The day I met Maddy changed my life. Her bohemian attitude and beautiful green eyes captured my heart at the tender age of twelve. She ingrained herself in me from the moment we first crossed paths. She was exactly what my life needed, and something more, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
But one day, everything changed. I changed.After losing my mother, my two best friends, and the girl I just couldn’t get out of my thoughts- the downward spiral of addiction to deal with my pain through my teens, continued into my twenties. Loss is painful like that. It burrows.
But so does hope.
“Now remember, there is magic, m-a-g-i-c. That’s the parlor tricks, cards up the sleeves- all that. But then, there is magick, m-a-j-i-c-k. A faith older that Christianity itself. I believe that the tower of Babel represents Gnosticism, mysticism, and magick. Of course, we have to consider translations and all that. This is just my opinion, but I believe God toppled it and gave us religion, not necessarily languages but ways to him. But we already had a way. Magick.”
“Babel?” I was intrigued.
“The Tower of Babel? It’s in your Bible. Genesis, Benji? Oh, never mind.”
“So, you believe in the Bible?”
I realized I had completely forgotten about Connor. For a moment I felt that maybe there was something to magick. Perhaps it worked, after all. But then Connor Pike consumed me. I reached into my pocket and squeezed the little pouch before pulling it out and inhaling the sweet fragrance.
Maddy squeezed my shoulder. “It’s going to be all right, Benji.” She bent down to slip her shoes back on before turning toward Pike Elementary. Just then the first bell rang. We had roughly 15 minutes to get to our first class.
As Maddy drifted further away, I stood there smelling the little white pouch and mustered up a prayer. “God, forgive me if what I did was wrong, but I need you. God, do I need you. In Christ’s name… amen.” I tucked away the pouch and scurried off to class. I wasn’t terribly worried about Connor doing anything before second period, PE with Coach Bronner.
First period crawled by. We took turns reading and answering questions about the Civil War, but I was numb and nervously sat in the back rubbing the little white pouch, occasionally pulling it out and smelling it.
And then the bell rang.
Gathering my things, I made my way to my locker with heavy feet and a head full of static. Before I knew it, my feet were dragging across the gym floor. Everyone was looking at me as if it were the last time they would. My optimism was a sinking ship, capsized by a last-minute lack of faith.
All the guys poured into the locker room. With deep breaths, I looked around for Connor. Nervous, but ready for anything.
Coach Bronner was blowing his whistle, which meant we better get out in the gym or we’d be stuck running laps.
No Connor. This was agonizing. Petey and Sylvester made their way over to me.
“Did you hear?” Sylvester was in my face and a nervous bundle of energy.
“Hear what?” I was still nervously looking around for Connor.
“The police took Connor away; he had a knife in his locker.”
My heart stopped, and I was flooded with mixed emotions. I could’ve been dead or seriously hurt. Was he planning on hurting me that badly? I’ve seen him beat up on other kids and it was pretty bad. But a knife? Me?
Petey patted me on the back. “Holy shit, Benji. Holy shit.”
“Yeah.” I sat and thought a thousand little thoughts.
Holy shit. I excused myself from the warmups and went back into the locker room. I cupped my hands under the cold water and splashed my face. Looking into the mirror, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. Calm and peaceful even. I thought about the circle in the woods. The candles. The pouch. The white bubble of light around me.
I thought about Maddy.
I had to find her.
I’d see her soon enough in Mrs. Steward’s class. PE flew by quick and then the bell was ringing, and I was walking tall down the hallways of Pike Elementary. I rubbed the pouch as I turned down the hall toward my locker.
Maddy playfully bumped into me a few feet away. “Hey, Benji.”
“Maddy!” I sharply looked around and pulled her over to the wall and out of the rush of students. “Did you hear?”
“What?” She seemed genuinely at a loss.
“Connor was arrested and apparently is on his way to juvie. They found a knife in his locker.”
“Wow. I was actually surprised to see you in one piece.” Maddy smirked.
“Well, Connor’s huge and you’re… well…” Maddy looked me up and down.
“Wait a minute. You did the spell in the woods. You took my hair and my knife.” I looked around, nervous and utterly confused.
“And?” God, was Maddy ambiguous.
“But you said…” I was at a loss and a bit dumbfounded.
“Benji, it’s magick. Sometimes life happens despite our little wishes and wants.” Maddy looked off again, as if tugged away by something I couldn’t see.
“You… shit. Maddy… I…” I wanted to say I trusted her, but I had reservations throughout the whole experience. My Christian upbringing tugged from my subconscious.
“It’s like Christians and ‘thy will be done’. It’s faith, and it’s finicky. Mine’s just cooler than yours and I don’t walk around feeling bad about every move I make. And I don’t need grace. I have consequences, best I learn from them.”
God, I hated her.