Olivia and Emma returned from flirting with the delivery guy in time to witness the beginning credits. The pizzas were placed on the coffee table in front of the couch so no one would miss any of the movie if they wanted to grab an extra slice or two. Two pepperoni pizzas and one cheese pizza and cinnamon breadsticks freshly made were still steaming. I almost engorged two slices of cheese pizza before the movie even started.
I’ve always been a little bit of a scaredy cat so I tried hiding under the blanket during the parts you could tell something creepy was about to happen, while Sophia pulled it off me a few times. Tara sat on the recliner pretending not to be scared by acting bored and looking at her phone most of the time. Eva, Emma, and Olivia remained huddled on the couch. Emma was a screamer so we all jumped whenever she screamed at something scary and then laughed at ourselves awkwardly for being freaked out by what was going on. We all felt a little silly for being 17 – Eva 15 – and being afraid of a movie.
By the time the movie ended, it was about 11:45pm, and we were all too freaked out to try and sleep. No one would admit that though, we just sat awkwardly as the end credits rolled down the screen. There were only a few slices of pepperoni pizza left on the coffee table, a large bowl sat next to the pizza boxes that had some Doritos left in it, but all the candy was gone; no one wanted to move and finish off the food in case the Blair Witch was going to show up and try to kill us. We wanted to be alert and prepared. We were teenage girls who were trying to act as if the movie hadn’t shaken us.
“What do you guys think about witchcraft?” Olivia said, easing a bit of the tension that was filling the room like toxic gas killing the mood.
“What, like people actually still practice that stuff?” Tara asked with confidence in her voice as if she was completely unaffected by the movie.
“Yeah,” Olivia responded with a shrug. “I guess it isn’t really talked about because of society haven’t a negative view of it, but there are groups of people – women who still practice the craft.”
“’The craft’?” Eva chimed in. “You sound like you’re into that stuff…” She felt a little sketchy about it like the rest of the girls. Me, though? I wanted to hear more.
“Yeah, isn’t it supposed to be evil or bad or something?” Tara asked. She seemed to sink a little further into the recliner as she spoke. She could almost disappear in that thing.
“Not at all,” Emma replied, Olivia was shaking her head in response to the question from Tara. “Yeah, there is a dark side to witchcraft and magic, but there’s also a good, or light side to it. Everything has to have balance.”
“Uh, like the force in Star Wars?” I asked. I really should have kept my mouth shut on that; it gave away some of my nerdiness, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to learn more; I wanted to understand what they were talking about.
“Sort of,” Olivia directed at me, giggling.
“Where did you guys even learn this stuff?” Sophia inquired, saving me from any more embarrassment.
“We kind of just stumbled on it last week,” Emma answered. We stared at her incredulously waiting for her to give us an explanation. She seemed to be having trouble forming the right words, so Olivia stepped in for her.
“Someone left a book in my locker,” she admitted. “There was no note or anything so I have no idea who it was from or how they got it in my locker. I was going to show you guys sooner but I didn’t really know how to bring it up or what any of you would say. Emma and I have been reading it and trying out some of the stuff inside. It’s basically a guide to being Glinda, the good witch but more modern. It has spells and blessings-”
“And how to do a circle and speak with the dead!” Emma finished.
“Yeah, but they call it communing with the dead,” Olivia corrected.
“Oh, right. Sorry, Olive.” Emma couldn’t contain her excitement. She seemed to want to rush into some witchcraft right now. I couldn’t really blame her, though, I was practically jumping out of my skin.
“Can I see the book?” I asked. Everyone’s eyes locked onto me. My face burned from the embarrassment of having the spotlight. I couldn’t help myself though, I had this weird pulling feeling in my gut telling me to look at the book. I couldn’t deny the pull so I went with it. I didn’t like being on the spot like that but I needed to have the book in my hands.
“Uhm, yeah,” Olivia said, apprehensively. “It’s downstairs. I wanted to try some stuff with you guys anyway – let’s go.”
I wondered why she seemed anxious about letting me see the book. I’m not sure what I’ve done to earn her mistrust so it seemed unwarranted. Maybe she just had difficulty trusting people, or she thought I wanted to take her position as sort of being the group leader or something. I’m not a leader unless I have to be, though, so I have no idea why she would think I wanted to take her place.
Olivia gets up from the couch and makes her way back towards the front door, taking a left down the hallway. We all get up and follow her; I was hot on her heels. The hallway opened up into the kitchen and a walkway to the right. We didn’t want more food so we turned right which had two doors. Straight ahead led to the garage and the door to the right went down to the basement. Opening the door, Olivia headed down the stairs with us behind her.
When you reach the landing, you have to turn right; there’s a wall in front of you and to the left of you so we all piled into the first room. It wasn’t very big – I think it was about 10ft by 10ft – but there was plenty of seating. There was a couch that angled in a V shape along the left wall stretching across the wall on the opposite end of us and a love seat on the wall to the right with a door next to the stairs leading to another room. The furniture was a medium gray color which was very different from the nice stuff upstairs. There was a small end table in the back right corner separating the couch and love seat, with a square coffee table in the middle for everyone to use which looked like a big cube. A flat-screen 42” TV sat on a stand against the wall with the stairs, equipped with movies and game consoles galore.
Olivia sat on the couch close to the end table and we gathered around her. I sat on the love seat next to the end table and Sophia sat there with me. Emma sat next to Olivia. Eva and Tara sat on the couch against the wall opposite Sophia and me. I’m not sure I was even blinking as I kept my eye on Olivia waiting to see what she was going to do next. We had all spent many hours in this basement but everyone, except Emma, was shocked when Olivia pulled off the paneling of the coffee table closest to her. There definitely was a collective gasp. None of us had known there was a secret compartment inside the table.
