Kathy has worn eye glasses ever since she can remember. When she was just a kid, she looked in the mirror and didn't particularly liked what she saw. She was a little chubby for her age and she didn't like that the eye glasses would hide the only feature of herself she didn't hate: her green eyes.
Growing up with loving parents didn't unable her to feel insecure about herself. In fact, whenever she took notice of her mother's beautiful smile, captivating green eyes and thin figure, she wished one day she'd grow up to be half the woman she was. Caring, thoughtful, always the owner of the best advice, Kathy's mother was the perfect wife. Her father's happiness in life, he'd always say, was mostly linked to the woman he had by his side, the one that provided him with support through every rough stage of his difficult path as a writer.
Her mother liked to cook. Kathy remembers walking into the kitchen early Christmas' morning and the look of ultimate excitement on her mother's face as she focused on baking the cookies, the cakes, the desserts, setting up the table and filling the house with a scent so wonderful that would drive her father out of his office and into the kitchen, offering his wife a back hug to distract her from stealing some of the cookie dough, or at least attempting to.
She remembers thinking to herself that she'd wish one day to find as much happiness in life as her parents had.
Her mother liked to paint. And Kathy remembers so well the smell of paint invading her bedroom. She remembers waking up and running to the attic to see the rays of sun hitting her mother's face as she sat on the wooden stool in front of a canvas filled with the most beautiful colors she had ever seen. She'd greet her mother with the biggest of smiles and a quick reminder that she would be watching the morning cartoons and she'd be greeted with a kindness she had never seen anywhere else but in her house.
Her parents weren't perfect though. They weren't the perfect couple, they made mistakes and they fought, but they managed to wake up every day with new found hope and love for each other. They were weird too, they liked things that other parents didn't. They liked the dark aspects of life, liked to wander about every little thing, a curiosity that other parents didn't understand, but that kids were fascinated by.
They were the couple that other parents in the neighborhood would talk about behind their backs, the ones that appreciated life in a way others didn't fully comprehend.
As she passed through adolescence, like any other teenager, she began wandering what she was doing with her life, who she really was, if she had any future, if she'd ever find someone to love. She began wandering about her appearance, about her sexual orientation, about life and the world. Life became hard to live, despite her parents' attempts to support her and bring back that positivity she had been known for.
Adolescence was always a hard time. Especially for Kathy. She struggled with her identity. She felt as if there was a part of herself that was repressed, waiting to get out. She felt as if she knew that part of herself, she'd be able to figure out what path to lead next. At that moment in her life, she had no idea what to do, whom to be, what to do next.
When she looked at the mirror, she wasn't sure what she saw. A girl with long dark brown hair, green eyes that had lost its glow and pale skin. She didn't even wear makeup like the girls in the movies or the ones at her school.
Her father had always said she looked beautiful and when she was a kid, she believed him. Now, as she was shoved against a locker on her way to English Literature, she wasn't too sure.
Kathy had friends. Even if she was a loner, she had friends she cared about. She may be unstable, unaware of what path to choose next, but she had met some people along the way that had struck a chord in her heart. Those people helped her on her journey through life, as confusing as it became, and somehow stuck by her side through thick and thin.
Ana, the quiet girl that Kathy had seen sitting on a library reading her favorite book, a curtain of black hair falling by the side of her head, blocking the sun from hitting her face, wearing a look of certain astonishment as she reached what Kathy had assumed to be the final chapter. She had been able to approach her, although hesitant, and ask her what she thought about the book. That's how her friendship had started.
Zoey, that kind of girl that always had something to say, the energetic one that could bring sunshine during a rainy day. She was the beautiful blonde one that Kathy had only ever dreamed of befriending, yet the one that had first started a conversation with her one an autumn afternoon after she had found Kathy crying near the gym, refusing to take off her eye glasses despite the tears blurring the lenses and her vision. She had sympathized with her. For years she had been called dumb and easy, and yet she was one of the smartest students in that high school, focusing on studying and her friends rather than on boys.
Kathy considered herself lucky, despite everything. She had loving parents, amazing friends, and she was a good student. And although she was constantly called 'four eyes' and 'googley eyed', she had grown used to wearing eye glasses. It became a part of her.
