I go to school in Balbriggan, at the Community College. We used to live here and moved to Drogheda two years ago. We move a lot. My friends are all there so my parents agreed I could finish my schooling in the same school. Looking at a map of Ireland it will look as if I travel across two counties just to get to school, but in fact it really only takes about twenty minutes by train, on a good day.
My mom usually leaves early for work, before I even drag myself out of bed, so this morning I decide to take advantage of the early morning stillness of my house.
In my pyjamas, I go downstairs and then through the kitchen out the back door into our little back garden. Summer is not here yet, but there are a few early bloomers popping their heads out from the shrubs surrounding our patch of grass. I look for a bunch of yellow flowers. I cannot be fussy because I do not have many flowers to choose from, so I pick a few who have opened up completely.
I go back inside the house, wiping the early morning dew off my feet vigorously before I step onto the biscuit coloured tiles decorating our kitchen floor.
Back upstairs, I rummage through the immersion closet for the large yellow circular tablecloth. My mother likes to pack all her linens and towels in here on the shelves above the immersion.
I get the little glass jar of St. John’s Wort Oil from the bathroom cabinet. Celtic Tribes saw the plant called, St. John’s Wort as a symbol of the sun’s healing and life-giving powers, because of its bright, yellow flowers. This plant is considered as a king amongst magical plants and it protects against negative influences.
Walking back to my room, I cradle everything in my arms while I make sure not to bruise the yellow flowers. I put the flowers and the miniature glass jar on my dresser. The large yellow tablecloth billows over my head as I shake it open and I lay it down on the floor in the centre of my room. I pick up the glass jar from my dresser and I pull the cork stopper out effortlessly. Standing back, I sprinkle a few drops of the blood-red oil onto the tablecloth. I lean sideways, keeping my feet still and pull two yellow candles from my night stand, next to my bedside lamp. Holding it carefully, I rub a few drops of the oil onto the candles. I step onto the tablecloth and then I sit down cross-legged in the centre. Reaching up to my dresser, I pull the bunch of flowers down. I remove two perfect blooms from the bundle and then after dividing the remainder of the flowers into two bunches, I place a bunch of flowers on each side of me, at the edge of the cloth.
I light the two candles and then I place one at the edge of the cloth behind me, and I place the other candle at the edge of the cloth in front of me.
Picking up the two perfect blooms lying on the cloth by my knees, I hold them in the upright palm of each of my hands. I look at the candle ahead of me, and I stare into the flame, focusing all my attention on that tear-drop shape of yellowy orange.
I chant softly, “Oh healing light, surround me now, relieve my spirit’s darkest hour.”
As I chant the line repeatedly, I imagine the scented light being drawn from the candles into the flowers on my palms. From the flowers, I imagine that same light permeates my whole body. It moves up my arms, through my chest, and then splits to go up to my head and down to my lower body.
I am supposed to do this for twenty minutes, but the neighbour’s dog starts yapping and no matter how hard I try to focus on that light, my mind cannot block out the incessant barking. I put the flowers down next to me again and as I stand up, it does feel as if some of the melancholy falls away from me—not all of it though.
After I blow out the candles, I put them back on my night stand, together with all the other multiple coloured candles. I bundle the yellow tablecloth into the washing basket and decide to leave the oil on my dresser as I notice the time.
It is time to get ready for school.
While walking to the train station, I see an empty patch of grass and I throw the two perfect blooms into the long grass. Giving them back to nature will complete the spell I tried to weave this morning to revitalize my spirits.
The station is plus minus a mile from the estate in which we live. It is okay, really, and most of the time I do not mind walking the distance, which I have to do every morning, come rain, hail or snow.
When I arrive in Balbriggan, Shannon is waiting outside the train station entrance for me, as always, and I walk toward her.
When she notices me, she gasps loudly and puts her dainty fingers in front of her mouth. She says loudly, “My gawd, Heather. What have you done with your hair?”
I bring my hand up to my hair self-consciously. “I felt like a change.”
She looks me up and down. “And the nun outfit?”
The new school skirt I am wearing covers my knees and my socks are pulled up over my knees. There is not a glimpse of white, pale flesh in sight. I look down uncomfortably. “The other one was too small.”
She laughs loudly and then she stops abruptly. She leans into me and whispers softly, “Don’t look now, but the new boy just came walking out of the station.”
I turn my head to look.
She slaps me against the shoulder. “Gawd, Heather! I told you not to look.”
I continue looking, even though her slap stings my arm. He looks at me as he walks down the few steps and it looks as if he is going to walk toward us. He has the greenest eyes I have ever seen and they look right into me. He is so sun-tanned he looks out of place and his light hair is cropped short around his ears and the longer hair on top sits messy on his head, as if he just pulled his hand through it. He has full, light brown eyebrows; a perfect nose, a strong jaw and I notice a dimple in his chin. He looks like the perfect advertisement for summer and all things warm and fuzzy.