“Do I smell bacon?”
I looked up from the pan and directly into a pair of indigo eyes, blinking at me from inside my white kitchen tiles.
“Yes,” I said, then lowered my spatula in warning. “But it’s not for you.”
The rest of Dante’s face emerged from the tiling, his lips pulled into what he no doubt thought was an adorable pout. “Please?”
“No.” I bopped him on the head with the spatula. “It’s father’s day, and I’m making bacon and eggs as per Marshy’s request.”
“Darn.” Pout disappearing, Dante floated forwards until his torso, clad in one of the seemingly endless hole-riddled t-shirts he owned, was firmly entrenched in the stovetop. “Poached eggs, too.”
Smiling, I shook my head. “You don’t even eat, spirit boy.”
“I did once.” He shrugged, offering a lopsided smile. “I can live vicariously through you, right?”
“Sure, if that sort of thing cuts your cake. I don’t exactly have the most exciting life.”
Dante studied me with a critical eye, which I endured whilst prodding bacon rashers about in the pan. “You could, you know.”
“Hah! Because that worked so well last time.” I rubbed my forehead, then turned to pull a roll of paper towel from beneath the sink. “I’m not sure I want to go there again.”
Silence, and when I turned back, he was gone. That was Dante – in and out in the blink of an eye. Gathering plates from the cupboard, I began to portion out bacon and eggs. Calling the kids to wake Marshy and bring him to the table, I opened the fridge and came face to face with a miniature Dante, lounging on top of the butter.
“Did you consider the story I told you last time?” He asked, his voice losing none of it’s depth for all he was now small enough to fit on my palm.
“Yes,” I admitted, tugging the butter out and flicking him off the lid. He flared his wings, flapping twice before resuming his normal size in a puff of midnight feathers. “I’ve begun drafting the book.”
“I knew it.”
Dante’s grin was so victorious that I narrowed my eyes as I lathered butter on several slices of toast. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to start down that road again.”
“You never really leave, you know that.” He leant forward to whisper in my ear as Piper came skipping into the kitchen. “You’re getting stronger every day. Recovering by the moment. Soon, you won’t be able not to see.”
I grunted noncommittally, taking the first plate to the table. Was it really possible to recover from the damage done all those years ago? Did I want to?
“Mummy?” Piper appeared at my elbow, all smiles and big blue eyes.
“Is that mine?”
I smile, and return to the kitchen for the next couple of meals. “No, but one of these is.”
“Is your friend staying for breakfast?”
“Yeah.” She points over my shoulder, where Dante is lounging against the kitchen bench. “His wings are pretty.”
My jaw drops open, and Dante’s at my side in a second. “You can see me?”
“Of course.” She wrinkles up her face. “You’re right there.”
“She can see me.” He turned to me in astonishment. “She can hear me.”
I pass a hand over my face, remembering in that instant what it was like to go through childhood without understanding what I saw, what I heard, what I knew. “I’ll do it. I’ll come back.”
“I’d like to think it’s because of me, but I know differently. Still, not mad.” Dante’s voice wobbled with wonder, his face devoid of it’s usual cheek. “Can Orion?”
As if on cue, Orion came jogging out into the kitchen and went straight through Dante as though he didn’t exist. Piper grinned. “Nope!”
“He’s pretty linear in his thought patterns, but it might still develop.” Dante turned to me, his brow puckering. “You sure you’re ready for this?”
My gaze darted back and forth between my children and, aware Orion would question if I apparently started talking to myself, nodded. After all, I wasn’t going to see and hear anything I hadn’t been seeing and hearing for most of my life, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock. And if it meant confronting bad memories and old bruises to cushion the way for, at the very least, my wildly creative daughter? I’d do it a thousand times over.
Feathers rustled and Dante leaned in to peck me on the cheek. “It’s going to be fine. This is the way you’re meant to be.”