The moment Betty understood she was falling, she knew she was going to fall hard. The burst of adrenaline that shot through her veins ripped a scream from her throat, but a part of her was incapable of feeling any surprise. This was what happened when goblins and magic mixed.
She’d been helping Rosie with some delicate enchanting work. She’s tried to warn Rosie that goblins weren’t cut out for that sort of task, but Rosie had insisted that Betty be part of the process.
“You’re not cursed, or jinxed,” Rosie said. “And yes, I do know that sure.”
“How?” Betty had asked as they started assembling the pieces of the enchanted flowers that Rosie was trying to create.
“I asked Penny,” Betty said. She was working with a pair of tiny needles to etch the next pair of petals that would bind the two flowers together. It was a grueling task since the paired petals had to be etched exactly the same for the spells on them to work. Despite the demand for perfect concentration though, Rosie was keeping their conversation going and was able to flick her gaze over to Betty and offer the goblin girl a smile.
“Penny’s still a fledgling witch,” Betty said. “She could have missed something, and I’m really scared I’m going to screw this up for you.”
“You’re not going to screw anything up,” Rosie said. “You’ve been critical in helping me figure out how to build these things! I need you for the rest of this.”
“You sooo don’t though,” Betty said. “You’re a genius at this stuff. And me? I’m a just goblin.”
“You’re a goblin? So what. I’m a paraplegic black girl,” Rosie said. “Lots of people would think it’s weirder than I’m here casting spells than you are.”
Betty had looked at Rosie, considering the enchanter’s words. Since the day they’d met, Betty felt like she understood Rosie. The two of them shared a passion for understanding and tinkering with things. In Betty’s case, that passion was largely mechanical in nature. She’d pulled apart alarm clocks and phones and more or less any device she could get her hands on before she learned to walk.
For Rosie though, her tinkering had been more focused on ideas and concepts. She liked to disassemble and rebuild things too, but more than how they worked, she wanted to know the why that lay behind them.
They’d met shortly after Rosie discovered that her tinkering ability was more than just a talent. It transcended ability and acted as a channel for the magic that was within her. Discovering that had left Rosie with a world of questions, some of which Betty had the answer to, and the rest were ones which the goblin was every bit as interested in as the enchanter was.
The meeting of a physically adept tinkerer and a mystically proficient one could have been an excellent match, except for a slight problem; Betty was a goblin and goblins were renowned for one thing above all else; they broke magic in unexpected ways.
Betty had always resented that aspect of her heritage. She’d seen wonders of magic that had left her breathless only to be told that she could never touch them, never be part of the world that created them. All the amazing things she saw as a child were for other people, ones who weren’t born to screw things up.
That was part of why Betty had clung to her two magical friends, Rosie and Penny, like a magnet when they let her into their lives. Any more sensible magic wielders would know to stay far away from a walking timebomb like a goblin with an interest in magic.
“I just don’t want to wreck this,” Betty said.
“You found five mistakes in my original design,” Rosie said. “And then three more in the revision. History suggests that if anyone’s going to mess this up, it’s me, and I’ll deserve it too.”
“You’ve spent two weeks building the pieces for the Spelling Roses,” Betty said. “All you deserve is success at this point.”
“Two weeks for a pair of magic flowers seems pretty quick,” Rosie said. “But from what Grandma Apples has said, a full trained enchanter could make them in two hours.”
“Emphasis on the ‘fully trained’ part,” Betty said. “I seem to recall she also said that you should take things nice and slow, especially the first time you assemble something from a new design.”
“I know,” Rosie said. “That’s one of the reasons I want you here. Part of me wants to rush this like crazy so I can be done and working on our next project, and another part is terrified that I’m going to miss something.”
“Well, I can say that you’re doing good on all the steps so far,” Betty said. “Each piece seems to be testing out fine individually. The big trick is going to come when we try to use them for the first time.”
“If I’ve got you backing me on this then I know they’re going to work,” Rosie said and offered Betty another smile which Betty returned sheepishly.
“How many more petals to go?” Betty asked.
“These are the last two,” Rosie said. She lifted the delicate bronze pieces off the table to for Betty to inpsect and that’s when everything went wrong.
In turning to face Betty, Rosie’s arm knocked one of the almost complete flowers from the table. Betty’s hand shot forward to grab the magic rose before it could hit the ground but she misjudged and whacked her knee on Rosie’s wheelchair.
With balance an impossible state to achieve, Betty surrendered to the fall and tried to at least shield the Spelling Rose from the impact.
It wasn’t enough though.
As the she slammed into the ground, blinding strands of red and green swirled from the center of the petals and Betty felt herself being blasted through the floor, through the basement, and through the Earth itself.
She hadn’t expected to fall, but as she tumbled across the veil between the worlds she knew this wasn’t going to be the sort of thing that she was going to be able to get up and walk away from casually.