing. I’m—” She exhaled and then laughed, but tears slipped from her eyes, too. “I’m so happy for you!”
She threw her arms around me, hugging me so tight that my milk glass wobbled on the tray. Luckily, I was able to grab it.
“It’s not that big of a deal.” I tried to downplay it.
“Yes it is. Sabrina, I’ve been, we’ve all been so worried about you. The light in you hasn’t been the same and we didn’t know if it was the coma or Rafe or what, but this is a miracle. A second Christmas miracle!”
She hugged me again and I let her words sink in.
I felt bad for all I’d put my friends through those past few weeks, but I didn’t know how I would have done any of it differently. I only hoped they’d come to understand, and we would all move on together.
~ 3 ~
“I’m so glad the magic touched you.”
“Oh, it touched me all right.”
I flashed back to the warm arms of Nic and breathed in the memory.
It wasn’t just him, it was all the magic. It was everything I saw, tasted, touched, smelled. It was Jack and Gwil and…
“Oh!” I turned to stare at Nora and wondered if I should say anything or not.
“What is it?” Her hackles were up.
“Nothing. I mean… can I ask you something?” I stepped tentatively into something I hoped wasn’t going to be a big mess.
“Yeah, of course.” Nora sat back in the bed again and took another mouthful of pancake.
“Jack told me about him and you. You want to talk about it at all?” Maybe I was just being nosy, but I felt like I missed this huge chapter and I wanted caught up.
Nora stopped chewing and just sort of stared at me blankly for so long I started to wish I’d kept my mouth shut.
“I didn’t realize he would… I mean, it was so long ago now… why would he…” Nora seemed a bit lost for words.
“Well, I think, I said something about you and he thought it was pertinent, I guess. Are you… I mean, you don’t have feelings for…”
“Oh good God no!” Nora looked like she might be sick.
“I’m sorry.” I pushed the pancake tray back and maneuvered around until I was on my knees, able to look at her more squarely. “Let’s just forget I said anything.”
Nora rolled her eyes heavenward and shook her head twice.
“It was nothing. It was salvation. But it could never have been anything, so it was better I ended it when I did. Plus, the whole time, it sort of felt like a betrayal and I got to the point that I couldn’t live with myself anymore.”
~ 4 ~
She had on black silk pajamas and she attempted to push the sleeves back, but they just fell to her wrists again a moment later.
“A betrayal of who? Jack said this was way before he met Amira.” I was trying to figure out what else I’d missed and wondered if I’d ever fully be back in the loop.
“A betrayal of you.” Nora stared at me.
“Of me?” I didn’t understand. “How could it be a betrayal of me?”
Nora leaned back against the headboard, her gaze rooted on the ceiling fan slowly spinning above.
“I came here three days after you ended up in the hospital. I would have been here sooner, but your mother…”
I grabbed her wrist to get her attention.
“Let’s just stick to you and Jack.” I insisted.
“Oh, right. Okay, well, I’d only met Jack that one other time when I’d come to visit you, but I knew how close you both were. I knew at one point you thought you were in love with him.”
“Oh God, Nora, that was years ago… and I wasn’t! I was on the rebound. Jack and I are friends, just friends, only friends, and nothing but friends.”
I mean, if he weren’t currently married…
We’re friends and I like us that way.
“Well, that may be true, but… well, at first, it was just a grief thing. We were staying up with you in the hospital until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. I was letting him crash here because we’d come home, shower, sleep, and eat, then go back. He was a mess, too, and one night… well, things changed. He kissed me and, well, he needed me and I needed him and we were both so scared and so… it got out of hand. Plus, you know how that man is in bed… good God, Sabrina!”
~ 5 ~
I tried to hide a smile, because I did indeed know and I could only imagine that any woman who slept with Jack wouldn’t want it to end.
“Ok, so then why did you end it?” I really was curious.
She shrugged and leaned forward again.
“I don’t know, it’s just what I said, I felt guilty.” She looked away and checked her thumbnail as if it were the most important thing on Earth.
“Hey, wait a minute. That’s your tell.” I gasped. “You’re lying to me.”
I was both appalled and intrigued.
“I’m not.” She tried lamely to defend herself.
“Nora, I’ve known you almost all my life, do not bullshit me.” I put my fists on my waist and shot her a look that compelled anyone on the receiving end to tell the truth.
She caved instantly.
“Fine. But it’s not a big deal.” She blustered.
I apparently still had my power.
But there’s time for that later.
I focused back in on Nora.
“I thought I may have been falling for him and you know I will not ever fall in love, get married, or have babies. Not with anyone. Not ever. So…”
“You pushed him away.” It was the saddest I’d felt.
If I’d been here, I would have seen Nora’s classic move and I could have challenged her to see if that was the best thing or not.
But I wasn’t here.
~ 6 ~
“I failed you.” I looked at her, so sorry for everything I’d put her through.
“Sabrina, you didn’t do anything!” She put both her hands on my shoulders and urged me to believe her.
“I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t. I just have to integrate this all into whoever I become next. But I promise you, I’m not leaving again and I will be here for you no matter what.”
She hugged me then pulled away.
“Sabrina, I love you, but you can’t make promises like that, and besides, now that you’re on the mend, I’m going to turn the Rabbit back over to you and go home to California and pick my old life back up.” She tried to smile, but in that smile, I saw she was just as lost as I was.
My waking up derailed her life, though she’d never admit it because I knew her and she had never taken this on as her life. She was being a placeholder because that’s all Nora ever let herself be.
“Don’t go.” They were only two words, but I meant them more than anything.
“I was only here as long as you needed me, and now you don’t. And that’s a good thing.”
I didn’t push or argue, because Nora didn’t do well with a direct attack. But I knew what my mission was. Nora was going to stop living life as a placeholder, and she was going to stop today.
Because I said so.
~ 8 ~
Additional chapters can be found below.
The Memory of Magic ~ Samantha Lucas
Before I met Amy, I did not truly appreciate friendship. I think for Sabrina, she’s had it differently than I have, but she’s still picky about her friends and who she lets in.
Keep up with me on this year long journey and I’ll delve in deeper with the girls, share with you Nora’s background, and Charlotte’s dreams, but most of all, I want to celebrate the beauty of female friendship, because I’ve discovered that to be a true miracle.
This story is my gift to the world, to remind us all of hope and love and that even crazy dreams come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.
If you love the story, please share it with your friends and give me a like on social. And before you leave, visit our Artisan and Shop’s Page to see the latest from our beloved friends and creators.
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I hope you’re feeling loved and blessed this Christmas. So much love to you, today and always. ~ Samantha