This story is one of the August Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
Odette isn’t the kind of girl that believes in bewitchery, but she had been a few years ago. Back then, she would’ve interpreted any extraordinary event in her life as a result of some kind of inexplicable magic, just as her mom did. But now, it was trickier to predict how she’d react to it. Would she resort to cynicism, as was her shtick nowadays, or did something inside her still believe in some type of magic, any type of magic at all, really? On a summer night in June, she was about to find out.
That night, Odette was biking to the woods. She didn’t really feel excited for the camping trip her friends had planned there. After serving drinks for hours at the café, her feet ached and she longed to go to sleep. Needless to say that she wasn’t really in the mood for chatting and drinking. When she’d arrived, Ava waved her over. She parked her bike near a tree, took a deep breath, and reminded herself that she wouldn’t let Ava persuade her to stay this time. However, the frown Ava sported on her face when she saw her approach said otherwise.
“That’s not the excited face I was hoping to see.” Ava came straight to the point.
“Yeah, sorry, but the hot weather and all that running around to serve customers really tired me out. I think I’m going home.”
Ava’s frown intensified. “You can take a quick nap if you want to…” then she blurted out something as if she hadn’t thought it over again and again: “but I think it would be good for you if you stayed. ”
Odette knew Ava said this because of the Thing They Didn’t Talk About. She also knew Ava was trying to lighten the mood by adding, “Besides, this is the only chance you get to camp here at the Bewitching Hour on the 13th with us.”
“Oh, come on, Ava, we’ve been over this. If you really believe something special will happen at twelve o’ clock tonight, then you’re more of a lost cause than I thought.” Odette chuckled and bounced her shoulder against Ava’s to show that she was joking. But Ava retaliated straight away.
“And if you believe that you’ll be able to bail on this beautifully orchestrated camping trip of mine, then you’re dead wrong! Also, if nothing special is going to happen at twelve o’clock, then you can finally bust out that ‘I told you so’ you’ve been saving up ever since we started planning this trip.”
Odette grinned at the prospect. “That does sound appealing.”
“Then sit your ass down. The others are trying to fabricate something edible with a camping stove by the pond, but they’ll be back in a minute.”
So Odette stayed.
Most of Odette’s friends were tipsy. She wasn’t. Although, she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t drunk anything tonight.
“You want to see it, don’t you,” said Ava from beside her.
Maybe she did want to see it. Maybe she wasn’t here to say ‘I told you so’ after all. She didn’t respond.
It was about to happen. The excited murmurs around her died down and everybody cuddled into their sleeping bags so they’d be comfortable once it started. She didn’t want to get comfortable. All her attention was focused on the black sky.
And then it happened. The brightest and warmest flash of light Odette had ever seen shot along the darkness. She was so mesmerized by it that she didn’t even notice the tears that started blurring her vision until it was gone.
That star. It had bewitched her. It had changed everything.
Now she felt it. Ava was right. Her mom had been right. There did remain a bit of magic in Odette’s life, even after her mom had been torn out of it. And some things, some alignment of events and hours and days, would just remain delightfully inexplicable for the rest of her life. That knowledge awakened something wicked, something brave inside of her that made her turn to Ava and ask:
“Did you know that my mom believed in magic?”