She knew she had to work hard. Not just any freshman was going to be able to hang with that crowd or keep Mike Mathis as a boyfriend unless she showed she belonged there.
Mom was gone to a work function and dad was… Well, who cared where he was? His new wife must care. In his new life. On the other side of the continent. By the time Mom got home, she would have changed buses and might just be stepping off at the stop before Cannington Enclave, where the domestics would be stepping on.
She smeared her 14 year-old lips Cherry red. Deep black liner and accidentally perfect purple shadow formed the backdrop for false eyelashes. The hair she couldn’t appreciate shined perfectly, tragically, black, and down to her shoulder blades. A tight black blouse with princess seams making curves where God had not, topped jeans that wouldn’t have been too tight when school started, but were tonight. Because she was still growing, just a little. There was a peaked cap and a long black cape of crushed velvet on the outside lined with satin of the darkest red. In her black nails, she held a flat, corn broom stolen from the custodian’s closet. Her thrill, though, was the shoes. Boots. Laced up, pointed toe black leather in the foot, fabric in the barrel, a kitten heel gave the illusion of height without making her feel she’d fall down. She had some walking to do tonight.
A check of the mirror pleased her. A perfectly wicked witch.
The mirror lied. It didn’t even mention the sadness behind the smile. Or the beautiful, impatient, woman-in-waiting.
Mike had been anxious to take their relationship to the next level. He told her he’d have to be single rather than continue to be attracted to her like he was. They had an agreement. If she dressed as an angel she wanted to wait. If she dressed as a witch… She didn’t.
In the purple dusk, cape swirling, hair flying, boots clacking on the pavement; she could have been a character in a movie. The bus was no joke tonight. The usual cast of down and outers was seedy. The exhausted working poor were collected in a transport bin and dozing or reading or looking at her. For the first time, her eyes were opened. This, was no place for a little girl.
No one knew where she was. She was dressed to magnetize and her mother thought he drove to pick her up and he thought her mom was dropping her at the gate house.
She felt very, very “vincible”. Visible. It was a two-edged sword. Wanting so desperately to be seen, then realizing you are. Not just by whom you would like to be seen, but by whom you did not choose. She felt sick.
There was no escape. She could only ride it out. Enclave was the first stop on the other side of the long, harrow corridor of urban decay dividing the city between the exclusive suburb and the middle class midtown.
When she rose from her seat for the first Enclave stop, she noted that a man and a woman also rose. The woman she knew from taking this route since she’d been seeing Mike. The man, she’d never seen, but then, she wasn’t in the habit of noticing men she wasn’t aiming her powers at.
Both of them made the stop with her, yet she forgot them immediately, as she focused on the evening before her. A Halloween party. The biggest moment in her relationship with Mike Mathis, National Merit Scholar, President of the Chess Club. Valedictorian.
Tonight would change everything.
At last, she could no longer miss the looks. Appreciation from boys who were there with other girls. Jealousy from girls who were there with other boys. And something strange from Mike’s Mom. It didn’t look like the friendship she’d thought they had.
Mike didn’t look at her at all. He really didn’t speak much. To her. He passed out refreshments. Made sure everyone was comfortable. Answered the door. Passed out candy. He was a great host. A great guy.
She gazed silently out the breakfast room window, through her reflection to the waterfront. The last line of deep purple light was about to disappear behind a shimmering lake.
“It won’t be long now ’til we can be alone,” came the whisper.
She hadn’t seen or felt his approach. She lifted her eyes to the reflection of his. Drank it in with her heart. Trying to buoy this heaviness.
“Why don’t you walk with me to carry this bag to the can?”
“How could I possibly resist helping you serve your guests?”
An intelligent man knows when he’s been chastened.
“I wanted to show you the dock. It’s the same way. Bad planning by the architect.”
She raised her face to see every change in his smile. His eyes.
“I’ve seen it in the daytime. What more could I possibly learn in the dark?”
“It’s an entirely new experience in the dark. I promise.”
Throwing a laugh over her shoulder, she ducked for the kitchen door, her boots leaving black scuffs and her hair a flying ebony stain in the thick party air.
In a minute, the cabana on the dock was swaying unsteadily. She could sense it in the mirror dimly reflecting the half light.
She did love him. He was smart. And, God, was he good-looking.
“The reflection of the moon on the water is a result of refraction.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Our ability to see things we aren’t facing always is.”
“What? I don’t think that’s right.”
“You know, I love you.”
“Of course, I dressed as a witch.”
“What do you mean? Glenda, the good witch?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re an angel.”
“No, I’m not. I’m a witch.”
“Well, the wings and the halo make that a tough sell. Not to mention the Clarence from A Wonderful Life that’s followed us everywhere all night. Why didn’t you tell me you were bringing your uncle? Mom’s way bent.”
“Mike, You’re scaring me. I am a witch with a broom. Red lips, black nails. I don’t have an uncle.”
He reached for the light and turned her shoulders to face the mirror.
In the mirror’s reflection, she saw herself. A witch with terror streaming down her cheeks.
Behind Mike, through the screen she could see the man from the bus.
Who had wings.
“Mike, I am a witch. I have no uncle. That is a man who got off the bus at the stop with me.”
“You are an angel. And I talked to him myself before he left.”
And he kissed her.
~Happy Halloween. Since we don’t have a big celebration to share for #Blogtober, I hope I gave you a scare. One way or another.~