A Touching the Veil Short Story

© September 2015 by A. Russo, all rights reserved.


It was a chilly day in the Northeast. Winter was fast approaching, bringing with it the delicious, sooty-smoky-fresh smell of snow. In October, it wasn’t unusual. People were cleaning out their chimneys if they hadn’t already, preparing for the comfort and warmth of a crackling cozy fire to cheer them through the shortened days.

I tucked my hands deeper into the pockets of my coat as I walked slowly along the sidewalks of New Harpersford. I wasn’t from here but I wasn’t in any hurry to leave. I’d felt the vibe of the city already and it was a friendly, pleasant place for the most part. It was built, like many cities in New York State, into and along the rolling hills. No straight, grid-like roads here – just in the small section of the city that called itself ‘downtown.’ The rest of New Harpersford was all ups and downs, rows of apartment buildings and brownstones with little mom and pop corner markets and the occasional café or pizza place. The smells of this city were delicious. It was a true melting pot of cuisine; on one street I could smell the toasty dough of a pizza crust, tangy tomato sauce, spicy pepperoni. As I rounded another corner I was hit in the face with the pleasantly warm spiciness of curry from another small restaurant. A block down, the savory aroma of a street vendor’s hot dog cart made my mouth water in the best way.

I hadn’t eaten since the night before. I wasn’t short on cash or anything, I just hadn’t really been hungry when I’d rolled into town pretty late on the train. Now my stomach told me that mid-afternoon was far too long to wait. It growled at me, irritable, and I turned my head as another delicious scent hit my nose. Pastry. Soup. Subs. Simple fare, just what I craved.

I followed my nose to a little red brick building nestled in amongst the rest of the shops on this street. This appeared to be a pretty decent section of the city, maybe a little bit hipster with its selection of somewhat trendy boutiques and organic eateries. The place I stood in front of appeared to have dual purposes; upstairs it was clearly a living space if the curtains and blinds across the windows were any indication. Downstairs at the street level a sign swung easily over the door, with a silhouetted bear ambling above the words, ‘The Hungry Bear.’

Well, why not?

I walked into the café, the aromas inside quickly wrapping around me. Hell, they practically pulled me in. Fresh bread, some kind of beef stock, maybe, herbs and spices and even a whiff of vanilla from the cookies in the display. I suddenly had a yearning for a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, something my mom used to make for me when I was little. I rubbed my stomach and approached the counter, wondering if they even had that particular combination available.

A young man was busy behind the glass display of fresh rolls and loaves. He was tall, maybe just over six feet, and he had the look of one who had only just begun to grow into his height. He was whipcord-lean and just a little bit gangly. He was bent over facing away from me and I knew my eyes lingered a little bit on his pert backside but I wasn’t ashamed to ogle a little bit since there wasn’t anyone else in the shop at the moment. It was just after the lunch rush, which was probably why he was restocking and the café was vacant.

The young employee stood, noticing me, and smiled. He had a narrow, pleasing face. Strawberry blond hair, just a little shaggy, fell slightly into his eyes which flashed a handsome silvery grey. An unusual color and very attractive.

Straining myself just a little I focused into my second sight. With just a moment’s concentration, the Veil revealed itself to me. Life force, energy, whatever you wanted to call it, it lay over everything I could perceive like a blanket. In most people it sort of wrapped around them, moving across their skin without really touching it or sinking in, but in this young man as well as myself, it passed through and out again, creating a slight silver nimbus around us. In him it was nearly blinding, and for a moment he appeared to have been made of Veil.

I couldn’t hold the sight for long; not many could – and the young man was so brilliant, literally, brightly blazing, that I was practically stunned back into my normal vision. I’d seen what I wanted to see though. I returned the young man’s smile and he gave me a knowing nod as I blinked my eyes.

“New here?” he asked cheerfully.

“Just passing through,” I replied. “It’s not for me.”

The man nodded easily again, no offense taken. That’s how it was with my kind. I was a witch, or a warlock if you cared about gender distinctions. Among Veil-users we were the most common breed. My talents weren’t particularly strong but I still had the same mindset as the rest of my type; once we Silvered, or came into our powers, we were overcome with the urge to travel until we found a place that spoke to us. Once there, we stayed forever with forays away now and then. Our magic wasn’t as fast to act as mages’ powers, nor were our abilities as strong as those of shamans or walkers.

