You know what? I don’t think I like this girl. I don’t want her near my beloved Jude. I mean friend. Friend Jude. Too young. No date. But a girl can dream…
“Alright kiddies, now we gather the last ingredients and head into the middle of the forest to perform a shady ritual,” Haylee says with a sly grin.
“There’s more ingredients?” Toby groans.
“Jude and Hazel. We need all of you present for this to work.”
“Oh, thank God! I thought I was going to go completely broke!” Toby puts a hand on his chest like he had to keep his heart from jumping out.
“Well, we haven’t even talked about my personal fees yet,” Haylee says. I can’t tell if she’s serious or not. Based on Toby’s face, he can’t tell either. “Kidding! Like I said, I owe Jude. No fees.”
I cross my arms and glare out the car window. I am not amused by her jokes. “How are we supposed to bring Jude anywhere without him freaking out again?”
“Well, he can just man up and deal with it. Or freak out. Whichever he prefers, I suppose.”
This *insert bad word here* is insulting my… insulting Jude. How dare she? My imagination turns to my ongoing romance story in my head.
After saving me from my abusive husband, Judas ended up in the hospital, unconscious. Suddenly, a wild ex-lover appears! In front of Judas, she acts like a perfect, bubbly goddess, but in reality, she is evil and scandalous! But what do I do? Only her kiss can awaken Judas from his slumber! A slumber that I am technically responsible for! Do I let this skank seduce him and back off? Or do I fight to try to save him myself? I must consult with his sister Hazeline, but just as I am about to call her, Helga, his ex-lover appears before me, eyeing the phone in my hand. She knows that something is amiss! I’ve been caught!
“You know,” Toby says, pulling me back to reality, “I totally agree that Jude needs to man up, but I don’t think it applies to this particular situation. I think anyone else would have killed themselves by now if they were going through the same shit he is.”
Haylee glances back at him with a sweet smile. “Awwww, you two really care about him, don’t you? I’m so glad that he has such good friends.” Toby rolls his eyes but doesn’t disagree.
Haylee stops talking and I pull out my phone discreetly.
‘Wut about his mom?’ I send to Toby.
‘I told u ask him urself’
‘No fair! =( everyone else nos’
‘cuz we all asked. drop it. im not telling.’
I know he’s serious because he added a period to his last sentence. He only does that if he’s serious. Why can’t they just tell me? It’s not like me knowing would affect Jude. If it’s that bad, it would probably affect him more if I brought it up, rather than ask someone else and never have to mention it to him.
I sigh and rub my arms. I’m getting cold again. As if Haylee could tell without even looking at me, she turns up the heat in the car, even though its sunny and probably already pretty warm for her and Toby. She may be my arch nemesis, but she is nice. Damn her.
When we get back to her apartment, Jude is still passed out, and so is Hazel. We can’t exactly just wake Jude up, so we have to wait until the effects of whatever Haylee gave him wear off. Which could take a couple more hours, according to Haylee. So now we are stuck sitting awkwardly in some random stranger witch’s apartment. She’s busy with organizing everything she needs for the spell, so it’s basically just Toby and me.
Toby is sitting near Hazel, browsing Facebook on his phone. I don’t have a smart phone, and I didn’t bring any of my books, so I sit on a chair across from him, hoping he will tell me. I stare at him, waiting for him to get tired of my nagging. After about ten minutes, he sighs and looks up at me.
“Please. Stop. It’s weird that you’re just… staring at me like that.”
“Just give me a hint!” I clasp my hands together like I’m begging. “Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaase?”
Toby runs a hand through his hair and looks at the ceiling, contemplating. Finally, he says, “Ask him about his wrist. That’s all you’re gonna get. Now stop it. You’re freaking me out.”
His wrist? Like the scar? I always assumed that he tried to commit suicide. It’s not uncommon among psychiatric patients. Especially ones who can see dead people. Not that I’ve met anyone else like Jude… But his wrist scar has something to do with his mom? That can really only mean two things; either he tried to kill himself because of his mom, or… she tried to kill him. Can a mom really be that awful though?
I know that none of the others really talk to their parents anymore. Even Toby, who had decent parents, doesn’t talk to his anymore because of reasons that seem pretty petty. I just figured it was being committed that ruined Jude and Hazel’s relationships with their parents. Not something even worse than basically abandoning your child. I can’t even imagine how I would feel if my mom tried to kill me. It would certainly explain, well, everything about Jude.
I tap my fingernails on the arm of my chair impatiently. After about ten minutes or so, I can’t stand the boredom and I get up and start pacing. Haylee notices and smiles at me, waving me over to the kitchen counter. I have to force myself to smile back and not roll my eyes at her ridiculously colorful hair.
“Want me to do your tarot reading?” she asks quietly. Toby overhears.
“Seriously? No, Maria, don’t. Tarot is just a bunch of bullshit,” he says.
