How I Joined A Secret Satanic Cult

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October 4, 201X

Hey diary,

Girl scouts today! Yeahh. Can you taste the sarcasm here diary? But I guess it isn’t so bad, I declared my journey today and it went well. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself though.

I was looking in the mirror as I was dressing up, mostly because I just looked so ridiculous. With my little brown girl scout skirt and my long sleeve polo, I wouldn’t be surprised if I regressed back to eight years old. I was actually a bit tempted to put on some fishnets or something, just so I looked like myself but Mom wouldn’t drive me if I “looked ridiculous” her words not mine. So I was stuck looking like an elementary schooler but at least my sash showed that I’ve made some progress. I’ve gotten a new one now that I’m a girl scout senior, but I still have some things on there. My bridges and things, but I guess I’ll have to actually do some stuff to fill it up again. But I swear to you diary, I’m not going to learn any robotics, Nathan already has too much ego.

But looking more at myself in the mirror I had to smile. Mom showed me an old picture of her at a girl scout hike a couple of weeks ago, my skin was a little darker, but I looked exactly like her. Down to my plain black tights and two long black braids. I kneeled down on the floor and picked up my tube of clear lip gloss off of the pink rug that I haven’t replaced yet. Though in MOm’s pictures her lips were as reflective as mine.

Once I was ready I crept downstairs, making sure that Nathan wasn’t milled around before I actually set foot downstairs. He wasn’t so jumped from the second step and literally almost ran into my mom.

“Excited, Naomi?” My mom asked me as I stumbled back from her. I didn’t answer before she kept on talking, “You’re declaring your senior journey today, it’s a big day, it’s a big day!”

I think Mom’s more into girl scouts than I am. But don’t get me wrong, I’m excited. More so for the ride to the YMCA than the actual meeting itself though. The twenty-minute drive every Wednesday is the only time I have my mom to myself. In fact, I think she’s more excited about girl scouts than I am.

But I guess declaring my journey is sort of exciting? I don’t know. I’ve been talking to the rest of my troop were going to pledge to do things like...

Improve the Fortuna environment! or Bringing more art to the community! or even more stupidly Learning engineering!

It’s not a secret that I don’t really care much about the journey projects, to be honest, I don’t even know why I still do girl scouts. Lowell is always telling me that I should just quit so I can have some free time on Wednesdays. But my mom loves girl scouts so I modeled my journey after her. She has a degree in teaching but dropped out of her master’s program before she finished her degree so sometimes she tutors and is like the last resort substitute teacher for the middle school. So my senior girl scout journey is… drumroll please diary...to make sure no student in Fortuna has less than a C. And yes I know, I know that’s impossible there’s always going to be a few kids who just don’t get good grades. But if you don’t “dream big” for your journey as Mrs.Aveline puts it, she won’t approve it. Basically I’m just going to tutor a bunch of kids, but the real benefit of this is that I’m going to get paid for all the tutoring I do. It’ll be slow going, but eventually(hopefully) it’ll be like a real job. If I’m ever going to afford a new rug for my room without an allowance I’ll need to stock up on money.

Mom talked more about her girl scout journey while we were in the car. Nathan’s car to be exact. Because even though he can afford a fricking Jeep for his 17-year-old first-time driver son, Derrick has yet to buy Mom even a flipping sedan even though he promises every time it’s her birthday. Anyway, girl scout journeys!

“When I was a senior I dreamed of being an ambassador, I know, I know it’s silly but I really wanted to make a difference in the community,” Mom said when we were at a red light. I didn’t even mind that the leather seats were uncomfortable or that the windows were down and it was chilly and the wind was getting in. I was just happy to hear her talk, “I tried planting trees, painting the side of the hardware store, and getting computers for the middle school before I settled on promoting naturalism in Fortuna. You can thank me for half the trees you see planted here, like this roundabout.”

