Today’s witch is brought to you by the prompt Glitter.
I’ve officially decided glitter is an asshole.
Witch House is empty, a rare thing these days. I managed to convince Dad–Arlo, that I’m not feeling well, not that I would need much of an excuse to stay home from school. He knows I like going, so if I want to stay home, there’s a good reason.
But I’m not sick.
Oh, my nerves are shot and my glued together fingers shake. That’s only because I didn’t sleep last night and pounded a half a pot of coffee the moment everyone left for work or school. An hour later and the caffeine hasn’t relented, but whatever.
This has to be perfect.
I stand on wobbling legs, the sensation in my toes long gone from sitting cross legged too long. I hold the banner up, inspecting my work. Excess purple and silver glitter cascades down my front and I frown at the drooping letters. A few of the pasted on, gigantic letters flop to the floor with simultaneous wet slaps, leaving behind a partial message.
‘HA PY B RTHD Y A LO’
“Fuck.” I mutter, blowing out a heavy breath.
“Don’t let Arlo hear you talking like that,” A distorted voice says softly, scaring the fucking shit out of me.
The banner goes flying overhead and I squeak. Magick flares and rattles the paintings on the walls. I inhale sharply and contain my energy before causing a disaster. Again.
Silas tucks his chin into his left shoulder, but instead of the usual loud hum that follows the movement, he laughs. In the few months we’ve been living together at Witch House, I’ve never heard the sound. It’s … probably frightening to anyone that doesn’t know him, but I like it, screechy rasping and all.
“You’re supposed to be at school,” I mumble, hurrying for the banner now cast across the craft table behind me. Before I can crumple it into a ball, Silas’ hand falls on mine.
“Don’t do that,” He says, and I frown.
“It’s not good enough.”
Silas shakes his head. Thick white bangs sweep back and forth across the bridge of his nose, hiding his eyes from me. Another thing Silas doesn’t let the world see. His hair is longer now than when we first met. The near translucent tresses cast well beyond his shoulders as he takes the banner from me. I reluctantly let him have it with a huff.
Silas studies the mess of a banner that I intended to hang in the kitchen downstairs before Arlo and the others got home, but at this rate it’ll never happen. He gently lays the banner down on the craft table, allowing rivers of glue, glitter and panel to flow onto the paint covered surface that hides what was once dark wood. The metal covering his pitch black, wrist to ankle ensemble jingles as he moves. All bracelets and chains, harnesses and necklaces.
He asks, “It’s Arlo’s birthday?”
“Yeah.” I nod, rocking back and forth on my sock covered heels.
Silas’ fingers twitch. “He didn’t say anything.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, well, that’s D— Arlo, for you. He didn’t …” I gesture vaguely, searching for words that won’t betray him. “He didn’t get to celebrate last year, for his centennial. It’s … kind of a big deal I guess, turning a hundred.”
To my surprise, Silas snorts. “So old.”
I blink rapidly. “Did you just … make a joke?”
Silas lifts his head and gives me a look, or at least I think he is. His lips push together like they usually do when he’s not impressed, and he crosses his arms. “I can be funny.”
“Right.” I say, unsure what to do now.
“Can I help?” Silas asks, gesturing to the banner. “We can make a new one. You were using too much glue. And glitter. Less is more with these things.”
“Oh,” I say dumbly, not expecting that. It’s not that we don’t get along, we just kind of … exist next to each other. I’m always being weird and breaking shit, he’s always on the outside looking in, aloof but not in an unkind way.
Silas turns away with something reminiscent of a soft chuckle, but to others it could be considered an evil villain laugh. “If we take this downstairs, I can bake and give you directions on how to properly make a birthday banner. Two birds with one stone, as they say.”
Without warning, heat swarms my cheeks and neck upon remembering the cake Silas made for me in the fall. It was really good.
I nod. “Yeah, okay. If you’re sure you want to help, I’d like that.”
It starts with a slow, upward tugging of the corner of his pale lips, but a wide smile lights up Silas’ features. “I want to help.”
Twenty minutes and five trips up and down the stairs later, we’ve set up shop in the kitchen. I was afraid of making a mess in here, and frankly after last week’s debacle with the stove, I try to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. Silas assures me that it’ll be fine, so I leave it to him to clean up any wreckage I leave in my wake, which he agrees to with another smile.
While the oven preheats, Silas helps me roll out another length of six inch wide paper on the floor, this sheet a bright pink. We make it long enough to fit the open archway separating the kitchen from the dining room, then Silas suggests we write the message in glue and spread glitter over it, instead of cutting out and individually pasting each letter to the banner.
Why didn’t I think of that?
“Will it have enough time to dry?” I ask, and Silas nods.
“It should. I’ll start on the cake, if you’ve got this.”
I wave him off. “Yeah. Good idea, by the way.”
Silas opens his mouth, closes it, then starts again when he gestures to the banner. “Shouldn’t it say Dad or something like that?”
