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Life’s a Witch
I looked over at the digital clock on my nightstand and cursed when I saw what time it was. I didn’t have to be up for school for another hour at least, but I knew from experience that once I’d had this particular dream, there was no going back to sleep for me.
Great. So I guess I’ll be applying extra foundation to cover the bags under my eyes today. I bet no one else has to worry about their beauty sleep being interrupted by the memories of a woman killed during the Salem witch trials.
I sighed and threw back my covers dramatically before hopping out of bed and making my way over to the bathroom. After pulling open the shower curtain, I turned the knobs in the tub until steam filled the room. A quick glance in the mirror showed me what I’d feared: I looked like I’d gotten only four hours of sleep.
That was actually the truth. I’d stayed up extra late, catching up with people on Facebook and adding friends who’d requested me. By the time I’d forced myself to crawl into bed, I’d accepted over twenty-five new people. My count was now at 11,280.
Did I know everyone on my friends list? No. But there was a very good chance they all knew me. I guess I’m what you’d call “popular” at my school. Not to sound snobby, but people seemed to be drawn to me. It’s always been this way, and after a while, I stopped questioning it. Because who really wants to question popularity? Unless you’re on the sucky side of it, of course.
I pulled at the bags under my eyes until they disappeared into my face. When I let them go, the puffiness returned, making me look much older than my seventeen years.
“Gross,” I said under my breath, and made a face at my reflection. Knowing what I had to do to rectify the situation, I concentrated on the dark circles and said, “Delemin barrit.”
I blinked and they’d disappeared. Smiling, I admired my fresh-looking skin from various angles, and then stepped into the shower and relaxed under the stream. Placing my hands on the wall in front of me, I let my head fall forward so the water was pounding across my neck and shoulders. Whenever I dreamed about Bridget Bishop, I woke up with the worst pain in my upper body. The rational part of me knew it was probably because of the stress, but the magical part of me wondered if my neck hurt because I’d been connected to Bridget when she was hanged in my dream.
An hour later, I was all washed up and heading downstairs to eat and watch CNN. Not many people my age watch the news, but I feel it’s important to be knowledgeable on what’s going on in the world. I hate being unprepared when people bring up current events. Besides, I think it’s important to try to fight the stereotype that pretty girls can’t also be smart.
I’ve been told on several occasions that I’m both.
I pushed the power button on the remote, then took the box of Fruity Pebbles out of the pantry and poured myself a generous bowl. Plopping down in the chair right in front of the TV, I let my legs hang over the armrest and started munching away. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I never missed an opportunity to start my day off on the right foot.
I tried to pay attention to what the anchors were saying on the screen, but after a few minutes, my mind wandered back to my dream. It was one I’d had before. Hundreds of times, actually. But it didn’t matter how many times I dreamed it, I was always left feeling uneasy. Beyond the fact that it was totally messed up to watch this woman be hanged over and over again, I knew that what I was seeing had really happened.
And to top it off, she happened to be related to me.
Okay, so the woman was a few dozen “greats” back, but it was true. I’m a direct descendant of Bridget Bishop. You’d think that’d be a fun fact I could throw out at parties, but people got a bit wigged out when you told them that your great-great-grandmother times twenty was sentenced to death by hanging for being a witch during the Salem witch trials.
And if that wasn’t disturbing enough, the fact that I had to watch it happen over and over again . . . well, they don’t call them nightmares for nothing.
This time was different, though. I’d never heard the conversation between Bridget and her daughter before. The exchange had left me feeling even more emotionally drained than usual. Not just because of the words they’d shared but because it seemed as if my mom had inherited more than just her good looks from Great-Great-Grandma Bridget. Since I could remember, my mom could always communicate with me telepathically. The only difference between our situation and that of our ancestors’ was that I’d learned early on how to block my mom out when I didn’t want her in my head.
This new wrinkle gave me something to think about, and I made a mental note to talk to my mom about it later.
When my spoon hit the bottom of my empty bowl, I was brought back to reality. Tossing my dirty dish into the sink, I glanced at the clock on the stove. I had only about a half hour to finish getting ready for school, and even with the little magical touch-up I’d given myself earlier, I still had to figure out what I was going to wear, and do my hair and makeup.
With a glance back at the TV, which was still blaring across the room, I said, “Octo alermo.” As I walked away, the screen shut off behind me.
