Big Witch Energy - Kelly Jamieson Page 0,1

a solid plan. My mom was cautious and responsible and encouraged me to be so also. Even though sometimes it drove me bonkers. There were times I felt so constricted I just wanted to burst out and do something wild.

“The tequila made me do it,” I joke.

“You’ve been complaining about being bored,” Hannah reminds me. “You needed to do this.”

She’s right. I’m bored with my job. I’m the best software designer at Summit Insurance, but that’s not satisfying me anymore. I’m bored with my nice condo decorated in the neutral colors the last owner chose. I’m bored with my life.

“I’m glad you did it,” Kesha says. “Find your family. Quit your job. Get a dog. Live your life the way you want to.”

I stare at her. “I can’t just quit my job.”

“Why not?” She shrugs. “Your Etsy business is doing great. You could work full time at that. You have money saved.”

That’s true too. My mom always said A penny saved is a penny earned and Money doesn’t grow on trees. So I’ve scrimped and saved… enough to buy this condo, a good investment. But I haven’t gone on trips or bought pretty shoes. Or splurged on fresh flowers for myself.

Now in my head I’m hearing You only live once. You can’t take it with you.

I always wanted a dog. Mom said they were too much work.

I always wanted sisters and brothers. I never told Mom that. I wanted Thanksgiving holidays with a house full of people, lots of birthdays to celebrate, lots of people who have your back. Lots of love.

I study the envelope again.

“Open it!” Hannah urges, blue eyes wide.

“I feel like I’m betraying my mom,” I say slowly, rubbing my upper arms.

“Oh no.” Kesha’s gaze softens. “Why?”

“I don’t know.” I pick up my glass and take another gulp. “She never told me much about my dad. She said she didn’t know him well. She certainly never brought up ever trying to find him. I always wondered about it. She could have had child support at least. But anytime the topic of him came up, she shut down. She clearly didn’t want to talk about him.”

“I don’t think it’s betraying her to want to know more about your heritage,” Kesha says softly.

“I suppose not.” I gaze into the flame of my candle. Suddenly a feeling of pressure rises up inside me, like a balloon filling up and pressing on my lungs. All my life I’ve done what my mom wanted. I’ve been careful and practical. I wanted to take musical theater; she didn’t like the idea of my being on stage. I wanted to draw and paint; she was focused on math. I went into a career with good pay and employment prospects. I pushed away any thoughts about knowing who my father is because I knew it would upset her. I don’t regret it. I have a good life. She was a good mom.

Mom’s not here now. I miss her. But dammit… “I do want to know my father. I need more in my life. I want family. Fun. Maybe a little excitement.”

I start as the flame of my red candle flares higher and flickers sideways.

I look at my two best friends, encouraging me to step outside the ordinary box of my life and do something daring.

“What are you afraid of?” Hannah asks softly.

“I don’t know. Lots of things. I’m afraid I won’t have any family. Or maybe I do, and they’re serial killers. Or sex traffickers. Or cannibals.” My eyes widen as my spine stiffens.

Kesha pats the air in a calm down gesture.

“Or I’ll find out I’m going to develop some debilitating, untreatable disease at age thirty.”

Hannah’s lips turn downward. “Oh jeez. I’m sure that’s not going to happen.”

I let out a slow breath, relaxing. “I love you guys.”

“We love you too,” Hannah says. “And we’re with you on this.”

“Thank you for being here.” I lift my glass to my lips and drain it, tilting my head back to get every last drop. Then I set down the glass and pick up the envelope. “Eeek.”

“Go on.”

I open it and start reading. My gaze moves quickly over the paper, taking in the words. I read it again. “Okay,” I say slowly. “There’s someone listed as a close relative.” I look up. “Whatever that means. Her name is Felise Candler.”

They frown.

“Not your dad,” Hannah says.

“Obviously not,” Kesha replies. “But it could be a link to your dad.”

I bite my lip. “I guess.”

“Are you going to contact her?” Hannah