It was Friday and Claire was running out of patience for that whole school thing. She had big plans for the weekend and wanted to get them started before her mother got home.
She watched Mr. Ketchum, her eighth-period calculus teacher, from behind a veil of purple tinted hair. It takes persistence to maintain anonymity despite being the only purple-haired sorceress in Nicholson High School. Sure, there were plenty of other purple-haired goths with a propensity for cutting themselves, but how many of them have brought their cat back from the dead or were on a first-name basis with Geoff, the Lord of Darkness?
Claire reached up and gently twisted her earbuds into place and turned her attention to her phone screen. With her thumb, she flipped through her music library, past The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, past The Primitives and the Psychedelic Furs, past The Ramones and finally settling upon one of her favorites, Situation by Yaz. She tapped the screen and music filled her ears. Then, ever so slightly, so as to not be noticed, she rocked her hips back and forth to the beat.
As she continued pretending to pay attention to whatever drivel was escaping Mr. Ketchum’s mouth, she pulled a book from her backpack and placed it upon her lap. The cover, old and tattered, was covered in cloth, with a small embossed title in the center that read “Enquire Within Upon Everything.” She opened the cover and began leafing through the pages, watching for the correct page to reveal itself, as was the way with these magical books; or at least she was told.
“Magic is just the law of averages, my dear.” The old gypsy was searching through her chest for a specific item. “It can’t manufacture something from nothing. But it is a great allocator, or re-allocator, I should say, of resources.”
“What on Earth are you mumbling about?” Claire asked incredulously.
“Pay attention, girl!” The gypsy stood up, a bundle of cloth in her hand. “Everything that magic does for you; for every thing that it gives you, it must take that same away elsewhere.”
The woman unfolded the silken cloth to reveal an old book.
Claire peered over her hunched shoulder. “What is it?”
“A book from which I can no longer read.” The old woman picked up the book with both hands. “One of the greatest grimoires ever compiled.”
The old book, with a cloth-wrapped cover, had been embossed in the center with the title, “Enquire Within Upon Everything”.
Claire looked at the book with envious eyes. “I want it.”
“And you may have it.” The old woman cackled and spun her head, eyeing Claire dubiously, “But there is a price, of course. Nothing is free. The great re-allocator.”
Claire continued staring at the book. “Whatever it costs, I’ll pay.”
Claire finally stopped leafing through the book on page 168 and smiled. It was perfect. As it always was. The old book always knew just what to do. The page began with an advertisement for CoverGirl makeup, featuring a group of young teen girls laughing in unison as they all tried on their mother’s makeup for the first time. For just a moment, the purple-haired goth felt a tinge of jealousy, but she dismissed it as quickly as it appeared.
Below the horrid advertisement that enforced the centuries old gender roles, that had enslaved her womanly kind in lifetimes of servitude, was a small description, that read:
Who has time for homework, when you have sleepovers to attend and boys to see. Remove this page and recite the following cantrip.
Only then will you free yourself from boredom and humdrum arithmetic.
Claire silently tore the page from her book and closed it, placing the torn page on top. Then, while Mr. Ketchum continued his lecture, she quietly mouthed the words to the incantation of banishment.
“Beings of Light, both far and wide,
This spell I cast shall not un-tie,
With Salt, Water, Blood, and Light,
Banish homework from my sight.”
When the spell was done, the page crumpled into an ashen ball and fell from her lap, breaking up and drifting to the ground in an unrecognizable clump. Afterward, a smile crossed Claire’s lips and she was able to once again concentrate on the previous task at hand; becoming the Queen of Darkness.
She spent the remainder of eighth-period reading, rereading and memorizing the directions for the incantation that would be used later in the evening.
Once the bell rang, the class managed to escape through the door and into the hall before Mr. Ketchum realized he had not assigned homework, for the third time that week.
On the bus, the jocks had commandeered the rear of the bus. The football game that night was against their biggest rival; so they transformed the rear of the bus into some sort of make-shift pep rally. The only thing worse than a pep rally was a make-shift pep rally in the back of your afternoon bus.
