“Have you all lost your minds?” This was not happening. I was not standing my grandmother’s living room watching a purple fire burning.
“There’s no time to explain,” Grandma said. “Just take a spot around the pentagram. We have to work quickly before the other freaks and geeks your aunts have been associating with show up.”
“How do you know about Decabra?” Mart and Myrt asked in unison.
“Because I’m your mother!” Grandma released a disgusted gasp. “How many times in your life will I have to tell you there isn’t a gosh-darned thing you two can do in this house without me finding out?” Grandma walked over to Mart and extended out her hand, waiting for Mart to place something in it.
Mart stared at Grandma’s hand with a bewildered look on her face.
“Ahem,” Grandma said, snapping her fingers.
‘What?” Mart asked.
“Don’t what me!” Grandma said. “Hand it over!”
Mart reached into her pocket, removing the box.
Grandma yanked the box out of her hand and took a spot by the pentagram.
“Mom,” Myrt began, “This isn’t going to work. There are only four of us. We need five for Decabra.”
The screeching sound of a car in the driveway redirected our attention to the front of the house. A car door slammed shut and footsteps pounded up to the door. The door bell rang.
“It’s them!” Mart screamed. “Louisa! I beg you! Run!”
“Knock it off, Martha.” Grandma walked toward the door. “You’re going to give the poor girl a heart attack. It’s just Stuart.”
“Stuart?” I asked. Oh God, I thought. Please don’t tell me Grandma called that Stuart.
I peered around the corner and watched in sheer horror as Stuart walked into the entryway.
“Thanks so much for calling me,” he said to Grandma. “It’s not often I get invited for breakfast.”
Grandma took his coat from him and hung it up on the antique coat rack. “It was my pleasure. And my Louisa just goes on and on about you. I couldn’t wait to meet you.”
She didn’t, I thought. I gasped for air, horrified at this exchange of pleasantries. On what planet have I been talking about Stuart? Aside from one uncomfortable conversation with the aunts, his name has never come up. Stuart was a nice man, but I didn’t want to date him.
Stuart saw me standing down the hall. “Morning, Louisa.” He smiled.
“Morning, Stuart,” I said. Please don’t let this poor guy get his hopes up, I prayed.
Mart and Myrt beamed when they saw him walk into the room.
“Who is this tall drink of water?” Mart asked.
“Stuart, these are my aunts, Martha and Myrtle,” I pointed toward the aunts. “This is Stuart. He works for one of the local funeral homes.”
Mart and Myrt both shook his hands.
“What funeral home do you work for?” Mart asked.
“Langston’s,” he replied.
“Langston’s?” Mart turned toward Myrt. “Weren’t we just there last month?”
“Yes.” Myrt nodded. “They handled Gerry Simon’s funeral.”
“You all did such a beautiful job,” Mart said. “Especially with his makeup. Gerry never looked better a day in his life.”
The bonfire cracked, pulling Stuart’s attention from the aunts. His happy, eager face morphed into total confusion.
“What’s going on here?” he asked.
“Are you familiar with Wicca?” Mart asked.
“That’s not what this is,” Myrt said.
“Ladies, please.” Grandma clapped her hands. “We have a lot to get done and the window of opportunity is closing,” Grandma said, hinting at the impending arrival of unwanted guests. She handed the box to Myrt.
I pulled Grandma aside. “Are you friends with him? How did you get his number?”
“From your cell phone,” Grandma said. “He calls and texts you so much I assumed he was a secret lover.”
My mouth dropped open.
“Louisa, please,” Grandma began. “We really don’t have time for this.” She pushed me into the living room.
With five people now in attendance, Grandma had us each stand at a point on the pentagram. She took Stuart’s arm, leading him to his point. “I know this has to be a bit odd,” Grandma said. “But we need a little help casting out some rodents and when we’re done, I’ll fix biscuits and gravy. You like biscuits and gravy, don’t you, Stuart?”
“Sure.” Stuart looked uneasy as he continue to stare at the purple bonfire. “You guys aren’t going to sacrifice me or turn me into a toad or something, are you?”
“Don’t be silly.” Grandma chuckled. “We’d never do something like that before breakfast.”
Stuart look panicked.
“I’m just kidding,” Grandma said, trying to reassure him. “It’s like the girls told you, we’re not witches and nothing bad is going to happen to anyone. All you have to do is stand right here, hold our hands and say what we say.”
I reached for Stuart’s hand, and then clasped hands with Myrt. Once everyone was holding hands around the bonfire, Myrt began chanting. Whatever she was saying wasn’t in any language I understood, but with as much insight as Stuart, I repeated her words, nodding toward Stuart so he would know to follow along.
Nothing happened at first, but then the flames in the fire grew, reaching the ceiling. A roaring sound filled the room and I felt my entire body freeze in place. A gust of wind shot out from the fire, blowing my hair straight back.
Everyone raised their voices.
I glanced over at the aunts. Myrt and Mart were looking at each other. Myrt nodded toward Mart. I looked down. Myrt and Mart had their hands clasped around the box. Myrt nodded toward Mart and then cast the box into the fire.
There was a blast.
A shockwave sent us all flying.
Everything went black.
To be continued….