“Legion?” Zoe asked.
“We are Legion,” Legion said again.
“Legion,” Felix thought. “He’s an entity in the Bible, made up of demons, like, hundreds or thousands of them. That’s why he...they use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’,” Felix explained.
“That’s good to know but how do we get through him...them?”
“I don’t know. Jesus exorcised them in the Bible,” Felix said.
“Oh, well, where are we going to get Jesus at a time like this?” Zoe yelled.
“Well, technically your daughter,” Felix nodded while biting his lip. “Maybe I have something that will at least help us get by him,” he began digging around in his yellow bag.
Zoe used several magic spells on Legion but none of them even caused them to budge. She grew her power thinking about Vanessa and Winnie but even that barely pushed Legion back a foot. Zoe continued holding Legion back. Felix finally pulled something out of his bag and smiled.
“This should work,” he said, happily. He threw a tiny glass bottle at Legion. It shattered when it hit the demon entity. Legion screamed, fell to its knees, and began steaming.
“What was that?” Zoe asked, impressed. They continued walking down the hallway past Legion.
“A small bottle of holy water,” Felix said. “It may not actually destroy him but it will keep him at bay hopefully until this is all over.”
In the darkness, Vanessa and Winnie hid. They were as far away from the gym as possible under a stage or something. They hadn’t heard anything in at least an hour except for yelling far away from them. Winnie was panting and holding back tears while Vanessa hugged her and stroked her hair. Vanessa was worried someone would hear Winnie’s breathing or that it would turn into hyperventilation or something and tried to think of something that would calm her down.
“Winnie,” Vanessa said in a whisper. “Do you want to hear a story?”
“Won’t they hear us?” Winnie shook.
“It will be fine. I’ll protect you,” Vanessa held Winnie tighter.
“What kind of story?”
“How about a love story?” Vanessa asked. “How about I tell you the story of how I met your mother?”
A crowd of girls, originally heading into the Institute, came over and watched Zoe. They all seemed impressed but Zoe wasn’t expecting much money from them. Two of the girls were holding hands and the third girl was the odd person out and seemed nervous to be standing there.
The odd girl caught Zoe’s eye. “For my trick, I’m going to need a volunteer,” Zoe said and took a couple steps toward the girl. The odd girl did not volunteer or do anything resmebling wanting to be a part of the show but Zoe gingerly took her hand and pulled her over. “What is your name?”
“Vanessa,” the odd girl answered, a bit upset for being singled out in a crowd of people.
“Beautiful name, Vanessa,” Zoe said. “Thank you for volunteering.”
“I didn’t,” Vanessa answered.
“Everyone look at this beautiful young woman,” Zoe shouted. She moved her hands along Vanessa’s side, over her shoulders, and above her head. “Vanessa and I just met. There are no strings and invisible boxes anyone on or around her. Correct?”
The majority of the crowd nodded in agreement. The two girls Vanessa was with were ecstatic.
“Then why is she floating?” Zoe asked, calling attention to Vanessa’s feet which were a foot or so off of the ground. Zoe moved her hands along Vanessa’s side and above her head again and added swiping her hands underneath her feet. The crowd oohed and applauded. Most of the people put some money into the fedora Zoe was using to panhandle. Zoe lowered Vanessa to the ground. “Let’s have a hand for our lovely volunteer.” The audience applauded for Vanessa.
Vanessa went back to the other women she was with. One of her friends looked at Zoe. “How did you do that?” she asked.
“A magician never reveals their secrets,” Zoe smiled. “Although I could divulge the secret to you maybe over dinner or at least some coffee?” Zoe asked Vanessa.
Vanessa smiled quickly then glanced at her friends. “I’m sorry, I can’t. Thanks for the offer though.” The three of them walked off and went toward the Art Institute. Zoe watched them enter and then began to gather up her things. He looked at the money and saw that it was a decent haul so at least the day wasn’t a total loss. Zoe was about ready to start crossing the street when she heard someone scream. “Hey! Wait. I do accept your offer,” Vanessa panted after running toward Zoe.
“What? Why’d you say no then?”
“I was with my ex-girlfriend and her new girlfriend and I’m living with them. It’s very weird. How about I explain it over coffee. Tomorrow at two? Unity Coffee?”
“That would be great.”
Zoe and Vanessa talked a lot about each other during their coffee date and then their actual date the next night. “I just want to let you know that Emily knows about us so I’m not going to act like I’m cheating tonight,” Vanessa said as they sat down at the table.
Vanessa and Emily had broken up only a few months ago but Vanessa did not have the money to move out so she stayed with Emily while she saved money. Emily began dating Sophia and Emily allowed Sophia to move in last month. Zoe was now living with a friend and was hoping to get out of there within the next month. Zoe loved that Vanessa was just like her in a way but she held a more optimistic view of her situation than Zoe did. Zoe had fallen hard and fast for this girl.
