The Witch in the Mirror – Part 35

Beatrice decided she wanted to get to know Josh. The way his music moved her—she needed to learn more about this boy. She had found out his name from Emily. Bea had casually asked Emily to tell her about some of the kids in the class.

Emily said she didn’t know much. She usually kept away from them, she said, because they were mostly the children of rich parents—spoilt children whose parents could afford this expensive school. She didn’t have time for any of them.

‘What about that scruffy guy over there?’ Bea had said, casually pointing at Josh. ‘He doesn’t look rich.’

Emily had admitted they weren’t all spoilt. Bea suspected it was a way for Emily to justify her attitude to herself.

‘His name is Josh. His mother is the school librarian. That’s how he can afford to come here and why he’s always hanging about the school late in the afternoon—waiting for his mum I guess.’

The librarian! Bea made a plan.

That afternoon as soon as the final bell went Bea packed her bag and rushed to the library. Sure enough, there was Josh sitting on a bench just outside the library. The cello case was on the ground beside him.

Bea stopped for a moment to catch her breath then walked casually up to him.

‘Hi, is the library shut already?’ She knew it was.

Josh was startled.

He just nodded.

‘Oh, damn. I’ll just have to take these books back tomorrow.’ She had several books tucked under her arm.

Josh was looking uncomfortably at her.

‘Is that your cello? I heard you playing in the music room the other day.’

Josh’s face relaxed a little. ‘Yeah, it’s new. I only got it a few weeks ago.’

‘I think the cello is the most amazing instrument. It produces such beautiful music. It makes me want to sing.’

Josh was amazed. No girl had ever spoken this much to him before.

‘Do you sing?’

‘Not really,’ said Bea, ‘At least—I don’t think so.’

Josh frowned.

‘Do you ever perform in public? I love hearing the cello played.’

‘I’m in the school orchestra. Actually—’ Josh hesitated. He could feel his heart racing. ‘I’m playing at the Fireworks Spectacular on the weekend. Are you going?’

‘I haven’t decided yet. Emily wants me to go.’

‘Oh—yeah—Emily.’

Josh lowered his eyes.

Bea looked at him curiously.

‘Well, I guess I should be going. I have to catch my bus. Maybe I’ll see you at the fireworks on Saturday.’

Josh nodded and Bea smiled as she turned and walked away. Her red hair bounced against her shoulders as she moved and Josh felt a warm glow spread throughout his chest.

He reached into his bag and pulled out a notepad and began scribbling down some music—this piece was going to soar like magic spinning across the sun. He needed to get home and begin practicing it so he could play it for Bea on Saturday night.

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The Witch in the Mirror – Part 34

Emily was smiling as she sat on the edge of the bathtub. Candles illuminated the bathroom. Flower petals floated on the steamy surface of the water. She had been left alone in the house while her mother was out with Dave. That was her chance to study the book she had found in her locker. She assumed it had been a present from Bea.

The book had a single crescent moon printed on its cover. No title or anything to indicate what it was. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she realised it was a notebook. The pages were covered in handwritten scrawl and drawings, just like the one she had found in the cottage.

But unlike the other book this one was full of spells. Emily took off her coat and threw it on the sofa. She curled up with her feet underneath her bottom and began to flick through the book. A small packet fell out and when she opened it Emily found a silver chain with a pendant in the shape of a crescent. It was the same as the pendant she’d gotten from the antique shop. She stood at the mirror and placed the chain around her neck.

When Emily went to bed that night her head was full of happiness spells, love spells, wish spells—but best of all was the page titled memory spell.

 

Herbs for sleeping and dreaming – hops (dream pillow), passion flower, camomile, lavender, peppermint, poppy seeds, willow

 

Emily let her gaze return to the steaming bathtub. She could still picture the tattoo on the back of her neck.

Emily whispered.

‘Goddess, send me your gifts.’

She looked around the room and her eyes came to rest on the chair. Even in the dim candlelight she could see the book propped against the back of the chair.

Through the thin walls of the apartment she could hear children playing.

Emily thought about her mother. The long hours she worked to keep food on the table and Emily in school. When she could, Emily would create a money spell and her mother would never have to work again.

Emily stood and slipped off her robe. She turned to see if she could see the back of her neck in the mirror. She couldn’t see it, but it was still tingling. Instead she studied her body. She could see the outline of her ribs, the soft layer across her stomach. She sucked it in then ran her fingers across the tattoo that was tingling at the back of her neck.

