Home > The Luminaries (The Luminaries #1)(7)

The Luminaries (The Luminaries #1)(7)
Author: Susan Dennard

That is another reason why she doesn’t come to the Daughter in the mornings. It’s where the popular kids eat breakfast before school.

It’s where Erica eats breakfast before school. They haven’t spoken in four years, and though Erica doesn’t call Winnie witch spawn or Diana scat, she also doesn’t interfere when everyone else does. She just watches, expression inscrutable on her cold, perfectly made-up face. She’d just been getting into eyeliner and contouring when she and Winnie had still been friends. Now she is never without it, and her clothes are always designer, always new.

Erica’s dad, who hails from the Mexican Luminaries originally, is always one of the best dressed in Hemlock Falls, so it’s no surprise Erica is too. And though Erica’s dad still uses the last name Jueves, Erica was born in the American Luminaries. As such, she has the last name Thursday like her mom—who also happens to be head of the Thursday clan.

Everyone expects Erica to follow in Marcia’s perfectly placed three-inch heels. The way Erica looks and speaks and moves these days, she’s already most of the way there.

Winnie reaches the yellow gift bag and recognizes the unicorn tissue paper from last year’s birthday. New pens, she thinks, since that’s what Mom always gives her. Except when she dives in, she finds a fancy plaid glasses case instead.

Excitement wells inside her. She’d been saying she wanted new glasses, but she hadn’t realized Mom had been listening.

Winnie pops open the case, and while the glasses winking up at her aren’t smudged like her current pair, they are kind of scuffed around the edges. And they’re also at least three years out of style, the frames thick when the style is thin.

Winnie swallows.

“I got the wrong kind, didn’t I?”

Winnie jolts. She hadn’t sensed her mom approaching. Even still, Fran moves with the stealth of a Lead Hunter.

“Are they knockoffs? Crap.” Mom swipes the case from Winnie’s grasp. “I really thought they looked fancy.”

“They’re not knockoffs.” Winnie grabs for the case.

Mom easily scoots out of the way. She is scowling at the glasses. “I knew I should have waited until after your birthday, when I could make the trip to Chicago, but I was just so pleased to find these cheap. Dammit, Fran.”

“No.” Winnie grabs her mom’s biceps. Then she squeezes. “They’re great, Mom. Exactly what I wanted. See?” She grabs the case and hastily changes pairs. No more smudge over the left eye, only crisp clarity as Archie shouts in their direction, “Order up!”

Winnie smiles, and Mom flushes all the way to the edge of her graying roots. Winnie hates how desperate it makes her look. Mom wants to believe Winnie, and Winnie wants Mom to believe too. Like, never in her life has she more fiercely wished she were good at this whole lying business.

But alas, Winnie just isn’t convincing enough, and Mom sighs. It is a sound of such dejection and self-loathing that Winnie is struck, for the eight millionth time, by how much she hates her dad. He did this to Francesca Wednesday. He broke her heart—broke all their hearts—and made the toughest hunter in the Wednesday clan into …

Into this.

Not that Mom is broken. Anything but. She is Winnie’s hero and always will be. But before Dad betrayed them, Mom never had any doubts. She was Lead Hunter for the Wednesday clan, and she lived by the Wednesday motto. She hammered loyalty into her kids; she hammered loyalty into Winnie.

Then Mom caught Dad in the middle of a spying spell that would have fed Luminary secrets directly to the Dianas. She’d tried to turn him in. He’d knocked her out. And the rest is shitty history.

“How do I look?” Winnie offers her goofiest smile for Mom, tongue out and teeth bared, and to her relief, Mom grins back.

“Order up!” Archie barks, louder now.

“You look fantastic, Win.” Mom pulls Winnie in for an awkward hug (they’ve never been one for touching) and kisses her hair. “Happy birthday to my most favorite daughter in all the universe—”

“Order.”

“—I hope it’s a good day, and don’t forget: we need to practice your driving—”

“Up.”

“Hellions and banshees, Archie, I freaking heard you!” Mom scowls, looking much more like the hard-ass Lead Hunter Winnie grew up with. A pat on the head for Winnie, then she’s already stalking away to grab more breakfast.

And to serve all the Luminaries who will no longer let her in.

 

 

CHAPTER

7

 


It isn’t that most Luminaries are cruel to Winnie or her family directly. After the spray-painting incident of freshman year had yielded actual punishment from the Council, most of the local Luminaries shifted to ignoring Winnie, Darian, and their mom.

At least to their faces. Behind their backs, however, they do love a good snicker. Or a good whisper. Or even the occasional Oops, I spilled my chai latte all over you. So sorry!

And when Winnie says “behind their backs,” she means it literally. In homeroom, she is forced to sit in the second row because of Ms. Morgan’s inane seat assignments that arrange everyone by grade, which means that today she gets to hear Dante Lunedì whisper-sing “Happy Birthday” at her with slightly modified lyrics and a nice accent.

He and his family might have moved here only two years ago from the Italian branch of the Luminaries, but outcasts like Winnie are despised in all fourteen branches around the world. So even though newcomers regularly join the American Luminaries, they all know exactly how they’re supposed to treat Winnie, Darian, and Mom.

“Happy birthday to you,” Dante sings, “happy birthday to you, happy birthday, witch traitor, happy birthday to you.”

Well, at least someone remembered her birthday. Winnie supposes that must count for something, right?

She doesn’t turn around, because she never turns around. She just drags her No. 2 pencil over a corner of math homework. Here are the sylphid’s horns. Its teeth. Its bark-textured skin. Winnie isn’t in homeroom at all, but back in the forest while the hemlocks and spruce trees breathe. While humidity beads on her skin and the cold sharpens her senses.

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, Diana spawn, happy birthday to you.” Then he adds a spoken “Don’t take my finger bones as a source, sì?”

Most of the classroom is laughing now. Quiet, subtle laughs that are just soft enough they can be silenced in a heartbeat. The only person not laughing is Fatima Wednesday, whose mom is head of the Wednesday clan and therefore a councilor. She whisper-hisses “Stop” at Dante, as well as “No Diana would want your gross fingers.”

As much as Winnie wants to give Fatima a grateful glance, she dares not turn around. She’s afraid if she does, it will somehow confirm that no Diana would want his gross fingers. Then people will question how Winnie knows such a thing, and it won’t matter that she doesn’t. That even to this day, she has no idea what her dad’s source was made of or where he may have buried it in the forest.

Twelve more hours, Winnie tells herself. In twelve more hours, she’ll be starting the first trial. She presses her pencil into the paper and sketches out a long sylphid finger, almost rootlike in its gnarly shape. Twelve more hours, twelve more hours.

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