Chapter 1: Learning about Aunt Jenna

Asta and Ally Flake sat in the Express Train, staring out the window at the beautiful wilderness we were passing. Asta was reflecting on the recent death of their parents Willa and Alex Flake. They had been on a plane coming back from a trip visiting their friends Hannah and Rosie, both marine biologists. A storm had come up and the pilot had not been able to see. They had smashed right into the Rockies. Supposedly right before they hit a big flash of lightning had shown them their fate. "How could they just die, die and leave me to take care of Ally, without them! I miss them so much. And plus Mama left Aunt Aria to be our guardian, so I won't be able to see Grandpa and Grandma at all because they don't approve of her!"
"Asta," her 5-year-old sister asked, her cherubic face looking angelically up at Asta's, "Who is Aunt Aria? Why didn't Mama and Papa tell us all about her? That is except for some funny stories about Mama and her?"

"Ally, Mama and Papa would have, but Grandpa and Grandma don't approve of her." I answered carefully. I had known I would have to explain eventually, but I had procrastinated.

"What does approve mean?" she asked me.

"It means if you think that person, thing or idea is right." I said, thinking to myself, "I am going to be doing this a lot!". "Aunt Aria is a Wiccan, and Grandpa and Grandma don't think that she should be. So Momma and Papa were reluctant to tell us about her. When I was younger, about your age she still lived in the house with us. I was named after her. Asta was one of the names she called herself. She was like my personal nannie because she worked as a kindergarten teacher at a half day kindergarten, and she got home earlier than Momma and Papa. She would tell me stories about her and Mama growing up. She would tell me this one story over and over because I loved it. It was the story of when she, Rosie, Hannah, Momma, and a couple of other people, had trouble with magic! It happened in our own backyard! I loved her. I don't know if I even still like her, because I was little at the time and I bigger now," I finished a short explanation.

"If her being a wiccy is not liked why did she live with us? What is a wiccy? Did she live in the boarded up room?" she questioned me eagerly, her face alight with a hunger to learn more about the mysterious Aunt Aria.

"It's Wiccan, not wiccy for starters. Wicca is a religion which uses and worships the forces of nature Well, before that she had not declared herself a wiccan, I mean Momma knew, but our grandparents didn't know it. And yes, she lived in the boarded up room. Momma kept her things there in case she ever came back."

"Oh. Will we ever go back home? I miss the swing-set and Mommy and Daddy."

"Well when we grow up we are going to get the house or Aunt Aria can take us to live there permanently or just for vacations. I don't miss the swing- set, but if we ever go back, Momma and Papa won't be there. At least we still have Obsidian, Queen of the Stream and Teddy Junior." I answered, naming our 3 cats.

"Why won't they be at home?"

"Ally, they are dead, gone. They died like the girl with leukemia in Forever Gone. We won't see them again."

"Yes, we will. They'll come back. I know they will. They were not sick like Elizabeth. Why would they die? They know that we would not want them to go away. Did Aunt Aria write Forever Gone? Mommy was always crying whenever she read it and when I asked why she said a person very dear to her wrote it and that person was dead to her."

"Yes, Aunt Aria did write that book. I don't see why you like it so much. It is so sad."

"Hmph" was the only answer from Ally. It was often like that if someone said something she liked was silly. "Asta, will Aunt Aria look like Mommy? With long golden hair and pretty blue eyes?" inquired Ally.

"Well, I don't remember her face very well, but I know that she had long golden hair because she used to let me braid it. Even in braids it reached down to her bottom! In the picture Mama showed me two years ago she had blue eyes the color of the sky, but that was when she was a teenager."

"Oh. Why didn't Grandpa and Grandma approve of her being a Wiccan?"

"Because they thought that it was essentially sort of evil. You see part of it is magic and they thought that that was wrong to practice it as a religion. Before Aria and Grandpa were really close. I think that it is more Grandma is the one who does not approve of her."

"Why did Mama want us at Aunt Aria's and not with our Grandparents?"

"I don't know Ally. I wish we were with our grandparents. I know that Aria does come to family reunions, but never stays at our house."

"When we get there will you always stay with me and not let me be scared?"

"Of course I will. I'll protect you, don't worry."

"Okay, night, I'm tie-tie."

"have a good nap."