"You can't leave the house without your eyes glasses, you know that."
"You have really bad eyesight, you could end up getting hurt."
"It's for your own good."
She had made a routine to never leave the house without her eye glasses. Her parents had a weird obsession with always checking if she was wearing them. There had been a time she had thought to be a little overwhelming, but now she was used to it and realized that her parents were simply worrying about her.
For years, Kathy had never once forgotten about her eye glasses. She had this fear of what would happen if she did, this vision in her mind that she could end up in a serious accident if she were to forget. Wherever Kathy was, her eye glasses were always with her. There were only very few occasions her parents allowed her to take off her glasses and even in pictures, there she was—the brown-haired girl with the black eye glasses hiding the vibrant color of her eyes, next to her parents, next to her friends, standing alone, memories captured in photos that hid a thousand emotions behind them.
Her eyes told stories her words couldn't but, unfortunately, they couldn't reach people behind the obstacle standing in their way. That was why she found refugee in writing. Like her own father, she was passionate about different worlds she read about, mythical creatures she could create with simply paper and pen.
"Let your imagination run wild," was what her father had said the first time she had sat by his side at his desk and she allowed herself to start writing a story she hadn't even thought about. Her fingers had taken the pencil and had wrote about her wildest dreams. It was fun and exhilarating and she loved it. She had been writing ever since.
Even if it was hard, Kathy lived her life that way, struggling with adolescence, friendship, love, family. It was never easy, but she liked her life and she liked the routines she had settled for herself every day. Even if she wasn't sure where it was going, what to do, she'd wake up, put on her glasses, grab her notebook and she would be ready to go by another day.
Until one day, something went wrong. And that's exactly how her story started, with her taking the subway instead of the bus, with the butterfly effect of a grumpy middle-aged man late for his job interview and Kathy late for school after having missed the first bus. If she had gotten a few minutes earlier to the bus stop in front of her house, she wouldn't have to take the subway, and she most definitely wouldn't have been shoved by an angry and stressed out man as he entered the last subway on the way to the company he had applied for at least a month before.
And that's how Kathy's eye glasses were knocked off her face and fell to the ground, shattered by the footsteps of people rushing to get to work.
When she looked up, her life wouldn't be the same.
She realized she could see things no one else could see.
"Kathy, watch your language!"
The sound of her father's somewhat stern voice coming from the living room as she sprinted around the house, struggling to find her copy of Lord of the Flies by William Golding that she had to take to school in hopes to finish her end of semester assignment in the quiet of the library after class, had Kathy let out a slight wince.
"Sorry dad," a sigh escaped her lips, eyes moving around the living room where her father was sitting at the couch reading the morning newspaper. "Have you seen my book anywhere?"
"It's in my office. You were reading it there last night while I worked, remember?"
If Kathy hadn't been late, she would have smiled warmly at the memory, but at the sound of those words, she made sure to sprint to her father's study, quickly finding the beautiful yet somewhat tragic cover of the book she had been searching for.
"Oh, thank god—you were hiding away from me, weren't you?" She whispered to the book, now a relieved smile on her face as she took it and quickly placed it on her backpack, patting it fondly before she was on her way down the stairs and into the kitchen, not forgetting to shout a 'thank you, dad' when she passed by the living room.
"Mom, I'll be going." Taking a piece of freshly made toast and a quick sip from her mother's coffee, she tip toed to kiss her tall mother on the cheek, ready to bolt out the door of the house.
"Are you wearing your eyeglasses?"
Kathy's mother didn't glance from the pancake batter she was working on, but she was wearing a smile on her thin lips when her daughter kissed her cheek. There was love on her eyes and Kathy knew that it was always present when she was cooking for her daughter or for her husband. It was one of her passions: to feed her family and watch the happiness on their faces.
"Yes, I am," a sigh resonated from her throat while she grabbed her packed lunch from the fridge, making her way quickly to the living room to plant a kiss on her father's cheek before she was out the door. She was already more than used to hearing that question every morning and, sometimes, when she was rushing, she wished she didn't have to hear it. It's not like she ever forgot her eyeglasses at home, or anywhere for that matter, but her parents were extra careful when it came to that.
