By all accounts adolescence is a time of discovery. Discovering hair, discovering hair product, discovering the other sex, discovering the same sex; all in all there is a lot of discovery. In places never before imagined, things begin to change. It’s a time of turmoil and change, and growth, and panic. It should then, come as no surprise that I too came to a startling realization at this pivotal age: I was a witch.
I came to this conclusion, coincidently while watching the hit WB series “Charmed” staring born-to-be-bad girl Shannon Doherty. If you’ve never seen the show what happens is, after her grandmother dies Doherty and her sisters discover that they are witches with special powers. Not only that but they are the “Charmed ones”, and it was by pure happenstance that I too, although possessing two alive Grandmothers, came to the exact same revelation at the same exact time that the show first premiered. A spooky coincidence, I know. Sure, my family had tried to hide the truth until I came of age but I knew, in my heart of hearts, that behind our linen closet there was a magical alter room containing our own Book of Shadows and that it was only a matter of time before my powers came in full force, and destiny came knocking.
Because of the universally know special nature of the witch-ly hierarchy, I never came right out and said that I knew we were witches. The jig was up, but for their sake and the sake of the family, I had to pretend we were just nice normal people going about the mundane existence of mere mortals. If the grand council, the governing force of the witch community that I fabricated in my own head, ever heard of my family spilling the beans to me before I was of age, we would be in serious trouble. However in my day dreams, this scenario only provided the fertile material for me to demonstrate my unique ability to make moving speeches and perform heroic feats with my powers. After such an event I would, undoubtedly, be crowned King-Witch, and be given riches, and mansions, and free reign to do whatever I want.
I am absolutely not the first teen to play out rich, power hungry scenarios in their head, which allow them to temporarily escape their ultra-controlled reality. But I was certainly of the much smaller cross section of the population that didn’t leave it in their imagination and took it a little too far. In regular teenage daydreams you play out your fantasies in your head, have a little fun, and then return to reality. Call it desperation, call it un-medicated schizophrenia, or whatever you want, the outcome was the same: I was a witch. And it would take a lot more than a lack of any supernatural tendencies, evidence, or the faintest semblance of reality to convince me otherwise.
You know how sometimes when you need to find a very specific thing, say for instance a screwdriver, and then you find one in the first, most unexpected place you look? That was kind of how I found my compatriot in magical activities. To find another member of my coven I needn’t look further than my high school homeroom. Her name as Luann and I had but to mention, off the cuff, of course, that I was looking for a particularly good spell book, when she seized the moment to come out of the cauldron, so to speak. She was a witch too, wouldn’t you know it, and a more experienced one to boot!
Luann and I had gone to school for many years and truthfully I hadn’t always given her much attention. She must have been more advanced than I expected to mask herself from my witch-radar (a nice talent to have in your bag of tricks come the uprising of hell I often predicted). As a bonus Luann had long black hair that lent itself to the ideal witch image, something my pale skin and freckles couldn’t achieve. So it was, at the tender age of 13, did I become one of the most powerful sorcerers that ever lived…
Luann and I did not rise to power so quickly, and our trajectory was not nearly aimed that high. Though very soon, we would possess unlimited power we focused mainly on wildly immature revenge pranks; scaring classmates, turning them into mops and buckets and the like. Our creativity wasn’t our greatest strength, but we had special powers to make up for it.
To say my parents were concerned would be an exaggeration. They had raised five children by then, and although familiar with my none to insignificant need to be different, had fried bigger fish. In the grand scheme of things, a wanna-be warlock muttering incantations rates lower on the parental exasperation scale than say multiple car accidents or addictions. To their credit they let me do, believe, and say whatever I wanted. To the detriment of my street cred they let me do, believe, and say whatever I wanted no matter how stupid. For this reason alone I felt that they were witches too, and I came from a long line of special beings, caretakers of magic, and soon they would reveal themselves to me, and marvel at my intuition. The word misguided used in this context would only downplay the severity of the entire situation.
