The grey block of apartments where Emily lived was gloomy in the winter rain. Water dripped down the stair well and pooled around the rubbish bins clustered in the alley. An old car body was covered in graffiti and rust.
The apartment was empty when Emily got home from school. Her mother was working overtime again, just like she had been doing more and more lately.
Emily walked into the tiny kitchen and threw her school bag in the corner.
Homework could wait.
She opened the fridge and stood looking inside. There wasn’t much to eat―only some hommus and carrot sticks. Emily couldn’t wait until her mother was over this health food kick. She longed for a piece of pizza.
She closed the fridge and wandered aimlessly around the apartment.
Nothing ever happened in this place.
The door to her mother’s bedroom was open and she walked in. It smelled like the perfume her mother always wore―Chanel No. 5. Emily stood in front of the dressing table and looked at the crystal perfume bottle. She picked it up and quickly squirted either side of her neck. Then she picked up her mother’s brush.
She still felt guilty about that fight last night. If only her mother understood her better they wouldn’t end up in these arguments. It wasn’t Emily’s fault she had failed her last maths exam. It was the way her teacher taught the subject. It just didn’t make any sense. But it was when her mother said she was ungrateful that really set Emily off.
‘I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,’ she had yelled until her mother stormed out and slammed the bedroom door shut. Emily had pressed her face into the pillow but she wouldn’t cry. She was determined not to cry.
But that was last night and now she had calmed down she just felt guilty. Emily ran the brush through her long brown hair and hummed to herself.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed the wardrobe door was ajar. She carefully put the brush back on the dressing table and walked over to the wardrobe. Her mother’s clothes were so out of date, like as if she was stuck in the 1990s.
She was about to close the door when she noticed a cardboard box hidden underneath some blankets. Emily moved the blankets and opened the box. Inside was a pile of books. She pulled the box from the wardrobe to take a better look.
Emily pulled the first book out and looked at the title―The Crucible. She put it on the ground and reached in again and again until she was soon surrounded by a pile of hardback books. It was like finding a hidden treasure chest.
Half an hour later Emily was on her bed, lying on her stomach. The Crucible was open and propped up against a pillow. Emily’s lips moved as she read.
The clock in the kitchen ticked loudly as she kept reading until late into the night. Her eyes began to get tired and she put the book down and lay her head against the pillow.
What was it with that Abigail anyway? Was she just bored? Or was there really witchcraft? Witchcraft! Imagine if there really was such a thing as witchcraft.
Emily wondered if there were more books about witches in the school library. Tomorrow she would go and look. She felt a little tingle of excitement and picked The Crucible up again.
As she turned the page a small booklet fell out.
She picked it up carefully. The pages of the booklet were old and musty. Emily opened it to reveal what looked like a simple handwritten poem on the first page.
By circle one begin my spell
By circle two my love will dwell
By circle three bring her to me
By circle four for evermore
Repeat this spell three times every night to get your heart’s desire—by light of the third moon following the solstice your true love will be revealed but beware for the untrue heart will turn this spell into a curse for all eternity. It can only be undone by a stitch of true love’s hair.
Use with caution was scribbled in pencil down the side of the page. Emily turned page after page to reveal more of the same. There were strange symbols drawn all over the booklet.
Was this poetry or—or was it really a spell book? There was no such thing was there? And why would there be a spell book hidden inside a book in her mother’s wardrobe? Emily wondered if her mother knew anything about it—surely not.
She ran her fingers over the symbols, tracing the shapes of interlocking circles and triangles. There was a faint tingling in her fingertips, like static electricity, and she quickly pulled her hand away.
Maybe it was just her imagination. With the tip of her index finger she traced the symbol again—no, it was definitely tingling. Then she thought she heard whispering. She quickly put the booklet back between the pages of The Crucible and put the book under her pillow. Her heart was racing as she rolled over and turned out the light.
Moments later, though, she sat up and pulled the book out again. She had to find out more. She opened it up and began reading,
‘The crescent represents the waxing and waning of the moon. Crescent is derived from the Latin word creare which means to create, so the crescent moon is linked with the creative power of the mother Goddess. Eastward pointing horns indicate a waxing crescent.’
Emily turned the page and kept reading.
‘Pentacle—its apex points upward toward the devine. It also suggests the importance of five in Celtic mythology—earth, air, water, fire and spirit.’
By the time her mother came home later that night Emily had fallen asleep with the booklet under her pillow.