Once a witch settled into a place we grew with it, and it with us. We became strong in that location, able to focus the Veil around us through some sort of medium and use it as our abilities permitted. I’d known witches who could do spectacular things; my own father, on his farm in Pennsylvania, could make his seedlings grow overnight with simple meditation and no blight ever touched his crops. Away from his land, though, he would struggle to make even a single flower bloom.

“What can I get for you?”

I turned my attention back to the man behind the counter. And then tore my eyes away to briefly peruse the overhead menu. “Uh, actually I was sort of craving…” I trailed off, not seeing what I wanted.

Silver-shot grey eyes danced at me and strawberry-blond eyebrows rose in query. I cleared my throat. He saved me a moment of awkwardness by saying, “We might be able to make whatever it is you want even if you don’t see it there.”

“I was wondering if you had grilled cheese and tomato soup.”

The man’s face lit up. “Oh, yeah. Weiss makes a killer tomato basil soup. We have some back in the freezer. If you’ve got a few minutes I’ll get it out for you, but it’ll take me maybe fifteen to warm it up. And grilled cheese. I have a really nice smoked cheddar from just outside town. Will that do?”

“Yeah, that would be great. I can wait a little. It feels like snow, anyhow.”

The young man glanced out the window. “Mm. Looks like it, too,” he agreed.

I sat at a table in the corner and watched the few pedestrians travel past while he got to work on my order. I could hear his voice in the back of the café, joined by another deeper one. I couldn’t make out the words but it didn’t matter, I just liked hearing them. Witches enjoyed company; it was rare for us to live away from heavily populated areas unless, like my folks, we had regular interactions with large groups. My parents frequently visited farmers’ markets and went into the nearest town with their produce, so they appeased themselves that way.

The sky got darker and greyer and I closed my eyes and hummed to myself as I turned my focus inward again and just felt. I was being pulled north, a little bit. Out of this city, perhaps toward the next one. Wherever I was meant to be, it wouldn’t be long before I found it. That much I knew. The urge to head in that direction had been growing stronger and stronger.

I opened my eyes at the sound of someone clearing their throat. “Sorry,” the young man apologized, but he needn’t have, as he was standing there holding a serving tray with my very welcome lunch on it.

I shook my head. “Just wool-gathering,” I explained with a smile. “Trying to figure out where I’m going. North, I think. Maybe a little west.”

The man’s eyebrows rose. “Really? Nothing that way for a while. Just a lot of land.”

I shrugged. “I guess that’s where I’m headed.”

He gave a thoughtful little ‘hmm’ and a soft smile crossed his lips as those odd eyes of his flashed silver again. “Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

He left me to eat in peace and it was every bit as delicious as I’d hoped. The tomato soup was tangy and sweet and hot, with a little crouton of bread on top of it and a sprinkle of the same smoky cheddar that was in my sandwich. The sandwich itself was gooey, melty perfection, toasted to the most perfect golden brown and rich with butter. I ate slowly because I didn’t want it to be over. This was just what I’d wanted. That little taste of home I’d been missing.

Contentment seeped into me as I nibbled at my sandwich and sipped my soup slowly. I felt the warmth of love and home wrap around me, and although I wasn’t the most Veil-sensitive person on the planet I was still familiar enough with its feel to recognize that a witch must live here. This wasn’t an entirely natural feeling, but it was one I had known all my life growing up on my parents’ farm. Because my father was a warlock he’d made that land his. It was attuned to all of us but him most of all. I knew the feeling of a place that was loved and loved its person back. Someone lived here at The Hungry Bear, someone even stronger than my father, whose magic had steeped the building for at least a few years, filling those who entered with a sense of hearth and home. That was what happened when witches found their place. What would happen when I did.

The voice in the back grew clearer as they approached. They were still light and happy, and I looked up to see the young man emerge from the back with a big smile on his face, cheeks flushed attractively with laughter, dusting flour from his hands and leaving white prints on the black apron he wore. He was followed by a tall, muscular man who looked only a little older with dark curly hair pulled back into a ponytail at his nape. This man carried a large tray of fresh rolls which he slid onto a rack behind the counter and began to put into a bin. His expression wasn’t as open as the younger man’s was but there was a sparkle in his caramel-colored eyes and a tilt to his lips that spoke of a softer kind of happiness, not the puppylike exuberance of his younger companion.