My parents raised the six of their children with a buddy system /democratic mentality. Members of the group were controlled by other members of the group. Should one step out of line, say if I was being a smart alec, pain in the ass to my brother, he would pound on me till I cried, and next time around I would no longer be a smart alec pain in the ass. Or I would learn to run faster. So, it was through this method that I am sure my parents prayed my witch behavior would be corrected. Certainly after merciless taunting from my siblings about how weird I had gotten I would give up the sacrificial goat and return to reality. Except in this case the system failed. Seeing, or maybe not wanting to see how weird I was becoming the group took the avoidance route and refused to comment of my amazing powers or the eerie supernatural aura of mysticism that followed me where ever I went. That or they were all older, getting laid, and didn’t care if their little brother was a witch, a warlock or a kangaroo as long as it was happening far away from them.
So it with my irrationalities unrestricted, my ties to reality un-tethered, and a partner by my side I dove further into the wiccan world. Or at least what I understood of it from my viewing of Spelling Entertainment television shows.
For a couple of weeks Luann and I tried to conduct our coven meetings in the breaks between classes. It was hard to draw a sacred circle, cleanse it, and perform our meeting incantations while people are pulling books from their locker right beside you, but I give us credit for trying. Also, while we waved our broomsticks proudly in private, we were still in high school, and despite our ignorance towards 1000 year old spiritual practices, were not complete idiots. Waving a smoking wand of incense and chanting is going to attract attention, even if the intended purpose was to dispel negativity. Attention was kind of the last thing either of us needed, but desperately sought. Of a certain sort. While I can’t speak for Luann, I was certainly seeking out ways to be different to cover up for other more glaring, serious differences I felt. Being labeled an outsider and acting like an outsider are two very different things and I felt that if I could be different in a sort of impressive, magical way I could make the other abnormalities disappear.
Of course the more conscious part of me really just wanted to make stuff levitate; which is what I’ll blame for leading me to Luann’s house one day after school. I don’t know why, but I was very hesitant to spend a lot of time with her, despite our obvious magical compatibility. Maybe it was easier for me to believe on my own, or maybe I was unsure about her and her intentions, or perhaps I did possess precognitive abilities and foresaw what was to happen and desperately wanted to avoid it. But whatever my reservations, I submitted to her invitation and decided to rip off the band aid and have an out of school meeting.
It should come as no surprise to people trained in psychological diagnosis, or are loosely familiar with dissecting flimsy narratives but our first coven meeting coincided with a dire situation in need of our talents.
Luann lived very close to our school so I decided to go over to her house after last period in order to get my hands on this spell book of hers. I didn’t have a spell book but I really wanted one. I was working on writing my own, as my earlier preoccupations with tea-staining paper lent themselves to the aesthetics of the project. The problem was finding genuine spells, and I thought taking a few from Luann could really get me started. For weeks and weeks she had gone on about her spell book, never wanting to bring it to school to show me because of its value and power. Simultaneously, she could not stop talking about it, nor could she reveal anything about it. Had she offered me candy that day I would have moved in, that’s how excited I was. I don’t think I even phoned my parents to tell them I was going to her house, I followed her, piped piper style to her house, my mouth watering with magical expectation, sporting a full on wicca-errection in anticipation of seeing her book.
Luann’s house was slightly shabby; the white paint peeling on the outside, the lawn un-mowed. It was close to Halloween and the skies were grey and it gave the whole world what I thought to be a very magical incandescence. Luann was too pleased to be having me come home with her, which on various multiple occasions had led me to suspect that she might have a crush on me and wanted to be something more that fellow practitioners of magic. But sadly, that would never do. First of all I was unwilling to compromise the purity of our coven, and secondly, I was about as attracted to her as I was to tube socks. Real talk: not at all. A big part of me wished Luann would pull herself together, and like Siegfried and Roy channel all of her frustrations into our magic, but she had other plans.
I first became suspicious when thirty seconds after entering her house, I demanded to see her spell book and noted her hesitation. Upon settling into her room she wanted to spend precious time talking about school, and most notably my best friend who just so happened to be another girl.
“What’s up with her?” Luann would ask upwards of a bajillion times a day, rolling her eyes afterwards. She seemed to desperately want me to confide in her all the hateful feelings I was having about my friend. Feelings I didn’t have but feelings which Luann wanted me desperately to have, and I’m guessing feelings Luann had herself. But as far as I was concerned, I was only there for one reason and one reason alone: to get my hands on her spells.