I’ve always loved the sound that high heels make as I walk. Click-clack. Click-clack. Heels make a statement. They convey power, sophistication, and sex with every step. Click-power. Click-sophistication. Click-sex. Sure, they’re a bit uncomfortable and not very realistic to walk around a high school campus in all day, but the message they send makes the pain totally worth it.
I held my head high and shoulders back and gazed straight ahead as I click-clacked my way across the parking lot, reveling in the fact that I could see the people I was passing but they couldn’t see me watching them from behind my superdark sunglasses. Another thing I learned early on was that having an air of mystery about yourself can only work to your advantage. And you should never let go of all your secrets.
I spotted my group of friends before any of them saw me, and studied them critically. Bethany, Sofia, and Trish sat huddled on the steps of the school speaking quietly to each other. Probably about the latest gossip or even possibly about me. You never knew with those three. Their collective look was polished from head to toe and so similar that you’d think they’d gotten dressed out of the same closet. Only I knew that the kind of flawless they exuded took over an hour and a half to perfect. And that would be a secret that I’d take to my grave.
Our male counterparts leaned up against the wall behind them, hands in their pockets, looking very runway chic. Dressed in clothes that your typical teen wouldn’t even know what to do with, the guys took fashion to a whole new level. Somehow they’d managed to perfect their I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-looked-this-perfect-aren’t-you-jealous looks at the ripe age of seventeen.
This was the cool crowd. And I was its queen.
Sofia saw me first and scurried to stand as I walked up. She passed me a jumbo-size latte, still warm to the touch. “They were out of sugar-free vanilla today, so I had to get caramel,” she said apologetically.
I took a sip and smiled as the liquid warmed me from the inside out. “Good choice,” I said genuinely. Though I appreciated her effort, nothing could taste the same as vanilla. Not even something as yummy as caramel. Whispering a spell under my breath, I swirled the cup and took another sip.
Ahh, vanilla. Just the way I like it.
“Thanks, Sof. You have no idea how much I needed this this morning,” I said, grinning at her. “But you know you don’t have to bring me coffee every morning. I can always grab something from the caf.”
“I know, but the coffee cart doesn’t even make lattes, and I think what they do make might actually be toxic. For real,” she said conspiratorially. Then she smiled and took a sip of her own drink.
“Okay, but only if it’s not too much of a hassle,” I said.
“I’m already getting mine anyway, so it’s no biggie,” she said sweetly. This might have been true, but I was pretty sure that even if Sofia hated coffee, she’d still pick some up for me. She was sweet like that. Whereas Bethany or Trish never did anything unless they got something in return, Sofia really was that nice. This was partly why I’d insisted on pulling her into our little circle. We needed someone pure and good to balance out the rest of us.
“So, what are we talking about this morning?” I asked. As I began to strut across the quad, everyone fell into step behind me.
“Sarah Forrester,” Bethany said animatedly. “You know how she was at Peter Frick’s party this weekend? You won’t believe what she did after you left. I still can’t believe you left early, B-T-dubs. It was the party of the year!”
“I’m sure it was,” I said with a smile. The thing was, every party was the party of the year to Bethany. She was sort of a party whore, if you know what I mean. She thought she’d just die if she missed one. But that’s why she was our little gossip queen. And she prided herself on this fact. Her dream was to one day be a host on one of those Hollywood gossip shows. “You know my rule about parties. You make your appearance and then leave people wanting more. Besides, nothing good happens after midnight. Case in point: Sarah. What happened, anyway?”
Bethany hushed her tone to invoke a little drama in her retelling. The girl loved a captive audience. And as much as I tried to stay away from the scandalous side of Astor High, I had to admit that I was drawn to her little updates. And as president of the senior class, I had to be aware of what was going on at my school—er, AHS. That’s just good leadership.
“So, you know how Sarah and Josh broke up last week?” I nodded. “Well, when Sarah showed up at Peter’s party, she didn’t realize that Josh had already moved on—until she walked in on him and Kara full-on making out in the corner of the living room.”
“Uh-oh,” I said, already feeling bad for Sarah. She and Josh had been together for over a year, and they hadn’t even been broken up five minutes before he jumped on another girl? Nobody deserved that. Especially from someone who’d supposedly loved them.
