The Mirrorlands Chapter 2

          "No sweetheart," Gigi half said and half giggled. "There is no such thing as real magic, and even if there was, that thing surely isn't it!" Her giggle was now threatening to become a full-throated laugh, and she didn't want Ace to think he had asked a stupid question. She took a deep breath to regain her composure and continued. "It's kind of like making a wish before you blow out your birthday candles, or leaving cookies out for Santa Claus. They aren't real but it's fun to play along." She hoped the explanation would be enough. She didn't think it would be appropriate to tell him that as a young girl, she and her friends would have Magic 8-Ball sessions during their sleepovers, asking the popular toy ever important questions like "Does Billy Johnson like me back?"

          "Wait...what?" Ace stammered out, his face turning deadly serious. "Santa isn't real?"

           Gigi could feel her heart drop to the soles of her feet. Her mouth went dry as she wracked her brain trying to recall the Santa talk that she and Glue Guy had with Ace a few years ago. She was sure that Ace had actually come to them when he was 8 or 9 years old and told them that he knew Santa wasn't real, but they had kept the charade going until he was 10...mostly for their own benefit. They finally gave in when he asked them how it was scientifically possible for a single man to travel to every house in the world in a single night. Not to mention that he was fat...and reindeer don't fly. Gigi would never forget that day, as they had laughed so hard that the beer that Glue Guy was drinking suddenly shot out of his nose! This had led to even more laughter, but now looking at Ace's face, she had a sinking feeling that he didn't remember as clearly as she did. Tears started to well up in her eyes as she prepared for the worst.

          "Gotcha!" Ace exclaimed, and he immediately burst into a laughter so hard that he doubled over, trying to get more words out but failing to find the breath to utter a single, coherent syllable. "I..was...just...kidding...Mama." he managed to stutter out between gasps and peals of laughter.

          It took Gigi a moment to drag her heart back to its upright and locked position, and then she joined in his merriment. "I'm gonna get you for that one!" she told him through clenched teeth, her stomach beginning to ache in the way that could only come from the funniest of jokes. "Well played, sir. Well played." By the time they managed to get their laughter under control, they were both out of breath and tears were smearing both of their faces. If someone were to walk in at that moment, they would think the family dog just died. Or at least the other family dog, because there was a black Maltipoo with a grumpy look on his face sitting vigil on a pile of plush blankets beside the front door.

          "Try it out, kiddo. Ask it a question and give it a shake." Again, she made a gesture mimicking a shaking movement.

          Ace gave the 8-Ball a questioning look, his eyes making exaggerated thinking movements. "Is Salem gonna be grumpy for the rest of his life?" he asked with a wry smile on his face, glancing at the aforementioned Maltipoo that was still wearing his best Doggie Scowl. Ace gave the Magic 8-Ball a vigorous shake and then flipped it around until the side with the plastic window was facing up. Then started another round of earth shaking laughter as he held the novelty toy up for Gigi to see. Before she could reach out and take it from him to see what was so funny, he managed to compose himself and say, "As I see it, Yes!" Now the earth shaking laughter of a moment earlier transformed into universe shaking, and it would be five minutes before either of them could do anything but laugh, cry, and gasp for breath.

          When Gigi finally pulled herself together, she got back to the task at hand while Ace continued asking the 8-Ball silly questions in the background. She had this idea that she would give all of the pieces she made their own names. She would tell stories in her head while she was going through the steps of making her pieces perfect, and by the time a piece was finished it felt like each piece had its own personality. It felt right that they should have a name to go with it. Gigi reached into the display case and gently removed the very first piece she had ever made, running through her mental Rolodex of names in an effort to find the name that would fit perfectly. Names are important, as once a person or thing is named, it is stuck with that moniker forever...or at least until you went through the painstaking process of having it legally changed.

          "Mama. I asked it if we are going to be rich. Guess what it said?" Again she was pulled out of her thoughts by the sound of her son's voice. "It is decidedly so!" he exclaimed. "I'm sure it was right about Salem being grumpy forever," As if on cue, the Maltipoo by the door let out a customary growl to let them know he knew they were talking about him. "Maybe it will be right about us being rich!" Ace wasn't prone to emotional outbursts unless something triggered one of his phobias, so the pure joy in his voice was sweet music to her ears.

          "Why don't you ask it if it has a name for this necklace?" Gigi said to her son, reveling in the opportunity to share in his enthusiasm.

          "What should my mom name that necklace?" Ace asked the plastic orb, his face taking on an air of mock seriousness. He gave it a solid shake, and as he was doing his best Psychic impression, the lights flickered slightly. She would have to ask Glue Guy to make sure there were new bulbs in all of the light fixtures. The building was old, after all, and there were probably more than just light bulbs that Glue Guy would be changing when all was said and done.

          "Well, buddy? Did your new friend come up with a name?" she asked. "Wait, let me guess. It thinks I should name it 'Ask Again Later', right?" she said with a chuckle.

           "No," Ace replied, his face as white as a sheet. "Scarlet."