Chapter 20: Refill
Corrie and Etta talked for the rest of the afternoon, and by the time her grandmother called everyone for dinner, Corrie had her cousin at least half convinced to go to Chatoyant College in a few years—which was especially impressive since Etta hadn’t even been sure she wanted to go to college when they started talking. She was still shy and quiet, but so were some of Corrie’s best friends, and she still felt that she’d done a lot of good by making Etta more comfortable.
They found a pair of spots at the long line of mismatched tables (mostly folding card tables) and sat down, then waited for the food to be passed around. Corrie remembered a time when her grandmother’s Thanksgiving feasts had been buffet-style, with all the food laid out on one table and everyone walking around it before returning to their seats with it, but as the guest list had grown, the amount of space available had shrunk. Her grandmother talked about buying a house one day that had enough space for a real buffet, but as far as Corrie was concerned, the only downside to all this passing the food around was that occasionally by the time things got to her the dishes would be empty. But just because she couldn’t have any of one thing didn’t mean she would go hungry—there was always plenty of food.
And that was the case this year, too. She piled her plate with mashed sweet potatoes, mashed regular potatoes, and something mashed that was green before the homemade bread even reached her. She balanced a slice of bread on the edge of her plate, topped it with a dollop of butter, and finally scraped the mashed things into a higher pile to make room on her plate for a scoop of her mom’s meat-vegetable pie. There was no room for the traditional Thanksgiving turkey on her plate, but that was okay. She didn’t actually like turkey.
According to the rumor passed down the table, the green mashed stuff was made of edamame, and Corrie didn’t like it. Fortunately, Etta did, so they swapped, even though Etta seemed very embarrassed to admit she didn’t like the food Corrie’s mom had made. “That’s okay,” Corrie said, leaning over to scoop the meat and vegetables onto her own plate. “My mom uses a lot of herbs. It’s not for everybody. But I love it.”
They both liked the bread, of course, but as they tried other things it seemed like their tastes were opposite—Corrie didn’t like the green bean casserole with pearl onions, Etta didn’t like the sugared turnips. (Corrie wasn’t sure sugar and turnips actually went together, but she liked it.) By the time they’d had enough to eat, both their plates were scattered with many different colors from all the different foods and all the swapping.
Corrie gulped down the last of the water in her glass (everyone else had wine, but she and Etta weren’t allowed, since they were both under the legal drinking age), but was still thirsty. She looked up the tables and saw someone else pouring the last of the pitcher into their glass. Then she looked around and saw that Etta was the only person paying any attention to her. She grinned. Now was the time to really convince Etta to attend Chatoyant College.
She nudged her cousin with her shoulder and whispered, “Watch this.”
“What is it?” Etta asked, frowning.
“Just a second.” Corrie rubbed her palms together lightly, then held them over her glass. Despite the noise and crowd, she found it very easy to reach the magic in her core—trance would probably be harder. It took a little more concentration to keep herself from flooding the table, but in a few seconds, she had a small stream of water pouring from her palms into the glass. When it was nearly full, she cut off the flow, then lifted the glass, took a sip, and held it out with a flourish.
Etta gasped. “How did you do that?”
Corrie grinned. “It’s something I learned at college. I can’t teach you myself, because you have to learn a lot of theory before it’s safe to try doing magic on your own. But Chatoyant College is the only school that does teach it.”
“Really? How do you know?”
Corrie shrugged. “The teachers said so. I guess they might be wrong. But it’s a great school anyway, and if you get good enough grades this year, you might get a scholarship like I did. Then you won’t even have to get a job.”
“But you have a job.”
“That’s just for when I’m not at school. So I can buy Christmas presents and stuff.” She poked Etta’s arm. “You should do Christmas with us! It’s not as huge as Thanksgiving. Just some family.” She refrained from explaining that her family’s celebration of Christmas was a purely secular exchange of gifts, and that Yule, usually a few days earlier, was the real party. But she didn’t know what religion Etta and her mom followed anyway.
Etta smiled shyly. “I’ll see what my mom says. Ooh, look, dessert.”
“Oh no,” Corrie cried, rubbing her belly. “Now I have to make room. Okay, stretch!” She pulled at her skin, making Etta giggle, and then turned her attention to the pies being passed down the tables.