It was a cold Thursday morning and Kathy closed her jacket tight as she made her way to the bus stop near her house. During most days of the year, she'd take her time appreciating the children riding their bikes down the street or the air blowing through the trees that occupied the sidewalk and filled it with leaves during the arrival of Autumn. But that day, Kathy had no time for that. She was already late, and she wasn't even sure if she'd be able to catch the bus.
Unluckily, even though most days the bus would arrive at least five minutes later than the scheduled time, somehow the driver had seemed to pick that day to arrive just on time and Kathy let out a groan of frustration when her neighbor, that was sitting on the bus stop, told her that she had missed the bus to school.
"Thank you, Mrs. Brown," with a rushed wave of her hand, she ran further down the street, hoping that she'd at least get on time to catch the subway train. She didn't even listen to Mrs. Brown telling her to have a nice day, and frankly she wasn't very interested. It wasn't turning out to be even close to a good day. If it hadn't been for that piece of toast she had devoured as soon as she had taken a step out of her house's front door, even her stomach would be protesting by now.
A struck of good luck hit her in that Autumn morning and Kathy was able to reach the subway train station just on the right time. The subway train doors were opening just as she was running through the crowd of people.
Kathy let out a sigh of relief as soon as she was inside the passenger car. She wasn't even taking notice of people giving strange looks at her, the girl that had just madly ran down the stairs of the station and got inside the subway train while attempting to catch her breath, probably with beads of sweat on her forehead. Truthfully, she didn't have to run to catch the subway train before the doors closed. Even though she didn't notice it, the doors stayed open for a few moments longer. If it hadn't been for that, she wouldn't have been nearly knocked to the ground by a middle-aged man hurrying to get into the passenger car just as the doors were about to close.
The collision of the man's front against Kathy's side knocked the glasses off her face. The stranger didn't even pay half of his attention to the girl he had hit. He was far busier cursing out loud the taxi drivers that hadn't stopped for him. Perhaps they already knew the kind of person he was, but that was a just a thought that crossed Kathy's mind.
Panic, however, was the emotion that had taken over her when she felt her eyeglasses falling to the ground and being stepped over by the people trying to move to the next passenger car, where there were fewer people and more room to sit until the next station. Her chest was heavy, and the sudden dread caused her eyes to widen and her mouth to hang open at the sight of cracked glass.
She was already kneeling to try to mend the mess on the floor but there was shattered glass everywhere. Her eyeglasses had been completely ruined. There was no way she'd be able to wear them. Even the eyeglasses' frames were crushed by the man's heavy shoes.
How the hell was she going to be able to see without them?
And more importantly, how the hell was she going to explain that to her parents?
"Oh my god—what am I going to do now?!"
It almost felt like the world was going to end. To Kathy, the feeling was very familiar. After years of paranoia about her eyeglasses, remembering how her parents always reminded her to be careful with them, to never forget them at home or let anything happen to them, watching them crash to the ground and be stepped over, it was almost like a kick to the chest. Not only to Kathy, but also to her parents, those eyeglasses were sacred. Ever since she was young she carried them around everywhere, believing that if she wasn't wearing them, she could easily get into an accident. Her parents always made sure that she knew the negative repercussions of not wearing those eyeglasses and she had allowed a fear to grow in her.
The world was crumbling down around her, she was sure of it.
"Let it go, miss. You might get yourself cut on the glass," a man's voice sounded from one of the passenger car's seats, causing Kathy to look up to face the stranger, only then noticing how everyone was taking glances to the floor and at her. "Everyone, be careful! There is glass on the floor!"
The man didn't understand. It wasn't just a pair of eyeglasses; it was already part of her.
Kathy opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. She should probably apologize to everyone in the passenger car for the mess on the floor, but she was feeling too much panic to be able to. Disoriented, she wasn't even thinking straight, attempting to at least find a solution to what had just happened.
How was she going to be able to find her way to school if she couldn't see without her glasses? Her friends, Ana and Zoey, probably already at school, weren't aware of the situation and probably wouldn't be able to get out of class and walk all the way to the subway train station to help her out. And what good would do go to school now? Besides being late, she wouldn't even be able to see the board or the letters on the books straight.
