The grass behind the clubhouse was thin, shaded by a giant maple tree and the clubhouse on one side and a hedge at the edge of the yard. I used to hide back here when we played hide and go seek. It was cool back here. and felt private, even though I could still hear everyone talking inside. The walls muffled their words just enough that I couldn’t make them out.
The sick feeling in my stomach started to go away in the quiet hiding place, replaced by the feeling of my face flushing. They were my friends in there and I’d run away like someone asked me to sing an opera in the nude on live TV. They probably all thought I was stupid.
I couldn’t bear to go back inside yet. I cracked open the book, turning to the page Opi had bookmarked. The ritual itself sounded confusing. I could see a diagram to the side, showing a person sitting with their legs crossed. Seven flowers overlaid their body, with a red one at the bottom and two purple ones at the top. I looked for an explanation on the side, and was met with a section on something called Muladhara. I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce that, or what it meant in terms of the ritual.
The entire section was like that, filled with strange terms and images. I recognized a lot of references to elements, but also to colours, and something about lotus flowers, interspersed with chants that I knew I’d never memorize in the next few minutes. The images and words started to blur together, but I barely realized why until the first drop of water hit the page.
“Are you okay?” Sam asked, coming around the corner, and I covered the wet spot with my hand, brushing away tears with the other one.
“I don’t get any of this,” I said grumpily. “It just reads like a bunch of nonsense.”
“Well, it is magic,” Sam said, sitting down in front of me. “But I didn’t follow any of that and it still worked for me.
“Well, what did you do?” I asked, rubbing my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt.
“Well…” She flipped back to the first page, pointing to the picture of the man. “Supposedly, you sit like this, and then you picture each of these as some sort of energy point within your body. And you focus on it until each one is “open”, whatever that means, while doing some chant. It’s some sort of meditation thing.
“When I sat down, I sort of remembered what this red and orange one was, and I tried to do what I should. But then I completely forgot the yellow one and all the rest. So rather than stop on them, I just tried to focus on what the colour meant to me. Seems like it still worked.”
“And that worked?” I said, staring at the coloured circles.
“You guys said it did,” Sam said with a shrug.
I nodded. “Something definitely happened.”
“You want to give it a try then?” Syra asked, standing up.
“One last question,” I said, getting up as well. “What’s that colour?”
I pointed to the 6th circle on the diagram in a dark blue.
Sam rolled her eyes. “Indigo.”
“That’s indigo?” I said, staring at the circle. “Why’s it in the rainbow?”
“Don’t you remember the seven colours of the rainbow? Roy G. Biv and all that?” Sam asked.
“Roy G. What?” I replied, dusting off my knees. “What are you even talking about? The rainbow has six colours.”
“Seven,” Sam corrected obnoxiously. “Blue, indigo, violet.”
“Six,” I said. “Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.”
“Argue with Sir Issac Newton,” Sam replied. “He says seven. I can’t believe you forgot grade 3 science.”
“My backpack has a rainbow on it, Sam. So does like, half my wardrobe,” I argued. “They all have six colours.”
“Well the book says seven,” Sam said, “So I suggest you use seven colours.”
“Ugh,” I said, walking into the clubhouse. “Quick poll guys. How many colours of the rainbow?”
“Seven,” Rou and Opi said in unison.
“Eight?” Syra said at the same time, questioning her own answer as she said it.
“Bah,” I plunked into the middle of the circle cross-legged. “Let’s start this.”
I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. Sam had said it was a meditation thing, which meant I should try to be calm. My mom took me to a yoga class once, the first part had been all about breathing. In and out, nice and slowly. It was far more relaxing here than it had been surrounded by a dozen older strangers who were all more attractive than me.
Sam had said I needed to focus on the colours of the rainbow and what they meant to me. I could picture the colour red in my head. Red like the dying coals of a campfire. It was always my favourite part guide camps, when everyone sat around the embers, after all the singing had ended, and just talked. Sam was always there too, her red hair glowing even brighter in the firelight. Red also reminded me of her. She had a fiery temper and was always quick to anger. But she was also quick to forgive and fiercely protective of her friends. She was like fire, both welcoming and dangerous at the same time.
I felt a sort of warm glow come over me, a comfortable sensation like everything was right in the world. I kept coming back to the same idea. Red reminded me of fire.
Orange was the next colour. I’d never really had strong feelings about the colour. I guess it felt sunny, if anything. Like orange juice, or the sunset. I bit my lip gently. If I couldn’t think of some emotion to match the colour, would the ritual fail? I could feel my heart rate rising. Was it more important to do the colours in order, or to stay calm why you did them?
I moved onto yellow. My first thought was bananas. What was with me and fruit? I could just imagine stopping the ritual, and everyone asking if it worked, only to admit I spent the time building a fruit salad. They’d probably laugh.
My friends’ laughing reminded me of yesterday, just after the fairy attack. The fairies had been, but we were still friends and we were there for each other. If I failed, they’d still be my friends. We would still go on fun adventures, like we had yesterday at the creek. I could still see Sam and Opi sitting at the water’s edge, chasing bugs past a glittering river. Maybe this was what yellow reminded me of. Friends. Just knowing they were sitting beside me made me feel more confident.
Friendship felt like a good answer. Next up was green. Green like the grass behind the clubhouse. Green like the camping trips I went on with my parents to national parks. I’d always felt really at home in a forest. There wasn’t even a question in my mind, green felt like nature, like things growing.
So then blue. Would it be a cop out if blue just reminded me of water? Water like the rivers and lakes we’d visited while camping, in particular. My parents had taken me to Killarney park last year with Sam. They’d invited Syra too but she hated sleeping outside. Some of the lakes in that park were incredibly blue. It was unnatural how blue they could be. I’d swum in the water and it felt like getting lost in a blue marble. Perhaps it was lame to think water for blue, but that was all I could think of now. I was content with that answer.
According to Sam, indigo was next. The colour had reminded me of the sky at dusk. Not the sunset, but the colours in the other direction, where the stars were coming up. I always liked star-gazing at night, though I only knew one or two constellations. It was hard to see the stars this close to the city though. The sky tended to end up a purply-blue. I still always tried to look for the stars, but all I could find was Orion the hunter. Indigo definitely felt like the night sky.
I guess the last colour was violet. The name just reminded me of the african violets my mother kept in the house. My leg was starting to go numb now. Had anything happened yet? I hadn’t even heard my friends in awhile. I was tempted to peek out and see what was happening in the circle around me. Was the ritual working? I didn’t feel any different. Maybe I’d been sitting here trying to unlock magic and all my friends were just watching nothing happen. Maybe I was just magically inept.
“Mary!” Sam’s voice broke me out of the trance abruptly. I opened my eyes to the panicked faces of my friends.
“What?” I said. She pointed behind me.
The entire back wall was scorched black.