It was three days after Josina’s visit to the Hargrave family, and every day her feelings about the visit got worse. She dropped her shovel on the potting table. Not even re-potting things in the greenhouse could distract her. She needed to talk to someone. An outside perspective would settle her worries.
After cutting a few early spring flowers to give to Lucia, she made short work of the trip on her bike.
“What brings you here so long before term starts?” Lucia said as she saw Josina stand on her doorstep. Even for an unannounced visit, Lucia was dressed impeccably, wearing an old-fashioned purple dress that she’d last seen worn by an ancient looking fellow at a gardening convention. It suited her well though, as all things she wore tended to.
“Here to get some advice from my most experienced colleague, what else?”
Lucia rolled her eyes. “Don’t flatter me, you could have called at least. I could have been busy.” Despite her words, she stepped aside to allow her to enter.
Josina put her hand to her chest in faux offence. “And I even brought flowers!”
“Well you should have said so immediately!” she said with a grin. As she turned to lead the way to the living room, she threw over her shoulder; “Flowers are always welcome in my home.”
Josina slowly trailed after her, eyes lingering on the paintings lining the hallway. Deep blues, dark shadows, nearly indistinguishable waves as seen from below. A cold chill ran down her back. Lucia had put a lot of emotive magic in this one.
“New painting?” she asked as she entered the living room to see Lucia prepare a vase for the flowers.
Lucia’s smile turned a little crooked. “Just a view from a recurring dream. Sometimes painting them helps drive the dreams away. Is it too much?”
“No, keep it.” She handed the flowers over. “Nothing like a bit of cold despair when you enter a home.”
Lucia chuckled. “Right, I’ll trust your judgement.” She adjusted the vase, fiddled a bit more with the flowers and then sat back satisfied. “There. You sit down as well. What did you need advice on?”
She flopped down ungracefully, face turning serious as she thought back on her visit. “It’s one of the new students—or prospective students I should say.”
“They didn’t accept?”
She shook her head. “I didn’t even get that far. Her mother exploded the minute I talked about magic.”
Lucia winced. “Religious?”
“No, that’s the thing. She already knew about magic, said she’d been looking for it even, but at some point her memories were erased and she thought I was there to do it again. She even accused me of wanting to steal her daughter away!”
Lucia leaned forward, expression eager, waiting for more.
“And then she closed the door in my face.”
“Have you contacted them since?”
“No, I’ve been thinking about it for days.” She mindlessly looked over the bookcases lining the walls. Her voice turned quiet. “I can’t get it out of my head. Why would anyone erase their memories of unicorns?”
Lucia stood up. “Is that the magic they were looking for? Unicorns?” She entered the kitchen. Josina could hear her rummaging around for cups.
“I think so. She said something about mythical creatures.”
Her head appeared around the door, eyes alight with excitement. “Ooh, a cryptid hunter?”
Josina blinked. “I have no idea what that is.”
“Get with the times! It’s what they call mythical creatures nowadays. Give me a moment, I’ll grab my laptop.”
“Get with the times,” she scoffed. “I work with plants, not creatures.” A minute later Lucia came back with coffee in her hands and her laptop under her arm.
Rapidly typing her password, she asked, “What was she called again?”
Lucia paused her typing, raised an eyebrow. “You don’t know her first name?”
“Well she didn’t introduce herself!”
“You really should research your students and their families before going to their houses you know,” she said as she resumed typing.
“I’ll take it under consideration,” she said into her cup.
“Here, Adalynn Hargrave, reporter at ‘The Cryptid’. A few of her articles are available for free.”
Josina leaned over to see the page. ‘Mothman’, ‘The Loch Ness Monster’, and biggest, in the middle of the page, ‘Unicorns! What don’t they want us to know?’
Lucia laughed. “Oh man, let’s read what she has to say. This has to be good.”
Josina put her head in her hands and groaned.
“Oh this is great. ‘A week after coming back from my latest trip, I go through my notes to find something I never expected; Detailed notes on an encounter with actual unicorns. All in my handwriting. But I have no recollection of writing it or of the meeting. The date noted I actually stayed in the hotel all day not doing much of anything, very strange now I think about it.’ Sure sounds like she got a memory wipe.”
“I wasn’t worried about her lying, I’m worried that it happened at all. It shouldn’t have happened.” But Lucia wasn’t listening.
“Listen to this! ‘While not the first evidence of a secret magical society I’ve encountered, this one worries me a great deal. If they can erase memories, how do I know it hasn’t happened to me before, and how do I know it won’t happen in the future?’ Secret magical society!” She cackled. “Does she think we have a separate government too or something?”
Josina pulled on her hair in frustration. “How do I convince someone like that to send her daughter to magic school?”
She didn’t even look up. “Shouldn’t be too hard.” She said. “Look at all these articles, read a few of them. She’s so excited about these creatures and about magic.”
Josina looked at her in disbelief. “Did you not hear the part where she screamed at me and slammed the door in my face?”
“Oh man this girl is going to be great. If this is her mother, I can only imagine how she’ll be in class. Her father is a fiction writer too, she’s going to be so much fun.”
“We won’t get to teach her if I can’t convince her parents to trust me.”
“Look here, the whole family spent half a year in the US searching for various creatures and other evidence of magic.” Josina stared at the walls in dismay.
“Aren’t you worried that someone was playing with their memories in the first place?”
“I can’t believe they didn’t find anything.” Lucia mumbled. “They must have the worst luck.” She sounded happy about that.
Josina groaned. That was the crux of it. If they really did search for magic that much, they should have found more, they had to have, which could only mean more of their memories had been lost. Why would anyone bother to erase the memories of some random non-magicals?
She wanted to figure it out, and for that she would have to talk to them, and for that she would have to gain their trust… somehow.
“I came here because I hoped you’d seen something like this before.”
Lucia grinned. “Nope,” she said, “you’re out of luck. Maybe send them a letter?”
“A letter?” she said tiredly. “Why not, I’ll send them a letter, can’t be worse than another visit.”