Chapter 1: A Family of Secrets
I shouldn’t be writing this down. It’s private. Not secret, no—I didn’t do anything wrong. At least not in my opinion.
Like I said, it’s private, for me alone to deal with, but I just need to let it out, you know? I can’t just keep going along with how bizarre my life is all the time ever since…this new hot mess blew up. Literally.
I’m trying to make sense of all this, but I don’t know where to begin and my cat keeps trying to use my open notebook as a bed when the cat bed is right there in the corner. Now he’s using my wrist as a pillow.
I’m thirty-three years old and I don’t know half of what I should about my own family.
Mystery. That’s the word I keep looking for. Detective Williams just calls it a case and files it away neatly, but I think his partner knows a mystery when he sees one.
This is about the mystery of Ted Lanier and his vegan Poutine that tasted better than the real thing—why didn’t we appreciate him more, back when he was still with us?
This is about the mystery of Min Park—how could he have changed so much as a person?
Then there’s my family. Some mysteries should remain hidden in the mists.
This is “the wonderful town of Wonder Falls” after all.
My cousin and soul-sister Bea could describe Wonder Falls better than I ever could. She’s a lot more like her hippie mother than she thinks, and is always at me to stop and smell the flowers blooming in the crisp Canadian springtime, to go with her on camping and fishing trips by the lake, and see the waterfalls that the lake empties into.
The waterfalls are magnificent, of course, they’re big. Loud. Damp, eventually. There’s three of them. They generate enough electricity to power the whole town. Tourists come for miles just to look. As for me, well, I live close that I’ve just gotten used to it.
No, no, scratch that. I was getting nostalgic about the way things used to be. I might never look at the falls the same way ever again.
My name is Cath Greenstone, and I’m a witch.
All the women in the Greenstone family line are witches.
Bea’s hippie mother—my Aunt Astrid—owns the best café in town, the Brew-Ha-Ha. Bea and I grew up being taught how to run it, and—I write this with all the love in the world for my beautiful and wise Aunt Astrid who took me in after my parents died—Bea and I both think that we’d run it a little differently than Aunt Astrid has.
The fact that we’re witches is supposed to be a secret, but Aunt Astrid is convinced that the best way to go about things is to hide in plain sight. She does fortune-telling for customers, and talks a lot about the way “mystical energy” moves through the Universe.
Yes, Aunt Astrid uses a capital U, and you can practically hear it she pronounces the word.
Most of the time, I’m afraid that she’s daring people to find out about us. On a good day—and we’d been having so many good days until the fire—it’s reassuring to me know that Aunt Astrid has been witch for longer than the years Bea and I have spent on this earth combined.
Aunt Astrid can see the future, and that is probably the best magical talent that a witch can have because a muddy future can be dangerous and painful.
All right, so living with injury and illness is also dangerous and painful. Bea’s got that covered with her witchy magical talent, which is one that she can hide more easily. People just presume that Bea’s a naturally touchy-feely person. When they heal, they don’t make the connection that Bea had a hand in it and just assume that they were going to get healthy again anyway.
It helps to know how the human body works, of course, so Bea’s done a lot of reading on that. She’s really smart, and she loves to study. She could have left Wonder Falls to go to university and come back with half a dozen Nobel Prizes, never mind a medical degree. Instead, she married Jake and took his name.
I didn’t mean that to sound judgmental. Bea’s not just my family, she’s my best friend. Did I mention she was smart? I wasn’t exaggerating. As long as she’s happy, I know her talents aren’t going to waste.
Jake’s a good guy and everyone in town can’t help but like him. He’s a good detective, too, at least for a town as quiet and small as Wonder Falls. He just hasn’t been informed that the Greenstone heritage involves magic powers, and therefore, his wife is a witch.
I was scared of my own special magical talent, at first. I can communicate with animals, especially cats. Now that I’m older, I really appreciate that I can communicate with Treacle, who’s become my best friend next to Bea.
The skill certainly came in handle on the night of the fire.