Because of my asking every five minutes, and probably thinking that once she showed it to me, the real romance would begin, Luann reluctantly brought out her Book of Shadows. She had told me earlier in the week, while she had my rapt attention, and in an effort I’m sure, to keep it that way, just like the Halliwell sisters on TV, her spell book was also called the Book of Shadows. I was floored. “What are the odds!”I thought to myself, “How a show that I love and a girl I suspect has crush like feelings towards me have the exact same name for a spell book with which I am obsessed?”
These were not the only allusions that Luann had made to the Hit WB series. Like the witches on TV she claimed to fight evil, and be able to move things with her mind. When I would corner her in art class and ask her to show me, she claimed someone was messing with her powers or that she couldn’t risk it in public. Again, I swallowed all this hook line and sinker. I wanted to believe so badly I was disregarding all evidence contrary to what I wanted. In much the same way, I imagine, that Luann wanted to me like her so badly she believed I liked girls.
Pulling out her spell book, from under her bed of all places, should have tipped me off. . It was not a text of old. It was not even a text of yesteryear, but more appropriately from yesterday. It was a white three-ring binder. Not exactly brand new as it had half stuck on anime stickers on the back flap and “Book Of Shadows” written in yellow and orange highlighter in a squiggly script, an attempt to convey spookiness, I suspect, on the front cover.
If I was disappointed I tried not to look it, something that I’ve struggled with for most of my life. In fact not long ago I had a discussion with my sister about how we both feel that no matter our emotional state, our faces display an air of mystique. We both felt we slip on a mask, something that displays an emotional reading of zero for others to see. When in reality we do not. Both of us wear our emotions on our sleeves, or rather our faces and are as easy to read a Dick and Jane book.
Luann must not have noticed though. Because she showed no shred of embarrassment, and I read from her not a single note of remorse for her actions; namely leading me to believe she had a real spell book. What I had imagined would be a sacred and mystical gateway to knowledge of the magical world looked like it was thrown together in a half hour by teenage girl, which of course it had. Still, I was probably less disappointed than Luann who had probably imagined something a touch more romantic for our first after school date.
Still, I made the most of it. I don’t recall if it was a conscious decision to disregard the obvious, or if I really wanted to believe I hadn’t come to her house for nothing, but I acted as if nothing was at all the matter with her spell binder. I turned the pages, added in some mild reverence as I turned the pages, and read page after page of straight from the Internet printed computer paper. As I flipped through, Pikachu smiled coyly at me from the inside cover, I fondled pages of crisp white computer paper. At home in my basement I had pages upon pages of tea stained paper with singed edges tucked inside a pained cardboard box in the rudimentary shape of a book. It had taken me weeks to tea stain that paper, and many coats of paint to get the cover to look semi legit. To top it all off I hadn’t been bragging about my spell book for weeks on end. The pages and the spells contained within the book I held in my hands were printed directly from a website. The links of the sidebar had been turned a neon yellow from her printer’s lack of coloured ink, and it was hard to read part of it because the header for the website “Spells.org” with a drawing of an mysterious looking woman and a crystal ball had smudged and covered most of the page. Luann had obviously cared enough to print these pages out, thinking it would surely be enough of a front to get me to her house, into her bedroom, and into her warm embrace. She had displayed some effort to protect certain pages from further smudging by way of contact with magical ingredient by placing them in protective plastic covers.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “Don’t be judgmental.” Which is something my brain only thinks when I should, indeed, be judgmental. Luann, to her credit, might have picked up on the cues that I was less than impressed with her handy-work, and quieted the part of my brain that was clearly tell me this was BS.
Because I was raised in a shame based punishment system, I knew how to conduct myself with decorum and poise, which usually results in acting like a complete idiot. I knew that Luann had printed these sheets of spells, complete with advertisements for free psychic readings and love potions in the margins, mere hours before I came over, probably during lunch recess. Therefore I knew that to spare her feelings, and to keep the flickering flame of my beliefs alive, I was going to have to play along.
“Wow,” I said, “there are some really good spells here.”