Well, if Toby doesn’t like it, then of course I’m going to do it. Even if it’s just to spite him “Sure!” I say enthusiastically. Haylee’s face lightens up and she excitedly grabs a deck of oversized colorful cards. She then unexpectedly shoves them into my hands. “Uh….”
“Oh. Okay.” I shuffle the cards, then cut the deck when she tells me to. She then takes the cards from me and lays the cards out on the table in a pattern that to me seems random, but she seems to be doing it intentionally.
Finally, she claps her hands together. “Okay!” She points to the first card, which has another card laid over the top sideways. “The lovers card has to do with relationships. Oooooh, someone’s in loooooove! Who is it?” She elbows me. “Okay, moving on. So, the card on top is the two of swords. This is the challenge card. It means that you or your love are avoiding the topic. You haven’t told him, or he hasn’t told you. Or both. Next is the emperor, but it’s reversed. This could indicate a very controlling father figure during your childhood. This card is the three of swords. You were heartbroken or betrayed recently. Maybe this is why you are avoiding the topic of love?”
At this point, my heart is pounding out of my chest. Everything seems perfectly on point. Toby may think it’s all bullshit, but if it is, then it’s very convincing and accurate bullshit. I glance over at him, but he quickly looks away.
“Should I stop?” Haylee asks.
“No. Keep going.” I rub my hands together anxiously.
“This one is the death card. No, it doesn’t mean you will die. It may actually be a very good thing, considering your other cards. It means that there will be a significant change. I personally want to believe that it means you will tell whoever it is that you love them and you two will start a relationship! But let’s see what the next card says.” She makes a hissing noise, like the next card is bad. “The five of pentacles. It looks like the future might be a little tough for you soon. Maybe financially, but it could also mean relationship troubles, which is much more likely based on the rest of your cards. Let’s see. Oh… the five of cups… this represents a great loss or regret. Most likely emotional.”
“Calm down, calm down. We’re not done yet. Next. The knight of wands, but reversed. This means that you may try to rush into something and lose control. But knowing all this, you can be prepared. Now, for you hopes and fears, you have the page of cups. It could indicate that you want to express your emotions, but you are afraid of what may happen if you do. Lastly, you have the hanged man. This suggest a coming struggle. You may feel stuck in a situation, but instead of being impatient and taking action, you should let the situation resolve itself. Patience is a virtue, you know.” She smiles at me, then lets out a breath. “Well! That was a tough reading!”
“That’s it? It sounds like I’m in love with the wrong person, because that all sounded like an awful, emotional rollercoaster!” I look to Toby for reassurance, but he just shrugs.
“No, see, now that you know, you can make decisions to make everything work out better!” Haylee cleans up the cards and goes back to whatever she was doing before. I sullenly go over to my chair and plop down, crossing my arms.
Toby leans toward me. “See? Bullshit. I could apply all of that to me. Having a fear of telling someone that you like them? Controlling father? And who hasn’t been heartbroken before? We all have! Well, maybe not Jude. He’s too busy breaking hearts. But, anyways, it’s all just a game. Made up to be able to apply to almost anyone. It’s just a scam.” He says all this quietly enough, but I see Haylee glare over at him. She heard.
He has a point though. I guess I shouldn’t really be worried about what a bunch of cards say. It’s not like Haylee is a psychic. She’s a witch. Jude is the only person I know who has actually been able to tell the future, and he didn’t use cards.
Next to Toby, Hazel stretches and yawns. “Whose heart is broken?” she asks. Toby laughs but doesn’t answer.
“No one. It’s not important. Haylee just did my tarot reading, that’s all.”
“Tarot?” Hazel asks, lifting an eyebrow. Obviously, she also thinks it bullshit, but she’s too nice to say it. “I see.”
“Oh, come on! You all have psychic abilities! How can you not believe in tarot?” Haylee whines.
“Because cards can’t be psychic. They are inanimate objects with pictures on them,” Toby says condescendingly. Hazel smacks his arm. “What? She asked. I answered honestly.”
“Try to be less brutally honest.”
Haylee grabs some stuff and throws it in a bag and shoves it into Toby’s arms. “Take this out to the car.” He mumbles as he goes out the door. “As soon as Jude is vertical, we’re leaving, so be ready.”
“Yeah, of course. Anything we can help you with?” Hazel asks. The way Haylee is acting right now, I don’t really want to help her with anything. Since she’s doing us a huge favor, though, I will do whatever needs done. “No. I prepared everything already. I just need quiet so I can focus.” Hazel nods. For the next hour, we sit quietly, whispering occasionally, waiting for Jude to wake up.
When he finally does, he’s still out of it enough that he’s not freaking, so we drag him to the car and Haylee drives off toward the woods. I start to get concerned when we go far enough that the road turns to dirt and the city lights are no longer visible. It’s dark by the time we get to the end of the dirt road, but Haylee parks the car and gets out.