Boost your glow

Boost your glow
With herbs and flowers
Fruits of the forest
Roses for your cheeks
Then run through the trees
Under blue blue skies

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 30

High Street in Pemblebury was long, narrow and rambling. Lined with a mixture of new and old buildings, High Street still followed the medieval wagon track that had once led to Pemblebury marketplace. There are no more remnants of those ancients markets but the medieval traders left their mark in the way High Street still follows the twists and turns around long forgotten rock outcrops and low lying swampy ground. The road had been closed to traffic years ago and now featured six city blocks of paved shopping mall.

Many of the buildings along High Street shopping mall were new constructions of steel and glass that reached high into the sky and changed the city’s skyline so much that few medieval folk would recognise their old village now. Some of the buildings were older, however, surviving in more or less their original form for centuries. The dusty canvas awning of one of these old stone buildings advertised itself as a seller of old wares and antiques.

Crowds of Saturday morning shoppers hurried past as Josh walked along High Street, waving his hand like a conductor’s baton. He could feel the rhythm of the crowd and was trying to work out how he could use that in his music assignment.

Da da da dum, Josh hummed.

A truck roared past, shifting gears as it accelerated away from the lights. Josh waited for the lights to change before he could cross. The pedestrian signal beeped and Josh tapped his foot in time. If he could program that timing into his drum machine then he could work a fugue on the cello around it.

Beep—beep—beep.

Beep beep beep.

The lights changed and Josh stepped off the curb. A car screeched to a halt as he sauntered across. His long hair curled across his face and Josh kept his head down rather than making eye contact with the driver. At least the footpath wasn’t as busy on this side of High Street.

Josh looked up and noticed one of the girls from school walking towards him. He slowed down and began to pretend to look in the window of a shop. The last thing he wanted was to run into Anar. She was one of those kids at school that had made the past two years hell for him.

He knew it was her group that had started the rumours about him being gay—just because he didn’t play football. He had never been sporty and it felt stupid chasing a ball around the park. He much preferred being inside with a book or playing music.

The bullying hadn’t started with anything too obvious. It was just little things that people said and then they always said they were joking. He usually laughed with them, but only until he got home. Then he would bury his head in his pillow and try and stop the tears—the tears just proved that what they said was true. Maybe he really was gay.

But Josh was pretty sure he wasn’t gay. He liked to look at girls—was even attracted to them—but he just didn’t know how to talk to them. He became tongue-tied whenever a girl was around. His mouth went dry and he stammered. No wonder they all thought he was queer. But he had never felt that way around guys. He just had nothing in common with the guys in his class at school and he was definitely not attracted to them.

He repeated this to himself as he turned his head to see if Anar had gone past yet, but she had stopped. She was standing in front of that antique shop with the faded awning.

She was wearing a short skirt and tight fitting top and cardigan. He studied her face while she seemed to be deep in thought. Suddenly she smiled as though she’d had an idea and pushed the door open to enter the shop.

Josh was curious. Why would Anar be looking in an antique shop?

He moved closer until he could see her through the window. The old lady behind the counter was talking to her and Anar was looking around. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but he saw Anar nod her head and disappear into a room out the back.

He moved further down the street and waited for her to come out. A few minutes later she quickly walked through the door of the shop and hurried past where Josh stood. She didn’t notice him as she reached into her bag and pulled out a green book. He caught a glimpse of something silver glint in the sunlight. Anar was smiling as she slipped the book back into her bag.

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 29

The first thing Alyce needed to do was find a spell to break the king’s enchantment over her sister. It would need to be a powerful spell—more powerful than any that had ever been cast before on the Southern Isle.

Alyce sat in the library, her face lit by the flickering lamp, as she thought of all the things she had been taught about magic by her mother. The first thing was that magic was bestowed by the goddess. It was inside all living things and many things that weren’t living as well. The flowers, trees, birds, animals of the forest, all possessed their own kind of magic, just like the wind, water in a stream, clouds in the sky, the rocks and sand.

It took a special person to be able to use that magic, to control it. That was the lesson that Alyce had found the hardest to learn as a child. She remembered how all she wanted to do was make things move, but it was just too hard. It all seemed to come so easily to her sister, Alexandria. Katharine would just stand by and smile but she never helped. Alexandria was so full of excitement that she could control the wind, turn water into ice and create a fireball in her hand. But Alyce could do none of those things. Once again her mother calmed Alyce’s tears and patiently explained that magic came from inside.