Heat flushes my cheeks and I shift uncomfortably. “Oh, I don’t … It’s, you know …” I chance a look at Silas, who hasn’t moved a muscle, waiting patiently. “It’s early, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I wait?”
As the words tumble out in a rush, a weight falls from my shoulders. I’ve been wrestling the word Dad farther down my throat ever since Arlo adopted my, not wanting to seem too—
“Says who?” Silas counters, and I scoff.
“I dunno,” I snap, crossing my arms. “Aren’t people supposed to be–”
Silas puts up a hand. “I’m going to stop you right there. Anything involving the words ‘supposed to’ is generally a bad idea. Do you see him as your Dad?”
I nod, grumbling. “But won’t he feel uncomfortable? What if he doesn’t see me as … As his son?” I admit, near quiet and breakable.
“Felix, you are his son.” Silas says, incredibly soft and strained. He extends his hand to me, then retreats. “Don’t worry about it, okay?”
“Yeah, okay.” I shrug, unfolding my arms.
Silas dips his head but says nothing, retreating to the inner kitchen where counters and appliances reign. I sigh, then settle on the floor, facing the banner. I carefully write the message in a large, flowing script that I’ve been told multiple times is exceptional, but I think it looks messy.
I take my time like Silas said, laying down one letter at a time in glue, gently spreading glitter over it before going on to the next. I have to blow my hair out of my eyes a few times. I’ve decided to try growing it out and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. While mine doesn’t grow as fast as Silas’ does, it’s long enough to be in the way.
We work in companionable silence and I glance at him a few times, only able to see the top of his head from my place on the floor and the counter island separating us. He appears to be in his own little world. Hair bouncing softly as he enjoys the music that must be blaring in his earbuds now. I do want to know more about him, and maybe become friends, but I have no idea what to say to him. On the bad days when I can’t separate other people’s thoughts from my own, I’ve stolen glimpses of Silas’ mind.
That’s why I don’t feel so bad for not pursuing conversation and allowing him to take the lead. Or so I tell myself, which sounds better than being the clueless kid everyone sees me as. While I’m not an adult, I’m not a kid anymore either. It’s easier to talk now than it used to be, but not always. I had thought I would’ve grown out of it, but … here we are.
I decide to be a little brave. If Silas didn’t feel like interacting, he wouldn’t have offered to help, right?
“When’s, uh, when’s your birthday?” I ask, head ducked as I work on Arlo’s name.
He doesn’t say anything.
I peek up, finding him standing with his back to me, in front of the oven. I don’t ask again and he doesn’t move, so I go back to work. A few minutes pass in silence, then the gentle thud of Silas’ boots cross the room towards me.
I swallow heavily, pretending that I don’t notice.
But then he sits cross legged across from me, hands gripping his knees. I warily look up through my hair, shaking it out of the way so I can see him better. His back is ramrod straight, head tilted as he watches me. One side of his lips twitches into an almost smile.
“You should let me pin your hair back, you’ve got glitter and glue all in it.”
I balk, reaching up to inspect the hair in my eyes, realizing a moment too late that’s a bad idea. I groan, setting down the glue with my other hand. I glare at Silas and he chews on his bottom lip to keep from smiling again. I itch to throw him off, just a little.
“Fine, only if I get to do yours.” I say without a second thought, then am immediately horrified. I’m good at braiding hair, Kleo made me do hers all the time, but Silas doesn’t seem like the kind of person who enjoys being touched.
Silas hums in a short, loud burst, the sound of it reminds me of an aborted laugh. I imagine if I could see his eyes, they’d be widening. He lifts his left shoulder and rubs his cheek on the peak of it, then regards me once more. I never flinch from his movements or noises, and the others don’t either. At least not on purpose.
Silas’ outbursts can be sudden and there’s been a few times when he’s been especially startled. His magick lashes out like my own, breaking things, but it’s always an accident and it embarrases him. So I don’t flinch.
I shrug, picking the glue back up. “I’m just joking. You can … You can fix it, if you want. It’s kind of in the way, I don’t know how you do it. You don’t have to, though.”
Silas scoots back, allowing space between him and the banner. He crooks a finger in a ‘come hither’ gesture. I oblige, leaving the glue behind. My cheeks flush and I sit in front of him, unsure what to do.
“I don’t have any pins,” I say.
Silas reaches into his pants pocket, revealing a handful of bobby pins.
I nod once, giving him a sideways smile. “That’s handy.”
“Do you mind if I listen to music while I do this?” Silas asks, drawing his hand back.
I shake my head, drawing my knees to my chest. “No, you don’t gotta ask. Thanks for letting me know.”
Silas nods, tapping the side of the earbud buried in his hair. His mouth twitches and he doesn’t move, so I close my eyes.
A moment passes.
Then, ever so gently, cold fingers brush against my forehead. I fight the shiver threatening my spine as he twirls a patch of hair, then pins the twist back against my crown. He repeats the process, my hair not quite long enough to be fashioned in any neat sort of way. I’ve never had my hair done before.
