Celeste woke up with a start. Beads of sweat started to roll down her face and gently dissipated. She struggled to catch her breath, trying to forget the nightmare that had been chasing her all her life. She looked around at her drab surroundings, the walls of her shabby outdoor tent blowing a bit in the wind. She stretched a bit, found some socks to put on, and left her hovel to join the rest of her family.

She entered the house to a general air of coldness and sterility. Her adoptive family was gathered around a large, circular table. There was three of them; Aunt Midge and Uncle Mordichai and their son Larry. Midge was a tall, caring woman with compassionate eyes. She wore comfortable, unassuming clothes and could never find it in her heart to judge another. Her husband of 15 years, Mordichai (Mordi to his friends) was a banker and an avid Larry Davids fan. He had a large fu Manchu which he wore gloriously with his sharply pressed suits. He was the toast of all the parties, had an incredible amount of empathy for all and was generally warmly received at any social gathering. Their son was a different matter. Larry was shy and tall, almost ungainly. He was, though, for all intents and purposes, a gentle giant and it was universally accepted that he was a source of inspiration for Lique Lane, as he was slightly retarded. 

The Goldstein house was warm and tactful; nothing out of place. If a stranger were to enter the premise they would feel instantly at home, for the residence oozed the inner warmth of the Goldstein’s. They had a modest home, two stories and ample room for another should they wish it. They were a modest family of modest means, yet were tireless in their charity. 

Celeste entered the house a bit warily, a hint of a glare in her eyes. Midge was in the kitchen, busying herself with breakfast. Mordi was helping Larry with some homework. All three said their salutations to Celeste with cheery abandon. Celeste just paused, looked them over, considered it, then sat down. 

“How did you sleep, dear? I hope it wasn’t too cold out there for you!” Uncle Mordi cooed brightly. “Alright, I suppose…those ravenous dogs haven’t been around lately” Celeste said. From somewhere in the kitchen Aunt Midge spoke up, “I do hope you would reconsider. We’ve been offering you the upstairs room for years! We worry about you so much.” “I bet you’d like that” Celeste muttered darkly under her breath. “What was that, sunshine?” “Nothing” Celeste quickly replied.

The mail slot clicked and the shuffle and flop of several pieces of post could be heard. “Celeste can you get the mail” Midge said as she was flopping down eggs on Celeste’s plate. They were just the way she loved them. She threw her hands on the table to hoist herself up, “It’s not like I’m your slave or anything” she spat at them and rushed off to the door. The family just stared at each other a brief while then shrugged their shoulders and went back to what they were doing. 

Celeste came back and plopped the mail on the table. She was going over the letter in her hand. It was on eggshell colored paper with bright purple ink in an elegant scroll. She opened the letter slowly and deliberately, excitement coursing through her body. I never get mail. Who could this be from? How odd, no return address. The others kept talking in the background, unaware of the witchcraft brewing right in front of them. She opened it, her hands shaking with excitement. 

YOU HAVE BEEN PRE-APPROVED TO LOWER YOUR MORTGAGE! It read. Her heart dropped. How anti-climatic, she thought. Suddenly there was a thunderous boom that shook the house to its core. Uncle Mordi got up hastily and went to check it out. The rest of the family was on their feet, mouths agape and collecting flies, shock and awe paralyzing them. Mordi reached the door, opened it excitedly and peered out. A confused look came about him as it appeared that he had confronted nothing but the street in front of him. Mordi was then met with a sharp pain around his shins. He yelped in pain and looked down…and was met with a midget.

“Out of my way, out of my way” Said Hagard pushing his way through. The rest of the family heard the racket and came into the living room to investigate. “How dare you try to accost me! The Commandant himself will here about this!” He pushed his way through, waving frantically around. Finally he stopped, his gaze right at Celeste. 

“Hello, Celeste. It’s been a while”.

“How do you know my name?”

“My dear, I know quite a bit about you, and I’ve come back to tell you something important, very important.”

The Goldsteins just stared in shock, eyes wide. Finally, Celeste said at last, “What is it you want to tell me?”

“You’re a Speller, Celeste.”