I looked at him with the second sight again and saw that he, too, had a silver nimbus around him, a good bright one – although, when I did it like this my results weren’t always perfectly accurate. There appeared to be threads of silver tying him to the younger man, and yet more that tied him to the café and the entire building, even rooting him to the very ground he walked on. This, then, was my warlock unless my eyes deceived me. The other man must be a mage, or a witch not yet Silvered (though very close to it, or I’d not have seen him shining so brightly). I hoped for his sake it was the former, because the two of them exchanged little touches that made it seem like they were together as a couple and two witches together could be problematic if their heart’s homes were in different places.

I hadn’t even considered looking for love yet myself. Not because of any aversion to it, but because I’d known intuitively from the time I was little that I’d be a witch like my father, brother, and sister. Of our whole family only my mother wasn’t Veil-touched. She didn’t care though; it didn’t seem to affect the love between my parents and she’d never treated any of her children any differently because of it.

I’d wrapped my family tight around my heart though, knowing I’d have to leave them eventually and that was bad enough. There was no point in falling for a boy when I knew I was going to have to leave. I’d had a happy childhood and my teenaged years were fine too. I’d suffered my fair share of bullying, being tall and skinny all my life. I was always called beanpole or scarecrow. Later on when my slightly effeminate mannerisms had drawn the attention of my peers I was homo or fag as well, but honestly I got it no worse than the heavyset girl who got called piglet all the time or the geeky guy who was always labeled a nerd and a poindexter. I’d survived it. And with my family by my side I’d never had to look far for acceptance. I was gay, my sister was bisexual, and my other brother was straight. My parents just teased us lovingly, laughing with us about our respective orientations. My father would wiggle his eyebrows and claim to have been sidetracked once or twice in high school by a pretty boy himself. My mom was always there with a hug and a sweet word for any of us who had a problem, even our friends. She eased our sorrows away with fresh-baked cookies and the force of her love.

It hurt to leave them.

I sniffled and wiped my eye as I realized my little walk down memory lane had had some physical effects. I was crying, just a little, over my steamy tomato soup and my golden grilled cheese sandwich, because I wanted my mommy.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and laughed softly at myself.

“Weiss has that effect sometimes,” the young man with the strawberry blond hair said, appearing at the tableside with an extra napkin and an apologetic smile.

“Empathic, is he?” I grinned through my tears and dabbed delicately at my nose with the napkin.

“Mmm. That and then some. Learning from him is an eye-opener. This café is his lifeblood. Sometimes it gets people thinking about home. I’m sorry it made you… you know.” He blushed a little and gestured to his eyes.

“Happy memories,” I hastened to reassure him. “I miss my family. Would have been happy to stay with them, but this is how it is. I’ll visit them once I find my place.”

“I hope you don’t have too much farther to go,” he said sincerely.

“Me too. I don’t think so though. I can feel it.”

The guy’s smile was breathtaking. “Good, then. Maybe you’ll stop in here once in a while? I’m Linden, by the way.”

I shook his hand when he offered it to me. “Emmett.”

“Nice to meet you, Emmett.”


“I’ve got to get back to work. Weiss is a bear about keeping things perfect in here.” Linden’s eyes sparkled with an inner joke and I laughed softly even though I didn’t understand it; he just had that sort of impish, infectious quality to him. I wanted to laugh with him.

“I get it. I’ll come back when I have a chance.”

I finished up my food, left a good tip, and headed back out into the cold air, tugging my coat around me. The schools must be letting out because now I was much less alone on the sidewalks. Groups of teens and slightly younger kids passed me here and there. There was much talk about the weather and some excited voices wondering if it would snow early this year.

I hummed a little tune to myself again. Or maybe I’d been humming the whole time; sometimes it was hard to tell. Music was something I’d always loved and my parents had encouraged that love. I’d gone to a local community college as a music major and I enjoyed my work as a freelance composer. Just recently, at the beginning of the summer, I’d had the opportunity through one of my professors to write the score for an indie film and although the pay hadn’t been much it had definitely helped me build my savings a little. I wasn’t going to be broke when I got wherever I was going. I would have enough money to rent myself a modest apartment and, perhaps, a little left over to start looking for a space to rent for a studio. Until my composition career took off, I would give music lessons. Music had always come easily to me. In addition to singing I was competent on a number of instruments including piano, cello, saxophone, flute, oboe, and violin.