Luann just stared at me. Clearly, she too would have to go along with this charade a lot longer than she had anticipated. Thinking back on it I see that maybe Luann did have special powers. Powers that made it possible for her to firstly, have feelings for someone who had once told her he had a premonition about kicking a popcorn popper down the stairs (that did, to my credit, come true!) and secondly, an insane ability to think on her feet.
“Yeah,” she said, “I have all these copies here, rather than bust out my original copy. Also, all spells are the same, because they’ve been passed down from generation to generation of witches.”
I would like to say that I saw right through this, but I didn’t. It made sense. Because of my highly evolved sense of “decorum” or “idiocy” I have a habit of not processing information accurately right away. It made sense. The internet? Lie to me? I don’t think so.
Sometimes you go so far down a road, even though you know it is going to lead you nowhere but you stick to it because there is a slight chance, a tiny molecule of hope, that it is going where you want it to. That is why I stuck around that day with Luann. I knew she probably wasn’t a witch, and that truthfully neither was I, but I still thought that maybe through the reading of internet spells, or speaking in tongues we might just end up there. Instead, just like the dirt road analogy we ended up at shed screaming our heads off as a demon was trying to take possession of us.
Okay, so maybe not every dirt road leads to that exact situation but that’s where we ended up.
So, I went along with it. But maybe ‘along with it’ isn’t the greatest way to express myself. Going along with something implies that I was aware of what I was getting myself into. For a lot of my life, I feel that I don’t go along with things, or that stuff happens with my consent or awareness. Instead things happen to me. Which is what occurred this fateful day. I departed my body, or at least the part of my brain that is in charge of rational thought, and watched as Luann and the demon we found living in her shed as if it was happening to someone else. Like how I watched Charmed every Sunday night, except this time I didn’t have a root beer float to sip on during commercial breaks. Also, and this is hard to believe but our production values were even worse than those seen on TV.
As I flipped through the pages of her spell book, going back and forth from admiring how ballsy it was for her to show me this obvious fake and questioning if this was some sort of witch test- to see if I could spot a real from a fake, Luann suddenly grabbed my hand. She was having a premonition, which happened often when we were together. I brushed it off as a coincidence but I suspected it was sometimes just a ruse to grab my hand and hold it. And sometimes is a nice way of saying every single time she did it.
Her vision was clearly a doosey because Luann clutched my hand like it was the last thing holding her to this plane of existence. While I had become somewhat accustomed to the premonitions and hand holding I always tried to act surprised, shocked, or scared. The usual reactions one has when someone near them catches a glimpse of the future. But I always found myself distracted, at least temporarily, by how dry Luann’s hands were. They were so dry. Scaley, like a lizard’s. As someone who has, no matter the temperature, hands of roughly the same texture as week old sun dried mollusks, the sensation was startling. This time, however Luann was having her Oscar moment and she was damn well not going to be upstaged by her dragon fingers. She let out a blood-curdling scream, which if you’ve never heard one, is a bit of an attention grabber.
Playing the dutiful sidekick, and reacting as any semi-sane person would in a similar situation I asked Luann what was wrong- and began to laugh uncontrollably. I laugh at anything. Serious, or not I have essentially two modes: constant giggle, or sobbing. The laughing is just more easily accessible, less dehydrating, and more socially acceptable. I also thought that maybe if I laughed it off, Luann would join in and we could go back to reading spells and talking about things we were going to do some day. This was another subtle difference between Luann and myself. While I was a talker; content to sit around all afternoon thinking, and reading. She was a doer. She wanted to get stuff done, and if I took faking a premonition and whatever else to get what she wanted done- she would do it.
“There is…” Luann struggled to say, “A darkness close by. A great evil is near us!” Her eyes opened wide as she exclaimed this.
Remember how I said that was awfully convenient that upon our first get together, and indeed our first time unsupervised we ended up conquering a great darkness.? Yeah, it’s funny how coincidences work. Sometimes it’s as if they aren’t coincidences at all…
The great darkness of which Luann had caught a glimpse, was surprisingly hiding in her own basement. Just the kind of place where evil would lurk. It was dark and scary and had the potential to harbor all sorts of meth addicts and Satanists. By which I mean it was unfinished. Because my parents had built the house I grew up in the year I was born I wasn’t used to the character of old houses. One time I told my friend that it was completely unbelievable that people still used vacuums. Why didn’t they get a central vacuum cleaning system like the one my house had? I was suspect of anything that creaked or was not covered in gyprock. Luann’s basement fit the bill for a place evil would hide out, especially if it liked moisture. Her basement was very moist. Even the indoor/outdoor carpet tacked to the stairs was cool and damp. The cement floor was actually wet in some places that if you stepped in it, which I did, your socks sopped it up and made slapping sounds as you walked around.
