Chapter one: A Day At The Lake
I woke to the rumbling purr of Ares. He curled his paws under his body as he laid on my chest. I struggled to open my eyes to see my adorable kitty. His gray and brown fur lined with black stripes was so soft to the touch. He was my familiar. An animal who is deeply connected to a witch and assists them in magical affairs. He can't talk, but we can understand one another in different ways.
It was summer break, one year into collage, and school was already harder than I thought. Not English. I was already finished with those classes. I was planning on taking some creative writing classes in the coming year for fun, but math had me stumped. I was at the lowest level and trying to get a science degree. A witch with a science degree. Wouldn't that be great. After that, I would go on to a university to try for a master's degree in zoology. If I could make it that long.
I had turned nineteen a few weeks ago. I didn't feel my age. Half of the time I felt like a child.
It was Tuesday, and Elizabeth and I had a whole day of hanging out planned. I needed a day out. I usually spend most of my time inside. Witches need to spend a lot of time outside to gather magical energy from the elements. Liz and I are not always great at being witches though. Since we both live in the crappy part of the city, there isn't much nature. Lucky for us there is a small man-made lake within walking distance. It's where the "rich houses" started, so it was usually lush with trees. The water, however, was infested with bacteria from birds and peoples moldy bread.
Liz and I were pretty much introverts. Her more so than me. She spent most of her time reading and I spent mine writing. We made a great team. She studied books on witchcraft passed down by other witches, while I practice the art of creating new spells. I am pretty good at it. I am what was known as a manipulator. A witch who naturally moves and changes energy... aka spells. Liz was an empath. She could tell what others are feeling and thinking. She also could feel and see the flow of magic. Kind of jealous of that.
After I dressed in boot cut jeans and a light blue tank top, I peeked into my sister's room. Serena was playing on her tablet, listening to boy band music. Fitting, considering her walls were covered in posters of male pop sensations.
"Serena. Want to come with me and Liz to the lake today?" I asked her.
"Not today. I'm going over to Bridgette's later. Her mom is picking me up." She never stopped looking at her tablet.
Serena and I had gotten closer since I started college. Most of my friends and I started to drift apart already, and we were constantly arguing with mom. We both felt pretty lonely and decided we should be friends instead of sibling rivals.
"Ok, I'm heading out then. See ya!" I texted Liz that I was on my way.
Mom was still laying on the couch. She didn't have her own room. We were living in a two bedroom apartment and, though we fought almost daily, mom always tried to put us first. I am sure she also did not want to deal with my sister and I fighting over space in one room.
My mom was a plump woman. Her health issues didn't allow her to do too much for too long. It was hard to try and lose weight. Even so, everyone in our family has natural curves. We all have "bubble butts" as my mom would say, and boobs to match. Even when my mom was skinny, she looked like an hourglass.
"Morning honey." Mom paused her show.
"Good morning. I'm heading over to Liz's." I grabbed my backpack.
"Have fun." She said, "I'm leaving for work soon, so I'll be back around 9:30 tonight. I love you!"
"Love you too, mom." With that, I scurried out the door and wound my way through the gray apartment buildings with dirty concrete stairs and newly painted black doors. Luckily we were in the same complex, so I didn't have to go far.
As I made my way through the apartment's playground, I saw Liz heading down from her apartment on the second floor. Good, I hated stairs. I was happy to be on a ground floor.
Liz pinned back the front of her dark brown hair so it wouldn't get in her face. She was in her usual black tank and jeans too long for either of us.
"Sam!" She yelled, as she ran up to me. She widened her eyes, showed all of her teeth and pulled her head back to make a triple chin look. I screamed and hid behind the nearest tree. I laughed as she jumped out from around the tree trunk. She pretended to hump my leg and pushed her off as I shuttered. That's my bestie. Always trying to make me as uncomfortable as possible.
"Liz!" I licked my hand and wiped it on her face.
She screamed "Eeewww!"
