Prologue: How It All Began
Steam surrounded me, my body enveloped in a warm fog that condensed into water droplets that slid down my bare skin. The white floor of the tub was stained a horrid copper as I tried to wring the blood from my shaking hands. I scrubbed my hands, washing each measly finger over and over again until the blood and vomit no longer covered them. Images of Ethan flashed through my mind, his body writhing on the ground. I couldn’t save him. Why couldn’t I save him?
Quietly, the beep of the heart monitor filled the room, its sound almost drowned out by the hiss of the oxygen that was nestled beneath his nose. I watched him lying there with his eyes closed, but not asleep. I clutched his hand tightly in mine as I watched his every breath.
“I can practically feel you staring at me, Lucinda,” he said.
“Sorry Ethan, you know I can’t help it.” I whispered.
Before me was the love of my life, my best friend since birth, Ethan Jernigan. Although his body was weak from the cancer, his smile and sarcasm were both intact. Ethan had fallen victim to the advanced stages of osteosarcoma. Even after removing his leg below the knee, it was still not enough. The cancer had spread too far through his body; there was no point wasting money on chemotherapy. The doctors had just recommended keeping him comfortable until the end. How fucked up is that?
“Go take a nap, Luce, you look like crap and I’m not going anywhere,” Ethan said to me.
I had half a mind to say that he might not be here when I get back, but it would have been rude to say that to my best friend. I stood up from my comfy chair and bent down to kiss his sweaty forehead. He smiled as I walked away. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my phone. Swiping through my apps I found the call button and pressed my mom’s name.
“Hello, Lucinda? Is everythin’ alright?” Her Irish accented voice rang through the earpiece.
“Yeah Mama, everything is fine. I was wondering about whether or not you found Gram’s spellbook?” I asked hesitantly.
“What do ya need it for?” she asked, sounding concerned.
“I need it to save him. Mama, I’m almost 18. I have the power to do it.” I tried to keep my voice calm and low. It’s not every day that you hear a Druid Witch on the phone with her mother.
“Hon, you know we can’t practice those sort of things. Ya know it’s against our coven to do that.” She sounded tired and sad. “Plus lass, it’s a full moon tonight. Ya can’t use magic at all tonight. Not until your birthday, anyways.”
“Mama please. I don’t think he has much longer,” I pleaded.
“I’m sorry babe, but I just can’t let ya. Why don’t you come home and shower. Ya don’t want to scare him away with your smelly self.” She chuckled on the other end of the phone.
“Okay. I’ll be home soon. Love you.”
The ride to my house was a short one. The trolleys that run through Crescent, Louisiana were convenient and surprisingly fast. I jumped off of the still moving vehicle and landed smoothly on the hot pavement. My boots clicked on the sidewalk as I quickly walked toward my house. Once inside I stopped by my mother’s room to kiss her on the head before I enacted my deceitful plan. I ran up the stairs and into the bathroom. I turned on the shower and then poked my head out the door to see if the coast was clear. My sisters must be gone, I thought to myself. Quietly I exited the bathroom and headed toward the “library” that we keep in our house. It mostly contains spellbooks from our ancestors. I sought out my grandmother’s third and final spellbook, the last one she wrote before death. Ironically, it was the only book that contained a lifesaving spell.
After locating the book I took it off the shelf, hiding it under my shirt. Then I ran to the bathroom, hopping immediately into the shower. Once I was done I decided to go back to Ethan’s house, hopefully to save his life.
“Ethan, honey, are you awake?” I asked.
“Nope, I’m completely and totally asleep. Yes, you ass, I’m awake.” He chuckled. I brushed my hand across his bald head before I placed a gentle kiss on his lips. “Oh? That’s all I get? You afraid to kiss me now?”
“No, I’m not afraid. I just didn’t know you were in the mood.” I sighed.
“Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I’m not sexually attracted to my girlfriend, Luce.”
I bent down to kiss him again, but he pulled me onto the bed. Our lips only inches apart, I could feel his warm breath on my bottom lip. He removed the oxygen from his nose and pressed his lips to mine. They felt soft, a feeling that I hadn’t even realized I missed until now. As our kisses grew deeper I felt his hand trail across my waist, hesitating. But suddenly, it all stopped. The kissing, the touching. Before I knew it he was hanging his head over the hospital bed, coughing his lungs out.
“Oh no.” I whispered. I rubbed his back as I watched one of the scariest things in my life. I reached over the other side of the bed and into my bag. Out of it I pulled Gram’s book. The leather binding was cracked, and the pages crinkled.
“Luce what are you doing?” He asked in between coughs.
“Its Gram’s spellbook. The one I told you about.”
And then a new wave of coughs hit him, this time accompanied with a fine spray of blood that came out his mouth and nose. His eyes glazed over completely. I undid the string holding the book together and searched for the page with the lifesaving spell. I found it almost immediately. The page glowed gold in my hand.
“Are you ready, E? Ah, who am I kidding, of course you are.” I began the low hum of the incantation, lifting my palms to the sky. With each word spoken I felt my hands heat up with power. With the last word spoken I felt electricity dance at my fingertips. I pressed my palms to Ethan and willed the magic to flow into him. He sucked in a huge breath of air, as if his lungs were healthy again. But it wasn’t a breath of rebirth that he took. It was his last inhalation before the sweet peace of death.