7: Scarborough Fair/ Canticle
“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there.”
The weather outside became chilly. The leaves of the forest turned into beautiful colors of red, orange, yellow, and brown. It was a rather beautiful image for anyone who saw it. Especially Mike as he stared out his bedroom window. In front of the window, which faced his backyard, the beautiful forest stood behind the chain-link fence.
Mike lived at the edge of the second middle-class neighborhood from Johnny and Anthony’s. Chris lived in Mike’s neighborhood but lived on the opposite side of it. Last night, everyone went home without a problem. They said their goodbyes and no plans were made for today, meaning Mike was free to do as he pleased. However, nothing came to his mind on what to do.
Instead, he watched as the breeze blew the autumn leaves, watching them fly away. It was Sunday meaning everyone’s day off. Jonathan left for the store for groceries, trusting Mike as he left him alone in the house. Since his father left, his mom had been gone often too. Sometimes, Mike would stay up late due to his insomnia and would hear his mom sneak out or sneak in when he woke up to go to the bathroom in the morning.
Today, it was different. His mom arrived home early with a man. Mike didn’t think much when he heard them enter. At the same time, they didn’t notice he was home. Still, Mike didn’t want to eavesdrop at first but it wasn’t until their conversation got the best of Mike’s curiosity.
“I don’t know how to feel about this.”
“Come on, Katie. Look, do you love me?”
“Of course, I do.”
“It doesn’t seem like it.”
“Why else did I sneak around with you behind my husband’s back?” Mike gasps by his mom’s words. His eyes started to water as rage began to build up in him. “I just got divorced, Calvin. I’m not ready for anything else-”
“Were you just a pathetic excuse for a wife, then? A whore? Or did you just marry the wrong person as you said?”, the man aggressively said. “We’ve been together since high school. Remember, you can’t survive out there without me. I always have your back and you know that, right? I love you so much and I don’t want to ever let you go. Not again.” All goes silent for a while as the man lowers his voice. “You don’t love me anymore, do you? Do you not care about me?”
Minutes passed before Mike started to get impatient with his mother’s silence. A huge part of him wanted to believe what he was hearing was a dream somehow, something from his imagination, something delusory. But Mike knew better. Seeing is believing after all. He slightly opened the door until he heard his mom speak again. “Calvin, you know how much I love and care for you... okay... To make you happy,... I’ll marry you.”
Now, Mike needed his friends for support as he slid down the wall to the floor in betrayal. What made it worse was he expected this from his mom.
Mike called them all here. He needed them. He needed to lean on them. And they so happened to always be by his side when he’s in need. So here, he sits crying while Anthony patted him on his back as a way of comfort while everyone else listened to him. “My dad left because of her.”, he cried. “It’s all her fault. Not mine. He left because she couldn’t stay loyal.” Mike sobbed, wiping his tears with the sleeve of his sweater. “My brother doesn’t know anything as far as I’m aware. When he came home, my mom’s lover had left. I couldn’t tell him. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t tell him.”
“You care about him, don’t you? You wanted to protect him.”, Chris explained. Mike nodded. He let a sigh escape his lip before he continued.
“As far as I know, they’re high school sweethearts who found each other while my mom was married, cheated on my dad with him and now... they’re getting married and I’m going to have a stepdad when it hasn’t even been a week since my real dad left.”
Everyone’s eyes widened by the sudden statement. “Your mom is getting married?”, Riley questioned. Mike nodded, more or so, he was annoyed. Riley asked when the wedding date was.
Everyone’s eyes widened. “But that’s the night of the full moon!”, Nathan exclaimed.
“I know.”, Mike solemnly said.
“Do you really have to go?”
Mike looked up at Nathan and nodded. “It’s my mom. I have to.”
Everyone knew he was right. Though Mike wasn’t fond of his mom’s decisions, he still loved her because she was his mom. Through her, he learned how not to judge, to accept everything about a person, even if you’re not fond of their decisions or behaviors. “How does your brother feel?”, Lincoln questioned.
“I told you. I didn’t tell him, he doesn’t know. I pretended to not know anything when he returned from the store by saying I was asleep.”, Mike explained.
Johnny noticed how Mike would try to brush off any form of this conversation like it was nothing. Because it was normal. It was normal to feel pain, which is why they had to face it. “Why didn’t you tell him?”
Once again, Mike sighed. “I decided not to tell him because the last thing I want is for him to be similar to us or different from everyone else. He’s happy living, okay?”, Mike’s eyes began to slightly water after firmly speaking.
