When I step onto the train the next morning, Jayden is standing across the standing area. He smiles widely when he sees me and I walk across to him.
“Morning. Nice day, isn’t it?” I say feeling a little awkward.
His arm is pushed up against the wall of the carriage above my head to steady himself as the train pulls away. He ducks his head slightly under his arm as he looks out the window. “It is a nice day.” He brings his face up again and he is very close to me. It feels as if the intensity in his dark eyes burns me, so I look away.
Instead of standing aside, he stays standing that way, his hand pressed against the carriage wall behind my head. My shoulder brushes against him every now and again.
I look around me, searching, and I ask, “Where’s Kieran?”
“He found something useful on Google last night and he has gone to find out if it’s true. I am on my way to Dublin on the same secret mission.” He emphasises the word ‘secret’ so I decide not to ask for the details. Besides, it is not as if Kieran and I are a couple, he can go on a search for whatever truth he is looking for without having to let me know.
I glance in Jayden’s direction. “I googled Salem. That story Kieran told me intrigued me.”
“What did you find out?” He asks amused.
“Well, did you know from the year fourteen fifty to the year seventeen fifty it was estimated that as many as two million people were killed because they were believed to be witches, but it was mostly because of religious beliefs, intolerance, greed of property, personal malice, boredom and psychological disturbances.”
He raises his eyebrows interested, and I am quite excited to share my new-found information. Although I have performed small acts of enchantment before, like making scented charms or peppermint tea with a little chant attached, I have never explored witchcraft as such. Most of the spells I did were to uplift my spirit, almost like meditation.
I continue, “In America, especially, it was believed witches met at what was called Sabbaths. They were held four times a year. On Candlemas. The first of February. On May Eve, the thirtieth of April. On Lamas Eve, which is on the thirty-first of July and then on All Hallows Eve, the famous thirty-first of October. People said on those nights the witches smeared themselves with an ointment made of the blood and flesh of murdered babies.” I shiver disgusted. “They then flew away on their broomsticks to where the Sabbat was to be held.”
I glance past his arm out of the window to my side and I say rushed, “I better hurry, we’re almost there. So, then after the Sabbat, they had a feast and were supposed to have eaten murdered children. After that, the witches danced, often back to back in a circle moving to the left.” I look up at him miserably. “But it is so sad though, because none of this was supposed to be true. These people were practising their pagan beliefs, which were in place long before the church came along. Did you know the back to back dance, is actually also a dance for fertility?”
The train unexpectedly slows down and then comes to a stop. Everybody on the train groans as one. I am sure someone in the next galaxy could hear this cry of sheer annoyance.
I sigh. “Must be a signal fault or something, and it doesn’t usually take too long. Not nice when you have to stand, though.”
He looks down at me thoughtfully. His finger brushes against my skin explosively and I take a deep breath from the sudden shock, as he lifts my Celtic cross from off my chest where it peeks out from under my shirt. I usually only button my last two buttons and pull my tie straight when the train pulls into the station, just before I step off from it.
He says softly while he holds the cross between his fingers, his knuckles resting against my skin, “Accusations could be made by anyone and were often forced from previously accused people under torture.” He gets a far-away look in his eyes. “The accused was forced to make a confession which also implicated others and they often used torture.” He grimaces while his eyes are still focused somewhere distant. “Sometimes the victim was tied to a pulley and hoisted up into the air. The more severe the accusations were, the heavier the weights were which were attached to the pulley. The victim was then jerked until all his or her limbs were dislocated and obviously to avoid this, they would even name their own mother as a witch. They were tortured until they confessed, and once they confessed they were accused of witchcraft and they were executed.” He shudders and then he blinks his eyes as he looks around at the other passengers, who are all deeply engrossed in their own conversations or reading the newspaper or a novel.
Slowly he leans closer into me and I feel his breath on my neck. He says quietly, “Did you also know that when the witch signed the Devil’s book, to seal the deal they made with him, they received a mark on their skin.” He touches his lips to a small mole I have just under my ear. I close my eyes for a brief, blissful moment.
The train pulls off again as he straightens up. He is still holding onto my cross, his fingers rub against my skin in time with the rhythm of the train.
I smile shyly up at him, trying to ignore the effect he has on me. His eyes look into mine broodingly, as I say, “That was awfully brutal to torture people like that.” I chuckle uncomfortably. “I actually had more to tell, but now I have forgotten most of it.”
He smiles unhurriedly, as he asks unexpectedly, “What are you doing this weekend?”
“Nothing much. Why?”
“Shall we do something together?”
“I can’t see why not.” I look up at him and smile invitingly.
He angles his head down closer to mine and I have the distinct feeling he is going to kiss me. Unintentionally my eyes move from his eyes to his full lips. He smiles slowly.
The train stops with a trembling and I snap out of the captivated moment.
Moving away from him mystified, I hear him say, “I’ll see you later, Heather.”
Looking back at him, across my shoulder, I murmur, “Bye.”
I feel his eyes follow me until I walk through the doors into the ticket office and I hear the train rumble away.
Relieved, I see Shannon waiting for me. We walk to school discussing what we should have for lunch while I wonder what could possibly be wrong with me. Am I having a mental breakdown? Surely my mom and dad getting divorced could not have such a big impact on me. They were unhappy with each other, and their eternal love was not so eternal after all. So what? It happens every day—right?
As always, once we enter the school building, Shannon and I go to the bathroom.
I turn toward her, as we walk into the dimly-lighted, cool room. I tell her what happened on the train, every word, but I add, “Shannon, I am being so, so forward with him. Gosh, I am the first to admit I am the queen of flirt, but this is extreme even for me. I kissed his brother and now I am yearning for Jayden to kiss me.”
She leans across the basin to re-apply her gloss.
I lean with my hip against the wall as I watch her. “He has some kind of hold on me, I am sure.”
“Like a magic spell?”
“No.” I scoff.
She says jokingly, “Do you think he signed a deal with the devil? You should get him to take off his clothes and then you can look for a birthmark.”
I punch her lightly on her upper arm and walk past her out of the bathroom. “Honestly, Shannon—not even close to funny.”
As we walk toward our first class, my phone beeps. I pull it out of my pocket and notice it is a text from my dad. I open it, and it says, “Will pick you up Friday at seven.”
I frown as I close the message. Is he serious? Why would he presume he can text me with instructions on when I will see him. I am sure it suits him, but does it suit me? I think not.