Chapter 5:

Late-Night Television

Static Noise

After the dramatic turn of events earlier, the girl sat in her room and cried and cried. While she cried, she couldn’t help but stare at the box through her cloudy eyes. Behind her, the worried adults called for her and knocked on the door as hard as they could. She only grew angrier. She only grew more miserable.

Her uncontrollable anger forced her to crawl on the ground and slap the box as hard as she should. Even though the box flew across the room, and even though the adults continued to call her and knock on her door, the young girl was so angry and upset.

When she went to inspect the box, it wasn’t damaged. She kicked it again and still it wasn’t damaged. She punched it, as much as she could, and it still wouldn’t dent. She kicked, punched, and threw it against what little she had in her room but the only thing that broke was the items that she slammed the box into.

Eventually, she had gotten tired. Her tears had long since dried on her face and her anger has calmed down – the girl was tired. The adults had stopped and probably waited for the girl to open up the door and to lecture her about her anger and her attitude.

The girl couldn’t help but hesitate as she opened the door anyway. As it turned out, only her parents remained by the door. The other adult had already left for the evening but the two parents weren’t too pleased either, in spite of the worried looks on their faces.

They lectured her and they did their best to understand her. However, because of her sudden burst, they made her promise to apologize to Miss Risa the next day. Until then, the girl should try out the box she made at the very least.

“It has nothing to do with your looks, dear!” Her mother tried to reassure her. She tried to comfort the girl as much as she could. The small girl didn’t believe her.

“Your Master and we only want what’s best for you.” Her father chimed in. That didn’t answer her.

However, she forced herself and mumbled her forgiveness. Her parents smiled as though they had a clear understanding. Really, she was irritated and it seemed like she had no other choice but to put the box over her head. Maybe the Master was correct. Maybe her parents were correct but she still felt it was wrong somehow. But she had to accept it.

Because of how upset she still was, the girl pouted and she could hear her mother try to cheer her up. She realized then on how spoiled she was – most parents would scold and punish a child for throwing a tantrum like that. Maybe she wasn’t so different from Marie after all… maybe they both were witches. Maybe Marie was a witch too and maybe one day, they could be friends again.

The thought made her sad but she was also willing to understand that she and her family couldn’t leave. It was clear the principal then wanted them – rather her mother – to get rid of her and continue their lives as happy humans who didn’t have any witch’s blood. With the exception of her father’s blood, it was okay for them to remain childless or they might’ve pushed another baby onto them that wasn’t a witch.

In the end, the girl understood the Master and her parents. Unlike the previous town, she probably wouldn’t have a Master like her. She would have to leave her home to find another family who didn’t know about her past or even have to leave the town anyway.

The girl reluctantly put the box on her head and started to channel her budding magic onto the notepad. The papers would disappear every time every time a new emotion “showed” itself.

The girl would easily pick up this type of magic – it was like a photograph of her inside emotions appeared on the paper. The notepad seemed to have an endless supply but disappeared as soon as it was used. There was a breathing straw for the girl so she could easily breathe.

At first, it got really hot very quickly. Sometimes, it was just hard to breathe. However, after many training sessions with Master Risa in her boutique shop after school – way after her mother had talked to the principal and homeroom teacher to make them understand the purpose of her box.

Soon, Master Risa explained why she called her TV that one night.

“It’s because your emotions appeared and disappeared so quickly; it was like you were flipping channels!” The blonde woman explained happily. The Master owned her own boutique shop called Good Mystic. It was a clothing shop that had a lot of independent fashion designers who studied at the nearby university. Sometimes, the designs were nice but other times… well, there might be someone who was interested in that type of fashion.
Master Risa explained to the girl when she first arrived that she would love to design her own clothes one day but the girl had never seen any of the designs. Often, when the girl brought it up, Master Risa would swiftly change the subject. She seemed to have regretted sharing that dream with the girl but she couldn’t understand why.

Eventually, Master Risa started to call her TV as a nickname – since TV was her first apprentice, she decided giving her a nickname would make their time together seem more memorable. She explained that a young witch would be an apprentice until the time they are 18 years old – when they decide what path they wanted to choose for their own life. Sometimes, a lot of witches are still at a loss and they take things on a day-to-day level.

Master Risa suggested she would teach TV the basics of magic before they would send her to school – she didn’t want the young girl’s powers to cause a mess in school especially since other witches there were also learning to control their powers as well. She assured TV’s parents that this was probably for the best.

