By the time lunch rolled around, Sam and Syra still weren’t talking to each other. English class had passed by in icy silence. Now in the cafeteria, I sat between my two best friends, eating my bologna sandwich.
“So Syra,” I asked, trying to start up a conversation, “What would you even wear to a fairy ball?”
Sam’s anger was palpable. I could feel it run down my back like glacial water.
Syra grinned at me. “I was thinking about wearing my gold and purple dress. Do you remember the one I bought last month?”
I did remember the dress. It was a gorgeous violet colour with a decorative peacock feather design on one side. I’d tried it on too, but I couldn’t get over how the short skirt didn’t even reach my knees and how my chest didn’t even fill out the bust. On Syra though, it looked fantastic. Like she’d walked off the runway and into the change room of the mall.
“That would look fantastic,” I said dreamily. I could picture her now with her hair swept back into a bun, her eyes smoky and dark.
“What about you?” Syra asked. “What would you want to wear?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t have anything pretty enough.”
“What?” Syra said. “What about that cute rainbow one you bought for the dance?”
That dress had been hiding in my back closet ever since the dance. I’d bought it at Sam and Syra’s urging, a floaty little thing with a red bodice and a skirt that faded from red to blue, passing through purple. When I’d bought it it had sleeves and a cape that faded from red to yellow to green, but they felt too much like I was cosplaying when I tried to wear it out of the house. I spent the whole night self consciously tugging at my hemline.
“It was really short,” I muttered.
“So wear it with black leggings!” Syra said.
“I’d feel like I belong in a video game,” I said self consciously.
“They’re fairies!” Syra said. “They won’t care if you look videogamey.”
“I dunno…” I said.
“I think you’d look cute,” Sam said, breaking her silence. She still sounded pouty, but I smiled at her all the same.
“I thought you weren’t talking to me,” Syra said nastily.
Sam sighed. “I still don’t think you should go.”
“But?” I asked.
She pouted. “But I think if we did go, you’d look adorable in that dress. Especially if you wear the cape this time.”
“I felt so dumb last time.” I’d eventually ditched the cape and sleeve in my locker, but the damage to my self esteem was done. I’d spent the whole night in the corner, and avoiding all the boys.
“You were so gorgeous,” Sam said cheerfully.
“Well what about you?” I asked. “What would you wear?”
“I don’t want to go,” Sam said firmly.
“But what if you did?” Syra pushed. “What would you wear?”
Sam sighed. “The dress I wore when we graduated. The blue and white one.”
“Ooo, I love that one,” I said sincerely. The dress had a white bodice with a sweetheart neckline, and faded into an icy blue at the bottom. It fell below her knees, and was covered in glitter. She looked like a proper ice princess when she wore it.
“Yes!” Syra said, “We could do your nails too! And maybe we can do your hair up with my snowflake barrette?”
“I don’t think we should go,” she whined, but Syra and I ignored her.
“The barrette with the rhinestones?” I asked. “That would look so cute with that dress.”
“I’m thinking feathers for you,” Syra said, plucking at my hair that was in a messy bun. “I have this pretty fascinator that’s got feathers and little fabric flowers.”
“You have all the cutest clothes, Syra,” I said, blushing. “I can’t pull it off like you though.”
“Nonsense,” she said, brushing me off. “I can make you look amazing.”
It did sound gorgeous to me. But I always thought I was going to look pretty, and then felt self conscious when I actually stepped outside. Especially between Syra and Sam, who always looked amazing.
“What do you think Opi would wear?” I asked, blushing. He hadn’t shown up for lunch like he normally did. I missed him, but I was sure he’d just be rolling his eyes at the girl talk.
“He’s a boy,” Sam said. “Probably just dress pants and shirt.”
“Yeah, boy clothes are boring,” Syra added.
I sighed as the bell rang, warning us that it was the end of lunch. “I don’t think they’re boring,” I said. I left the cafeteria, rushing to my locker for my books. Behind me, I could hear the two giggling. Looks like peace was restored today.
“So, today Rou is getting initiated?” Sam asked.
“Yup!” Syra said. “She texted me this morning when she got on the bus. She said she’d meet us at Sam’s.”
“And then tomorrow it’s Mary?” she asked.
“Well,” Syra hesitated. “Maybe we don’t have to wait til tomorrow? We have plenty of dew now to do both of us today.”
“Getting impatient, Syra?” I said jokingly.
“Just a little,” she said. “I want to see these ley lines too!”
“You should have seen the one at the river,” Sam said dreamily. “It was gorgeous. Like the river itself was alive and wanted to just burst out of the banks. And all the little fairies just splashing through the water… I need to show you guys the river.”
“That sounds awesome!” I said excitedly. “I can’t wait to see it!”
