by Jeanne Lemire
“That’s stealing Cady! I can’t steal! I won’t!” The tears welled in Lacey’s eyes.
“It’s the pagan way. If the lucky charm protects you from being detected, it means the stone chose you. This is a real witch’s store; they know this ritual. Once you’ve walked out with it, I’ll tell her the magic phrase and pay for it with my dad’s card. It’s the witchy way and how I got mine.” She held up her glittering green crystal. “Do you honestly think I would make you do something I haven’t done?” Cady’s green eyes stared harshly at Lacey. “It changed my life for the better. You should’ve seen how we used to live. It’s a powerful charm.”
Cady’s mom drove a Mercedes, and they lived in a three story house on the nice side of town. Lacey really wanted to believe her only friend. Meanwhile, her family had just moved into a rundown apartment that she shared with her mom and little stepbrother. Since the car accident, Lacey’s psychiatrist had recommended swimming to help her relax and make friends. That was how she met the other new girl, Cady.
Lacey was too ashamed to let Cady know where she actually lived. She would get dropped off at a cute two story house behind the woods that spread throughout the back of their school. It was just like the little yellow home where they use to live. She didn’t want Cady to know she lived on the other side of the train tracks, the poor side of town. She’d used her bratty brother as an excuse for not being able to have friends over. Cady never asked questions; she was a real friend.
“So if I go in there and ask if this is true, they’ll tell me it is?” Lacey hesitated.
“Of course not, silly. Witches have to keep their secrets. You can’t go blabbing rituals to everyone. They won’t even admit to being witches, calling the store The Herb Shop.” Cady rolled her eyes. “I’m sharing a secret passed only from one witch to another. Once the full moon passes, I’ll tell you the secret phrase so you can help someone else find their charm.” Cady made a solemn face. She knew what the other girls said, about psycho Lacey and the accident that left a long red scar across her forehead. Cady needed to prove she could control someone. Displaying such a great power guaranteed she would pass her initiation into the exclusive secret circle. A feat no freshman had ever achieved. Cady smiled slyly, “Don’t you trust me?”
“Yes, of course.” Lacey forced a smile and continued to ignore the knot in her stomach. She pictured her mom driving a brand new SUV, if their lives were going to get better, she would need some powerful magic.
The girls entered the shop which smelled of fresh herbs and had many plants displayed cheerfully around the store. Soon Lacey had spotted the violet crystal dangling on a dainty chain. While Cady distracted the shop lady, Lacey slipped it into her pocket and went outside. Through the window, she watched Cady pay, and when she noticed the lady glance outside at her, Lacey started to walk away quickly. When Cady had caught up to her, she looked behind to see the shop lady wave at her and then sweep the storefront.
“I told you.” Cady beamed. “In honor of your becoming a witch, I got you these earrings to go with your charm. Your luck is already changing.”
Finally, it was Friday, and there was plenty to celebrate. Lacey had easily aced all of her tests. Lacey’s mom was promoted at the salon and treated the girls to free haircuts, makeup, and mani-pedis. Cady’s mom picked them up in the silver Mercedes and drove them to the school dance.
Lacey felt like a princess; her long black hair was all pinned up. She wore her new dress that matched her electric blue hair tips and brought out her violet eyes. Her sparkly silver shoes glittered in the light. Cady wore a pink lace dress with matching shoes. Her blond shoulder length hair was freshly cut and looked great with hot pink tips.
The music blared in the darkened gym, and some kids danced, but most stood in clusters looking nervous. “Look there’s Garrett and my guy Joey. Lucky I told your mom you’re sleeping at my house, so no curfew.” Cady yelled over the music. Lacey’s heart sank, Cady never mentioned sleeping over or that she had a boyfriend. Cady pulled Lacey behind her, stopping abruptly and pushing Lacey into Garrett, a handsome dark-haired hulk. “Here’s someone to play with,” Cady smiled at Garrett and draped herself around Joey, a tall blond haired boy.
Garrett grabbed Lacey’ hand, “Let’s dance.” It wasn’t a question, which was good because Lacey couldn’t speak. She felt sick as he pulled her closer. The music slowed as they spun, and the room felt like it was a thousand degrees. She began to sweat.
“You don’t look so good.” Garrett looked down at Lacey.
“I need to go home, where’s Cady?” Lacey shouted over the music, her heart racing as she couldn’t find her friend.
“I know where Cady went; I’ll take you. Come on.” Garrett grabbed her arm, as she limply trailed behind him through the gym and into the parking lot, finally stopping beside a red sports car.
“Get in.” He muttered as he opened the door and pushed her in. Lacey’s stomach dropped, and she had to grip the dashboard as he spun out of the parking lot, squealing the tires as he went. Memories of driving with her mom’s ex-boyfriend when his car crashed came flooding back. She started screaming. Garrett roared at her to shut up, as he continued driving at breakneck speeds. Lacey cried, closed her eyes, and tried not to throw up as they sped through town. She had lost track of where they were going.
When he finally slowed down, she opened her eyes to see a dark dirt road where they were completely alone. As he shifted into park and removed the key, Lacey quickly opened the door and fumbled out.
“Where is Cady?” She screamed at him. She couldn’t stop shaking, “Where are we?”
“We’re at the make-out point you freak; get in or get lost!” Garrett yelled at her. She slammed the car door, and he took off tires spinning, leaving Lacey alone in the forest.
Lacey heard the train whistle, and she knew these were the woods behind the school. Down the hill was the cute yellow house, if she could make it there she’d be safe. When her heel caught, she tumbled down and down into blackness.
“Wake up honey, wake up now.” The voice was gentle and somewhat familiar. She opened her eyes to a bright light and saw the lady from the witch shop.
“Where am I?” Lacey panicked and tried to sit up, but her head hurt.
“Now just lie still dear and tell me, what happened?” The lady smiled kindly.
Lacey started to cry and couldn’t stop as her story unfolded. She recalled the accident, how the medical bills made them lose their house and how she felt like a freak with her giant scar. She told her what Cady had said about the witch charms and how much Lacey wanted a friend. She explained how sick she felt about taking the necklace. That Cady had lied about the sleepover and having a boyfriend. Then how Garrett had terrorized her and left her alone in the forest. She remembered thinking, if only she could get to the yellow house behind the woods, she’d be safe, but then she fell.
“If Cady were a real friend, she wouldn’t have left me at the dance. It’s almost like she knew what Garrett would do.” Lacey sadly realized while touching the violet crystal.
The lady patted her hand “Well my dear, I believe everything happens for a reason. I’ve never heard of such a ritual; your friend only paid for those earrings. You can consider the necklace a reward for telling the truth. I believe it protected you and brought you here; this is the yellow house at the end of the woods. In fact, if you need extra money, I could use some help on the weekends in my shop. Sound fair?” Lacey nodded and grimaced when the lady gently tried to change her bandage.
“You know your scar is similar to the one my son Adam has. He’s the one that found you in the woods, just beyond our backyard.”
Lacey turned to see the most beautiful blue eyes smiling shyly at her. He lifted his bangs to reveal a long red scar over his right eyebrow. “Don’t worry,” he teased, “You just need bangs.”
He winked and her heart flipped. She knew that she had found a real friend.