The Cassidy ChroniclesbyPrincessErin©
The laughter filled the darkened street as the children ran up and down the laneways to each home. The air was crisp and clean, the perfect October evening. It had snowed just two days ago and some lawns still had white patches of the cold miserable fluff. Parents laughed and smiled, watching their children gleefully run up to a house to say the expected words, "Trick or treat?" It was a tradition and even though security and safety was at the forefront in people's minds, this annual tradition still existed.
Cassidy sat on the black ottoman that was in her front entrance. She had been hooked on a vampire novel a few weeks ago and was desperate to finish the second of the series. She would read a few pages and then open the door to greet the goblins and ghosts. Actually, she noted that there were ninjas, tigers, monkeys, and princesses. It seemed that stereotypes still existed and that every five or six year old girl had to be dressed as a princess of some sort.
The night went fast and within two hours the twenty dollars worth of candy that Cassidy had purchased was gone. Doing the math in her head, she realized that eighty-two children had walked up her path. Every year the number increased. What was once a small neighborhood on the outskirts of town had become a large area with houses constantly being built.
Cassidy handed out the last of the candy and then moved quickly to make sure no one else arrived. She turned off the inside and outside lights and then grabbed the pumpkin and placed it in her front entranceway. In the dark, she blew out the candle and placed her jack o lantern in the garage. Garbage day was Sunday and she would put it out on the curb then. She had learned her lesson the first year she lived here. She had left the pumpkin on her porch and in the morning, there were a dozen raw eggs sitting in the pumpkin. She was lucky that those eggs weren't thrown at the door. Cassidy wouldn't be surprised though. Wasn't it customary to throw eggs at the witches in town?
Her house was dark, but she liked it that way. She had always had something about shadows. Things hid in the shadows and she liked it best when it was dark. She could see clearly where she wanted to go and it meant the house was peaceful. As she made her way up the stairs, the sounds from outside could be heard. It wasn't late, but she was happy that she could spend the evening reading.
Cassidy settled herself in her queen-sized bed surrounded by five pillows. The book she was reading was mesmerizing. She hoped that nothing sad or scary was going to happen in the novel. Just a few short days ago, she had read a particularly sad part, which had made her burst into tears. Then she had spent the night tossing and turning, her dreams more vivid than usual.
Cassidy yawned and looked at her clock radio. It was eleven o'clock and she was tired. She put her book down and after turning off the light, she settled into slumber.
Cassidy woke with a start. She sat up straight in bed and her heart pounded out of her chest. She had had that dream again. It could be called a nightmare, but the more she said it was a recurring dream, the less fearful she felt. It was the same dream as always. She was standing outside the mansion, snow falling gently on her blonde and purple hair. She was begging Benjamin not to do it, not to sacrifice himself. She saw him shake his head and then she watched helplessly as he killed himself. Cassidy tried to calm her breathing. She turned on her light, but it wouldn't turn on. The house was quiet and then she saw that her clock radio was off and she couldn't hear the faint humming of the furnace either. The power had gone off again. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine something good. She imagined the young children who had enjoyed a night of trick or treating. She imagined the students she used to teach enjoying their parties and get-togethers. They would be juniors by now which meant that some of them would be old enough to have a driver's license.
Cassidy thought long and hard, desperate to form in her mind something other than her brother's death. It was a recurring dream that came every few weeks. It was always the same, so much so that during the day, Cassidy wondered why she got so scared. She could anticipate every part of the dream. It was like she could smell the crispness of the new fallen snow. She could see the deep blue eyes of Charlotte standing at the doorway of her home. It was so vivid, so real.
Cassidy took a few more breaths and closed her eyes. She had calmed down completely and was now trying to figure out whether going back to bed was a good idea. She had no idea what time it was and her cell phone was in her home office. Did she want to get out of bed to see what time it was? If the power was off the house was probably cooling down. The snowstorm they had had two days ago had caused Cassidy to reluctantly turn on the heat. It was probably very cold outside the cocoon of her duvet, blankets, and pillows.