Alyce had closed her eyes and eventually conjured up a tiny ball of fire. She never got the hang of wind and water but she later discovered her real talent was as a healer. That wasn’t as satisfying to Alyce as making things move. That is why Alexandria was made the queen when their mother died, because she had control of all her magic and was a true moon witch.

But somehow the prince had been able to overcome that magic with his own darkness and it was now up to Alyce to save the islands—and her sister.

She moved the lamp to the desk. She could already hear voices whispering from the Book of Shadows. It was over a thousand years old and contained the knowledge of all the daughters of the moon that had come before her.

Alyce nervously opened the front cover as she whispered a prayer to the goddess. Rain hammered against the window and the pages of the book fluttered back and forth. Slowly they settled and Alyce leaned forward to see what was written there.

To undo what has been done

By the shadows of darkness

Begotten ruthless silence

To cast your spell takes patience

Alyce stared at the page. She had no idea what it meant. But two words caught her eye—darkness and patience.

If darkness had been used to cast the enchantment it would take all the magic of the three moons to break the spell. Or Alyce could just wait until she had gained enough power to break the spell on her own. And that would require patience.

She closed the book and sat back and thought hard. The castle was well protected against the king. Defense spells were one type of magic Alyce knew she was good at. That bought her enough time to be patient. The other problem was how to build up her magic. She knew of one way. The quickest was to take the magic from a young witch. Their magic was strongest, but also most vulnerable, on the third full moon after a witch’s sixteenth birthday. It was also when a young witch’s magic ran wildly out of control before she learned to harness it and take her place as a fully-fledged witch of the Coven of the moon. But where could Alyce find a witch that was just about to turn sixteen?

There was a slower way. Alyce remembered the fairy tales her mother had told her and her sisters when they were children. The one that sprang into her mind was the story of the evil witch that had feasted on the magic of the village children. The story was meant to be a warning to children to be home and safe inside before darkness fell. But if it were true…

Alyce shuddered to think of where those thoughts might lead her. But she had to rescue her sister. Besides—she convinced herself—the village children didn’t even use their magic. Most of them didn’t even know they had any so they wouldn’t miss it if she took a little from them. A little bit of magic at a time wouldn’t hurt at all.

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 28

Rain was falling gently outside as Josh hurried through the door of the café. He pushed his wet hair back off his forehead and manoeuvered his cello case past the tables, careful not to bump his brand new instrument. Squeezing into his usual table in the back corner of the café he leaned the cello against the wall.

The café was dimly lit, which was exactly why Josh liked to come here. He could hide in the corner and watch the world passing by without anyone noticing him. Plus he loved the Belgian hot chocolates and marshmallows they served here.

Josh slung his backpack onto a chair to claim the table and then made his way to the counter and ordered his hot chocolate. The girl behind the counter didn’t even bother to look up at him as she took his money. He picked up the table number and turned to walk back to his table when he noticed Bea and Emily sitting at a table on the other side of the room. He recognised them from class, even though he had never spoken to either of them.

He slipped back into his chair and pulled a book from his bag. Throne of Glass. He had been enthralled by the book for weeks. He opened the book and started reading, but his eyes kept being drawn toward Bea and Emily.

He had known Emily as a classmate for years. She was kind of quiet and kept to herself. A strand of dark hair hung down over her forehead and partly obscured her face. Josh had never seen her in the café before.

He watched as Emily reached across the table and squeezed the other girl’s arm. She seemed to be upset about something. Josh looked at the new girl more closely. Her long red hair was tied up on top of her head. The frizzy hair that escaped caught the light and gave her a reddish-golden halo. He found himself drawn to her round face. Josh wasn’t usually attracted to girls but he couldn’t help thinking that Bea was one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen.

He wondered why she was upset. Even from this distance he could see tears forming in her eyes. He felt a lump in his throat and had an urge to help her, whatever it was. He didn’t move of course. Josh often had these urges but he was too shy to ever act on them.

Emily squeezed Bea’s hand and Josh looked away. He had to find out what had happened to the beautiful assassin in his book. The next time he looked up the table was empty. Bea and Emily had left.

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 27

A few days later Beatrice sat in a cafe after school with Emily. They were meant to be putting the finishing touches on their chemistry assignment but neither girl was focused on her schoolwork as they waited for their coffees to be served. Beatrice could feel Emily looking at her thoughtfully. She pretended to be thinking about the assignment but her thoughts were on that haunting tune.

‘How about—’

‘Who is—’ They both began at the same time and stopped and laughed.

