- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
My name is Kestrel.
Never call me Susan.
Who ever heard of a witch named Susan?
A year ago, I was on the white-magic side. Lately, I've been leaning toward the black. I blame the universe. What's the point in being a nice little white witch in the universe I've got? If I could choose my own ...
My name is Kestrel.
Never call me Susan.
Who ever heard of a witch named Susan?
A year ago, I was on the white-magic side. Lately, I've been leaning toward the black. I blame the universe. What's the point in being a nice little white witch in the universe I've got? If I could choose my own universe, I'd be a white witch in it. But black makes a lot more sense in this universe.
Not that I'm complaining. A witch never complains. But if I did, I'd have a lot to complain about. For instance: Richard Milhous Nixon High.
What's a teen witch to do when she's stuck in the most unmagical high school in the universe? Create her own "majix." Take notes. And above all, avoid nasty classmates, heartless grown-ups and boys who may prove a little too distracting for a serious teen witch to handle….
My name is Kestrel. Kestrel Murphy. Never call me Susan. Whoever heard of a witch named Susan?
Which is what I am. Witch is what I am. I do magick, which is what a witch does. A year ago I was on the white side. Lately I've been leaning toward the black.
I blame the universe. What's the point in being a nice little white witch in the kind of universe I've got? Jennifer used to say "You choose your own universe." Which is bogus. Because I would never have chosen a universe like this one. If I could choose my own universe, I would choose to be a white witch in it. But this is someone else's universe, and it sucks.
Black makes a lot of sense in a universe like this.
Not that I'm complaining. A WITCH NEVER COMPLAINS. But if I did, I'd have a lot to complain about.
For instance: Jurupa.
For instance: Why I am stuck in Jurupa.
For instance: Jennifer.
For instance: The Rentz.
For instance: Richard Milhous Nixon Union High School.
They are not in order. There is no order. Not in this universe.
Jurupa is where I am living. If you call it living. The J is an H. The Us are OOs. Hooroopah. It's an ancient Indian word meaning barf. I mean, that's what it sounds like. Ancient Indian barf.
Jurupa is in Southern California, where it is too hot to live if you are not a cactus, and you have to chew the air to get the oxygen out of it. It is maybe an hour and a half from Hollywood and maybe an hour from Palm Springs, and it is on the other side of the moon from both. If you can't make it in a place like Hollywood or Palm Springs or Silicon Valley, and you want to stay in California, Jurupa is the kind of place you end up. It's the smog and the heat. They attract dumb people. You know—regular folks. Normals. The kind of people who are products of seventeen generations of inbreeding, which shows up every time they try to think, or talk, or cross the street without help.
I did not ask to come here. I am from Northern California, where the people are smart and the weather changes. But the no-good, rotten, clueless, totally bogus universe has dumped me here and abandoned me. I will find a way to get even with it.
Which will require studying gramarye. Which is the other name for witchcraft. And which looks a lot like grammar. Which is not an accident.
Jennifer told me, before the universe took her away and sent her to Kansas City, that back in the Middle Ages people thought reading was a magick thing, like witchcraft. So when it was time to burn the witches, they burned the people who could read along with them, probably to save wood. People were really stupid, then. Like they are in Jurupa, now.
I am in real danger. Either I will be burned alive or bored to death.
I Must Get Out of Here.
But sending me to Jurupa was not the worst thing the universe has done to me. It is second worst. The worst was why it sent me. Because of BD.
BD is Big Daddy. The male half of The Rentz. My spawner. The male co-babymaker of me with Mommy Angel, the rest of The Rentz. BD is this major computer jock. He's got his own company and he's a sort of growth attached to it. He likes to sit in a dark room with five or six computer screens going at once, and smoke and eat ice cream. If they came up with ice cream he could smoke, he'd have it made.
He did have it made. Until he had his heart attack. Which was a big one. And now he can't have any more ice cream or tobacco or stress. Stress means his company, which he sold for major bucks. And me, who he couldn't sell. So here I am, whooping it up in Jurupa. Mommy Angel says it's just until BD's heart is stronger (meaning: "Until he can stand having you around again"). But I think it's permanent. He can't handle me developing my powers. Or smoking. BD and I do not compute. Neither do I and Mommy Angel.