Whatever tune was stuck in my head repeated itself over and over again and I let it take me. This was how I worked. The music was in me; I just had to let it out. I imagined an accompaniment as snippets of conversation flowed around me. One girl mentioned catching snowflakes on her tongue and I heard the bounce of a piccolo. A couple of younger boys wondered if there would be enough snow for a snowman, and this brought to mind the ponderous depths of a tuba. With the mention of a strong wind came a sweeping piano arpeggio.

I made my way to a public park, my mind whirling with song. Sometimes when it got like this I had to let it out. I found a bench to sit on and rummaged through my backpack for my staff paper. Pulling out a pencil I started jotting down notes, both written ones and musical ones, so I wouldn’t lose this train of thought. This song needed to be a winter symphony of some sort.

I felt the air grow even colder around me and as kids walked past the park laughing, I suddenly smiled. Why not? The conditions were just right.

Magic didn’t come easily to all of us who touched the Veil. Mine had been useful on the farm sometimes but I wasn’t going to make it my everything. Today, it could just be fun. I closed my eyes but my pencil continued to scratch on my staff paper. I hummed a little louder, feeling each little current of air around me, gently asking it to grow a little cooler, a little wetter.

It wouldn’t do it if it weren’t already inclined to, but the snow was there. It wanted to fall but it wasn’t entirely ready. I just hummed a little more, fingers moving, mind synching with the silvery Veil that gathered around me. I couldn’t see it right now but I could feel it. It made my skin jump a bit, a little bit static electricity, a little bit pleasure at the same time. My skin grew sensitive. Pinpricks of sensation made the hair on my arms stand up under my coat. I felt my nipples tighten; my cock got hard as well. It wasn’t a sexual thing, it was just the feeling of the Veil energizing everything around me, moving through me.

Wet, cold. Wet, cold, pressure. Wet, cold, snow. Snow. Snow.

I let the words echo through my music; though I only hummed one line I was envisioning the entire symphony in my head. This was how we worked, we witches. Mages could simply wish for a thing to happen and it happened. The Veil just formed itself into what they asked or did what they wanted. We had similar power, but we needed a medium to work through. My dad’s medium was the farming itself. Through tending to his land he fell into the right frame of mind to cast the spells he wanted to make his crops grow. Convenient for him. My medium was music. I couldn’t work a bit of magic without it, but when I was singing or playing, the world opened up to me and I felt the Veil dancing along my skin to the tune I sang and the musical stories I imagined.

I knew it was working because I felt the kiss of something wet on the tip of my cold nose just about the same time there were shrieks of delight from the groups of kids walking by. I nodded my head as I hummed, smiling because I know I probably looked silly, but maybe not. I was sitting on a park bench in the snow with a pad and pencil on my lap, writing, humming – I guess it could have looked worse.

I wanted good, heavy snow. The wet, thick, packing kind. It wouldn’t have worked if the conditions weren’t right. Some witches could do that, I couldn’t. I wasn’t a strong witch, just an occasionally useful one. A strong witch could have called rain anytime my father’s farm needed it. I could only call it if it happened to already be a grey day. On occasion I’d been able to hold off bad weather, too, until my father and mother were done doing what they had to do.

Strong, no, but I was happy to be of some use some of the time. The rest of the time, like now, it was just a fun thing to play with. I didn’t know what I’d do if I were, say, someone like Linden. That young man had practically blown out my retinas. He must have magic pouring from his fingertips.

The bench next to me creaked as someone else sat down. I opened my eyes. Speak of the devil.

“Very nice,” Linden said, smiling at me. He had on a very heavy parka lined with fake fur which ruffled a little in the slight wind. From beneath the hood, his grey eyes shone pure silver.

“You can see this?” Generally those of us who touched the Veil only had silvery eyes when we actually Silvered. That was often the only time we were able to see the Veil, too.

Linden nodded. “All the time. I can see you tugging on the Veil. There are tiny little strands of it going from you up into the sky.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone who just… sees the Veil. What are you?”

The corners of Linden’s lips tipped up in a secretive little smile. He held his hand out, palm up, and as if they’d been summoned, a riot of fat, fluffy snowflakes swirled into it, creating a tiny little tornado. It shimmered for a moment, became spherical, and the then snowflakes fell away to reveal a little glass ball which he offered to me.

