But I suspect that I went in a totally different direction that what Clint was thinking of when he said “There were lots of kids in school who looked like witches — that was how you could tell that they weren’t.”
The Real Witches
There were lots of kids in school who looked like witches — that was how you could tell that they weren’t. Oh they had the clothes, the make-up, the hair, even the odd pentagram, but they weren’t witches. The real witches wore designer clothes, name brand make-up, and had perfect hair.
Junior year was starting out very much like the last three years: Shelia, Elaine, and their gang were making the lives of the lesser beings miserable. Adding a new twist, this year Shelia had managed to acquire a boyfriend, sports star naturally, so now even the boys were fair game.
The very first day, Mark, the new boyfriend, had forced a Freshman out of his seat on the bus and made the kid sit in the floor the whole way in. There wasn’t much the driver could do, the bus was over crowded. Lucy tripped a Sophomore and laughed when the girl dropped her books.
And so it went. Somehow Shelia knew a person’s weakness, their Achilles heel, and would use it against them. Kids would do anything to stay off her radar. At least the ones that knew her and her gang.
A new girl from out west didn’t know, and managed to catch their attention. Sandy gave off the wrong social cues, missed the obvious jokes, was too slow responding at times, but she seemed to be nice enough. Get her on a subject she knew and that kid could talk your ear off. Sandy also liked to sing. One day Elaine heard her practicing a song from chorus on the bus. The next week Shelia had several others get Sandy to the back of the bus and convince her that they liked her voice. They got her to sing until her stop. She didn’t hear or see the laughing. After a few days I found a way to get her to sit with me on the way in. I saw the disappointment in her eyes when I told her what they were doing. Poor kid wanted a friend so bad she’d been willing to let them humiliate her.
There was no singing on the way home, Sandy moved to a seat right behind the driver and stayed there. They turned their attention to another victim.
Kris usually sat by herself, reading a book while everyone else laughed and talked. Lucy started sitting behind her. Somehow she always managed to hit Kris with her arm or a school book. Most of the time all she got for her efforts was a look, maybe the occasional yelp of pain. Then Becky decided to put on perfume that morning and some just happened to spill on Kris’ jacket. That earned her a disgusted look and a very soft remark. They just laughed at her. A week later we had a really cold snap and everyone broke out their coats. I didn’t see what happened; I only saw the results the next day. Kris had a spot of hair that had been trimmed in the back. Word got around that Kris’ mother had showed up and that Lucy had been called to the Principal’s office. That didn’t stop the harassment. The next week Elaine sat behind Kris to pick up where Lucy had left off. But apparently Kris had had enough, and was paying attention so when Elaine started to pull out her blush Kris spun in her seat and grabbed her hand before the make-up could end up on her jacket. The others laughed when the tube squirted and globs of blush covered the seat, but I saw the anger in Kris’ eyes. I started sitting behind Kris or with her. After a few days they moved on.
Alan had missed the first month of school. All we knew was that he’d been sick, or something. When he came back he was quiet and withdrawn. Hardly the warm friendly boy we’d known last year. The witches started in on him almost immediately. Shoving, tripping, knocking his books, anything to try and provoke him. He just lowered his head and stayed silent. After one especially rough morning Shelia turned around and asked him if he was going to try killing himself again, that maybe this time he’d get it right.
Alan’s parents took him out of school.
And so it continued. They left me alone only because I never gave them the reaction they wanted. I’d been a target two years ago and had ignored them. Their best efforts had only drawn the attention of the teachers.
Jeanette got on the bus and looked for seat. I was sitting behind Kris and Sandy, who had fortunately become friends. The seat next to me was open so Jeanette started my way. From the back of the bus Shelia called out.
“Did you guys bring your umbrellas? Jeanette is predicting a flood.” Poor kid turned bright red and quickly sat down next to me. She’d hit a growth spurt at the first of the year and hadn’t gotten new clothes yet so her pants were short.
“I wish someone would do something about them.”
“The time is coming.”
She gave me a small smile. “I’d almost pay to see that.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” I warned her. “Karma can be very cruel.”
As we were getting off Shelia brushed up next to Jeanette. “Maybe if your mom had gotten that promotion she could get you nice clothes.”
“Leave it alone, Shelia. You really don’t have to air everyone’s troubles.”
“Oh look, little Dot is trying to stand up.”
I looked Shelia in the eye. “Don’t call me Dot. And you need to look up the Three Fold law.”
“I am so scared. You honestly think you can do anything Dot Dot.”
“Quit holding up the line,” a voice called from the back.
Shelia walked away, laughing. I shook my head. “Fool.”
Over the next few weeks the three girls started to gravitate towards me. Not that I offered any real protection, but the witches rarely picked on anyone if they were in a group.
Others were still being harassed though.
Jean-Michel was one that always had his nose in a textbook. He also was top of our class. So when Mark started hanging around with him many of us were suspicious. Turns out they were in the same chemistry class. Mark was getting Jean-Michel to help him so he could stay eligible to play. He was also passing the answers to the witches so they could improve their scores. They even went so far as to sit near Jean-Michel in class so they could cheat off his paper.
