My Love Life Is Up
in the Air (and So Am I)
I'm perched on a floating broom, my arms squeezing the life out of my little sister's waist.
"You girls all right?" my mom calls down. She's watching us from behind the second-story cottage window. "You're not airsick? Maybe I shouldn't have let you talk me into this."
"I'm fine," Miri chirps.
"Me too," I lie as the two of us wobble up and down like we're on a haunted seesaw. We're straddling a plastic broom four feet above the dewy ground. In what deranged world would I be fine? My eyes are cemented closed, I'm biting my lip, and every one of my muscles is clenched in fear.
"I don't want you girls gone for more than an hour," my mom warns. "So be back here at eleven p.m. sharp. I'll leave the window open so you can fly straight back in. If you think anyone has spotted you, return here immediately. And, Rachel, don't you dare take off that helmet!"
How does she know my secret plan? "But it's itchy!"
"She won't." Miri pats my knee. "You ready? Here we go!"
Nausea and dizziness wash over me. Maybe this isn't such a brilliant idea. My legs are dangling like a rag doll's, and the broom is starting to chafe.
"Don't go too fast," I plead in a super-high-pitched voice, like I just inhaled a balloon full of helium. "And don't go too high. We don't want to smash into an airplane. And don't--"
The broom jerks forward, I swallow a scream, and suddenly we're flying through upstate New York.
"Be careful!" my mom hollers in the background.
I'm flying. I'm flying! I'm flying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I may be dreading going back to school, but at least I'm flying high during spring break. Literally.
I gingerly open my right eye as we shoot past the gate to our rented cottage and zoom over the dirt road. The wind caresses my cheeks, my arms, my hair. . . . I think the wind just blew a leaf up my nose. But who cares? How cool is this?
Don't look down, don't look down!
I look down.
My shoelaces are hanging over the sides of my new pink sneakers like floppy dog ears. I really should have double knotted. These are the new pink sneakers that my mom bought to cheer me up. To make a long, heartbreaking story short, I spent the first few days of vacation moping because Raf Kosravi, the love of my life, hates me because I (unintentionally) stood him up for the Spring Fling to go to my father's wedding.
Buying the shoes was really thoughtful of my mom. She's definitely trying to be more understanding. On the same night she surprised me with the cheer-up present, she dropped her slice of pepperofu (vile, flavorless, pepperoni-shaped slabs of tofu) pizza and announced, "Miri, banning you from using witchcraft isn't working. If you're going to do it anyway, as you've been doing for the last two months, I want to teach you to use magic responsibly. The three of us are going on a trip. Start packing."
My jaw fell open in midchew. Mom was finally seeing the light! See, I've only just recently discovered that my mom's a witch. My sister, too. Everyone's a witch except me. Well, not my dad or any of my friends. But everyone I live with. And my mom had a very strict rule: absolutely no magic until Miri finishes her training. My mom is antimagic herself, preferring to be a nonpracticing witch. So this change of heart was a major coup.
"Yes!" I cheered while debating what to pack. Going-out clothes or won't-be-seeing-anyone-worth-impressing sweats? I didn't mind leaving the city, mostly because my best and now only friend (yes, her mom is married to a woman), Tammy, is spending spring break in the Gulf of Mexico with her mom and stepmom (since I embarrassed myself phenomenally at the school fashion show). "Magic for everyone! Can we put a love spell on Raf?"
"Don't push your luck" was my mom's response. "Love spells are not what I consider responsible."
What is the point of having a witch for a mom if she won't perform one measly love spell on the boy of my dreams? If only she were more like a friend and less like a mother.
Anyway, the next morning we left extra food for Tigger, our cat, and Goldie, our goldfish, rented a car, and drove from our cozy downtown Manhattan apartment to a rented cottage in the middle of nowhere, where Mom claimed we'd have no nosy neighbors to witness our shenanigans.
We arrived on Wednesday night, two entire days ago. Forty-eight hours in a two-bedroom cottage that smells like a mixture of mothballs and apples. Forty-eight hours of no cable. No DVDs. No Internet. I've had nothing to do except watch while my mom trains Miri, which surprisingly isn't that much fun. Fine, it's semifun. At least my mom is finally letting Miri perform practical magic instead of just making her recite the history of witchcraft. But watching Miri attempt to levitate inanimate objects gets old fast.
The peach-colored coffee mug's hovering three inches above the kitchen table is unbelievable. Four inches is awesome. Five is funky. Six . . . yawn. After two days, rising kitchen dishware gets a wee bit repetitive. Actually, downright sleep inducing. It wasn't until this afternoon, while my mom was showing Miri how to float a paper towel, that it occurred to me that if Miri could make a towel fly, why couldn't she make us fly?
I found the broom in the hallway closet. It was old and scraggly, and some of the bristles were bent at odd ninety-degree angles, but it would do the trick. "Is there any truth to the witches-flying-on-brooms legend?" I asked, yanking it out, causing a dustbin to fall on my head.
"Well . . ." My mom hesitated. "No."
I didn't buy it. If a paper towel could levitate, why couldn't a broom? I walked over to her and looked deep into her green eyes. "Do you swear?"
Instead of answering, she ran her bitten fingernails through her shoulder-length bottle-blond hair and shrugged.
"What?" Miri cried, jumping out of her chair and causing the paper towel to float back down to the table. Good thing she'd raised glasses the day before. "You told me flying brooms were a myth!"
"I know." My mom took a moment to bite her thumbnail. She and my sister share this disgusting habit. "But I was worried about you. I didn't want you flying around Manhattan, bumping into the Empire State Building."
I clapped with gleeful excitement. From now on I'd travel in style. Sweaty overcrowded subways? Never again. Running late to school? I don't think so. The only road I'm taking is Highway Broom. "Teach me how!" I shrieked.
"You mean teach me," Miri said snidely.
"If I'd known I was going to teach you to fly, I would have brought cigarettes," my mom said.
"You promised to quit!" I muttered.
"I know, I know. I quit, all right? It's just that letting you fly is going to be stressful." She bit her thumbnail again. "I'll teach you, but you have to promise--"
Be careful, go slow, stay low, whatever, yes, yes, yes!
"--to wear your bike helmets."
Groan. Only my mom could make something as cool as flying look geeky.
Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Mlynowski. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.