Only mages could do what he’d just done; call the Veil and create something from it. So that answered my question quite neatly. I took the little glass ball and looked at it, then laughed out loud.

It was, appropriately, a snow globe. Little bits of ‘snow’ swirled around in it, and the scene was a quaint little Victorian-style cobblestone street with a historically accurate Hungry Bear café represented. Outside the café stood an actual bear and a white stag, and a variety of little animals frolicked in the snow around the little globe.

“Just so you don’t forget to visit,” Linden said. He grew shy, glancing away and then back. “We’re about the same age, I think. A lot of my friends are, well, a little older. I didn’t really mean to follow you, I just had a break, and well, I just… got curious.”

I grinned at him. “Yeah. I can always use friends. I’ll be back, I promise.”

“Look. When you leave the town, travel northwest for about fifty miles and then look for a cabin in the middle of a lot of land.”

I furrowed my brow at Linden. “A cabin? Aren’t there a lot of them?”

“You’ll see it. There’s not much else around there. It’s about ten miles west of the interstate, okay? You can stop there for a night or two. Our shaman lives there.”

I gave a soft ‘ahh’ of understanding. Shamans were pretty rare but any region had one or two of them, and we treated them well. They were healers and fixers. Very sensitive to thoughts and emotions, they usually lived away from society in quieter areas. We weren’t duty bound to visit them but many Veil-touched often did, to pay our respects.

“I’ll be sure to say hello.”


Linden stood up, tipped his hood back, and stuck out his tongue. A snowflake landed on it and he grinned. “Thanks for the snow.”

“Thanks for lunch. And… everything else.”

He looked at me once more and nodded. “I’m happy for you, Emmett. I think you’re going to like where you’re going.”

Linden headed off, and I didn’t even think to ask what he meant. I just shook my head, shrugged, and packed my things back up. Leaving the exuberant school kids to play in the snow, which continued to fall thick and heavy, I headed into a convenient grove of trees.

All of us, those who touched the Veil, had one ability in common. When we reached out with our minds to get in contact with that near-intangible thing we called magic, we barely brushed the surface of it. Only a select few of us could really immerse ourselves in it. What we really did was simply push against it for a moment as if against a mirror or the very surface of a pool of water.

When we willed it, the Veil pushed back.

I felt that little push, the surge of excitement as I asked for, no, demanded, that the Veil fill me. It responded as it always did and I felt as though everything that was me, from my skin and muscles and bones all the way through my clothes and the bag I carried, was being sucked into a little tube. It was a strange sensation, like being sucked through a microscopic straw. Just when I thought it would hurt, right before the point at which I’d have cringed and cried ‘enough,’ it stopped. My ears gave a little pop, and just like that I could open my eyes again on a slightly different view of the world.

I trotted out of the grove of trees, mindful of the children in the park but not too worried. No one ever really gave a stray cat too much notice. As that was what I now appeared to be, I simply made my graceful way toward the fence surrounding the park. I slipped through the wrought-iron rails, looked both ways across the street, and ran across to where the shrubs and bushes would hide my passage on my way north.

It was there. I felt it. Whatever it was I was headed to, wherever it was I needed to go, it was northwest. He was northwest.

I blinked, stopping in my tracks. He? That was… new. Witches like myself were drawn to places, not particular people. Why had my mind suddenly replaced the where with a who? Yet there it was. A very particular tickle in the back of my head told me distinctly that I was supposed to meet someone wherever I was going.

Well, karma was what drove us and it was karma, or balance, or fate, or whatever you wanted to call it, that had me continuing on my way. It hadn’t steered me wrong yet. Pointing my little pink nose north and west I made my way out of New Harpersford, remembering my promise to come back and visit Linden. That was a promise I’d be very happy to keep. I liked this city and if I settled close to it I’d be happy to spend time exploring with a new friend.

My journey wasn’t a difficult one. My coat of long, thick fur helped keep the cold at bay. When I needed a nap I simply found shelter to sleep in, under a parked car or a nice thick bush. With my nose tucked beneath my tail and my paws curled under my body I was quite warm. The train to New Harpersford had been enjoyable but I preferred the feeling of the ground under my little paws.