For the first few weeks, TV had to get used to the city. It was much bigger than her old town and the people there didn’t seem to care she was a witch. As a matter of fact, she had never seen people use their magic out in the open so much! There would be some humans who sneered at the magic around them but it seemed more to be an inconvenience to them than outright hatred.

She had to wear the box on her head and at first, there might’ve been some residents who gave her strange looks. Sometimes smaller children would point out that she wore a box and they’d delight in the new page that showed up.

A photograph of her inside emotions surprised her. She wasn’t used to being open like that. She always tried to fake her emotions to show them what they’d want instead of how she actually felt but they would show anyway.

It frustrated her. Why did she have to get this sort of magic? What would this even be good for? She hated it. She felt she was walking naked everywhere she went. She even accidentally expressed this to Master Risa and she’d laugh nervously. TV, her nickname seemed to slip out of everyone’s lips now, would get frustrated.

“Oh… Don’t show me that in Good Mystic, TV!” She laughed nervously once more. “Here – how about you start ‘photographing’ these images instead? Maybe you can make them jump out of the magazine!”

She handed TV the catalog she had caught her master flipping through – she said she wanted to see what else she could order for her shop – and TV was confused. She didn’t understand what that meant and she took it anyway.

The catalog had nothing that interested her. She saw maybe a total of two things that interested her but she… couldn’t take a ‘picture’ of it. Frustrated, she handed the catalog back to her master. The woman giggled and TV could show her how annoyed she was.

“Now, now, you’ll get it. Maybe we can try to practice on little things for now.” She tried to reassure her. The witch’s short blonde hair sparkled which, somehow, sent a small jolt of happiness to TV. She groaned. She hated when her Master did that.

From what she understood, her Master had the power to “enhance happiness”. To TV, it was a very vague power. What did it mean to ‘enhance happiness’. She would only see it in action when someone buys one of the clothes at the shop after a customer would try it on.

TV thought it was a strange power and couldn’t understand it very well. However, Master Risa told her that she will understand when she’s older.

The weeks flew on by and TV was soon able to enter the school with her box. She tried to stay calm during introductions but her emotions kept flipping. She kept showing her conflicting emotions on her box and she could feel herself getting sick.

She introduced herself to the class and the class had seemed to accept her, even when her ‘pages’ kept flipping through. “…But you c-can ca-c-c-call me TV!”

The class accepted her and bombarded her with questions about her powers when the class was dismissed for lunch but it was clear she was overwhelmed. Her emotions, again, easily flipped through the pages and the pages never stopped. She wished it did. She wished there was an end to the notepad but eventually she heard a voice behind the curious chatter and questions.

“Hey! Can you guys like leave her alone? You’re clearly making her nervous!”

There was one student in particular – she had a huge strawberry on her hoodie and she was dark-skinned. Her hair was sort of light and she seemed very energetic. She had jeans along with some boots. She had yellow eyes with freckles that peppered her cheeks.

“Maribel, you know it’s been a while since we’ve had a witch as a transfer student!”

“Straw… you know that it’s rude to corner someone like that.” The girl named Maribel responded. TV had gotten a closer look at the girl and she seemed familiar. She had remembered the girl she had seen when her mother and her first went to the principal’s office when they first arrived in the city. However, instead of the pink hair she saw that day – it was yellow. It matched her own yellow eyes but she wore a different outfit this time.

Something strange must’ve appeared on the notepad because the girl named Maribel laughed. “Oh, you’re that girl I saw that day, aren’t you? Don’t mind these nosy brats – they’re just excited to meetcha!” She winked at TV and TV couldn’t help but feel flustered.

Soon enough, the other students dispersed and went to their own groups.

She got embarrassed by the girl named Maribel giggled again.

“Stop being weird, Maribel,” another voice called out and another girl showed up. She looked nothing like Maribel or anyone she had seen back in that town. She was much shorter and had a thick hoodie on but she wore a blue skirt with socks and shoes. The girl had glasses that seemed a bit too big for her face and she had to push it up from the middle of her face.

She held a sketchbook under her arm along with a short pencil. TV couldn’t speak but then the girl noticed something on her notepad.

“Oh, this? This is my sketchbook!” she brought it up closer to TV’s eyehole and flipped through the pages. TV wished she could just take it off and look at it normally – but she was still somehow able to view it okay. The drawings seemed very simple in nature and they didn’t seem to be anything she had seen before. “Do you like them?”