“If you think you’re protecting him, you’re not. He’s going to find out.” Mike lowers his head from Nathan’s words. “By the way, we’re attending the wedding too. You’ll need us.”
“I’ll be sure to invite Kevin, right?”, hesitantly Riley asked. Everyone nodded. Chris was about to protest but then shut his mouth when he saw Nathan staring at him.
The week flew by quicker than expected. Mike’s mom told her sons about the engagement, saying he was the love of her life. While she did love their father, she never stopped loving her current fiancé. Jonathan was happy and supportive of his mom. Knowing his mom will now be liberated forever made him approve of the wedding.
Plus, the end of the year was approaching Jonathan, meaning he would have to leave soon for college. He would be satisfied leaving knowing his little brother would have a stepfather to look up to whenever Jonathan was not around. Mike, on the other hand, felt uncomfortable having a stepfather this quick. However, knowing his mom was happy with this man, happier than she was with Mike’s father, he also approved of the marriage, even though he didn’t have a say in anything since he’s a minor. It took a while for Mike to accept this reality but eventually, he came around.
So, they spent all week planning. They picked a church, a ballroom, a dress, blue and white decorations, guests, everything. With Mike being so busy with his mother’s wedding, he didn’t have time to prepare for the Witches’ monthly full moon rituals. Without Mike, the Witches struggled as well. Chris was affected the most by his absence.
For as long as Chris and Mike had known each other, they were each other’s right-hand men. As two of the three founding members of the Witches Club, they were each other’s motivation. Possibly, even soulmates. Without Mike in the picture, Chris felt unmotivated to prepare for Saturday night. Chris, being the engine of the machine of The Witches Club, left the rest of the members unmotivated too.
Thus, they decided to perform one huge ritual the night of the full moon. One that would hopefully give answers to the things they didn’t know or understand. Finally, the day arrived. The Witches kept their promise. They showed up to the church in their bikes, Kevin tagging along too.
It was rather difficult for Anthony to get Kevin to come, especially after their conversation at Kimberly’s funeral. So, what did Anthony do? He did the logical thing: apologized. Apologized for hurting his feelings in any way, explaining he has trust issues when it comes to new people and how after losing something or someone does one realize how much they meant to one. After seeing the sincerity in Anthony’s eyes, he forgave him and gave him a second chance.
So here is where they were, sitting in the third pew with Mike. Mike sat on the edge of the pew while on his right, on the other side on the aisle, sat his brother. Lincoln and Nathan borrowed tuxedos from Johnny and Anthony for this event. Even if they didn’t fit them, like Nathan’s, they still wanted to look formal, presentable, and appropriate. The four boys carried money for tonight in the front pockets of their suits. The money was for the plan Chris, Mike, and Kevin were not aware of.
Chris, Mike, and Kevin also wore presentable suits. Riley wore a long light blue-green dress, possibly belonging to her mom since she doesn’t have any formal clothes of her own. Pepper wore overalls with the color fading away. These were the best clothes she would save for special occasions, the only unripped clothes she had. Yes, she felt embarrassed but there wasn’t another option for her. Her mom didn’t have a fancy dress like Riley’s and Pepper didn’t want her family to spend money on her.
The kids don’t say anything to each other as they wait for the ceremony to begin. Kevin felt awkward between their silence, not knowing it was normal for them to be this quiet around each other. Lucky for him, the pianist started playing the tune that grabbed everyone’s attention. Everyone in the small church stood up and turned their attention to the entrance where the bride was seen. Mike hadn’t been paying attention to today’s events until now.
As Mike looked around, he saw how half of the church was filled and most of the people he saw were his mom’s friends or family because they were all familiar to him. If there were some family members from the groom’s side, obviously Mike wouldn’t have recognized them but most of these people looked familiar. The moment his grandpa walked down the aisle with his daughter by his side in a beautiful wedding dress, Mike noticed this was real. He looked over to his brother standing across Mike as he admired his mother in that long white dress that glowed with the sunlight entering through the windows of the church. Mike should have felt happy today, but he wasn’t. The anxious look he saw in his mother’s eyes as he faced her future husband didn’t help Mike’s tension.
What made him feel more uneasy was the smirk being directed towards his mom by the man waiting for her at the altar. Then again, this was a wedding day, the happiest moment in one’s life, so Mike brushed his uneasy feeling with that thought. As the wedding continued, Mike felt himself zone out so he wouldn’t fall asleep by how soft and slow the priest talked. In fact, with him daydreaming, the ceremony went by fast. Mike didn’t notice it was over until Chris tapped his shoulder to stand up for the couple leaving.