“So how did you do it?” Vanessa suddenly asked.
“You never told me how you got me to float,” Vanessa smiled at Zoe.
“I didn’t? I thought that was whole point of getting coffee,” Zoe smiled back. “I got you to float…” Zoe hesitated and quickly debated whether or not to tell Vanessa about her magic powers. She looked at Vanessa, her curly hair, her wide brown eyes, her freckled skin and slight upturned nose. “I can do magic.”
“Yeah? But how’d you get me to float? There were no strings or mirrors or glass boxes. I could not feel the ground underneath my feet.”
No, I can actually do magic. It’s a genetic thing. Watch,” Zoe began waving her two fingers at a glass of water, it slowly rose above the table and was soon floating above them. Vanessa stared in awe. Zoe worried about Vanessa’s reaction to what was going on. The glass then slowly lowered back down to the table.
Vanessa stared at the glass and then at Zoe. “That was amazing. Why aren’t you rich? With powers like that, you could rule the world.”
“And we choose not to. My father and grandfather used their powers in a much more charitable way than I do. My grandfather was a superhero back in the 1940s and 1950s. My father was a doctor and surgeon. I don’t really show off my skills very often. In fact, you are the first girlfriend I’ve ever revealed my abilities to.”
“So I’m your first?” Vanessa smiled, gritting her teeth. “I’m your girlfriend?”
“Yeah, I guess if you want to be. Sorry I jumped the gun.”
“No, I’m glad you did,” Vanessa took Zoe’s hand and rubbed it softly with her fingers.
After their fourth date a little more than a week later, the two made love for the first time. Not having anywhere to go, their first time was in a cheap motel where they paid hourly for the room. Vanessa cuddled with Zoe, resting her head on Zoe’s shoulder just above the breast. She rubbed Zoe’s stomach and occasionally circled her belly button with her finger as they lay in the motel bed.
“Sorry our first time had to be in this dank pit of despair,” Zoe apologized.
“It’s fine. Believe or not, I’ve actually done it in worse places.”
Zoe chuckled. “Me too.”
“I’m just happy being so close to you,” Vanessa hugged Zoe.
They slowly got out of bed, got dressed, and left the motel. They did not want to leave each other but knew that they had to. Being together was something special that they gave themselves rarely. Over the next two months, they made love only two more times after the first and both were in that motel. They had planned on meeting for a fourth time but Zoe wanted to make it special.
Zoe went early and used magic to clean the room and make upgrades. She made it brighter and more welcoming. After a lovely dinner, Zoe took Vanessa to the motel, which she wasn’t expecting. “Oh, I see what that fancy dinner was about,” Vanessa smiled.
“I have a surprise for you,” Zoe said. As they approached their room, Zoe covered Vanessa’s eyes. “Close your eyes. You’re going to love this.” Zoe led Vanessa, her eyes closed, Zoe’s hands covering them, into the motel room. Vanessa immediately noticed that it had a different smell, something clean and not just bleach and some other powerful cleanser. Zoe walked her to the middle of the room and pulled her hands away. “Open them,” she whispered.
Vanessa opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by the swirling white and blue and wispy yellow of Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’. It was Vanessa’s favorite painting and was a painting that gave her hope and optimism. Vanessa teared up at the sight and marveled at the way the light reflected onto her and Zoe’s skin. “How did you…?” she started to ask but cut herself off, knowing the answer.
“I wanted tonight to be special,” Zoe said.
“Every night with you is special,” Vanessa quickly said.
“I’ve also scheduled for us to visit with the owner of a used bookstore about us taking it over.”
“What? A bookstore? We don’t even have a place to live.”
“It has an apartment upstairs. For once, I actually thought things through.”
“You think we should move in with each other?”
Zoe began to feel nervous. “Vanessa, I really like you and I know we’ve only been together a short time but…”
“It’s okay. I want us to be together, too. I feels like we’re sneaking around and I don’t want to do that. I’m an adult.”
“Oh, thank God. I was so worried,” Zoe embraced Vanessa. “I didn’t want to lose you.”
“You’re not going to lose me. I love you, Zoe,” Vanessa kissed Zoe and soon they were making love under Van Gogh’s stars and moon.
They made love for what seemed like forever and when they were, Vanessa once again on top of her, Zoe held her tight, “I love you, too.”
“And we’ve been together for almost four years,” Vanessa concluded to Winnie, both of them still scrunched up in the darkness.
“I hope the person I love does something like that for me,” Winnie said.
“They can if they are a magician. Or at the very least, a painter,” Vanessa chuckled.
They heard a door slam then slow footsteps echoing across the room. They hunkered back further in the crawlspace and waited.