Ugh. That’s the reason I don’t date high school boys. Well, that and the fact that none of them could handle me.
“Uh-oh’s right. As soon as Sarah saw them, she walked over and poured her beer on them both, causing a major scene. It was like one of those bad shows where the wrestlers all talk smack and stuff, just minus the chair throwing,” she said. “Anyway, so after she stopped yelling at him, she disappeared into the kitchen and proceeded to get totally sloshed.”
“Poor Sarah,” I said, shaking my head sadly. “What does she weigh? Like a buck? A buck five soaking wet? And I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink, let alone drunk.”
“Well, none of us have seen her quite like she was on Friday,” Trisha chimed in sarcastically.
“Hey, this is my story, thank you very much,” Bethany snapped at Trish. The two of them were constantly bickering and I found myself having to be their mediator on a regular basis. Most of the time, it was because Trisha was pushing Bethany’s buttons by encroaching on her territory. But that was Trish. She liked to stir things up. This was good when she was on your side, not so great when she wasn’t.
Bethany smoothed down her blond hair and regained her composure before she continued, but not before I caught Trish rolling her eyes. “So then a drunkity-drunk-drunk Sarah decided she was going to get back at Josh by doing a little striptease dance on a table in the living room, and then she made out with some guy on the baseball team. Lucky for her, Josh left before she threw up in the potted plant.”
“It was pretty hilarious.” Trish snorted.
A broken heart and humiliation? I couldn’t see anything funny about that.
“Cut her a little slack,” I said, tapping my perfectly manicured fingernail on the top of my coffee cup. “We’ve all done stupid things under the influence of love and alcohol. Or do I need to remind you of that time a few summers ago at the pier, Trish?”
Trish’s smile faded into a frown and she instantly looked at the ground. I knew that would shut her up pretty fast. The last thing she’d want was the rest of our crew finding out about her own most embarrassing moment ever. However, we both knew it was an empty threat. I’d never divulge something so humiliating and hurtful about someone.
What she didn’t know was that this particular incident had saved our friendship.
Because of her attitude, people at school were quick to think Trisha was an ice queen. And admittedly, I’d thought the same thing at first. I wasn’t sure anything could penetrate her bitchy exterior and was wary to have someone like that around me.
But then I found that she could have her heart broken just like the rest of us. And she had. Holding her that day as she bawled her eyes out had reminded me that she actually cared very deeply about people—even if she didn’t always show it. Trish looked at her emotions as a weakness when in reality they were an asset. Our feelings remind us that we’re alive. That we’re human. It’s what connects us all.
The silence began to grow uncomfortable, but before I could say anything else, Sofia came to the rescue. “Um, Hadley? Don’t tell me that’s another new outfit. It’s totally gorge!” Sofia stopped me in the middle of the hallway to admire the clothes I’d meticulously picked out that morning.
She was always so good at deflection. It was another thing I loved about her. She was like me in that way. In fact, she was a lot like me. Maybe that’s why I connected with her so much. She was the only sophomore among us, and if I had to leave the school in someone’s hands after I graduated, I’d want it to be someone like me. Fair, commanding, but friendly. Sofia was all of those, which made her a perfect number two.
“What, this?” I asked nonchalantly as I looked down at my outfit and then placed my hands on my hips as if I were posing on the red carpet. The dress I had on was black with slashes of white, as if someone had cut straight through the material and exposed the lining. The top of the dress fell flat across my chest, showing just enough cleavage to leave something to the imagination. My heels matched my bloodred leather jacket, giving my outfit the perfect mix of naughty and nice. To top it off, my lips were stained a beautiful shade of berry, which complimented my ivory skin and dark chocolate-colored locks.
“I may have gone shopping this weekend,” I said coyly. In reality, I’d simply done a glamour spell that allowed me to make certain outfits take on the look of others. This one was straight off the runway in Milan. Why wear last week’s clothes when you could wear them before they were available to the masses?
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear the same outfit twice,” Bethany said, narrowing her eyes at me suspiciously. “And I pride myself in memorizing things like that. I can remember just about every outfit a person wears on any given day.”
“Oh, yeah? What was I wearing last Tuesday?” Trish challenged.
“Black halter, Seven jeans, ballet flats, and a bomber jacket,” Bethany answered without missing a beat.
Trish’s eyes grew wide. “That’s either incredibly impressive or incredibly creepy.”