She pointed, keeping one hand on the wheel, to the infamous main street roundabout. In the spring and summer, annual flowers bloomed and the peach tree produced tiny pink fruit, but in the winter and fall it was mostly just a pile of dead vines and the bare tree scared the little kids. It gets a little life at the end of October, someone always either TPs the tree or dresses it up like a ghost or both, but after that, it was just an eyesore for the winter. The roundabout was in the middle of the transformation today. Leaves were flaking off the tree brown and crusty and all the flowers had already wilted. But even though it looked pretty ugly I praised her.

“Wow, I couldn’t imagine the town without that,” I told my mom.

She smiled and I smiled back, “Yeah neither could I. I’m so glad you’re starting your journey, you’re going to make an excellent teacher one day.”

Even though I always said I didn’t want to be a teacher Mom still thinks I’m magically going to change my mind someday. But it’s fine, she wanted to be a teacher when she was in high school and she didn’t end up making it. I understand why she is so gung ho about me joining her profession.

The ride to the YMCA didn’t take nearly enough time. Before I knew it I was saying goodbye to Mom and waiting for the sliding doors to open. They always take forever, this time by my calculations it took twenty seconds of me standing awkwardly outside of the orange and brick building before the doors opened. Faster than usual, I think.

But once I was inside there was another, bigger issue that I had to face. How to kill time before the meeting started. Mom always insisted on dropping me off ten minutes before everything started but going straight into the meeting room and having everyone ask me what my journey was didn’t sound very appetizing. Evelyn would do most of the talking anyway, leaving me just standing there wondering how much they really cared about what I was planning to do.

“You ready to start on your girl scout journey, Naomi?” someone asked me sarcastically right as I walked into the building.

Charlie was leaning by the front desk, waiting for me and telling jokes to Nelson the receptionist. If you couldn’t keep up with the subtext diary Charlie was making a joke about how much I’ve been complaining about the girl scout journeys. Of course, Charlie being the perfect brown-haired, brown eyes, can-do attitude girl scout had picked hers out ages ago. She was going to use her perpetual poison ivy rash to teach people about the woods right outside of town.

“You know it!” I answered her fake cheerful tone.

She almost doubled over laughing and I just stood there bemused, Charlie really knew how to make light out of anything. But she says she only smiles so much to even out how gloomy I can get. There was a good nine minutes left before we had to go to the meeting room so we just stood near the front desk talking. We could have talked until the rapture about anything and everything so we made sure Nelson could hear us so he could remind us of the reason we were there in the first place.

“Can we please not talk about the journeys?” I begged her when she finally stopped laughing.

Charlie nodded seriously, “Yeah sure, did you hear Janson’s Creamery is closing early this year this is going to be their last weekend?”

The local ice cream parlor always closed down in the winter and converted to a hot chocolate and eggnog place but I didn’t know they were closing early.

“They usually at least make it to Halloween…” I thought out loud.

“My dad says it’s going to be really cold this fall, like a reverse Indian summer.” her dad’s a meteorologist for WNBC89 he would know what the weather was like.

“I guess if coal causes global warming, solar panels cause global cooling?” I joked.

Charlie’s eyes lit up, “If your hypothesis is true Dr.Morgan then we should switch our journeys to encourage everyone to install solar panels and wind turbines. That way we can have winter all year round. Infinite snowball fights, infinite snowmen, and an unlimited amount of snow days!”

“No!” I yelled, playfully hitting her on the shoulder, “I said no journey talk!”

“Alright, alright,” Charlie thought for a second about a different topic of conversation, “Did you hear Fiona’s cheating on her boyfriend?”

“The one that’s in college or Martin T.?” I asked, just for clarification but Charlie started laughing anyway.

“That’s the entire point, Naomi. She has two boyfriends.”

Everyone’s known about Fiona’s two-timing and using a college guy to buy her a laptop since school started but being homeschooled Charlie’s not exactly in the loop. But she always asked everyone who went to school all the gossip anyway.

“I for one don’t see anything wrong with that,” I mused, “I mean if the guy’s in college and dating sophomores why shouldn’t she exploit that.”

Charlie considered my idea for a second but she didn’t get to respond before Nelson pointed at the clock.

