Sam stepped into the inner circle of the markings on the floor carefully, trying hard not to scuff the marks on the floor. She passed me the handful of milkweed when she was in the middle, and I stepped back to look at the book. I had to lean over Rou and Opi to see it.
“What’s she supposed to do with the items we collected?” I asked.
“I’m looking,” Opi said, flipping through the book. Rou glanced up at the circle.
“Did we make sure to point this circle north?” she whispered.
Opi looked up. “We can only hope now. It’s pointed towards the clocktower? I think that’s north of here.”
“It is,” I said firmly. Sam gave me a questioning glance and I shrugged. “It was a homework assignment a few years ago. We were supposed to map out the neighbourhood.”
“And you went all the way to the clocktower?” she asked. “I only did my block.” I shrugged again, a little more sheepishly. “I wanted extra credit.”
“Nerd,” she said, but she sounded nervous.
I smiled at her. “This is cool, right?”
She gave me a small smile back, a tiny, fluttering thing that disappeared a moment later as Opi announced, “I’ve figured it out!”
“So, first up, we need four glass dishes. Sam, does your mom have any of those?” he said, reading out from the list.
“Uhh, yeah,” she replied, moving to step out of the circle.
“I’ll get them!” I volunteered. Sam shot me a grateful look.
I tiptoed my way around the chalk lines, racing towards the back door of Sam’s house. Sam’s mom was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a book. The cover of the book featured a girl holding a large, glowing jar. Sam’s mom looked up when I came in.
“Oh! Hi Mary,” she said, standing up. “Is everything okay out there? Do you kids need snacks? Drinks?”
“No, no we’re fine,” I said quickly. “But umm… Do you have any glass dishes we can use?”
“Dishes?” she asked, looking confused. “Sure honey, let me get you some.”
She walked to the cupboards, and I saw her pulling down a few plastic plates.
“Glass ones,” I interrupted, “If it isn’t too much trouble.”
She pursed her lips. “You promise you’ll be careful with them?”
I made an X shape over my chest. “Cross my heart.”
She didn’t look happy, but she went through her cupboards, looking for something glass. She pulled down a few bowls and put them on the counter. “How many did you need?”
“One more,” I said. She frowned, pulling down a sundae cup.
“Will this do?” she asked.
“Perfect,” I said, trying to smile confidently. She passed them my way.
“Please be careful with them, Mary,” she said, sounding a little strained. Sam’s mom had always been the over-protective, hovering type. Once at a soccer game, I’d noticed her on the sidelines watching us play. Every time Sam went to kick the ball, her mom would cringe like she expected her to end up snapping her legs. But for some reason, she never seemed to worry when we were in the clubhouse out back. Maybe she figured we couldn’t get into trouble in the backyard.
“I will, Mrs. Jezery,” I promised, heading out the door with the glass dishes.
When I got back, Sam was sitting in the centre of the magic runes. Her legs were crossed and her hands rested on her knees.
“Did you get the dishes?” Opi asked. I passed him the bowls and sundae cup. He looked at them and shrugged.
“Put the milkweed in here,” he said, holding out the cup. I dumped in the handful of messy fluff. I noticed that there was four smaller circles drawn on the floor. He placed the sundae cup in the western space. I watched as he placed the other 3 items in the plates. He lit tow of the candles, standing them up on the bowl with a few drips of wax. He blew out one of them gently, leaving a tiny glowing ember beside the larger flame. That he placed in the southern circle, and the dew went in the west. Lastly, he placed the ring in the northern circle.
“Are you ready Sam?” he asked.
Sam nodded, “I guess so.”
“Did you understand everything?” Opi pressed, “I can go over it again if you like.”
“I think I got it,” Sam said, closing her eyes. I snuck around the outside until I was sitting beside Opi.
“What’s she supposed to do?” I whispered.
He shushed me, sliding the book my way. I looked down at the book as Sam began to hum, but in the gloom of the clubhouse I could barely read the intricate script. I struggled my way through a sentence about “opening up your chakras” before I was released it was getting easier to see.
There was a golden glow forming around Sam.
I gave up on the book, staring up at my friend. As if she recognized that I was watching now, the glow started to break away into tiny wisps, that floated around the room like glowing moths. Her aura was massive now, filling the room with tiny dots of yellow light.
“Shit…” Syra whispered in the corner as the water in the bowl jumped into the air. It seemed to dart between the glowing dustmotes, filling the room with dew and glitter. But there was an undercurrent to the light now. Her shadows began to grow, stretching out dark and black to the corners of the clubhouse. The water still in the bowl began to swirl with a dark shadow that sulked about, snatching up the light and water that danced too close to the surface.
I wasn’t sure how long the effect lasted, but it didn’t seem like long at all before the water had settled back into the bowl. The shadows faded away beneath her and the lights were the last thing to die out. After a few more seconds, Sam opened her eyes.
We sat there in silence, unwilling to break the spell.
“Did it work?” she asked.
I burst into nervous giggles with the rest of the girls.
“Me next!” Opi declared.