“There is something inside of you, Sabrina,” her mother said once. “Something hungry. Something evil.”
She is eighteen when she realizes that her mother had been wrong. There is nothing inside of her, and never has been. She is empty hallways, long corridors, dark basements. She is a host to nothing, and a vessel for everything.
In the attic of her body, there is a dollhouse, but that is empty, too.
Sabrina is born with a silver spoon, until one day, it bends and snaps.
Her mother says, “That’s alright, my love. Silver is delicate and breakable. We can replace it.”
Two sets of dinnerware later, and her parents never buy anything expensive for her again.
When she is little, she wakes late at night, every night. Her mind swims with light and sound, with energy.
She thinks she has the entire world trapped in her head.
Her mother’s voice breaks through, it says, “I don’t know what to do with that girl anymore. She’s so strange. The way she talks, the way she looks at me. Like she wants to kill me.”
Her parents sleep on the floor above hers. Sabrina looks up at the ceiling, through the lace canopy surrounding her bed, her room pink and girlish in the way her mother had always hoped she would be.
Sabrina turns over on her side, and cries.
This will be the last time.
The floorboards creak underfoot and her mother looks at her strangely.
These days, everyone does. But not her father. He never looks at her with anything but love. He calls her little light, and then he goes to work, and she goes to school, and her mother goes to her daughter’s room and burns incense, burns sage, burns the demons right out of the girl.
A door slams shut.
A curtain blows without wind.
“It’s an old house,” her father says, “it settles.”
But her mother is looking at her.
This is not a haunting.
This is not Sabrina, or the constellations crowning her head. The way she knows things, before anyone else does, before her mother can speak.
An abra appears in her room one day. Ten-year-old Sabrina glares.
“So it’s you,” she says, “ruining everything.”
It disappears again, but this is the first time, and the next time she’s ready to catch it.
Her mother hits her once, and only once, in her life.
A sharp slap across the cheek, tears in the woman’s eyes as she cries, “Do not say those things, Sabrina.”
“It’s true.” Teenaged Sabrina rubs her cheek. “There’s another woman. She’s not as pretty as you.”
They don’t talk about it when her father comes home. Sabrina tells him that a girl got rough with her at school, that the bright red print on her cheek is nothing.
Sabrina leaves when she’s eighteen. Her parents are still together, and she they always will be. In that house, no one speaks. There is only quiet and the sound of footsteps. Locked doors. Her mother’s lips in a frown.
It all sounds so loud, these days, even the quiet. She’s always on the edge of something, the edge of everything.
Quiet only comes with kadabra, an ushering of her power out of her and into him. She wonders how strong he is now.
When they face the Fighting Dojo together, she finds out.
Her mother never calls, not once.
Her father’s number a list of five missed calls, all deleted.
She faces a classmate in her Gym. He’s surprised to see her, because she’s so new, so sudden. Tall now, hair dark and smooth around her shoulders.
“Three pokémon,” she announces. “No battle items. Healing is permitted. How have you been, Junji?”
He swallows. He had set her skirt on fire when they were nine, laughed at her when she tried to put it out.
Alakazam leads with fire punch.
Her father says, “Come home, Sabrina. I love you.”
She says, “If you did, you would never tell me to go back to her.”
After that, neither of them says anything for a very long time.
She brews tea the same time of day, every day.
Boils water, pours it over tea leaves. It steeps while looks out her apartment window. She looks over her shoulder, at the table, and smiles. Brings the teapot over to pour a cup for herself, and one for her mother.
Across the table from her sits a doll, the delicate porcelain of her face worn under the indelicate touch of a child’s hands.
“Thank you for coming, Mother,” she says, placing the cup and saucer in front of her. “I’ve missed you.”