“You girls need to get to the back, it’s time for girl scouts,” he said cheerfully.

Charlie thanked him and we walked down the main hall of the building toward the big orange door to the meeting room. But before we went in I asked.

“Hey, do you want to go to the Creamery this Saturday before they close? The last ice cream of the season would be fun right?”

She looked deflated, “Sorry I can’t, I have stuff to do on Saturday.”

Normally she told me what she needed to do but she just looked like she wanted to go with me, but she couldn’t so I didn’t ask. It’s probably just something embarrassing or something. Like her mom’s taking her bra shopping at the mall in Harrington County or something like that.

Anyway once we opened the door we went right to sit down. That was the best option anyway. No mingling, no having to explain why we breezed in just as Evelyn and Mrs.Aveline were heading up to the front. We could just sit down on some of the folding chairs just as the meeting began.

And there’s no point in me explaining to you everything that happened, it was just the regular announcements. Winter cookie routes, the last hike of the season, and then it came to journeys! But before that, about those hikes. Evelyn was telling us about the hikes, because of course, she would explain where we were going to hike to. Very useful information to know weeks before we hiked, I know.

Anyway, as Evelyn was saying, “Alright girls I know you’re all so excited for our last hike of the season and the last opportunity for wilderness badge earning. We are going to be starting of course on Timber Way then when we reach the fork we’ll head onto Cheeping Trail, then for the identification badges we’ll cut through to Shell Trail. But we’re not going to go near Juniper way because of lots of beer sightings in that area. Be mindful of that if you go hiking on your time, lots of beers in Juniper Way.”

“Juniper way’s not too much of a loss though right, Charlie?” I whispered to my friend.

She didn’t answer, but maybe the memory of poison ivy she got tangled in in that area stung. I spent the rest of Evelyn’s lecture wondering if I hurt her feelings but she seemed to almost jump up when Mrs.Aveline called her up to discuss her girl scout journey.

“I believe that the forest should be for everyone!” She started out, passion practically oozing out of the girl scout vest she wore, “In town, lots of people haven’t hiked once in their lives even though they live less than five miles from a park. It’s time for this to change. I pledge to promote the forest, outdoorism, and hiking in Fortuna through a social media campaign and partnering with local businesses to have them host events in the park.”

She earned applause from everyone else and a standing ovation from me and some of the daisies that were sitting next to me. I had half hoped that she would pledge a campaign to promote solar panels so we would have more snow days but the only thing she really took seriously was girl scouts. No one else really had that passion for community service and helping people than she did. Not even little miss perfect Evelyn Barris with her silky black ponytail and ironed sash. Charlie was twice the girl scout she would ever be.

Anyway, I had asked to go near the front. You know by the time this is all over people should have forgotten whatever idiocy I dolled out. But you know where I went? Do you know when Miss Ponytail called me up? Last, dead last. There were six seniors that needed to declare their journeys. Five other fourteen-year-olds who were moving up the girl scout corporate ladder, who could have been called last. But no, Evelyn must have conveniently forgotten that I specifically asked not to go last. Even though she called Charlie up first because she asked. I swear I hope she doesn’t have it out for me, I don’t have the energy to deal with Evelyn.

I went up in the front, standing in front of the other thirty brown clad girl scouts in their folding chairs I felt swear start to build on my hairline. Before I started speaking though I looked over to Charlie, she noticed and gave me a double thumbs up. Putting on a smile I started speaking.

“I remember when I was going through school,” An amazing first line I know. It sounds like I’m in college, “It was hard and I wouldn’t have gotten the good grades,” That doesn’t sound like I was bragging right? “without my mom. Support matters a lot in how children thrive and I want to be that support for the elementary and middle schoolers in Fortuna. I pledge to improve the grades and mental health of every grade-schooler in Fortuna so they can thrive.”

When I write this it may sound sort of smooth, but that came out with about ten stutters and me just forgetting what I was planning to say with second long pauses like three times. I was just thankful that it was all over and sat down next to Charlie again with only a smattering of applause to my name.

