Flicker blue 1 plain jan.., p.5
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       Flicker Blue 1: Plain Jane, p.5

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Chapter V

  Confronting Dr. Sylfaen

  I can do this. I have to do this. Jane marched through the kitchen door as quickly as she could—she had to go through with this before she lost her nerve, but she may as well have been walking underwater. Cris and Gregory’s muffled protests faded into the background as she moved through the kitchen and into the great room.

  “Jane? How was school today?” Angelita was there, dusting the piano, but her question went unanswered. Jane swept past her and took the first deliberate step onto the staircase. “Jane?”

  One step, and then another. There were more stairs than normal, it seemed. Jane’s heart began to race as she approached the landing and put one hand on the handle of each of the double doors. She inhaled, then pushed both doors open at the same time.

  There was Dr. Sylfaen, standing behind the enormous oak table in the center of the room. It, like much of his furniture, seemed to be hewn from a single piece of wood. The old man’s silver mane of hair was tousled and his eyes were an even wilder green than Jane remembered. He met her determined gaze but did not seem surprised by her entrance. “Hello, Jane,” he whispered.

  Jane gaped, unsure how to begin. She had expected for him to demand that she leave immediately. In turn, she had planned to demand some answers about his insane behavior over the last several weeks, answers that might explain what the hell had happened to him—what was happening to her. She snapped her mouth closed again and swallowed hard.

  “Um, hi,” she said lamely.

  Before either Jane or Dr. Sylfaen could continue, Angelita barged through the open doors. “Oh, Dr. Sylfaen, I am so sorry! I thought she was on her way up to her room until I heard the library doors open. Come, Jane,” she pulled Jane by the elbow as she spoke. “You won’t be disturbed again, sir. I am so sorry.” Angelita continued to tug at Jane’s arm, but Jane jerked away violently.

  “I am not going anywhere!”

  Angelita’s eyes opened wide in an expression of both surprise and horror. “Jane, be reasonable. Leave your Uncle Mederick to his work…now.”

  “No! I deserve some answers!” Gregory and Cris were now in the library, as well. They echoed Angelita’s apologies to Dr. Sylfaen.

  Jane pushed them away and took two steps closer to the table in the center of the room. She took a deep breath. “Please, Uncle Mederick. I have to know if something is wrong with me.” Her voice cracked once before settling into a pleading whisper. “I think you know what’s happening.”

  The old man sighed. He sat down in one of the upholstered chairs that surrounded the table, but his eyes never left Jane’s. No one in the library made a sound as they awaited his response. Dr. Sylfaen pressed his lips together, began to speak, then stopped short and pressed his lips together again.

  “Angelita, Gregory…Cristobel. Please excuse us.”

  Jane’s eyes widened. She whirled around and watched her three friends leave obediently. Cris, the last to exit, pulled the doors closed behind him, his face strained with a strange mixture of worry and sadness. He looked up at her with black eyes as the space between the closing doors narrowed. There was a deep click as the doors latched shut, and Jane turned slowly back to her godfather.

  “Yes, Jane?”

  “Uncle Mederick, I…” she shifted her weight to one leg as she sought the right words. “Something happened to me at school today.”

  “I know.”

  “You do?”

  “Yes, dear. Angelita came to me after you called home.”

  “You knew that I would come up here, didn’t you?” She recalled his expression when she had barged in moments ago. No surprise…only resignation.

  “I believed that you might. To be truthful, I am impressed that it took you this long to confront me.” He dropped his eyes and traced his one long finger over the wood inlays in the oak tabletop as he continued. “It is only natural for you to desire answers for my behavior, as well as for the strange things that you are beginning to experience.”

  “Beginning to experience? You mean that pain? Is that going to happen again?!”

  “Easy, Jane. All of the answers that you require will come to you in time. But answers can be painful, even when we stumble upon them accidentally.” He shot her a deliberate, meaningful look, but Jane didn’t have the first clue what he meant by his strange statement.

  “I-I don’t get it. Why do I—,” she stammered.