The couple bowed their heads as they walked down the aisle to the exit, thanking everyone for coming. Everyone clapped or congratulated them. Her boyfriend, now husband, had a fake smile anyone with brains could detect. But no one wanted to confront it. Either way, the Witches walked out of the church, passing the crowd forming around the newly married pair.
As they walked outside, Riley managed to get to Chris. She quietly told him about the plan everyone else decided for tonight during the full moon. He agreed after Riley explained the supplies needed and how the spell would work, even telling him its name. Outside, he asked everyone for the money, which balanced to $15, so he could buy the needed supplies. With matches and candles already available at the clubhouse, they just needed a clay pot and four Irises flowers.
Kevin was confused about what they were talking about, so he asked. Their responses were ignoring him or changing the topic. It made him feel useless, so he asked Anthony why he was here and why he had invited him. Anthony explained how he wanted to make it up to Kevin for hurting him in the first place and that there are some things they’ll tell him when they’re ready. Except today was not the day.
Kevin somewhat understood and didn’t push further, though he was disappointed. At least he wasn’t being pushed away this time. As everyone left, Anthony invited Kevin to the reception at the ballroom. Kevin agreed to go. Now that he feels he’s rekindling his small friendship with Anthony, he’s preparing himself to get hurt again.
The reception was at seven in the evening. Mike was the only one who attended the dinner at 6:30 while, as planned, the rest of his friends arrived later. They planned to arrive late so they wouldn’t get seated. On top of that, they didn’t get reserved seats. Mike went along with their plan, especially since part of that plan was leaving early.
Mike dreaded the fact he had to come back to this party once the ritual was over. The reception itself took place in a small ballroom. A live band stood on the stage, a tall white cake on the stand next to the table full of presents close to the stage, a large dance floor made up of cream-colored marble tiles, about sixteen tables with white cloths and flowers as decorations on top of them, and chairs that matched with the tables to accompany them was what the Witches saw when they entered. As expected, no chairs were available except for one table in the corner of the room. When the Witches arrived, they all settled for that table.
Kevin had been to wedding receptions and parties before, but none were like this one. Everything looked, sounded, smelled, and tasted the same but felt different. Felt special. Upon arriving, the newly wedded couple danced to the soft song the band played. Surrounding them, other couples danced.
For the first time, Kevin wasn’t bored and wanted to leave. He wished he had someone to dance with. He looked over to Riley, who sat beside him. To Kevin, she looked very pretty in her dress. Courage came upon him as he tapped on her arm, making her face him.
But that courage disappeared once they made eye contact. “U-Uh...”, he stutters. “Do you... want to dance with me?”, he hesitantly invites her. Riley frowned, looked over to the couples dancing on the floor, then back at Kevin, who’s still anticipating her answer.
“I’ve never... danced before. I wouldn’t know how.” The music wasn’t so loud, she had to yell at him for him to hear her. Riley was glad on that part.
Kevin smiled. At least she didn’t reject his offer. “To be honest, I’ve only ever danced with my mom or sister, but we can watch everyone else dance and learn from them. What do you say?” Riley looks at him, flabbergasted. She turns to look at Chris, who is eating the cookies from the small tray on the table, bored. With the feeling of being watched, he looks up to meet Riley’s gaze.
Riley snaps her eyes to the dance floor then looks at Kevin’s direction while still facing Chris. Kevin, still waiting for Riley’s answer, decided to give up, grabbing a cookie from the same tray Chris grabbed one earlier and started munching on it. He turned his head away from Riley, staring at the half-eaten cookie in his hand, regretting making a fool of himself. Chris turns his body around to look at the dance floor. He understood what Riley was trying to say, more or so, ask.
The dance floor was filled with couples dancing, more joining as the band played different slow songs. So, Chris sends a nod Riley’s way, receiving a wide smile in return from her. Riley slowly grabs Kevin’s now empty hand. His eyes widened and he looked up to her. “Do you want to dance with me?”, she asked. She didn’t even give him a chance to respond since she dragged him to the dance floor by the hand. She looked around at the other couples. Mimicking them, she doesn’t let go of Kevin’s hand but places her other hand on his shoulder.
“Um, you’re supposed to put your hand on my waist.”, she chuckles, making Kevin snap out of his trance. She giggles at his hesitation before finally placing his hands on her waist as she told him to. Now thinking about it, he had never seen Riley like this before. Simply happy. Kevin liked this side of her.
The small smile on her face suits her, he thought as they swayed like the other couples. “Riley, why didn’t you answer before?”