TV nodded as she went through it.

“Tomiko here wants to be a kids book illustrator. Weird, huh? She can’t seem to grow up!” Maribel said as she shrugged with a teasing tone in her voice. “We just left elementary and here she is – still stuck in it!”

“Maribel!” the girl named Tomiko blushed and growled. Maribel laughed at her reaction and TV relaxed and couldn’t help but feel genuinely warm about the conversation in front of her.

“Hey, want to go eat? We should hurry up before lunch is over!” Maribel grabbed Tomiko’s hand and Tomiko hastily grabbed her sketchbook. “Come on, TV! Let’s go get something to eat! You’re in our group now!”

Immediately included and accepted. TV didn’t understand why the two girls before her were so accepting. But… if they lived in such a city like Ghalie City, it’s no wonder, isn’t it? They lived in a wonderful place where people of all kinds came, didn’t they? Maribel was clearly a black girl and Tomiko was definitely not like any other girl she had seen before. And they accepted each other long ago – and here TV was, a complete stranger one minute and she was already accepted the next.

Even though her weird box showed off emotions she never wanted to show anyone otherwise, the other students were curious about her powers. They were curious about her lineage. Where was she from? They asked. What type of powers did she want? They pondered.

The adults looked on and even chuckled at the sight before them but… Mr. Julian was disgusted back then, wasn’t he?

TV could feel tears brewing in her eyes and she nodded as she followed the two other girls. Other kids didn’t even notice the girl with the yellow hair and yellow eyes and they didn’t notice the girl with a box on her head. To them, it was every day.

TV was sure she saw someone with rabbit ears out their head. She was also sure she saw someone floating above them. This was completely normal! What was this world she was in? Was she still on the same planet as Marie?

Everything excited her. TV would be lying if she wasn’t.

When she reached the cafeteria, she saw that strange girl Strawberry sitting with another girl. She had pale skin like Marie’s and she had brown hair. She had green eyes, a purple shirt, and a ruffled skirt. She adorned a feathered cap on her head and she seemed to be annoyed when Strawberry shifted her attention away from their conversation to wave at TV. She slowly waved back and continued to follow Maribel and Tomiko into the lunch line.

But there were other people who didn’t like witches in Ghalie City, weren’t there? TV couldn’t help but be frightened.

When the girls grabbed their trays, TV hesitantly did the same.

“So I didn’t properly introduce myself! My name is Maribel and this is Tomiko! I’m a witch and Tomiko is a regular human!” The black witch said as she pointed to herself and puffed her chest. She changed the color of her sweater to purple and even though it clashed, the girl was excited to show off her powers. “I can change things into different colors! Sometimes Tomiko asks me to color things for her because she always forgets her stuff.”

“Eh, it’s just easier, Maribel!” The girl pouted as she put her sketchbook under her tray. The two girls grabbed food for themselves and for TV, who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the number of different foods. “And yeah… I’m a regular human but I think magic is amazing! I wish I could have my own magic…Oh, try these!”

TV thought of something because she really liked her drawings but she held back. By now, TV’s own tray was covered with food. Her parents mentioned when she left that she only had a certain amount of money but she didn’t want to say no to any of these foods. Would it be okay? Maybe…

The other girls asked and talked to TV as best as they could about what she liked the most about being a witch but TV couldn’t properly answer.

“Oh…no worries! You probably just got your powers recently! See, I’m an early bloomer! Mom says it takes a couple years or so for others to get theirs! Because of my own lineage, we get our powers sooner than other witches!” Maribel explained. There wasn’t a hint of malice in her voice and TV felt relieved…

“Stop bragging about your powers! It’s really annoying!” Tomiko said suddenly.

“Hey! Don’t make me change your hair color again!”

Tomiko grabbed her long black hair that was tied in a ponytail while her glasses slid down a little bit. “Hey! You better not! The last time you did that I got into major trouble with my parents!”

“Then don’t interrupt!”

TV couldn’t help but feel more at ease with the two. Soon, the girls paid for the lunch and headed to their table. Because the school year had started recently, there were a lot of kids who sat by themselves and were unsure about their surroundings. Summer ended a few weeks ago and TV hadn’t realized how sensitive she was to the cool air until they moved to that city.

