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copyright © 1999, 2000,2001   Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved

Survival and Balance, continued

          “You’ll never believe what happened,” Melissa begins.
           Penny wears a wry smile as she goes through the motions of getting a cup of champagne punch. She turns to face Melissa, cup in hand. Penny drops her natural mental defenses against mind reading and let Melissa have the full story of her encounter with Sandy on the wharf.
          Melissa’s eyes slowly widen and she almost drops her cup of punch. Just then, one of Penny’s co-workers interrupts to wish Penny a happy birthday and make a few minutes of idle small talk. Penny smoothly interacts with her co-worker while Melissa stands there with her jaw still on the floor.
          When Penny’s co-worker finally leaves, she turns back to Melissa. Penny takes her hand and slowly closes Melissa’s jaw. Penny raises an eyebrow and says, “ So, what happened on your end?” Melissa fills Penny in on everything that happened; the conversation with Penny’s future self, and the encounter with April on the beach. Mind reading isn’t one of Penny’s powers. Finally, Melissa’s tale is over and it’s her turn to raise an eyebrow.
          “Where’s your jacket, Penny?” Melissa asks.
          Penny reaches for a non-existent jacket around her shoulders and remembers what she did with it. She can’t hide the disappointment that quickly forms on her face.
          “Melissa . . . my jacket’s in the future.”
          “Too bad. You really liked that jacket. Well, hopefully, your niece will take good care of it.” Both women share a laugh, even though Penny really does miss the jacket.
          “Melissa, remind me tomorrow to make an addition to Sandy’s Book of Magik.” Based on her unsummoned meeting with the future Sandy, she needs to change their present to update Sandy’s future.
          Sandy materializes in a dark room with a bed, but it isn’t her bedroom. She is standing in her bare feet and pajamas in the dark with a woman’s dinner jacket draped over her shoulders. Sandy becomes aware of the beeps and other noises being made by monitors in the hospital ward. When her eyes begin to focus, she realizes that she is neither in her own bedroom nor on the docks with her Aunt Penny. Sandy eventually wanders over to the bed. In the dim light, Sandy recognizes


ORDER: A CIRCLE OF TWO: Book of Newport