We walked to the dollar store a few blocks away and bought snacks and drinks. The summer heat was already beating down on me. I couldn't stand being too hot. As much as I loved the swimming, walking barefoot and wearing tank tops that comes with summer, I absolutely loved the winter time. Winter brought snow. The snow holds intense magic within it, and here in northern Nevada, we usually got lots of it come winter time.
We made our way to the lake. In the middle of the shallow brown water sat two large fountains spewing out in every direction. It made it sound peaceful, despite the chatter of people walking the trail or the buzz of cars passing by.
Liz and I had two favorite spots. The first was the dock. We found the entrance ramp that was lined in tall bushes and grasses and raced to the T shaped, white dock bouncing on the water. It was lined with railing and secured from floating away by large poles.
We sat at the end eating our snacks. I pulled out a coke from my Frozen themed backpack, and Liz grabbed a Pepsi from her mini black back pack. Yes, I was obsessed with Disney. I told you I always felt more like a child.
"Pepsi is my soda husband." Liz said.
"What?" I gasped. "No way, we have to share. You can share coke with me."
"Nah, you can keep coke, I'll take Dr. Pepper." She winked.
"Deal. It's a shame, we'll have to find new husbands when were done with these." The coke burned my throat as I slurped it down.
"It's ok. I've got back ups at home." We both laughed.
"Do you think we sound crazy?" I asked.
"Sam... We're secret witches, staring at a man-made lake, while talking about soda husbands... we are crazy 'tupid head."
I loved our weird talks. Half of the time we made no sense or were completely inappropriate. It was nice to have friends as weird and random as I was. Even my high school friends were super odd. Not everyone can handle all my crazy.
Sharon was like an older sister. We were sister witches bound by magic. We had many fights in the past, but could never stand to stay apart for too long. It's not easy to be the only practicing witch around. I know she likes to be seen as tough, and she is, but I knew Liz didn't like to always feel alone. Her family were all bible thumpers and we didn't live in a great place for making friends – human or other. Most people our age around here were into drugs, wanabe gangs, or already on their second kid.
We moved to our second favorite spot a bit further down the lake. It was a small circle surrounded by trees and large rocks. It had some small broken statues and an unused water fountain just on the other side. This was our place of worship. There wasn't many choices in the city to hold sacred rituals in the arms of nature, so we made do with what we had. I'm sure most people were too high or stuck on their cell phones to notice us chanting, lighting candles and wearing strange clothes. Or they thought we were on crack. This was Reno after all.
We had a spot to represent each element in our circle of trees. Facing north sat a curved tree that laid out like a bench that we used for resting on while dangling our legs. This represented Earth. To the west was the lake and a stump in the shape of a kings chair facing it. This represented Water. To the south was a concrete bench we used to hold our candles and incense during ritual holidays. This was for Fire. The last side to the east held a broken statue more than 5 feet tall. This represented Air.
I said, "I stopped talking with that guy."
"Aww, that sucks. You'll find somebody eventually. I'm older than you and still haven't been on a date either."
I had been spending my days talking with a boy in Australia for quite some time. We video chatted almost daily. I loved listening to him talk. Who doesn't adore an Australian accent? He was smart and loved animals, almost as much as I did. We ended it though since we both knew it was unrealistic to ever meet in person. We were just too far away.
I asked, "want to see something cool? I've been working on a protection spell."
"Yuss!" Liz leaned forward to watch.
I drew the Algiz rune on my hand with a sharpie I pulled from my bag. I held my palm forward, closed my eyes and chanted under my breath "Praesidium. Praesidium. Praesidium."
I opened my eyes and Canada geese began to gather from all directions. None got too close, but they formed a circle around us. Liz pulled out her book of shadows and flipped through her notes.
"Geese are a symbol of protection. Nice! That can come in handy around this place." Liz threw some cracked corn towards the geese for a snack.
After chatting about our worries and complaining about our moms, it was time to head over to the local crystal shop. Every Tuesday a few witches gather to give free energy healings. That is where we gathered notes on practicing our craft. A healing was nice, especially after practicing spells. It really starts to drain you after a while.
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