But when I said I was the last person I didn’t mean that really, I meant that I was the last senior to go up and talk. There was an entire other group of new Ambassadors that needed to report on their journeys and expand their pledges and yada yada yada. More and more people dropped out of girl scouts as they got older and journeys were like the final barrier that held girls back. Like four girls dropped out after the pool party because they didn’t want to declare a journey. So there’s only like 5 11-12th grade ambassadors, and guess which one went first?

“Art has finally come back to Fortuna,” Evelyn said, like in the most humble brag way, “With my help, local artists have painted roads, sidewalks, and a mural is even being prepared on the highschool. And not just that but the lasting seeds of art are being planted in Fortuna through expanded art classes here at the Y and fingerpainting days at the elementary school. And I pledge to keep supporting art and creativity here in Fortuna.”

She hadn’t even said anything that revolutionary. Just that she’s going to keep on doing the same thing for another two years, but everyone clapped and some people even whooped. And she just stood up there and got to take it all in since she’s Mrs. Aveline’s aid she didn’t have a seat to take. But even though she was just standing there soaking up the praise she was getting, Evelyn found a way to look humble. And poised, and graceful, and perfect. God, I wish I could be like her. Sorry for swearing, diary.

The other ambassadors went up and said their stuff and then we went to doing what we always do during girl scout meetings. Some people left in their bikes to sell cookies, other people started working on their badge skills. Something about the entire journey thing ticked me off so I didn’t feel like working on any badges instead I looked over at the children.

At a table near the door, some of the daisies were trying to their hardest, tongues out little brains buzzing, to calculate their cookie sales. The rest of the little girl scouts were out selling their cookies, but these girls had yet to balance their books.

“You girls need some help?” I asked them sweetly.

One of the girls, I think her name’s Madeline, she had short curly hair and blue eyes, held up her binder, “Yeah can you do this for me?”

I laughed and took a seat at their table. The chair was so small my knees almost touched the table, but I smiled regardless.

“I can teach you how to do this, how about that Maddy?”

She looked skeptical but put her binder down. Most of the math she had done, very little math though, was wrong. So I started by erasing that and just looking at the real numbers. Madeline looked distraught, and I get it I must have invalidated like an hour of her hard work.

“Alright, it looks like you’re having some trouble with the decimals so let’s start with that.”

I went on to help her subtract how much the cookies cost to her revenue from cookie sales. Madeline was a nice, cute little girl so she had sold a lot of cookies. It took us like twenty minutes to balance her books, and that included adding in the cost of future cookies and predicting how many cookies she would sell next. For the first part I was just showing her how to do things, and believe me diary that was an uphill battle. But for the last like seven minutes, she seemed to get it, really understanding how to add and subtract decimals.

And I was right about to lean back in my preschool chair and rest on my laurels when someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, can you help me with my sales chart?” It was yet another daisy that needed my help.

I was just about to say yes and go sharpen my pencil when little Madeline spoke up next to me.

“Get your own helper, Sophie! She’s helping me!” I had no idea Madeline could be so rude, “Honestly you’re such a dumb poophead, Sophie she probably can’t even help you!”

Once I recovered from the surprising amount of vile spewing forth from this basically a toddler I stepped in while Sophie started crying.

“Madeline you also had trouble with your chart don’t tease Sophie,” am I starting to sound like a preschool teacher? “And I am perfectly capable of helping both of you so apologize to her, okay?”

I don’t even know why I asked her to apologize to her. She wasn’t sorry, apologizing couldn’t make her sorry. Did Sophie even want an apology? Maybe the teacher vibes went too far I don’t know.

“I’m sorry,” Madeline whispered in the most spiteful way.

I didn’t care and still don’t so I just let it go. Instead, I just pulled up a seat for Sophie and started helping her. It was almost ironic that Madeline called her stupid because she seemed to grasp what a decimal was, and it only took us ten minutes to balance her books instead of twenty. And then I was like, finally I’m finished, but yet another daisy tapped me on the shoulder. And once I was done with that a slightly older brownie tapped me on the shoulder. Then another daisy, then a brownie, then another daisy. And another and another until the meeting was over at six when the Y closed and everyone started to clear out.