Riley looked down. “I’m sorry. I’ve never done this before nor have been asked to, so this is new to me.”, she admits, not completely lying. Luckily, when she looks up to Kevin, he only smiles.
“You’re a natural, you know?” Silence took over them and Kevin found himself staring at her while she looked everywhere but him. Kevin leans in to try to bring their foreheads together, making Riley flinch and retreat her head. The warm smile from Kevin’s face never disappeared. With the comfort of his smile, Riley made the same move as Kevin. When their foreheads collided, Riley tensed but soon relaxed. He made her feel special at that moment.
Back at the table, the Witches huddled closer. “Now that Riley’s distracting Kevin, when are we leaving?”, Lincoln asked.
“Before we get on that, I was surprised when Kevin accepted Riley’s invitation. And why dance? She doesn’t know how.”, Mike pointed out.
“It doesn’t seem like she doesn’t. Look.” Johnny pointed to the duo dancing in sync with the couples around them. “Do you think they like each other or something?”
“Who cares? Riley’s asexual, right? She has other things going on than to focus on that.”, Pepper clarified.
“Anyways, back on track. Riley explained to me we would be performing a spell called ‘The Esoteric Communication’? For what purposes?”, Chris questioned.
“She said after the deaths we’ve experienced this past month, she’s been trying to find a spell that could visualize beyond what we can see in our minds.”, Nathan explained.
Chris was taken aback by the news. “Why would she do that?”
“Because she’s a Witch.”, Anthony stated. Chris turned to look at his friend on the dance floor, smiling and laughing with Kevin. A strike of guilt circled inside Chris’s chest.
They didn’t stay long. Two hours at the most they stayed before dropping Kevin off together to him safe this late. The smiles on Riley and Kevin’s faces didn’t disappear. That was until they watched Kevin enter his house that Riley was brought back to her reality.
Arriving at their clubhouses as the full moon shined above them, they dropped their bikes near the house. Using flashlights, Anthony and Nathan entered the dark house for the supplies needed. The rest of the club sat in a circle formation, a very narrow one, even leaving a space for the two inside the house. Anthony came out of the old residence with a plastic grocery bag in his hand. Nathan followed Anthony seconds later with a thin candle and matches.
“Riley, so what’s The Esoteric Communication?”, Lincoln questioned. Everyone also seemed to wonder the same thing.
“According to the enchantment book, it’s a form of communication to better understand something we want to know but it’s only within us.”, Riley explained.
“Then why are we doing it?”, Pepper questions. “What are we here to understand?”
“Daemon, of course.”
“That’s impossible. To search, we must use our minds, but Daemon doesn’t live there. And even if THEY did, we still can’t see THEM.”, Johnny states. They all look at him bewildered. All except Chris.
“What do you mean he doesn’t live there?”, Pepper questions.
“When my sister died,” the atmosphere around them suddenly became sympathetic and Johnny could feel it but he didn’t care. “I had an encounter with THEM.”, he continues. “I think THEY hibernate like a bear and strike when awake. I know we only get encounters at night and some of us don’t get them as often as others like Mike and Riley,” he points at them. Riley and Mike nod at him. “But my encounter was during the day and I wasn’t asleep.”, he explained.
“This was on the day your sister died?”, Anthony asked with a sense of what seemed like betrayal lingering in this voice. To this, Johnny confirms it.
“Anthony, you were with him the most. Did you not know, or did you choose not to tell us?”, Pepper shamed him.
“He never told me anything!”, Anthony defended.
“Come to think of it, Johnny never told us what happened when he found his sister.”, Chris pointed out. “Are you ready to tell us?”, he asked as he turned to look at Johnny, who gulped once they made eye contact. Johnny tears his sight from Chris to look at the ground. Chris’s eyes never leave him but after a while, Johnny lifts his head to meet Chris’s gaze again. He looked down quickly, but the message got across to the leader instantly. “What time did you find her?”
“Around six o’clock.”, he answers rapidly with no hesitation.
“Where did you find her?”
“In her room.”
“How did you find her body?”
“Hanging.” Mike’s eyes widen when he hears that.
“H-Hanging?”, Mike stutters out as if he was reliving a trauma. Johnny nods.
“Like Mike’s dream.”, Lincoln quietly says but everyone was able to hear it due to the silent night. Mike broke down after hearing those words. He started bawling and repeatedly apologizing. Johnny’s heart turns cold at that moment seeing his friend cry.
“Stop crying. It doesn’t solve anything.” Mike looks at Johnny’s way to see the stern expression painted on his face. “It won’t change what’s been done. And I don’t want to receive sympathy. Especially from you.” Johnny looks at everyone in the circle. “Or any of you.”