  Dr. Sylfaen raised a hand and interrupted. “You must not ask questions. I would explain the reasons to you if I could, I promise. I will help you find all of the information that you need, but you must trust me—and you must never speak to anyone of any of this, except for me.” He winced for several seconds and then drew a deep breath.

  “Dr. Sylfaen—I mean, Uncle Mederick? Are you okay?”

  “I am fine, Jane.”

  “But you—what just happened?”

  “No questions, remember?”

  His words stunned and infuriated her. Jane felt hot tears fill her eyes and spill down onto her round, ruddy cheeks. She had never felt so frustrated or confused in her life. She scrubbed her hands over her face to wipe the tears away. What is he talking about? He must be insane or something! If I’m sick, I deserve to know what’s wrong—I am allowed to ask questions! She looked back up at Dr. Sylfaen, who was watching her intently. Examining her.

  Jane’s frustration exploded into full blown anger. Her heart rate quickened; she could feel her pulse throbbing in her temples. She clenched her fists and began to scream at him through labored breaths. “FINE! If I can’t ask you any questions, I—I’m going to tell you what’s going on—what’s happening to me!”

  “I believe that would be a wise way to proceed.”

  What?! He’s a complete lunatic! “It didn’t just start today, that’s for damn sure! I was perfectly fine before, and then one day my parents were suddenly gone—DEAD! But, instead of being—I don’t know, destroyed by it, I felt completely normal—normal! Not sad—not even numb! It’s like I’m totally separated from fifteen years of my life! And I don’t even feel guilty about it!” The tears streamed down her face too furiously for her to bother wiping them away.

  Dr. Sylfaen nodded. “Continue, Jane.”


  “That isn’t all that you have to share with me.”

  “Well, yeah, so then I come to live here, and my life is totally different, but it doesn’t feel like it’s ever been different, and you hardly ever talk to me, but you do twisted things like change my class schedule on me—things my mom and dad would never have done without talking to me first! I was so pissed off at you! But then, the really messed up part of the whole thing is that I can handle the new class—I can do all of the work in all of my classes now, even the stuff that was horrible before. It’s like I’m smarter, in just a few weeks, and my friends have noticed and my teachers have noticed, and I can’t hide what a freak I am from anyone!” Jane shuddered as she caught her breath, which was becoming more normal despite the cascade of tears that ran down her face. “And then today, I felt this pain in my stomach, like someone was stabbing me all of a sudden, and I passed out in front of Cris and my friends and everyone. I was so embarrassed, but I was scared, too, because it was just like what happened to you, and I knew—I knew that whatever is happening to me is the same thing that happens to you, like we have the same problem…like we’re the same.”

  Dr. Sylfaen considered her in silence for a long time. He walked across the room to pick up a box of tissues, which he handed to her. Jane wiped her eyes and nose but could not stop the sobs that her rant had finally unleashed. She’d had no idea that she had been harboring so much anger and fear and confusion, and releasing it all in the span of a few breaths left her exhausted. Just as her knees began to give out beneath her, Dr. Sylfaen steered her to one of the other upholstered chairs, where she collapsed. She peered up at her godfather, and his eyes were sad.

  “That was…very good.”

What?” She was tired of his nonsense. She needed for him to speak plainly to her, to stop confusing her even worse.

  “You have done very well. You are an extremely intuitive child.” He pulled his chair around the table to face hers, and he sat down. Their knees nearly touched, and he took both of her hands in his own. “I am truly sorry about your parents, Jane. It is my responsibility to help you through this hard time, and I have failed you. I have worked so hard to protect you that I have failed to fulfill my obligation to you, and to your mother and father.” He dropped his head; his breath caught.

  Unsure what to say, Jane remained silent for several minutes, but the old man did not look up. She had never seen him, or anyone for that matter, look so miserable. “You miss them, don’t you?”

  He answered with a heavy nod. “Very much. Peter and Helen were two of my dearest friends.”