Charlie and I helped fold up the chair and tables, but it was Evelyn who had to stay the latest to actually put away all of the snacks and mini chairs and stuff. That was the downside to being the perfect little girl scout I guess.

Mom wasn’t there when I walked into the parking lot, which was weird. She’s usually scooting into the parking lot right at 6:00 pm really excited for me to tell her what happened. I would have thought she would have shown up early today because of all the journey stuff. There isn’t much traffic in town but maybe there was an accident or something.

So I just sat on the curb and texted her where she was. No answer. I played some games on my phone, none of the ones I have require wifi and waited for her. 6:15 rolled around, the latest she had ever been was 6:10. My mind started to race just as Charlie came up behind me.

“Hey, you’re here late, what’s up?” She usually stayed late to talk to Nelson so I wasn’t surprised that she was there. But something about her saying that just made me tear up.

“I don’t know…” I sniffled, “Do you think my mom’s okay?”

Knowing then that something was wrong Charlie sat down next to me and placed a comforting hand on my back.

“Yeah, I’m sure she’s fine. Don’t worry I’ll sit here with you until she comes.”

“Thanks,” I said, and after that, we started playing calculator. I won ten times, she won five times, we tied nine times. Though I think she was going easy on me because I was so close to crying.

Charlie’s dad usually needed her back home by 6:15 to help put her little brother to bed, but she just stayed and played with me, missing her curfew entirely. What did I do to deserve her, honestly if God does exist then I must be blessed. 7:00 came and went, and we were still just sitting there in the curb of the YMCA playing calculator. It got colder and colder, luckily we both had good coats because I heard that it got down to 32F by that point.

My hands were too cold to play calculator so Charlie started talking.

“So the end of summer vacation is even worse for me because I’m still at home and yet it’s so nice outside. But I guess it’s good because sometimes Dad lets me go outside and run around and get the energy out but it’s hard. Sometimes I wish I could just go to school. I’m trying to convince him to send Silas to kindergarten but it’s slow going.”

“Oh I can help you with that, I once convinced my mom that I didn’t have to mow the lawn with a slideshow. Maybe we can make a presentation for your dad, there’s no way he could ignore logic right?”

Charlie burst out laughing, “You’d be surprised how much he can ignore.”

I was about to ask her what she meant by that when I was blinded by the brightest light I had ever seen. It was Nathan’s car, with Nathan behind the wheel and my mom in the passenger’s seat. By this point the sun had set, the stars were out, and the crescent moon was up. The Y was closed and literally no cars were in the parking lot. Completely in disbelief, I looked at Charlie and she just smiled at me, patted me on the back, and smiled. She started walking home and I was glad that at least one of us was going to have a pleasant journey.

Once I was in the backseat Nathan started driving home. He didn’t even speak to me, and neither did Mom, she and Nathan were too invested in themselves I guess. And by themselves I meant Nathan. Unbeknownst to me, there had been a fundraising dinner for robotics, at the same time with my weekly girl scout meeting. And instead of sending Derrick to pick me, Mom just went to the dinner and decided to pick me up an hour late.

I almost couldn’t believe it diary, almost.

“You got to give the speech, Nathaniel I’m so proud of you!” She gushed at my step-brother.

Of course, he faked humble, “It’s not a big deal Mom, everyone gets to speak at one time or another.”

But she just kept praising him. Though she did take a break to acknowledge my existence in between entire paragraphs about Nathan.

“Naomi you should try to join a club too, Nathaniel’s really smart so the robotics club’s great for him but you should try to find something you excel at.” Mom said to me.

Like I hadn’t just promised to tutor a bunch of little kids for girl scouts. Sometimes I don’t know why I try, diary. Anyway, that was how my day went, hopefully, tomorrow I won’t have to sit outside for an hour. Thanks for listening, diary.

Naomi J. Morgan

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