The Station Wagon rolled through the wrought iron gates with a slow purr, the tires bouncing and creaking over the worn cobbled street that lead up to 'Our Lady of Infinite Sorrow' Catholic Orphanage. It was a tall building made of a uniform grey brick, with iron bars covering blackened windows. A nun stood outside the door as the car approached, her veil cocked to a side as she inhaled her most recent cigarette. The door opened up on the driver side, and a young man wearing a plain white dress shirt and slacks stood as a woman on the opposite end stood up, clad in a sky blue dress with sunflowers on it. The nun rolled her eyes in disgust, exhaling a cloud of white smoke before tossing the cigarette across the stairway and into the opposing garden before straightening out her gown. Her finger danced across her teeth before she forced a smile that seemed to crack her wrinkled skin.
"Welcome to Our Lady of Infinite Sorrow, my name is Sister Edwina." she greeted. "How can we help you today?"
"Hello, my name is Eugene Blood and this is my wife Martha." the man introduced, wrapping an arm around his wife's waist. "We called earlier about the adoption."
"Oh yes!" Edwina remarked, almost happy to get rid of one of the many children infesting her establishment, "Follow me, we have a wide selection to choose from."
They walked into the registration of the building, the floor a tan and brown mosaic stone with dark brown wooden columns supporting the ceiling. The room itself seemed to be filled with gloom, even the air had a darker tone to it as she walked over to a large oaken desk with a series of books and papers scattered about.
"This is our current list of orphans." She said, grabbing the large leather tome with the word "REGISTRAR" in golden calligraphy, "It contains birth dates, pictures, and a small sentence on each one. Choose wisely."
Eugene took the book, setting it down on the desk before opening it. The stiff, yellowing pages were covered in photos of various children, all of them staring at the camera with an air of hopelessness. The sentences gave a brief description of how they came to live at the orphanage, most of the kids having been labeled 'problem children' by various foster families and child services. However, one seemed to stand out from the rest. A young girl at the age of five, with barely any information on her. In fact, her descriptive sentence only said one word: ''Disturbed'.
"Oh that-" Edwina interrupted, "That one is-"
She cut herself off again, the words stuck in her throat. She knew that the girl was one of the worst children they had there, always dreaming of 'casting magic' and 'talking to dead people'. On the other hand, the girl would finally, (Finally!) be out of her hair which had been growing more and more gray since the little brat arrived.
"Ignore that." Edwina smiled, covering the short description, "One of our more bitter sisters here wrote that. I thought I had asked her to change it. The girl is a sweetheart, one of a kind for sure! Why don't I bring her in?"
The couple looked at the photo of the black-haired, dark-eyed girl. She certainly stood out, with a wide smile of white teeth and a sense of genuine happiness. The photo itself seemed to even brighten the room.
"What do you think, Eugene?" Martha asked, a note of hope in her voice.
"I don't see what we have to lose," He said with great enthusiasm, draping her arm over his wife's petite shoulders. "Bring her on in!"
Edwina straightened her robes in a poor attempt to hide her own excitement as she reached for the older styled microphone on her desk. The red button clacked down as she cleared her throat.
"Elspeth," Edwina spoke in false cheer. "Please come to the registration office. We have a surprise for you."
The red button clacked again, but nothing changed. After about ten minutes, the doors opened, allowing a man to enter. Balding with gaunt features, he held a young girl with his right arm, the child gripping his wrist like a python grasping a small mouse.
"I am deeply sorry, Sister Edwina." The man spoke in a dark, imposing voice. "She refused to answer your call. I had to drag her from her room."
"The last 'surprise' was cleaning the bathrooms with a toothbrush!" Elspeth quipped. "Can you blame me?"
Edwina laughed nervously as the man shook his hand free of the girl's grip before exiting the room, closing the doors behind him.
"She- she's joking." Edwina attempted to reassure the parents, "We have nothing but the children's best interest here."
Elspeth stuck out her tongue before finally noticing the couple sitting at the desk next to Sister Edwina. Her eyes went wide as she broke out into a grin.
"Hi!" she greeted happily, waving before trying to smooth down the skirt of her uniform.
"Elspeth." Edwina smiled, realizing her prayers were about to be answered. "This is Mr. and Mrs. Blood. They are considering adoption today and-"
Elspeth rushed over to the family in a heartbeat, grabbing onto Eugene's sleeve.
"Your name is Blood!?" She exclaimed, her eyes wide with excitement. "That's so cool!"
"A family name, yes." Eugene explained.
"Yes, my infamous Mr. Blood." Martha sighed happily. "He dressed up as a vampire one Halloween and stole my heart."
Elspeth's eyes softened, before realizing that they meant that figuratively and not literally.
"So, what are your passions, sweetie?" Martha asked.
"Yeah, what do you eventually want to be when you grow up?" Mr. Blood asked as well, "An astronaut? A doctor? President?"
"Is that was normal kids want to be when they grow up?" Elspeth asked.
"Well of course. You know when I was growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be governor." Eugene said smiling.
Edwina's heart launched into her throat, knowing what words Elspeth would say next. Those awful words that seemed to scare and dissuade every good, honest christian family in town.
"So, Elspeth. What do you wanna be?" Eugene asked again.
"A Wizard!" She exclaimed with almost unbridled excitement.
Edwina's skin went pale, chuckling nervously as she lost her voice. She began waiting for those most common words of 'we'll think about it and get back to you' before they vanished forever. There would be extra shifts in cleaning duties for Elspeth for sure.
"A wizard eh?" Eugene replied, cocking an eyebrow. "You certainly seem pretty magical to me."
"Wait- what?" Edwina spoke up, her voice caught in her throat by the surprise.
"But where is your wand?" Martha asked, ruffling up Elspeth's black hair. "Every good wizard needs a magic wand."
"I lost it when I came here." Elspeth explained sadly. "I've tried sticks, but they don't work too well. I think the mana in this place it too low."
"Well, clearly." Eugene said as he waved his arms to the surrounding room. "This is no place for magic to happen. You need a place in the wild. Fresh air, and open spaces. You know, I planted a yew tree last summer and already its shape up nicely."
"I wanna see!" she cheered. "I wanna see!"
Edwina quickly snapped into action, throwing open a drawer and pulling out a stack of papers that read "ADOPTION" in large, bold, black print.
"I just need you all to sign these and she is all yours!" She said, her smile stretching from ear to ear.
The couple took up their pens, filling out the paperwork as Martha smiled down at Elspeth.
"Elspeth Blood." she recited. "How does that sound?"
Elspeth just smiled.