She decided that since it would be Saturday soon, or it already was, she would just go back to sleep. There was a thrill and fear of not knowing what time it was. Cassidy closed her eyes and was happy that she didn't fall back asleep deeply enough to go into the REM cycle.
"I'm not doing it Molly." Cassidy rolled her eyes as she chatted with her best friend. She was stretched out on her bed with the television on in the background.
"Oh come on. You haven't left the house in over two months. You don't go anywhere. Ever since you quit your job last year, you have been a disaster. You're coming to the gala whether you like it or not." Molly was driving back from an assignment and had her cell phone on speakerphone. She hated how stubborn Cassidy could be sometimes and wasn't going to take no for an answer.
"No. I am not standing around all night being nice to people who have bathrooms the size of my house. Stop trying." This was the third time Molly had asked her to volunteer at the charity ball her mother's best friend was hosting. They needed helpers to greet the guests and do other things. Cassidy hated people who were rich. It was possibly because the only rich person she had been exposed to was Sonya Billings. Sonya was the same age as her mother, but seemed about ten times older. She had so much money that she had no idea what to do with it. It was actually her husband's money and some how the line 'money can't buy you love' rang in her head every time she thought of the tall thin woman who looked like she was made of ice.
"No. You're coming and that's it. I hate how stubborn you are sometimes Cassidy Jane Caldwell. It wasn't your fault and you know it. If Benjamin was here he'd throw you in a snow bank or something." Molly swore under her breath the moment she said those words. Benjamin was a touchy subject when it came to Cassidy. Actually, although Cassidy would never admit it, this was why she had quit her job and spent the last two months doing nothing but sulking. The fact she mentioned snow bank and Benjamin in the same sentence was probably the worst thing she could have said. Before she had a chance to open her mouth to do damage control, Cassidy spoke.
"Fine. I am only saying yes because you're my best friend. You drive me crazy sometimes. I'm going, but I'm going to hate it. You can't make me enjoy it. I'll be there at six. Do I have to dress up or something?"
Molly breathed a sigh of relief. She had finally gotten through to Cassidy. She didn't want to think about the fact that she might cancel at the last minute. She didn't want to wonder if Cassidy was just saying this so she wouldn't bother her any more. She was happy that at least she had said she was going out, whether she did it or not was another story.
"It's a black tie affair. Wear the light purple dress you wore to my wedding. You said you hated buying it and only wearing it once. Now you can wear it twice and not complain." Molly hoped that Cassidy would notice her sarcasm.
"I'll find something else to complain about."
Cassidy hung up the phone. She wrapped her arms around her knees and looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows. She had an amazing view of the forest behind her house. When she had purchased this house four years ago, the builder had warned her that the trees would be cut down and massive homes would be built there. There had been some argument about the land and the result was that it was never to be developed. Cassidy had heard it was because the area was an old cemetery, but others said that the builder was making so much money that the small piece of property wasn't worth the fight.
She needed some sense knocked into her and obviously, Molly had done it. She needed to get over Benjamin's death. He was happy, she knew that. There was no question about it. When she touched his high school jacket or his school ring, she could feel his happiness. He was truly happy. It was just that all her premonitions in the past had nothing to do with her family. Cassidy closed her eyes and remembered the conversation she had with her mother on her sixteenth birthday. It wasn't a conversation meant for her birthday, but sometimes things don't work out that well. Cassidy had always said things at inappropriate times. She never noticed it when she was a child, but now she saw that whatever she said came true. When it happened once or twice, it could be called a coincidence, but when it happened four times in one day, she got scared. Her mother, Delilah, hadn't reacted exactly as she had wanted her to. Instead of comforting her daughter, she had told her the whole story.
"I hoped you wouldn't have the power. It's a curse. Those witches in Salem probably were happy to be hung to death. A horrible skill can cause only pain and destruction. You've always been like this sweetie. You've always been able to predict the future, in your own way."
"Mom! Are you on crack or something? Psychics aren't real. They're fake."