Luann’s basement was a popular hangout. Not only for demon spawn, but also for members of the cool kid group in our grade. Luann had a twin brother in said group and that combined with the fact that for the most part the house was unsupervised, made it Mecca. People converged on that house every weekend. Something about it screamed: “bring me your horny, your sexually adventurous, your soon to be drug or alcohol dependant youth.” And they came in droves. Years later, Luann would pass me a tape, a recording of the antics our fellow classmen got into one Smirnoff ice fueled evening. The recording was crystal clear, but the goings on were definitely twisted. I still have a copy of it tucked in a box in my old closet should I ever find the need to blackmail one of the people on it.
But, that was all years down the road, and as we peeked around the basement - evil lurking behind every old jar of weird pickled vegetables, we weren’t even sure we would live to see it. We had some serious vanquishing on our hands. And I say ‘our’ hands on purpose because we seemed to be sharing appendages. Luann of the reptile handed wouldn’t drop my hand for all the weird, damp, tea in the boxes under her stairs.
They say that most of the weird phenomena that goes on in the world (palm readers, psychics, magicians, hypnotists) work because of the power of suggestion. I am living proof that that theory is correct. Even though I had my doubts about the actuality of the “great evil” in our midst because Luann assured me it was close, I felt it. I began to get that prickly, back of the neck feeling that you get when you run across a dark room immediately after turning out the far light. The feeling that has you run the last few steps to your door when it’s dark outside. I had that feeling in Luann’s basement. The creaks of the floor above our heads sounded like the whispers of an otherworldly creature. For all I knew the wetness in the air could have easily smelled of devil breath. It was a tense situation for us. We were on the cusp of either finding some sort of great evil, or cracking up and realizing how stupid we were acting. I remember thinking that I wish I had just went home after school and put another coat of glaze on my cardboard book and left the vanquishing to real wizards and witches and priests.
I will say that I have undoubtedly, a very active imagination. I do. Which sort of made me the perfect candidate for Luann’s own special power of persuasion. It’s a very real type of imagining too. When I was a kid I would wake from my imaginings at the end of the day, unaware of what had actually happened. They were so vivid and real that I can’t remember my actual surroundings, but I remember seeing what I had imagined in intense detail. On one occasion my babysitter and I actually left this plane of existence and played all day in a world of crazy swirly orange and pink circles. That’s all I remembered. Weirder still is that when my mom came home I snapped out of it, and had a sort of dizzying back to reality sensation, a loss of time like feeling where I was out of my body for most of playtime and just returned to it. I think that’s what happened in Luann’s basement that day. I forcibly left my body and let my imagination take over.
As I walked the perimeter of the room I saw a puff of black smoke slither out of the small rectangular tri-paned window at the top of the far wall. And I say that not knowing if there was smoke spilling out of her house’s ancient looking furnace, or if there was actually a smoke demon. Or if I saw a smoke demon spilling out of her basement window because Luann shouted “Look! There’s a smoke demon spilling out of the basement window!”
Immediately, and with purpose, Luann grabbed my hand (again) and dragged me as she ran and I wet footedly slapped, up the creaky steps and out the door.
I saw an interview once with Dolly Parton in which she said that whenever she stays in a hotel in New York City she sleeps in full makeup with her favorite wig on, in the off chance that there is fire in the hotel and she has to evacuate her room. She doesn’t want to have to hit the streets not looking her best. The point is that Dolly Parton is one prepared lady. She is ever vigilant to every threat or danger. I am quite sure that if Dolly was fighting demons at her friend’s house after school she would keep her shoes on should she need to run after one. Or at least if there was a smoke monster escaping out the basement window, she would run after it in her wet socks and not stop at the top of the stairs to put on those shoes, because a neighborhood was at stake, and stopping to do so really kills the intensity of the moment. Which is exactly what I did. I didn’t want to get my already wet socks even dirtier. Which is not something you think about when you are actually facing a smoke demon. It is something you think about when you are imagining fighting a demon and you are 14 and your mom will yell at you if you ruin a pair of socks. I put my shoes on as fast as I could and stumbled out the door and into Luann’s back yard, losing only a few seconds in our pursuit of a terrible evil.