“It’s a gift,” Bethany said, looking satisfied.
“Yeah? Then why are you getting a C in American history?” Trish asked.
Bethany shrugged. “It’s not interesting to me. Now, if we learned about the designers that people wore when we invaded other countries or which leaders had extramarital affairs while in government, then I’d own that class. But the stuff they teach us is totally boring. What Hadley wears on a daily basis is way more my speed.”
“Well, I wear the same stuff all the time,” I said, turning on my heel and walking away. The truth was, Bethany was right about my revolving wardrobe, but there was no way I could let her know that. Barring having rich parents, no one my age could afford as many style changes as I’d made in the last year, and telling the truth was out of the question. What was I supposed to say? I have a new outfit every day because I’ve put a charm on my wardrobe. Ask me how?
“I seriously can’t remember the last time you sported a rerun,” Bethany insisted as she struggled to keep up with my click-clacking footsteps.
“Of course I wear clothes more than once.” I could feel the power coursing through my words as I said them. It wasn’t like I was brainwashing them or anything. I simply had a way of convincing people of things I wanted them to believe. This was my gift, as Bethany had put it just a minute ago. It’s probably why no one ever wanted to go up against me in debate class. “Hello? I wear this jacket nearly every single day.”
“Well, yeah, I guess so . . . ,” Bethany said reluctantly, but giving up the fight.
“New or old, the girl looks hot,” Trish said. There was the tiniest hint of jealousy in her voice, making me wonder if it was a compliment or just an observation. She took out a compact and checked her own reflection as she walked. The exact opposite of me in the looks department, Trish knew that she always came in second on the “Hottest Girls at Astor High” list. She acted like it didn’t bother her, but every year her hair got a little blonder, her skirts got a little shorter, and her cup size got a little larger.
I personally couldn’t care less what anyone thought of me here at Astor, as long as I was still the most influential girl around. In the end, looks didn’t matter all that much to me. Although of course, they didn’t hurt. All in all, I was fully comfortable with the skin I was in.
“Okay, new subject. Are we on schedule for the class meeting after school?” I asked, maneuvering myself around a group of guys who were either reenacting a scene from an action movie or break-dancing in the hallway. “We’re supposed to come up with a theme for homecoming and decide what charity the proceeds will benefit this year. And, Sofia, can we make sure that everyone’s there on time today? I have an appointment at five that I can’t be late for.”
“A date kind of appointment?” Bethany teased.
I rolled my eyes at her. “You know I don’t date high school boys, B. And besides, when am I supposed to have time for a relationship when I’m busy running this school, cheering on our athletes, and keeping my 4.0 GPA intact so I can graduate at the top of our class and get into the Ivies?”
“Yeah, but part of having it all is having it all. And that includes a man,” Bethany said.
“Or men,” Trish chimed in with a devilish smile. “You know you could have any guy here. Probably a few of the girls, too.”
She may have been right, but romance was the last thing on my mind. I’d watched too many girls get derailed by a cute guy with a cool car. It would take more than that to catch my eye. I needed a challenge, someone who could make it worth my while and wasn’t intimidated by strong women. And as far as I’d seen, the guys at our school just didn’t fit the bill.
“Ah, but I have you guys and that’s all the fun I need,” I said jokingly, bumping my hip into Sofia’s. She returned the bump and giggled at me.
The bell rang and I looked around as people began to scurry to their first classes. Bethany and Trish gave us a wave and headed back in the direction we’d just come from, promising to see us at lunch. I turned and looked at Sofia before continuing toward our respective classrooms.
“I’ll make sure that the word gets out about the meeting today,” Sofia said, hugging her books tightly to her chest. “Is your appointment after school anything I can help you with? Need a shopping partner or a copilot?”
I smiled at my mini-me. “Nah, I’ve just got to go and see some old friends of the family, that’s all,” I said. “But I promise, next time I need a wingwoman, you’ve got shotgun.”
She beamed and hopped a little before disappearing into the computer lab. I wouldn’t have minded having Sofia along for the drive, especially since it was going to take nearly an hour for me to get to the meeting spot. But then she wouldn’t be able to come inside once we got there, and I didn’t think it’d be fair to make her sit outside until the meeting was over just so I could have some company along the way.
Nope. I’d be making this trip alone once again.
Posted January 2, 2014