Plus, the way they sent me here was like getting rid of a dog you don't want. And Jurupa is the pound.
I was sitting around in my room minding my own business worrying about BD and wondering how much longer until he came home from the hospital, which we knew by then would be soon.
Mommy Angel knocks on the door and says, "Susan, may I talk to you?"
This is weird because she has never asked before in my whole life if she can talk to me. If she wants to, she does. If she doesn't, she doesn't. If I want to talk to her and she wants to talk to me, she does. If she doesn't, she gets a catalog and starts looking at stuff.
So I open the door because I am curious. And also because I am scared.
And I was right to be scared. Because what Mommy Angel says in her niciest way is as scary as a demon that's gotten loose from its pentagram and hasn't had lunch yet.
"Susan, dear, your father and I have been talking. Actually, I've also been talking with his doctor. And with your aunt."
I know I have an aunt, but I have never met her. She is BD's sister.
"You know, we're having kind of an emergency around here," Mommy Angel says, and she sighs.
"Yeah," I say. "I know."
"Well, your father's doctor says that your daddy is going to need a long quiet time to get really, really well. And he knows how your daddy had his heart attack. And we've told him about some of the other things you've—well, some of the other things that have happened around here recently. And he thinks it might be a good idea if you went someplace else for a while while your daddy gets all better." And she puts her hand on top of mine.
"Well, there just aren't that many places to send a good little girl who isn't in trouble or doing drugs or anything," she says. "And I thought of Ted's sister. Why don't I ask her if she can take you in for a little while? And do you know what she said? She said, 'Of course. Send her as soon as you like.'"
I'm leaving. I'm leaving because my daddy doesn't want me. That's what she's telling me. That's what she's saying.
"But Daddy hates his sister," I say. "You can't send me there."
"He doesn't hate her," Mommy Angel smiles. "They just don't get along."
"I don't want to go anyplace," I say. "I live here. This is my home."
"Of course it is, honey," Mommy Angel says. "And I don't want you to go. Daddy doesn't want you to go. But this is an emergency. And we all have to do something extra because of it. Now, you don't have to stay down there forever. It'll just be for a few months at the most. Probably just a semester. Or maybe two. But you're still our baby and of course we'll take you back the very day we can."
"Why not send Daddy away? Some place nice and quiet?"
"He'll do better at home," Mommy Angel says. "And he'll do better with me to take care of him."
"I'll help you," I say. "I can do healing spells and change bandages and stuff."
"Your daddy doesn't need bandages," Mommy Angel says with a bogus laugh. "He needs quiet and rest."
I can be quiet. I even offer to stay off the roof. But no deal. The fix is in. I'm out of there. And now I am here. In Jurupa. With Aunt Ariel, the Witch Sneak.
Aunt Ariel is BD's big sister. I mean, big. She is not one of the thin people. She is also a witch, the wussie white kind. The kind who says, "Blesséd be," about everything. Lame.
Not that she doesn't have something. I mean, I had to get my psychic powers from somewhere. Probably we have some ancient crones flying around our family tree and we get our powers from them. And even wimpola white magick can work. But you shouldn't use it in a bogus, sneaky way on your own family. Which she did.
I mean, I'd been smoking for a year. Ever since Jennifer went to Kansas City. BD told me to stop, even though I only smoked his brand. Mommy Angel told me to stop. Like I cared. They were my cigarettes, and my lungs.
Aunt Ariel got me to stop the first day I was here. And she did it in a totally rotten white magick way.
When she caught me with my pack of cancer sticks, she didn't lecture me or tell me all the stuff that I already know, like it kills you. She just had one of her coven come over. Danae, who's about the size of a double-sided refrigerator and lifts weights.
She had Danae stand in the middle of the patio. Then she had me try to lift Danae's arm from her side while Danae tried not to let me do it. No way could I move that arm. Then Danae took my arm and tried to do the same thing. I'm not built like Danae, but I'm strong. Thin and tough, like wire. And I cast a spell for strength. No way could Danae move my arm, though I had to work hard to hold it tight.
Then Ariel said, "All right, Kestrel dear, light up."