Unfortunately we had, due to my momentary hesitation to forego footwear, lost sight of the creature. Which was especially puzzling because there was nothing to see in the first place. The brightness of the late afternoon sun was sobering. It was easier to believe that we were hunting demons in a dark basement but out in the warm sunshine it was tempting to blow bubbles and skip around and forget we were witches at all. Luann was more resigned to our efforts. It could be because she was legitimately part of a wiccan force keeping the underworld at bay. Or it was because Luann was a showman. She had saved her greatest feat for last, and if we weren’t going to skip this witch stuff entirely for a little make-out action in her room, then she was going to make sure that I stuck around for her grand finale.
“No! No! No!” she called out as she darted around the corner of the house, to the window from which the dastardly demon had darted. “It can’t be!” she shouted, reaching out and digging her fingers into the dirt of the flowerbed beneath it.
I must confess that I have no idea what Luann is doing now. She may be fighting evil around the world, or she may well be a mastermind of epic proportions because she could be very well suited to both. Because from out of the dirt, and with frantic, nervous fingers she located and unwrapped from a canvas pouch a collection of objects that looked unmistakably witchy.
“Here,” she said, holding out the hoard for me to see and examine closer, “Someone or something has broken the protection amulet.” She gestured to a crumbling ceramic shape at the centre of the damp canvas bag. Surrounding it’s shards were bits of plants and flowers, herbs and the like which I imagined served the purpose of strengthening the power of the amulet.
“We’ve been containing the demon in the basement. Keeping him trapped where we know he can’t hurt anyone.” Luann explained. “He couldn’t have gone far. We need to find him and vanquish him!”
Now that time has distanced me from the situation, I like to think of Luann collecting those herbs and a broken amulet and burying it in the dirt, only to uncover it later with me. I like to think about how she anticipated vanquishing an evil spirit would bring us closer together. It’s probably the most romantic thing anyone will ever do for me. Sure, it was manipulative, and yes, it maybe screams “crazy!” but more than anything Luann was giving me exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be a witch and she was spending hours of her time pasting together a spell book, creating a demon mythology, and orchestrating his escape from her basement so that I’d feel like one. It’s sweet in a really weird and misguided way. And maybe I would have appreciated it more had what happened next not happened.
“Daniel,” Luann spoke softly, looking deeply into my eyes. “Search your mind. Tell me where the demon has gone.”
This was an incredible moment for me. Should any suitors be reading this, playing into my vanity is surefire way to get ahead. And for Luann it almost worked in her favor. Had her fingers been less covered in scales, and her chest less covered with breasts she might have had a shot. For the first time since getting there that day I felt like I had a part to play. Luann was the one calling the shots, but I got my own speaking role. Eager to show off my powers I closed my eyes and searched my mind for the evil’s possible location.
“I’m not sure,” I said, pulling my eyelids tighter. “I can’t see him anywhere,” because I couldn’t and because it didn’t exist. I had no idea where the demon had escaped to, which shouldn’t be taken as evidence of my shotty magic skills, but a testament to how honest I am. I didn’t know where it was so I said so. It could be anywhere, or more likely, nowhere, for all I knew.
“Is it in the shed, Daniel?” she asked me, clutching my hand in both of hers, bringing it up against the worn, black, wizard-sleeved sweater she had worn everyday since we had talked about being witches. “Do you think he has gone to the shed?” leading me gently towards her desired destination.
“Is he in the shed, Daniel? Concentrate!”
“I guess he could be?” I said, looking to her for confirmation. She nodded ever so slightly.
Luann spun around the corner of the house returning to her backyard and heading straight toward the old wooden shed off to the side of the rectangle of grass and weeds that was her rear lawn, pulling me along with her.
