The words hit me like a sledgehammer, slamming into my midsection to elicit a single puff of a word.
He just kept walking.
And I must have known, somewhere in a corner of my soul, because somehow it fit, like discovering some family hidden secret that’s warped everyone’s lives without anyone ever saying a word.
It explained so much, explained how gracefully she’d aged, the strokes of luck throughout the years. The…eccentricities and oddnesses, the mindset that had forced her in and out of gentle homes for the gently troubled. The things that had made her unfit to be a mother, but still one. Still my mother, now living in an East Side nursing home on Lake Sammammish.
I followed them down the hallway, trying to think.
My mother, a Supernatural.
What did that mean for me? Surely I was human, as my father presumably had been. I’d been vaccinated, immunized, undergone physicals… surely they would have caught any Supernatural heritage.
Maybe she was my adopted mother. I’d never shown any aptitude for magic, despite the exhaustive yearly tests the ever-hopeful Bureau administered to its employees. They would never have enough registered, certified witches.
No, I couldn’t be a witch. Or some other kind of Supernatural. I was an ordinary as rain.
The Tooth Fairy gave me an unreadable look back over her shoulder. Sympathy? Derision? The Easter Bunny didn’t look back, just shuffled along. He fumbled through his waistcoat for a pack of Nat Sherman Fantasias, extracting a pale blue cigarette with a gold filter.
“Must you?” the Tooth Fairy said.
He flicked a lighter open and paused a step to puff the tobacco alight. “Yeah, I must.” His ear flicked back toward me. “Do you mind, Ms. Amme?”
“It’s all right,” I said politely. “I don’t particularly like the smell, but I’m not going to die of it.”
“None of us are,” the Tooth Fairy said. “It’s not like lung cancer’s going to be able to take one of us. But it’s disgusting nonetheless.”
They reached a door at the end of the corridor. Unlike the other doors in the corridor, which had been unmarked, this one bore a message in crisp black letters: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. It had no door handle; on the wall beside it was a rectangle of translucent white plastic that lit beneath the touch of Santa’s hand.
The door whispered open.
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