“But Rou first,” Syra reminded us.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “What was with that? Why was she so freaked out that we’d skip her?”
“I think she’s having a rough time at University,” Syra said quietly. “She was describing her roommates to me and they sounded like dicks.”
“What did she say?” Sam asked. “What happened?”
“They keep standing her up,” Syra said. “Like, they’ll make plans to go downtown one night, and then never show up. Then the next day they tell her they went to a different bar.”
“They sound like horrible friends,” I said.
“That’s what I said,” Syra replied. “But she keeps hanging out with them anyways.”
“She should just find some new friends,” I said.
“I agree,” Syra said, “But hush, we’re almost there.”
Opi was already waiting for us in the clubhouse when we arrived, the marks on the ground redrawn. Sam waved hello and went inside to get the glass dishes as we sat around the edge of the room.
“Where’s Rou?” Opi asked as soon as we’d settled in, not even bothering to say hello to me. I was glad the clubhouse was dim, so he couldn’t see my embarrassed face. How could I think he wanted to go to a dance with me?
“Right here!” Rou said, coming inside.
“Nice timing,” Syra said. I silently agreed. She’d saved me from having to answer Opi and embarrass myself more.
“Oh good,” Opi said. “I thought you might like to read the book before doing the ritual. There’s a few details about how to do it properly you might need as a refresher.”
“Thanks!” Rou said, taking the book gratefully. “And hi guys! Thanks for waiting for me!”
“Of course, Rou,” I said with a smile. “We said we would.”
“Well, I appreciate it,” Rou said. She started reading the pages Opi had turned to.
Sam let out a sigh of relief as she came inside. “Oh good, you’re here Rou. We should have this set up soon.”
“No rush,” she said distractedly, brushing her blue hair over one ear. I helped pour some of the water into a bowl, setting it down in the circle beside me. Opi dropped her ring into the bowl beside her and Sam and Syra set up the milkweed and candles
“Alright, I think I got this,” Rou announced, moving into the circle.
The now familiar silence settled over the room, and Rou sat down in the middle of the circle.
Her attempt started out a lot like Opi’s had. She began to chant, and on the second chant, the orange aura appeared, rippling around her. But then it began to change. In the northern corner, her ring began to shift. The gem was stretching into a spire into the sky. The orange colour was morphing, turning into a green hue as the crystal grew.
“That’s new,” I whispered barely, watching it change. But she was moving on already. The milkweed in the sundae cup was beginning to rise into the air, rotating in a tiny, controlled vortex around her cup. They didn’t rise any higher than the tower of gem forming in front of her.
Sam stabbed with her elbow, shushing me, but the effects were already beginning to end. The milkweed settled back into the cup and the gemstone folded back in on itself like a strange piece of origami.
“So what happened for me?” Rou asked. “Did the water splash this time, or freeze?”
“Freeze?” I heard Opi ask, but I was already shaking my head. Syra whispered an explanation to Opi.
“The water didn’t do anything,” I told her, pointing at the dish in front of her body. “But your ring went crazy.”
Rou’s head whipped around, sending her blue hair flying in a mini tornado. She grabbed for her ring turning it around in the dim light. I saw her frown.
“Is it okay?” I asked, leaning forward. If we damaged her ring, I wasn’t sure how we were going to continue this. I didn’t know anyone else who owned a tourmaline.
“Yeah,” she said quietly. “But it’s green now.”
We all crowded around the ring. Where it had been a vivid shade of orange, it was now half orange, half green. In the middle the colours blended, fading from one to the other and passing a pale purpley grey.
“Whoa,” Sam said quietly.
“What does that mean?” Rou asked. Everyone shrugged.
“Syra, do you see any leylines?” Opi asked suddenly.
Rou looked around. “Yeah, is that one on the floor?”
She pointed to the spot where Opi had pointed earlier.
“Ha!” he shouted, pumping a fist. “I told you so! Copper, right?”
Rou nodded but Syra cut in. “Wait, wait. We should do Mary now, while we have time.”
“Me?” I said. A knot was forming in my stomach.
“Yeah, you,” Syra said. “You aren’t suddenly chickening out on us, are you?”
“No, of course not,” I said, even though I was considering doing exactly that. It hadn’t felt real to me until right now. “But I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do!”
“That’s why the book’s here!” Syra said, passing it towards me. “Nothing even vanished this time!”
I looked at the pages in the book, covered in a detailed, twisted script and back up at the four small bowls. I was positive I was going to throw up.
“I think I need a few minutes,” I said. Syra nodded excitedly. I looked at everyone else’s eager eyes and grabbed the book, running outside.
“She’ll be back soon,” Sam said as I collapsed in the grass behind the clubhouse. Hiding between the clubhouse and the hedges that surrounded Sam’s yard, I opened the orange book and began to read.