‘You go,’ Beatrice said.

Emily took a deep breath.

‘No, you go first.’

‘I was thinking about Anar and why she doesn’t like you.’

Emily’s face dropped.

‘I think she knows you’re afraid of her.’

‘I’m not afraid of her. She’s just mean.’

Emily didn’t want to argue about it.

Beatrice let it drop and went back to reading the textbook.

The two girls sat in silence for a few minutes as the waitress placed their cups on the table.

‘Will that be all,’ she drawled.

‘No thanks, we’re good,’ Beatrice replied. She dipped a spoon in the sugar bowl and began stirring her coffee.

‘So do you really not remember anything from before?’ Emily suddenly blurted out.

‘Nothing.’ Beatrice’s voice was flat.

Emily saw the look on Beatrice’s face. She knew Beatrice didn’t like talking about it and wanted to change the subject. She was never comfortable talking about herself.

‘I’m sorry, Beatrice. It’s just—well, I looked up a newspaper article about the accident. I thought it might prompt your memory. Maybe you need help.’

‘Gramma says I’m fine, it’s just the trauma. But then I have these—’ She was about to say dreams but she didn’t know if she was ready to share that with Emily. Beatrice was even wondering if she should have told Emily about her memory loss.

‘It’s just that, you know, the article doesn’t say anything about you.’ Emily pushed a newspaper clipping across the table.

 

The notorious stretch of road across the Pennines has taken another two lives. A vehicle driving east toward the Pennine Pass left an icy stretch of road at approximately 2:00 to 3:00 am Sunday night. The overturned vehicle was discovered but both the driver and passenger were pronounced dead by the time paramedics arrived. Police have withheld the names of the victims until relatives can be advised.

 

Beatrice finished reading and put the newspaper clipping down.

‘So? Maybe it was the wrong accident.’

‘But look at the date, Beatrice. It’s the same one you said your accident was.’

‘Maybe it’s just coincidence.’ She shrugged. Beatrice didn’t want to think about it. ‘Are you saying Gramma lied to me?’

‘Have you talked to her?’

‘Of course I have. She says I’m not ready.’ Beatrice twisted the coffee cup in her hand. Emily placed her hand on Beatrice’s forearm.

‘I think you should get professional help. It’s not normal to lose your memory. I’ve been researching about that too.’

Emily reached across the table and squeezed Beatrice’s hand.

‘I’m sorry, Bea. I didn’t mean to make you cry.’

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 26

Josh felt the magic as soon as his fingers stroked the maple neck of the cello. His mother had promised him a new instrument for passing his theory exams. Up until then he had to be satisfied with practicing on one of the old cellos that belonged to the school. Josh had been obsessed with the cello for years. While the other boys were out chasing footballs around the playground he had immersed himself in learning everything he could about this wonderful instrument.

Now he had his own cello and he took care of it like it was a new born baby. He ran his fingers over the instrument again and felt a thrill run up his arm. He held the bow in the other hand, waiting so he could savour this moment like he always did. He could feel the tension build in his body with the cello pressed against his legs and his fingers stroking its neck.

Josh closed his eyes and drew the bow across the strings again. Just three notes that sang with yearning and desire. He stopped and scribbled on the blank music page and then played a few more notes. He had a week to hand in a draft of this piece to his music teacher, but he wanted to make sure it was perfect. Josh always wanted it to be perfect.

The strings vibrated under his bow. When he closed his eyes Josh could hear the entire piece. Just relax and play. Getting lost in the moment was something Josh was good at. All of the tension washed out of his body and music filled the room as he worked himself to a peak.

The Witch in the Mirror – Part 25

Princess Alyce slammed the book shut. She had been reading it all night but all she found was frustration. All she had been able to do was cast an enchantment on the castle that protected it—and her—from the king. For now anyway.

What she had learned about breaking the king’s enchantment of Alexandria was another thing completely. She just didn’t have the power. Not on her own. If she had both her sisters they would be strong enough. But Meaghan was out of reach and Katharine had simply disappeared.

Alyce was furious with her older sister. At the first sign of trouble she just flew away without leaving word or staying to help her younger sisters.

She opened the book again. Hushed whispers rose from the pages. So many voices trying to tell her what to do, but she didn’t know which ones to listen to.

A breeze blew through the door and the pages of the book began flipping over. Alyce sat back and watched until they stopped. She leant forward and began reading.

If she needed more power she would get more power. Whatever it takes.

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