At least they weren’t paying any attention to her.
As a result, Claire sat up front, behind the driver, Mr. Ford, who just so happened to smell of corn chips this afternoon.
So, Claire pulled her knees up against her chest, pulled her collar up over her nose, closed her eyes and attempted to forget; the pep rally, the smell of corn chips and the freshman nerd sitting beside her who was sniffling the whole ride home.
Claire’s bus stopped at the entrance to Enchanted Vista Trailer Park, where she lived with her mother and the five-year-old perfect child, Dale.
In truth, Enchanted Vista had no vista, at least as far as Claire could see. The whole park consisted of thirty-six trailers, evenly spaced on either side of the single road that stretched a quarter mile from the main road. It had a small airport on the North side that would guarantee the trailer park residents would witness at least one small aircraft accident per year. To the South was Jim’s Automotive Emporium, a vast auto graveyard that guaranteed at least one child would be ‘accidentally’ locked into the trunk of a 1985 Malibu at least once a year, and to the West was Humbolt Lake and Darkwood, a sizable section of forest, owned by the Humbolt family. An airport, auto graveyard and a lake, but no vista.
Five other children exited the bus with Claire, though she spoke to none of them. She really only knew the names of three of them.
Grant Matthews was a ninth grader. That gave her plenty of reason to not speak with him, aside from the fact that she had caught him, over the Summer, peeking through her bedroom window. He later denied the event when confronted by her father. Julia Dillon was a straight up bitch, and Marlon Jenkins, one of the jocks, was… well, a jock. Beside that he was actually pretty cute and had half a brain. More than she could say about most of the other jocks, particularly those that resided in the Enchanted Vista.
The others, despite living nearby, she has never even looked at with any interest, let alone spoken to. They each went their separate ways and Claire soon found herself walking up her short, gravel driveway and onto her porch.
Claire glanced around quickly before pulling her key out from its secret hiding place near the door, secured by a small nail between the door jam and the wall, concealed by an outside wall sconce that no longer worked. She unlocked her door, replaced the key and quickly set about gathering supplies for her busy evening.
Once Claire had gathered her supplies in a Dollar General paper bag, she exited the trailer and walked to the west, toward the cul-de-sac at the end of Enchanted Vista Drive. On the far side was an opening in the shrubs and thicket. Beyond that was a trail that wound its way around a small lake and deep into the woods. She hurried down the trail to a clearing she had made, near what reminded her of a reflecting pool. It was a nearly perfect square indentation in the earth, surrounded by birch trees, that captured rainwater during most of the year. It was there that she would empty the bag’s contents onto the ground and begin the incantation.
The book’s preparations were detailed and arduous with a number of ingredients that were difficult to acquire, and frankly, she thought that some were just extraneous. Because goat’s blood, for instance, was not a regular item to be found at their local grocery store, Claire replaced the component with chicken blood she had collected from containers of frozen gizzards. Aside from that and the frog’s tear, that simply could not found at all, she thought the spell went off surprisingly well.
Once she had recited the incantation, folded it neatly into a heart shape, and placed it into the chest of the chosen totem, Claire sewed the chest once again shut. Then, she placed the totem into the hole she had previously dug and covered it. Finally, she treated the soil with a spattering of the chicken blood and stepped back to watch the amazing rebirth of Geoff, the Lord of Darkness, he who was there in the beginning and shall be in the end, he who shall serve as the great rider of the third horse, he who shall bring about the great deluge, he who shall rise and make her his bride.
So she watched… and she waited.
And she checked her Instagram.
And she played Pokemon Go – catching Ditto.
And she sent a DM to her friend Lizza, who stayed home from school that day because her brother had drawn on her face with ink and it was not coming off with any ease.
Frankly, Claire hadn’t realized it would take so long. By the time her mother texted her about dinner, two hours had passed, it was getting dark, and she was getting pretty bored of the whole thing.
She quickly scribbled something onto a piece of paper and stomped off into the darkness to eat calories she would later have to purge.