I look at Jude, who hasn’t said a word since we left. He is sitting in the front, as far away from everyone as possible. Other than being pale, he isn’t randomly yelling and shaking like he was earlier. I wonder if it’s because we are so far away from other people. Maybe it’s just our minds that he has to deal with now. I better be careful what I think about now, because if that’s the case, it would be easy for him to figure out who was thinking what.
“We walk the rest of the way. Maria, you may want a blanket. It’s a little chilly,” Haylee says. She seems less angry now. Back to her old self, except… more serene. She hands us all flashlights and we head into the darkness.
The moon is bright enough that we only need the flashlights in the thicker parts of the woods. Out here, it’s so quiet and beautiful. The moonlight streams through the tree branches, lighting the mossy path that we follow. The only sounds are crickets chirping off in the distance, the wind brushing the leaves, and our feet thumping gently against the soft forest floor. I lift my face up to feel the breeze. It feels wonderful, even though I feel like an ice cube.
I look back at Jude, who lags behind the rest of us, and he smiles, knowing what I’m thinking about.
My memories bring me back to several months ago. We were on our way back from a case and had no money. The money we got from the case had gone immediately to paying rent and buying food for the trip home. So instead of staying at a hotel, we decided that it was warm enough to camp. Jude and Toby volunteered to sleep outside so that me and Hazel could stay inside the van. True gentlemen.
We found a side road that led toward the woods. A lot like the one we’re on now. I was still pretty emotional from my breakup with my asshole fiancée, so the idea that we were poor and sleeping out in the woods seemed like the worst thing ever. When we found a nice spot to park the van, Jude and Toby built a campfire and we sat around it discussing the case for a while. Or rather, they discussed, while I sat quietly on the verge of tears.
At some point, Jude must have noticed that I wasn’t in a good mood. “Hey, Ri. Let’s go for a walk.”
“Are you insane? It’s dark and we’re in the middle of some scary woods. There could be bears. Or dead people,” I snorted and ignored him.
“What, you don’t think I can protect you?” The look on his face was genuinely hurt. This was before I knew him well enough to know he was a total player. “I could totally fight off a bear. Or at least throw myself at it and sacrifice myself while you escape. Which, let’s face it, is much more realistic.”
I glanced at Hazel, but she pointedly looked the opposite way. I had no idea if it was a good idea or not, but I sighed and got up, brushing dirt off the back of my not-so-nice-anymore jeans. “Fine. But if we see a bear, I am fully expecting you to sacrifice yourself to save me. No take-backsies.”
Jude laughed, his eyes twinkling like the stars above us. Gorgeous. “Deal.” We took off into the woods, leaving Toby and Hazel to fend for themselves. That night was just like it is now, quiet and breezy, the moon huge in the dark, star filled canvas of night. We walked silently until we found an empty field of grass. Jude laid his hoodie on the grass and flopped down, looking up at the stars. “Shit. It’s beautiful.” He said it quietly, more like he was talking to himself than me.
I crossed my arms to fight off the chill of the wind, and stood a few feet away, looking up stiffly. It really was beautiful. After a moment, I looked back at Jude, and blushed as I realized he was staring at me. “What?”
“Nothing. Just admiring everything beautiful,” he said with a grin.
“Then you should probably look back at the stars,” I said stiffly.
“Why do you do that?”
“Do what?” I refused to look at him. If I did, I might not stop.
“Any time someone compliments you, you act like it’s stupid. Impossible.”
“I do not!” Did I really do that, though?
“I dare you to look at me and say that you don’t do that.” I turned to look at him, but when I did, he was standing right there, close, staring into my eyes. I was speechless. I gaped at him, trying to say it, but he was right. “Let me compliment you, Maria. Don’t just brush it off.”
“Okay, so what, I am beautiful. That didn’t stop…” I trailed off and turned away again.
“Don’t let one guy ruin your entire outlook on life. Do you want to end up running into him someday and shying away, making him think he actually means something to you? Or do you want to pass him on the street, not even giving him a second glance because fuck him, who needs him anyways?”
“Fuck him,” I mumbled quietly, barely audible.
“What did you say?” Jude nearly yelled.
“I said fuck him,” I said louder.
“I can’t hear you!”
“FUCK HIM!” I screamed into the night. “Fuck him! Fuck you! I don’t need you, you useless cheating asshole! Fuck you!” I screamed it a few more times, Jude joining in, until we were breathless. After, we stood there laughing until our sides hurt.
“Feel better?” Jude asked. I smiled at him
“Good. I’m starting to worry that we might attract a bear, and I kind of want to live.”
Jude is complicated. One second, he might be like he was that day. In a good mood, sweet, funny, caring. But it can change in an instant. All it takes is a stray spirit, or the brush of a stranger while walking through a busy place, and he becomes totally different. Anxious and depressed because of the horrible things he sees.
I nearly crash into Toby when he stops abruptly in front of me. I look around him and see that Haylee has stopped at the edge of a small clearing with a large flat rock in the center, about waist high.
“Here we are, my lovelies,” Haylee says softly. “Let’s get this show on the road.”