"What am I going to d—"
As she whispered to herself, Kathy's eyes caught the glimpse of something out the window of the passenger car, interrupting her own words and thoughts. Her eyes focused on the darkness of the tunnel outside the window behind the row of people sitting, squinting, trying to spot what she had seen a moment ago. Nothing was happening. There was only darkness and the subway train speeding through the tunnels.
She was about to look away again, thinking her mind was probably deceiving her and there wasn't anything there, but suddenly, there was a movement.
A string of green light passed by the sides of the tunnel, almost like energy sweeping through the darkness. One minute it was there and the next, it wasn't anymore.
Kathy was stunned. For a moment, she had forgotten that her eyeglasses were shattered on the floor of the passenger car and leaned over the crowd of people sitting down to get closer to the window, almost as if she'd be able to figure out what she had seen seconds ago. Everyone was complaining, shoving the female aside, but she wasn't even taking notice of the people's elbows against her sides. The discomfort of that had passed through her mind but faded with the curiosity and astonishment of what she had seen.
But there was nothing out there. There were no strings of green light, only darkness and the subway train speeding through the tunnels. Had she mistaken what she saw?
An old woman behind her, sitting on one of the priority seats by the door, gently tugged the back of her jacket, successfully catching her attention and pulling her closer to the center of the passenger car instead of having to lean on the rest of the passengers (people seemed extra pleased with not having the young female literally on top of them, already thanking the old woman for getting her off of them). She could swear that when she was turning around to face the woman, she saw another green light beam out of the corner of her eye. It was probably just her mind playing tricks on her again.
"Are you okay?" The old woman was probably in her sixties and she looked sweet with a surprisingly well-maintained skin that one had a hard time finding the wrinkles if one wouldn't look closely enough. "Can you see properly without your eyeglasses? Do you need help reading the subway train map? You should probably get out in the next station and make the way back to where you came from. It could be dangerous walking around without eyeglasses if you can't see well."
Truth be told, Kathy had long gone stopped listening to the woman's voice. It faded into the background noise of people murmuring between themselves, others talking loudly on the phone and the sound of the engines and the wheels sliding through the tracks.
She had noticed something that caught her attention yet again. And no, it wasn't the green light beams that would appear sliding through the dark tunnels outside the passenger car and that Kathy could swear looked to be taken straight out of a movie. No. What caught her attention was that, as she looked around, she noticed that she could see.
There was no problem with her eyesight. In fact, as her eyes roamed the passenger car, she realized she could see a lot more without her eyeglasses.
As she stood there, in the center of the passenger car, surrounded by people, Kathy could see beams of light all around her.
There was a teenage girl standing by the far door on the end of the passenger car, leaning against a wall, black leather jacket, tight dark blue jeans, headphones on her ears while mouthing the words to a song Kathy couldn't recognize, and fingers gently tapping her thigh, small and purple strings of light leaving her fingers and disappearing with the motion against her right thigh. The purple blobs of light moved with a freedom and rebellion, zig zagging through the air, almost as if they personified the girl herself.
On the other side, a businessman; black suit on, perfectly styled hair, smartphone on one hand while the other held a briefcase on his lap, against his stomach. From his linen white shirt, a golden locket peeked around his neck, and Kathy could see green beams of light emerging, flying through the air, surrounding his chest. It was almost like energy.
And next to her, the old woman trying to catch her attention again, a worried look upon her face as she stared at her, wondering if she was feeling okay. Kathy looked back at her and her mouth hung slightly open as if she was ready to speak, but given her lack of words, it was obvious she was astonished.
"Wh-what's that on your hand?" The more she stared at the woman, the more questions were formed in her mind. Her eyes wouldn't leave the woman's hand and how white energy lights flew around her fingers. It was right there. Kathy could swear that if she reached her hand forward, she could touch them. To her, it looked like little angels flying through the air, pure and innocent, surrounding the woman as if it was their job to protect her.
"What—this? It's a... ring. My mother gave it to me when she was still alive," the old woman had replied with a frown on her forehead, eyes gauging the younger female now with suspicion instead of worry. "Why do you ask? Is something the matter?"