He figured it out, perhaps he’d known all along, but had simply chosen to ignore it. As long as he was with Mark, none of the other jocks would bother him. They had a strange kind of symbiotic relationship.
Homecoming was coming up, and it seems to ramp up everything.
Elaine told a freshman that they always had freshman girls in the Homecoming Court, and that she was being considered. For Marion it must have sounded like a dream come true; a chance to shine, to be seen by the whole school.
I tried to warn her, unless you heard it from a teacher or staff, it might not be true. She didn’t want to listen, Elaine was part of the Homecoming committee, she would know.
I was walking past the room where the dance committee was holding their last meeting and overheard them. Shelia was laughing.
“But I already got my dress.” Marion sounded like she had been crying.
“Did you really think that we’d let a flat-chested nothing, who hasn’t even had her first period, be part of the court?”
Marion ran out of the room, almost knocking me over. I looked in at Shelia. They just laughed and enjoyed yet another victory.
The day before the Homecoming game I saw Kris sit next to her classmate Bill, a quiet boy who also seemed to like books and gaming. To most people, that seemed like a good pairing.
Shelia isn’t most people. She walked past with her crew and laughed, “I wouldn’t waste my time dear. He’s more likely to be interested in your brother than you.”
He stammered a denial, but the horrified look on Bill’s face told everyone that not only was Shelia right, but that he had not come out yet.
I heard that Bill took Kris to the game and dance, maybe to try and prove Shelia wrong, or maybe as a good friend. I thought it was good for him to stand up to them. It should have been his choice when to come out.
The next week was Halloween. The school held a Spirit Week that culminated with a Halloween costume day where student and staff were encouraged to dress as anything they wanted, as long as the costumes did not require weapons and did not violate dress policy.
Several students came dressed as witches complete with black garb, pointed hats and warts. Shelia and her crew came as members of a Beauty Pageant. We had a couple of zombies and at least one werewolf doing their best to scare classmates.
At lunch I caught a glimpse of a senior girl wearing what looked like a very real kimono with her face painted in the fashion of a Maiko. It looked like she had put a lot of research and money into her costume. Shelia and Elaine walked past her and somehow Shelia spilled her tray of spaghetti down the front of the silk garment. They stood there laughing at the girl’s anguished cries.
“Knock it off, Shelia. You just ruined that.” I got up from my table and grabbed a handful of paper napkins.
“That silly thing, it’s obviously a cheap costume.”
“It was a gift from my father, imported from Kyoto.”
Something stirred in the air behind Shelia. “Shame you can’t ask Daddy to just send a new one. But Daddy lost all his money didn’t he.”
“Shelia, I think you need to stop, now. You don’t need to ruin everyone’s life just to make yours better.”
“And little Dot once again tries to get in the way. You think I haven’t noticed you getting in the way all year?” She started to walk around, circling me. “You disappeared this summer, I wonder where you were.”
“You seem to know everyone’s secrets, why don’t you tell me.”
She came around and stood in front of me, trying to look regal and in charge. “No, I think I’ll keep that one to myself.”
“Then let me tell you myself. I spend the summer with my Aunt Linda. I was learning things. Things you should have learned.”
“And what would that be, little worm.”
I took a breath and relaxed and passed my hand in a slow arch between us while I spoke. “Let Light arise and banish all shadows. Let that which is hidden be seen.”
“Is that supposed to mean something?” Shelia started to laugh, but she didn’t notice that no one else was laughing. They saw the towering beast that emerged into view behind her.
“You did what you always do Shelia, you took the easy way. You learned one trick.” The other students ran in terror from the demon. “You never bothered to learn more than how to summon him. You cheated, made someone else do your work.”
Shelia looked around and realized that the rest of the students and staff were gone. Her friends had abandoned her. The beautiful face with the fake smile twisted and became a mask of rage. “You bitch.”
“Close,” I told her. “Since you never bothered to study, you never learned the Three Fold law. I tried to warn you, but you would not listen. Whatever you do, is returned to you three-fold. Everyone has seen the source of your power, they will never listen to you, fear you, again.”
“I’ll get you for this.”
“No, you won’t.” I looked up at the demon that had made no move since being unveiled. “The unseen bound one, now seen is bound no more.” The demon started to stir. “That which was taken by power wrongly now is restored.”
The link binding him gone, the demon vanished. All the power that Shelia had gained from the pain and fear of her classmates faded with him. Her cheeks sunk in and turned sickly yellow while her hair thinned until she was almost bald. She slowly fell to her knees.
I looked at the pathetic creature before me and shook my head at the waste. With nothing more to say or do, I turned to leave.
“Dot, wait, please, …” she held out a hand towards me.
I looked back briefly. “I told you not to call me that. My name is Dorothy.” I walked away, leaving her sobbing on the floor behind me.