“Yes! He’s here Daniel!” she exclaimed as we reached it. “I saw him in the window! he doesn’t have much power left! We can finish him off!”
Luann was really pleased with me for telling her the location of the demon, and I must say I to was pretty proud that I had led us here. First time demon hunting, and I found the demon really quickly. What are the chances? But I had no time to congratulate myself, we had to finish this demon off and I had to get home by six.
Luann reached for the handle on the big orange door of the shed and let out another scream that proved, resoundingly, that she had very healthy lungs, and that something was again, the matter.
“What is it?” I cried out, because I wanted to know and because I felt like I should get into the heat of the moment.
“He’s trying to possess me!” she screamed.
“Oh no!” I yelled, standing there no knowing what to do.
“He’s trying to get out! We need to keep him in the shed!” she said, as she opened and slammed shut the door over and over again. “Help me!”
I threw my body up against the door as best I could, as Luann’s ‘possessed’ arm kept opening and closing it. For no other reason than not knowing what else to do, I started screaming. Luann followed suit and our screams and the banging of the shed door flooded across the yard, and probably the entire town. I was legitimately scared because Luann’s grip on the shed handle was so tight her fingers were turning white, and knowing she couldn’t risk losing circulation to those extremities for long, I tried prying them apart. But those talons wouldn’t budge.
“We need to vanquish him!” Luann shouted between screams.
“HOW?!” I screamed back at her, my voice reverberating from the thwack, thwack, thwacking of the shed door against my back.
“A spell! Repeat after me: Beings of light, erase evil from our sight”
“Beings of light, erase evil from our sight!” we chanted together.
Luann eased the slamming of our door as we repeated the saccharine spell over and over again, screaming it together like our lives actually did depend on it. Finally with one final slam of the shed door, Luann slumped to the ground; her hand loosening it’s grip on the metal handle. I sank down too, my back pressed against the shed door, shards of rust-coloured paint sticking to the fibres of the sweater. Exhausted, I looked over at Luann and asked her if she was okay. She was, but still leaned over and rested her forehead on my shoulder. I bent my arm up at an awkward angle and in the most “just friends” gesture I could think of, patted her three times on the back. In much the same way you would reward a dog for bringing back a Frisbee.
And that’s when I saw them. Standing at the back door of her house, staring out at us from the steps, mouth agape with amusement dancing in their eyes, stood Luann’s brother and an assortment of guys; all charter members of the cool kids gang.
“What are you doing?” her brother yelled out at us, laughing slightly.
Luann could fell me tense up underneath her. She could probably feel my heart rate speed up, and hear the thoughts running through my head “How long have they been there?” “How much did they see?” “How badly will I want to die tomorrow when they talk about it on the bleachers to their little clique at lunch?” So, without lifting her head from my shoulder, savoring the last few second of physical contact between us (all that she’d ever get out of me). She screamed back, in a tone so harsh it stopped the laughter so close to erupting from the other boy’s lips.
“WE COULDN’T GET THE SHED OPEN!”
It was a statement that required no follow up questions and Luann certainy did not sound like she would entertain regardless. So, just like that it was over. And that’s all we spoke of the incident. Our audience had broken the magic spell we had cast over ourselves, and now in the cold, hard, light, of their stares, we could pretend no longer. Thankfully the demon was vanquished, but that offered us very little comfort. No one understood what we were doing, and even if we had explained what exactly we were doing they wouldn’t believe us. Not knowing what else to do, and because I couldn’t make eye contact with Luann for probably the next six weeks, I let out a long huff, slapped my hands on my knees and said:
“Well, I better get going home.” And stood, shaking Luann from my shoulder and bolting past the group of guys I’d have to face in the halls the next day, and ran the few blocks to my sister’s house, where I tried as hard as I could to forget the embarrassment grenade that had just deployed all over me.
In the intervening years I’ve tried hard to forget the events of that day. Embarrassment crashes down upon me, in tsunami type waves whenever I think about it. And not merely because we were caught in the act of make-believing long after it was cute, but because we had to live with the memory of how caught up in something we both got. Luann probably handled it better than I did, at least she had a cause that bellied her actions. My motivation was entirely my own, and therefore the blame can fall only on me.
Or Shannon Doherty.