Delilah looked at her daughter and smiled. She had kept many things from her daughter in the hopes that her power would diminish. She wished that her daughter would wake up on her sixteenth birthday without the power. She had done the ritual correctly. It obviously had backfired.
"Yes they are. Listen to me. I tried something to take the power away from you, but obviously it didn't work. I'm sorry you had such a bad day at school. I'm sorry you're scared of saying anything in front of your friends any more. It's not fair. I know. You have to understand than you can control it and use it for good."
"Now you sound like that stupid Spiderman cartoon."
"Cassidy listen to me. All the women in our family have some sort of extra-sensory powers. I've never told you mine because the less you knew the better. I can give mind control powers to others. I don't do it often, but I have in the past. Your Aunt Linda just needs to touch something personal of someone's and she will see their past and their future. Each of us has a unique power."
"Well at least Aunt Lin doesn't blurt out inappropriate things at weird times. I hate that every time I say something it comes true. I mean I told Angela that she shouldn't be wearing her promise ring any more and later that day Chad broke up with her. Last week, I told my French teacher that she would have fun at her sister's wedding and I hoped she would catch the bouquet. She told me today she's getting a divorce. Why can't I be like Aunt Lin?" Cassidy was stamping her feet like she did when she used to have her temper tantrums as a child. Delilah grinned.
"I tried something last night to rid you of the power. I could try something that would give you that power instead."
"Do it." Cassidy glared at her mother and her mother glared back. They were so alike it was scary. She knew her daughter wanted this more than anything and as a mother; she wanted only the best for her daughter.
Cassidy opened her eyes and smiled. She remembered how her mother had done some weird ritual with candles and water. In the end, Cassidy no longer blurted out weird things that were predictions of the future. Instead, she would get a flashback and flash-forward of a person's life when she touched something of a personal nature. She controlled this so much easier as she rarely touched anything.
Cassidy lay back in bed and closed her eyes. She whispered four words right before falling asleep. In a large mansion on the other side of the ocean Benjamin lay in bed, it was only three in the morning, but he opened his eyes and cuddled closer to Charlotte. He felt a wave of happiness flood his body and he knew that his sister was thinking of him. He knew she was going through some tough times, but feeling her happiness made him smile. He closed his eyes and fell back asleep.
"Good evening dears. The two of you will be working the cloakroom. Come. I will show you what to do."
Molly and Cassidy followed Sonya through the hallway until they made it to the cloakroom. She opened the door and they entered the large area.
"Each hanger has two tags, one tag remains on the hanger, the other is given to the guest. Do not throw the tag at them; do not place it on the counter. Hand it to them gently while smiling." Sonya rolled her eyes. Molly was her best friend's daughter, and she and her friend looked childish and out of place. "Keep your hands warm and dry. The guests do not want to feel a cold or sweaty hand. When you have ten coats in a row move them to the other side of the cloakroom. Be pleasant and kind. Jackson will come check on you to make sure things are going well. We have enough hangers for twice as many guests as are expected. You shouldn't run out of space."
"O.K." Molly was grinning and smiling. Sonya was the typical bored housewife who spent her time organizing charity functions to have some meaning in her life. She was tall and thin although, considering the way her face didn't quite move, she wondered how much of her was real. Molly knew that Sonya was the same age as her mother, fifty-five, but Sonya looked close to forty.
"You are not to collect tips. Do not put out a tin, glass, or anything else hinting that you want a tip. If a guest asks to give you a tip explain to them that donations can be made by check at the front."
"O.K." Molly spoke for both of them and watched as Sonya left the cloakroom area and rushed to the main banquet hall.
"So how long do we have to be here for?"
"It's six now. People will start arriving at six thirty. The dinner begins at seven. The older guests will start leaving around nine with the last guests leaving at one."
"How does your mother even like Sonya?"
Cassidy giggled. She tucked a strand of hair away from her face. She had dyed streaks of her hair purple, which was a sharp contrast to her white blonde hair color. Molly had called her this morning asking her to try to keep her hair a normal color. She was ten minutes too late on that phone call. Cassidy had braided her hair and twisted it around in a crown on top of her head. She had then strategically placed purple flowers around the crown, to hopefully hide the purple.