And he breathes.
I tilt my head, the subtle sounds of Silas’ music reach my ears. I strain to hear it better. It must be wicked loud if I can hear the interwoven harmonies of a violin and an electronic beat. Silas doesn’t resume his work and I clear my throat, opening my eyes.
He grins. “I can see you.”
“You’re one to talk.” I roll my eyes, huffing out a laugh. I gesture to his own hair. “Ready?”
Silas tenses, then nods. I don’t ask again, because I have to believe that he’ll tell me if he’s uncomfortable. He reaches into another pocket, then offers me a hair tie. I’ve never seen him use either accessory, I wonder why he carries them around. Before I can ask, he turns around and puts his back to me. I drop my knees, spreading my legs out on either side of his curled body.
“Okay.” He says, looking anything but.
I roll my bottom lip between my teeth. Chocolate fills the kitchen and I fill my lungs with the warm scent, then exhale a question. “Would you mind if we … listened together?”
Silas sharply glances back at me over his shoulder, throwing white hair from his eyes. For the briefest of seconds, I catch a glimpse of icy blue.
“You won’t like it.”
“How do you know?”
He shrugs, turning his attention ahead once again. I take that as answer enough and gently touch his shoulder before moving to his hair.
“Tilt your head up,” I ask softly.
Silas doesn’t move, atleast, not in that way. He reaches into one of the side cargo pockets, taking out a phone. After a few seconds of messing around on it, music begins to spill out from the phone’s speakers instead of the earbuds. Sure enough, an energetic violin is accompanied by a modern, electric beat, forming a refreshing melody. He sets it down on the ground outside of my legs framing him, then tilts his face to the ceiling.
“Thanks,” I say, then gather three incredibly soft fingerfuls of white at the base of his temple. Silas shudders and I pause my movements. “You alright?”
“Yes.” Silas says immediately, then hums long and low before answering again. “I’ve never had my hair done before.”
I laugh quietly. “Me either, until now. Trust me, I know what I’m doing. Kleo loves her hair being done.”
I wait another moment, then start braiding Silas’ hair.
It takes longer than it should have, and not because of how long and thick his hair is, but because we both can’t stop moving to Silas’ music.
It started with Silas. He would bob his head or his fingers would dance on his thigh, then stop, as if catching himself. After the third time he cut himself off, I softly began tapping my toes on the floor and swaying back and forth, gentle as to not pull his hair. I added humming for good measure, but otherwise kept the silence between us.
With each noise and small movement that I made, Silas’ shoulders lessened and lessened until he was happily moving in place and humming along with me. Then, he started to tell me about each song that came on, all by the same violinist.
And I listened.
Now, I secure the tail of the main braid. A masterpiece, if I do say so myself. Numerous plaits begin at the front of Silas’ pale head. A main one in the center and three on either side which interweave with each other, snaking back and forth until meeting again at the base of his neck. The end of the singular, thick braid running down his spine comes to an end between his shoulder blades. I gently lay the white locks against his black shirt.
“Finished,” I say softly, not moving any further. I haven’t paid any attention to Silas’ face, not even when I uncovered it bit by bit, braiding his bangs back into the center section. I wanted to wait until all his hair was restrained, but now a swell of nervousness rushes over me.
I take a deep breath upon realizing the feeling is not mine.
“How does it look?” Silas asks quietly, staring straight ahead.
“Well, not to brag, but I think it’s pretty epic.”
Silas snorts. “I better go check the cake.”
“Oh, right.” I say, watching him stand and walk away from me. I sit there, feeling empty and a little disappointed, but unsure why. I decide not to dwell on it and be thankful that he trusted me to be in his space, to share his music. I spin in place on the floor, checking out the banner that was once behind me.
I smile at how beautiful it turned out, poking the glue to ensure it’s dried.
I stand with the banner in my hands and turn, coming face to face with Silas.
“What’re you guys doing?”
I startle out of my skin and throw my hands up. Before the banner can go flying Silas is there to steady me, hands blanketing mine. Both of us look at the man standing in the open doorway separating the kitchen from the backyard.
An incredibly long silence follows.
I scrape my brain for something, anything to say, but of course, Silas saves me.
He gently releases my hands, then waves to Arlo with eyes so bright my heart does a weird little flip that hurts. Silas says, “Happy Birthday, Arlo. You’re supposed to be at work.”
Arlo raises a brow, the smirk upon his face widening. “Thank you, and you’re supposed to be at school.” Arlo’s emerald eyes slide from Silas to me and I awkwardly wave.
“Hey, Dad.” I say, lofting the formerly unspoken name into the air like a bomb. I inhale sharply and my heart pounds in my ears. It’s soon overwhelmed by the sparkle in Arlo’s eyes and the soft laugh that bubbles from his chest. I smile then, and add, “Happy Birthday.”