“Haha, I don’t know if you’re ready to hear this.”

“Oh come on, the Internet exists, I’ve probably already seen way worse—I mean, I am in high school now.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me. I’m just turning into the crypt-keeper over here. But anyway, don’t get fixated on some boy who doesn’t like you now. That shit doesn’t matter in the long run and who cares what Wendell—”


“Right, whatever.  Who cares what he thinks? And like I was saying, I get it. I was head over heels for this guy in my sophomore Bio class, ob-sessed.  But of course he didn’t really notice me and my ‘best friend’ at the time flirted with him like crazy and told me they made out at a party once… which was a lie. She was a real bitch. Anyhow, I super-crushed for years on Mr. ‘I Play Sports but Am Also a Nerd’ but he didn’t like me ‘in that way.’ NOBODY did. Mostly because it was my loud, acne-ridden phase and whatever. Long story short, high school rots but I get out of this crap town, get my flipping degrees and start taking care of myself. Lo and behold, who do I run into repeatedly but Mr. High School Crush? So, for context, about ten years or so has passed and I’m rocking it—I mean, look at me, I still am. No face acne, no terrible hair braids, no wolfman mustache.”

“You had a mustache?”


“Will I get a mustache?”

“Look, it’s not important and they have creams for that now. Anyway, I am finally fire and he’s… okay.”

“Just okay?”

“I mean, he’s all right, I don’t know what hormonal high-school-me was thinking, but still. Stuff lingers, people age, whatever. Okay and here’s where it gets a little blue. He pulls the old ‘power’s out at my place, can I come over?’ thing, and we live in the same city now so come on, but we’d already gotten dinner and drinks before and caught up so I was down. In fact, I was getting all school-girly and ya know, somehow thought it would make up for how shitty I felt in high school. Spoiler alert, it didn’t. So he comes over and my freezer breaks and oh no, both our clothes are wet like we’re on the goddamn CW, and I was like ‘oh shit it’s finally happening.’ So we, uh, begin our intimate encounter and—”

“Sex. You guys were having sex. I get it.”

“Okay, okay. But to be honest, it was like I was being stabbed by freaking wolverine. Terrible. I should’ve shut it down there but I was like, ‘maybe it’s his nervous, who knows.’ Then things get worse because he has both a chain and a turtleneck sweater.”


“You said you wanted to hear this.”

“But I don’t know what you mean by—“

Oh, so umm, his ‘turtle’ still had its shell and he had a thinner—“

“Weird dick. Got it.”

“No, no, I don’t want to body-shame or anything. Ugh. The point is, I based all this stuff on getting some guy from high school’s attention as if it would somehow help make high-school-me feel better.  Instead all I got was some terrible sex that made me rethink every crush I’ve ever had and feel even worse. The only thing that really makes stuff better isn’t settling past scores or going to prom, or getting the hottie. It’s having confidence in yourself and knowing that this bullshit is just temporary, things won’t be this shitty forever.”

“Thanks. I really wish you were—”

“LANA, COME DOWN FOR DINNER!” Mom is coming up the stairs, her voice bouncing down the hall. “AND IS SOMETHING BURNING UP THERE?”

I want to apologize but you’ve already left by the time the first candle is snuffed out. I curse under my breath as the footsteps get closer. I toss the board and candles under my bed and throw the fistful of incense I was holding out the window.

“What’s going on up here? Are you doing drugs?” Mom shakes the door knob. “No, you’d need to have friends to get drugs, right?” She mumbles some more insults under her breath. It’s going to be one of those nights.

I open the door and she almost falls into the room. I edge her back into the doorway and try to get us both downstairs. “You said there was dinner?”

“Yeah, it’s pizza. You’re acting like I don’t feed you. Is that what you’re telling people at school? That I’m some terrible—“

“Pizza sounds great.  How was your day?”

“Don’t patronize me, you little…”

*    *    *

            I still haven’t gotten used to the new place. I rock a little in the metal dining room chairs as I eat my cold slice.  I’m glad Dad finally got around to paying child support so I can have my own room and all of that, but there are no memories here. Nothing for me to hold on to. It’s new, cheap furniture, and new things for Mom to self-medicate about, and a new school.

Mom is still on a tear. Switching between how I should have let her sell that box of my sister’s things because “she’s never visiting” to sobs about how horrible everything is. Eventually she tires herself out and I clean up what’s left of dinner and start in on getting ready for school the next day.

By the time I make it back up to my room, the darkness has taken over.  The windows are blackened by such a thick night that fumbling for the light switch and setting up the board again takes forever.

“Are you here?” The tip of the pointer moves to yes. “Can you talk some more?”


“Oh, it’s just that our weekly phone calls were the only thing that made this easier.”


“I mean, I figured when you helped me find the board that meant I could actually talk to you like before.”

N-O-T  S-T-R-O-N-G.

“Me?” The pointer crawls to no.


“You need help? How? No one will believe me. I told you. We don’t even know where you were living. Just about law school and that big case. Gran emailed me about it.”

N-O-T  S-T-R-O-N-G.

“What do you need?”


“Power? Like light? More candles? The books you showed me said that helps.” The P wiggles inside the pointer and then stops. “People?” The pointer inches back, maybe toward yes but can’t make it. I call out for you, light more candles and incense. Nothing.

The books suggest forming a coven. More souls equal more energy, obviously.  But I don’t know anyone here. The apartment’s full of elderly shut-ins and my only friends are in chats. They’re useful though. The forums tell me how to get what I really want. It’s all about balance, the transfer of equal energy. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it before this, if I’m really honest with myself. I still sleep with a knife under my pillow just in case of another bad night. They used to happen all the time at the old place. And you were the one who taught me to do that anyway. How to hide my birthday money in an old bra so our parents wouldn’t take it. You taught me everything I know about protecting myself, but I need more. I need help.

 *    *    *

Her snoring and horrid Jack Daniels breath almost slowed me down but Mom is a heavy sleeper.  It was easy to slide the board under her head.  The next step whole be to use the new pointer. I attached the black stone to the cheese knife that was under my pillow with twine and sage. Technically it wasn’t “blessed” like in the instructions, but things are always tricky with blood magic.

I stand over her with blade in hand, but pause. I wait for a sign from you. Something that says you don’t need this as much as I think you do. There’s nothing.

I take a deep breath and raise the blade high into the air. We both exhale at the same time. No screams, just silence.

I hope it worked.