"They've been friends since high school. Sonya wasn't always this way. She wanted to fall in love, get married, and have many children. She didn't think that she would fall in love, get married, and then find out her husband hated children. She's been ignored the last twenty-five years. This is her life. Imagine how cranky you'd be if your life revolved around organizing events like this. I mean it's great that the children's hospital will get so much money, but I mean every single guest that shows up tonight probably has so much money they don't know what to do with it. It's not a fun life." Cassidy opened her mouth to respond, but the first guests had arrived.
The next hour was a blur of activity. Fur coats, leather jackets, knee length mink coats, jackets made of the finest silk, all arrived and were placed gently on the coat hangers. Molly and Cassidy behaved perfectly, so much so that Sonya actually stopped supervising them after about twenty minutes.
The room was full of coats and Molly had just carried the twentieth set of coats to the other side of the room. Cassidy had made a bet with Molly regarding exactly how many people would attend. Molly said that four hundred tickets were sold, but only half ever showed up. Cassidy had argued that it was a cold November evening and thus more people would show up. With the last set of coats put away, there were two hundred guests exactly. Molly was close to winning the bet although Cassidy was praying for one more guest. Cassidy smiled from ear to ear when a very tall muscular man rushed down the hall, taking off his coat as he walked.
"Sorry ladies. I'm late." He threw his jacket over the counter and Cassidy caught it. He turned and then stopped, turning back around to get the tag. Cassidy was holding the tag firmly in her hand and was reaching out to hand it to him. He just stood there, waiting to catch it. Cassidy couldn't move at this moment.
"Just throw it. I'm late." His voice was urgent, but kind. Molly watched Cassidy stare off into space, grabbed the tag, and threw it towards the man. He didn't say a word, but rushed off to the banquet hall.
Cassidy stood there trying not to faint. Her fingers dug into his worn leather jacket and her senses were overcome by emotions. She could smell the leather of his jacket; it was a faint smell, which meant that it was a well-loved and well-used jacket. It was soft to the touch and was quite large. He was an enormous man and thus it would make sense that he would need a jacket in such a large size. What Cassidy didn't expect was the movie that was playing out in her head at this moment. It was a premonition. She closed her eyes and then opened them. The scene played over again in slow motion. She was staring at the hallway, but wasn't seeing anything but the man. It terrified her more than anything. She couldn't handle it.
"Cassidy?" Molly had no idea what had happened. It was like the moment she caught the jacket she had turned into stone. She hadn't said a word the whole time and Molly had had to smile and hope the man didn't complain to Sonya.
"Cassidy!" Molly shook her best friend and yanked the jacket out of her hands.
"What?" Cassidy blinked her eyes. She was back to normal. The moment the jacket left her hands it was like a switch had been touched. She had gone from viewing a stranger's life in fast-forward to standing in the cloakroom of a fancy hall staring at her best friend.
"You turned into a stone figure or something. Are you O.K.?" Molly had hung up the jacket and left it hanging next to nine empty hangers.
"You know when I was in high school and used to blurt out things that came true?"
Molly nodded and waited for her best friend to continue.
"Well, I don't do that anymore. Now, when I touch something sentimental, I have a feeling about what happens to them. I touched that jacket and it was as if I was seeing a movie play out. A scary movie. A movie that has a horrible ending." Cassidy was sobbing quietly as she tried to erase the scene from her mind. Molly walked over and wrapped her arms around her friend.
"I'm sorry. You've been through a lot. I'm sure the stress of Benjamin's death isn't helping." Molly gasped suddenly and pulled away. "You saw his death didn't you?"
Cassidy just nodded. It wasn't something she shared with anyone. For anyone who knew her they only knew part of the story about her brother Benjamin. They knew that her brother, Molly, and Jeremy had gone to Norway to research a haunted house called Grapevine Manor. They had found the ghost, but some unfortunate circumstances had occurred which resulted in Benjamin freezing to death in the snow bank outside the mansion.