Mike wipes his tears and his nose with his sleeve. He sniffles one last time before his emotions are sealed like before. “I’m sorry.”
It gets hushed after, but Chris was able to gain the courage to stop the silence. “Johnny came to me one day and told me about his incident with Daemon. He explained THEY controlled him like a puppet and he couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t even feel his body anymore. -”
“Like the toys in Toys Story?”, Nathan interrupted. Chris, along with everyone else, stared at him, puzzled. So, Nathan clarified his statement. “In the movie, toys are alive like we are now. But as soon as their owner, Andy, comes, they become lifeless and let themselves be played with.”
“You’re saying to Daemon, we’re toys?”, Pepper asked. Nathan nodded.
“But the thing about toys is when you get tired of playing with them, you throw them away. It’s been years since we first met THEM. Why haven't THEY thrown us away?”, Johnny remarked.
“You want THEM to kill us?”, Nathan asked. Everyone turns their head to look at Johnny with widened eyes. Johnny’s eyes widened too by the misunderstanding.
“It’s okay. We know what you mean. Why haven’t THEY left us alone, right?”, Anthony clarified. Johnny nodded.
Anthony looked down at the camera hanging off Johnny’s neck and smiled. “Sometimes, our toys are too valuable or precious to give up.”
Mike scoffs. “You guys are treating Daemon like a human. THEY’RE a monster. Did you forget that?”, Mike suddenly announced.
“Which is why I decided to do this spell tonight.”, Riley spoke. “I want to learn more about THEM. The only way for it to be possible is by observing.”
“As Johnny said earlier, it’s impossible. We can’t see our own minds.”, Mike explained.
“No, but we can visualize them. It’s the only way that makes sense to us, Mike.”, Riley stated.
“Anthony, hand me the bag, please.”, reaching out, Chris commands.
Anthony handed the bag to Chris, who thanks him. Chris looked to Riley on his side, who he could tell she was surprised by his actions, but he only waited for her instructions. She seemed to wonder if what she was seeing in front of her was real. She even blinked and looked around, lost. But it was real and a part of her was relieved to know that. “Put the bowl in the center of our circle.”, she commands, her duality changing. Chris took out the clay bowl from the bag and obeyed Riley’s orders. “Take the-”
“Riley.”, Chris stopped her. By the sound of his voice, she looked over to him, irritated. Chris sensed it, the glare she threw his way also intimidated him by how uncommon it was to see her this way, dominated. She had never looked at him the way she did now. “Thank you.”, he managed to say.
Her gaze softens by the sound of those words. Especially by the way he said them. Innocent but sorry. For once, he thought she would send him a smile. But she didn’t.
She looked away from him to the bowl in the center. Everyone else watching them but couldn’t hear them were confused by the scene in front of them, yet they decided to stay silent and not question anything. “Tear the petals off the flowers and put them into the bowl.”, she continues.
He does as told, taking a stemless flower between his fingers and begins to tear off the petals. Chris hands the bag to Lincoln sitting next to him. Understanding, Lincoln took out a flower and passed the bag to Mike. Mike, Lincoln, and Chris copied each other’s actions, plucking the petals until there were no more on their flowers. Soon, Chris, Mike, and Lincoln reached to put them into the bowl. The ones who plucked the petals off did it carefully while the others watched, finding it intriguing.
This made the process faster but to be honest, the length of this ritual didn’t matter. At least to Mike it didn’t. “Nathan, you can light the candle now.”, Riley informed.
Anthony, the one holding the candle, hands it to Nathan once he has lit the match. Once the candle is lit, Nathan hands the candle back to Anthony. “Anthony, carefully light the inside of the bowl on fire.” Anthony does. As soon as the petals touch the flame, they become ashes and begin to fly into the air. The bowl itself was only burning by the inside while its outside was fine. As the petals burned, light smoke started to form.
“With your eyes closed, breathe in the smoke.”, Riley whispered, closing her eyes. Everyone follows her actions, deeply inhaling the smoke through their nose and exhaling a breath through their mouth.
The scent of the smoke was awful. It smelt exactly like what it was, burning flowers. Still, they forced themselves to keep inhaling it. Once the flowers had completely burned, they sense it and open their eyes. While the scent was terrible, it was somewhat relaxing and soon, the Witches themselves felt relaxed.
“What… what did you see?”, Chris asked, sounding very at peace and breathy. His eyes were droopy too like he would pass out asleep in seconds. Everyone else seemed to be in the same state.
“Nothing.”, Lincoln answered. “Absolutely nothing.” And he passed out.
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