  Jane watched him curiously as his eyes filled with tears. They looked unnatural on his face, and Jane was overcome with the need to comfort him. He was mourning her parents, as she should be…but couldn’t.

  “Uncle Mederick…please, please don’t. It-it wasn’t your fault.”

  He took her face in both of his hands and stared deeply into her eyes, as if he was searching them for truth. “Thank you, Jane. I cannot express what that means to me.” He smiled, and blinked away his remaining tears.

  He stood. “While you’re here, we need to discuss your birthday present.”

  “My—my what?” The sudden change of subject gave Jane a sense of whiplash.

  “You’re birthday present. You will be sixteen soon, is that correct?”

  “Um, yeah. On March the twenty-first. But that’s more than three weeks away…and I don’t really want anything for my birthday.”

  Dr. Sylfaen ignored her and continued. “Would you like a car for your birthday, Jane?”

  “A—a car?” Hannah Grace and Anna were already sixteen, and neither of them had been able to afford a car yet. “No, Uncle Mederick. I wouldn’t feel right getting a gift like that from you.”

  “Why not? Wouldn’t you like to have your own car?”

  “Well, yeah, but it’s just…I don’t know, too big. I mean, my parents could never have afforded to get me a car—it just seems weird, I guess.” Is he really talking about this, after everything that just happened?

  Dr. Sylfaen pursed his lips and squinted one eye, an expression he sometimes made when he was thinking. “I’m sure I can find something else to get for you for your birthday. But I need for you to consider making a deal with me.”

  “A deal?”

  “I need for you to decide which one of the cars in the garage you feel most comfortable driving—”


  “Hear me out, Jane. I’m not giving you a car. You will simply choose which one of mine suits you best so that you can drive Cristobel and yourself to and from school. That will free up Gregory’s mornings and be an immense help to me. I will require his help as often as possible in the weeks ahead. I have a trip to plan, you see.”

  “I feel like you’re tricking me.”

  “Indeed. Then it’s all settled?”

  “Fine…I mean, no—what trip?” Jane’s conversation with Dr. Sylfaen was supposed to answer her questions, not generate more.

  “No questions.”

  She took a breath. I can’t ask him any questions, because he can’t answer them…because it is too painful to answer, she added to the thought as she recalled the cryptic statement that he had made earlier in their conversation. But I can tell him something, like I did when I was yelling at him. I suppose that’s worth a try. “You are taking me on a trip.” She was guessing, but she attempted to sound as confident as possible.

  Her godfather nodded, obviously pleased.

  Why can’t he just tell me? This is ridiculous! “We are going somewhere…to find answers to my questions.”

  “We are indeed. So you agree to do your own driving, then?”

  She shrugged, which he accepted as a sign of consent. “I will tell Gregory to begin conducting your driving lessons tomorrow.”

  Jane groaned and slumped further into her chair. “Fine, but you have to tell him that Cris is not allowed to come with us. I don’t need any more witnesses to my humiliation than have to be there.”

  Dr. Sylfaen laughed, the first genuine laugh that Jane had ever heard escape his lips. It had a pleasant musical quality that calmed her apprehension about the lessons…the trip…the questions that were still swimming around in her mind. She managed a weak laugh, too, as he attempted to reassure her. “You will do just fine. And you will continue to focus on your schoolwork until the Summer Break.”

  “That’s when we’ll leave for…wherever it is that we’re going.”

  He nodded. “Everything will be fine, Jane. I’m sorry that I have neglected you. From now on, I promise to help you through this. You are a remarkable girl, and you will be just fine.”

  “One thing?”


  “Don’t let Angelita throw me a party?”

  The musical laugh resounded once more, echoing through the library. “Well, my dear, you will have to take that matter up with her. Which reminds me…it is nearly time for dinner. Shall we go down?” He offered his arm to his goddaughter, an oddly old-fashioned gesture, and they left the library together. Despite the sudden multiplication of her original questions, Jane felt better than she had in a long time. Something was changing about her, but nothing was wrong with her. Instinctively, she believed the old man when he told her so.

  The answers were coming.

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