So I did.
I took three puffs, and my aunt raised my arm over my head like it didn't weigh anything. My strength wasn't there. Then she held hands with me while she held hands with Danae. We all stood here like beads on a string. Aunt Ariel told me to take three more puffs. Then she told me to go over to Danae and try to move her arm. I did the same thing, lifted it like Danae had never bench-pressed three hundred pounds in her life. Where did her strength go?
I looked at the weed in my hand.
My aunt said, "Now, Kestrel, just imagine what that's doing to your aura."
I ground the thing out and went into the house. Haven't touched one since.
It's been a week. My naughty little body keeps saying, "Hey, Kestrel, isn't it time to light up?"
And my good witch brain keeps saying, "Shut up, stupid."
Because I need to keep my aura in shape. Because I will need all my powers to get through this bogus, no-win rotten life I'm in.
So today, right now, in my room in Jurupa with the door closed and a chair pushed against it, I am starting this grimoire. I will fill it with magick and develop my powers until they are strong enough to make the universe do what I want it to do, which is: Make BD well enough so I can go home. Get me out of here. Get Jennifer back to California.
Because if there is one thing I know about the universe, it's that it is not blesséd. The universe is a bad place and you have to learn how to control it. That's what real magick is all about.
This chapter is advice about becoming a witch. But it is also more about me. Because in case you are reading this a hundred years from now, it will mean that I became a very powerful and mighty witch and you will want to know all about how I did it.
So this chapter will give you advice on how to get started. Also, it will prove that I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I AM ONLY EXPLAINING WHY I WENT TO THE BLACK.
For instance: High school.
Especially: This high school. Richard Milhous Nixon Union High. Which is where Aunt Ariel makes me go. Which sucks.
The first day of ninth grade, I showed up in solid black. Black T-shirt, black jeans, black shoes, black glasses. I had my seventeen earrings on, and three new green streaks in my hair. I mean, I looked like me.
But every other kid was wearing a white polo shirt and tan slacks. It's the uniform. An antigang thing. No problem. I do not join gangs. But I looked like a crow in a flock of pigeons.
It took about two minutes for some teacher to haul me into the principal's office. His name's Dr. Gorringe. Which should be pronounced Garbage, and is, when he can't hear it.
HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED
Garbage Gorringe has a little gray hair, cut short and combed up stiff in front. His head is bald and grows up behind this hair fence like some perverted basketball. He's playing with a pencil, tapping it on the desk.
GG: You are out of uniform.
ME: This is my uniform.
GG: You are a student here and you will dress like everyone else.
ME: I am a witch, and I will dress like what I am.
GG: If you have financial hardship, uniforms will be provided for you out of school funds.
ME: Nobody has enough financial hardship to dress like that.
GG: This school has a zero-tolerance policy.
ME: You're a zero, and it tolerates you.
GG: If you are not willing to conform, you will be suspended.
So I was sent home on the first day. Hey, I was practically sent home the first minute. I felt so good. I'd figured how to get out of ninth grade without even faking sick. Which I could have done. I have a spell that could have had me Juruping long enough to convince Garbage I was dying. I just invoke Moloch, the demon of gluttony. Then, when no one's looking, I stick my finger down my throat. Works every time.
I figured I'd spend the rest of my time in Jurupa staying home and developing my powers. But Aunt Ariel said no.
Anyway she calls all twelve of the women in her coven, and they all go down to Gorringe's office after school that day. They are all dressed like me, in black, black, and black. Even though they are old cows in their thirties and forties.
Aunt Ariel drags me along. She tells Gorringe that it's my religious right to dress like that and if he doesn't lift the suspension, not only will her church, the Temple of Ishtar, sue the school district, she will sue him personally.
And one of the other witches leans forward and puts her card on Gorringe's desk.
ANNE ROTHENBERG, JD
2367 Ramona Avenue
Jurupa, CA 92506
Which is why I'm back at Richard Milhous Nixon Union High School the next day, along with 1,622 other kids, each one of whom is another reason to hate it here. But I am wearing black, which is something.
And Gorringe hates me, which is also something. I see him look at me in the hall and then look past me, like the wall is really interesting.