By the next evening I knew I was close. It was odd, as I’d expected a much larger town or something. Witches did not settle in remote locations. It was practically unheard of. Yet here I was, with a strong feeling of ‘this is right’ as I trotted lightly over fields of tall golden grass barely touched by yesterday’s snowfall.

Where was I going?

To him.

Curiosity did not kill this cat; oh, no. It only drove me onward. Whatever it was, whoever it was, was the thing or person my internal compass pointed to. I wanted to be with him.

The land I passed through began to feel very good to me… very right. I felt a tremor of anticipation ripple through me. This was what I’d been waiting for. This was where I was going to be, where I would build my home. I knew it with every beat of my heart, with every light touch of my pads to the ground below. Home, home, home, my heart sang. Melodies burst into my head and I frisked playfully, batting at nothing, attacking the very air in a frenzy of feline exuberance.

I had no room for worry at that moment; no room to wonder why, exactly, I was here in the middle of nowhere where no witch should rightly expect to be. This land wanted me here and I wanted to learn it. Every inch. Every dip and furrow, every burrow and hillock.

As I came over a rise my keen eyes picked out a gentle glow below me. I could see the dying sunlight reflecting off a pond and beyond that, a sizeable log cabin with a pleasant curl of smoke coming out of the chimney. Even from here I could smell things I recognized because my mother grew them in her herb garden. Lavender and sage. Pungent thyme. A strong scent of cedar beneath it all.

Was this the home of Linden’s shaman? If so, how was I supposed to make this my own home? Someone already had it. I’d never heard of a witch claiming someone else’s home as theirs. Then again, I felt like I was being drawn to the person on this land too, not just the land itself. They were all crying out for me. So this was it. This was my place. Home.

There were lights on inside the cabin and I approached it without hesitation. It was beautifully built, with a gorgeous wraparound porch, obviously two stories and probably a basement too. A big place for a solitary person.

For the first time since yesterday I let go of my form. My long-haired tabby shape dissipated into the Veil as if it’d never existed and I stood once again at the bottom of the porch on two feet instead of four paws.

Memories played along the staff paper of my mind. I was leaving behind the first part of my life and embarking upon the second. I hadn’t ended a chapter, though. I carried it with me everywhere I went. The Hungry Bear had reminded me of it in its poignant way; I stood at the bottom of the porch of the cabin and remembered my mother cooking my troubles away. My brother and sister teasing me in the loving, accepting way siblings did, my father gently helping me transplant seedlings when I was small. My family had built me and I hadn’t abandoned them at all, nor had they left me. I’d call them soon, but in the meantime I would use these memories that I carried with me, memories of home and warmth and love, where it seemed they were needed. Here, outside of a city I liked, in the house of a complete stranger because that was what my head and heart told me I needed to do.

The door suddenly cracked open and dim light spilled out onto the porch. A shape appeared, a pale face peering curiously out. The door opened a bit wider and I saw, within, a very cozy-looking great room. My eyes snapped back to the shape in the doorway though, as the porch light turned on and his face was illuminated for the first time.

Beautiful, was the word that came to mind. The man was small and lithe, smaller than I by a good deal. He had dark hair, perhaps black, and equally dark eyes which sparkled with curiosity. His skin seemed light and his features were quite delicate but not really feminine. He appeared to be older than I if such things could be judged by the look on someone’s face.

He seemed neither happy nor unhappy to see me, but rather politely resigned. He was warm but a little distant when he spoke, and his voice was a pleasant tenor.

“You don’t seem to need a shaman.”

He wasn’t being rude; far from it, he actually opened the door and bade me enter. I did so, hurrying up the steps and into the sweetly spicy scented air of the cabin. I felt the wrongness, the emptiness of it then, the complete lack of ‘home’ that surrounded me even though it should have been one. There was a comfortable couch in the living room in front of the fireplace, complete with fluffy throw pillows and soft afghans draped over the back. There was a tidy kitchen with a little kettle upon the stove. It felt like it should be home.

I looked at the man who’d let me in and was now securing the door behind me. He seemed… worn, perhaps. Caring, but tired. Resigned. His dark eyes looked me over, perhaps checking for injury or ailments. He wouldn’t find any. A sense of peace settled in my heart.

“I don’t need a shaman. I think you need me.”

I smiled at him.

He stared at me in disbelief.

Oh yes. I was home.