She pulled out five white candles, about three inches in diameter and six inches tall, and set them out on the coffee table as if they were the points of a star we couldn’t see. My head was booming with questions about why she would do that. Was there a reason for the candles being placed in this way or was she just placing them this way naturally? I held my breath in anticipation of the book. What would it look like? Was it old and frayed? Was it hand written or printed? Where the pages falling out? I needed to know.
Olivia reached back into the compartment within the table and had to use both hands to pull the book out. I was leaning over the arm of the love seat to get a better look, but she was in the way, I couldn’t get a peek. She was taking her sweet time bringing it out. I swear she was trying to torture me by being so slow.
The moment that book was in my view, I was entranced. It was as if I had found love at first sight. The book’s exterior was simply alluring; the leather cover was an intoxicating blend of black and dark green that decorated its entirety. I wasn’t able to avert my gaze for even a moment. The only design on it was a circle with a star on the inside of it; the circle touched each point on the star. I knew it was a pentacle but I had never seen one in anything besides a movie before. It was embroidered onto the cover in this dark green thread that matched the cover perfectly.
The book was huge; the spine was three inches thick, and the pages were 10” by 14” but it wasn’t normal paper on the inside, it was parchment. The moment I laid eyes on the book my eyes started to tear up. I don’t think anyone noticed though since nothing escaped down my cheek, but seeing the book made me feel whole. I was drawn to it. I didn’t have to have it in my hands to know that it was mine and meant for me, but there was no way I would be able to explain that to the rest of the girls.
“Uh, are you sure we should be messing with this?” Tara said apprehensively. She interrupted my drooling over the book and it annoyed me. I had to have the book in my hands, but I didn’t want to rush Olivia into letting me hold it and seem like a weirdo. I looked over at Tara; she was huddled with her knees to her chest just staring at the book, scared, her back up against the couch. I glanced back at the book but didn’t see what she would be afraid of or why something so beautiful could make her feel that way. Emma is the one who consoled her and I tried hard not to glare at her as she talked.
“It’s perfectly safe,” she spoke, lying back against the couch, running short fingers through her luscious brown hair. She shifted so her legs were on the couch with her, folded pretzel style and her feet bare. “As long as there is no negative energy from anyone once we have drawn a circle, nothing bad will happen.”
A silence fell over all of us as that notion sunk in. We were all still a bit freaked out from the movie, so would fear count as negative energy? I wasn’t sure I wanted to ask. I wasn’t afraid anymore, though. I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be and that something big was about to happen. That icky feeling was still nagging away at my stomach but it was overshadowed by the certainty of being in the right place at the right time. I could feel the tension in the air from the rest of the girls though and that made me a bit worried. What if one of them brought in negative energy just because they were anxious?
“Can I look at the book?” I asked, breaking the tension. I didn’t want to keep waiting for my chance to flip through the pages and see what was so special about it; what pulled me to this strange looking book. I looked at Olivia as nonchalantly as I could just waiting and hoping she would set aside her mistrust of me and hand it over. I took two slow, deep breaths to make sure I maintained my cool before she responded; her hands plastered on each side of the book and sizing me up with an ice cold stare that would freeze a polar bear.
“I don’t know…” I could see the knuckles on her long thin fingers turn white from tightening her grip. Emma nudges Olivia with her elbow.
“What’s she going to do?” Emma scoffed; she elbowed her closest friend again gently, unsure why she didn’t trust me. “Grab it and run? We can trust Izzy.”
“Yeah, okay, I guess,” Olivia reluctantly said through clenched teeth that only I noticed. She lifted the book gently off of her lap and handed it to me.
The feeling of the smooth leather against my fingertips was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was cool to the touch even though Olivia had a firm grip on it. There was no evidence she had held it at all. I ran my fingers across the front cover, analyzing every inch of it and relishing in its beauty. It felt familiar — as if I had somehow held this book in my hands before even though I had never seen it until tonight.
The girls were chatting more about what Olivia and Emma had been doing with the book in their possession. I didn’t hear a word of it; I was captivated by this unique treasure. I set it on my lap and opened the cover. The first page simply had Book of Shadows written in some form of calligraphy that took up the entire surface. No author, no owner, and no copyright anywhere to be seen. I lifted the page to turn to the next one and stopped to analyze the parchment. It was thick and dark for what I imagined parchment to be. It made me wonder how old the book was despite the good condition it was in. I made a mental note to ask later when I wasn’t busy memorizing every piece of this Book of Shadows.
I turned the page to see a beautiful, brightly colored image in ink of a forest path on the left hand page; on the right, was more calligraphy. The first line was in large print which read “The Witches of Moirae: Unlocking the secrets of Fate”.
I tried to read the rest of what was on the page but my vision blurred from the tears that welled up in my eyes. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of being complete that was in my heart just from holding the book. I could sense the centuries of history contained within the confines of each page. I ran my right hand against the parchment running my fingertips across the leathery, irregular surface and was in even more awe of the beautiful calligraphy and images that seemed to fill this massive volume.
How did whoever wrote this make everything look so gorgeous and perfect on such an uneven and textured document? I thought to myself.
I felt a tugging in my chest towards the book as I continued to lay my hand on top of the second page. I blinked a few times to clear the tears that had settled there and looked at the other girls. They didn’t seem to notice. The pulling seemed to grow steadily stronger and I could feel my chest move closer to where my hand sat, yet my body didn’t move. I looked down to see a white shimmery mist being pulled from my heart towards the book.
I didn’t even have time to scream. My vision began to blur and stretch into a cacophony of incandescent lines and colors. It only took a few moments before my friends were gone and the colors I was used to had faded to shades of grey as I watched the world I knew get left behind me. I didn’t know where I was going or what was taking me there, but I knew I was falling into a different world and I couldn’t catch myself.