TV felt like them though. Even though Maribel and Tomiko accepted her, she was still worried they’ll hurt her feelings like they did with Marie. Would they turn on her if they found out about her mother’s secret? Then again… why would they know about it?

Eventually, they sat down and tried to get to know TV more. Tomiko did a quick sketch of TV to help put her more at ease and TV nearly cried but she held it back even though her notepad showed the two girls the truth. They comforted her and didn’t bother to ask what happened. In a way, that was good. She didn’t want to tell them about that awful town…

The days at her new school were full of wonder and curiosity. She managed to keep up okay and seemed to relish learning new things about the world around her. There were things that her old school barely touched upon or outright ignored but she never realized how much influence witches had in this world.

There was one witch in particular that caught TV’s eye – Gertrude. From what she learned, Gertrude is the Mother of Witches and she influenced many humans to writing, art, and so much more. TV was curious about her story but the subject had moved on soon after.

However, she started to enjoy her days at school a lot more but things seemed to be different at home. Lately, when her parents thought she didn’t hear, started to argue a lot more often and loudly, at that.

TV would stay up listening to them behind her closed door. She wouldn’t go to bed until the light on the other side was off. She was scared. Her father had never used to shout at all back in town but now… money was tight. She had gotten in trouble after that first day of school for taking too much food. She didn’t want to admit that it was her new friends who gave it to her… but she still accepted her punishment – no television for that night.

Her parents argued about money. Her parents argued about her mother’s job – she had ended up working with Master Risa until she could start her business. The master had convinced her to start her bakery but it was hard.

That night, that fateful night, was the night that threw TV’s fear into high gear.

“He found us.” She heard her father say.

Once again, she took her position at the door and listened to her parents’ conversation. She could feel her breath hitch.

“How? Dammit, Michael! We’re working hard to keep a low profile! That school she’s going to has all kinds of witches! How could they have found us?!”

“Millie-Ann, don’t start tonight. Apparently, someone came here for business and recognized us somehow.”

“Give me that!” Her mother hastily grabbed whatever it was her father held.

There was the sound of paper crinkling and then she heard her mother cry. Her father sighed and then it sounded like her cries were muffled.

“I’m sorry. It’s my fault, Millie Ann. If I hadn’t punched him…This is my fault.”

Her mother sobbed loudly and she had said something TV couldn’t understand but by now, her own tears fell. Because of the magic Master Risa had placed on it, it thankfully didn’t get soaked from it. She tried to cry in silence as her parents talk it over.

“I’m going to see if I can go this weekend. I have the holiday off but it’s a witch one so you know they’ll ignore that.”

“No! Michael… no… you can’t go back!!”

“Millie Ann, I have to.”

“Let me go with you then! I’ll bring—“

“No. You two have to stay here. I’ve already talked to my sister and she can help you guys with the rent…again…until I come back. I can beat this.”

“W-what? How long are you planning to stay there?? Michael, you can’t fight this! We barely have enough as it is!”

Silence from her father echoed louder than her mother’s protest.

Her mother resumed crying and TV hated herself once again. Any happiness she lived at school was just a farce. It was only a temporary relief. Her parents suffered day after day trying to make ends meet while she had fun at school. She didn’t deserve that happiness. No, she needed to go away.

She needed to leave. TV was just a useless person. Maybe they should’ve just given her up to the principal. Maybe she should’ve never been born. It was her fault the principal called her that day. It was her fault her father punched the principal… And it was her fault he had to go back.

Her magic was useless. Photographing her emotions was a useless power. She couldn’t help her parents. It was her fault that they were suffering like this. If it wasn’t for her, they’d be happy again in Whispering Wales and they wouldn’t have to deal with such hardships.

Eventually, in a rare occurrence, her parents had silently gone to bed but TV didn’t. She stayed up and cried. She had decided to turn on her television to put herself to sleep when she was sure that her parents had gone to bed. They wouldn’t wake up to any loud noise – they had already gotten used to the city’s noises at night.

When she turned on the television, though, it was strange seeing snow on there. Sometimes, she could imagine a swirl within the snowy screen but… there was an actual swirl. And then she saw a hand sticking out.

“What?” she had said out loud before it grabbed her pajama shirt and pulled her in.

It pulled her in without much effort. She couldn’t scream and all she saw was grey snow as it surrounded and shrouded her vision.

Riri R. Palette
Stella Procella
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