Could she not see it?
How could she not see it?
Light blobs flying through the passenger car, outside through the tunnels, and no one could see it? Everyone stared at their phones or the books they were reading, some looking out the window to attempt not to meet anyone else's eyes, and yet no one saw the energy flowing through the subway train?
How could they not see it?
Kathy was at loss for words. Those last seconds of her life felt like the most overwhelming and, at that point, she wasn't sure if she was going crazy or if her eyes were deceiving her.
"Miss? Are you really okay?"
Now it wasn't just the old woman that was starting to ask questions but also some of the other people sitting close by. They were all looking at her, some with suspicion, some with worry, some just staring at her as if she was a lunatic straight out of the mental hospital.
What could she say? That she was seeing blobs of light in different colors flying around the passenger car and outside the subway train? That despite having worn eyeglasses all her life, she could see extremely well without them? Not even Kathy herself could make sense of anything at that moment so how could she explain what was happening?
"I—" The moment words were starting to weakly leave her lips, the subway train came to a stop and the doors opened to let people in and out the passenger car. Through the crowd, Kathy bolted out the sliding doors and stepped into the station's platform, her bag safely on her back and eyeglasses left shattered on the passenger car that was now speeding off through the tracks.
Kathy took a moment to stop, close her eyes as she clung to the straps of her backpack, and breathe. In and out. In and out. Everything will be okay. Everything will be fine. You're not crazy.
The moment she opened her eyes, she took her phone out of the pocket of her black jeans and immediately found her mother's number. It rang and rang until finally she heard a voice on the other side of the line.
"Hey, sweetie! Why aren't you at cla—"
"My eyeglasses broke on the subway train."
There was complete silence on the other line. Kathy could swear she heard a sharp intake of breath.
"Mom," she started, interrupting the silence, dreading it, wanting answers out of her parents that always obsessed over her eyeglasses. Did they know she can see without them? Of course, they knew, but Kathy didn't want to believe her parents had lied to her for so long. "I can see well without them..."
"Mom, what is going on? I saw—I saw... things."
Why wasn't she saying anything?
"Get back home and we'll explain everything."
Those words were enough to make her realize what she was dreading. She wasn't crazy, and her eyes weren't deceiving her. Her parents had lied to her and she had no other answers to what was happening. She was lost and confused, and it was her parents' fault.
She had so many questions.
As the phone call ended and Kathy glanced at the time and made her way to the other platform to get the next subway train back home, she told herself yet again that everything was going to be fine.
She was going to get the answers she wanted. And everything was going to fall into place.
Or was it?
Kathy sat on the living room couch, watching as her parents paced around the house, nervously, hurriedly. She couldn’t understand what is going on and why they hadn’t sat down with her and explained everything bit by bit. The only thing she wanted was answers to the million questions swirling in her mind. She felt as if one second longer and she’d explode.
One moment she was sitting down, the next she was standing up, pacing back and forth and trying her hardest not to yell at her parents. Everything was out of her control and she hated that. She should be at school at that moment, listening to some sort of snarky remark from Zoey that the nerd was late and watching Anna lift her face from whatever book she was reading to offer the ghost of a smile and what Kathy would swear would be the quietest of chuckles. There was something about Anna that was different and mysterious but, honestly, not Kathy nor Zoey cared. They would be friends no matter what.
“Mom, dad—what the hell is going on?!”
Not even hearing the typical ‘language, Kathy’ from her father was enough to set her nerves on the highest mode. It was already enough that she had to attempt to ignore all the colorful light beams she had witnessed on her way back home. On the wheels of buses, around people’s bodies that she passed by on the streets and had to look away to get her mind straight; even the car that had almost hit her when she was crossing the street, too distracted to notice it. It hadn’t been her fault, not exactly. She was merely trying to tell herself that she hadn’t just seen a black cat with red circles of light hitting the ground every time his paws would take a step forward into a dark alleyway by the grocery store.
“Calm down, honey,” her mother’s voice pleaded, carrying a pile of books that seemed to all be as thick as the Complete Works of Miss Marple, into the living room. Oh, how she had wished to be able to read it one day. “We’ll explain everything.”
“You better!” She had no filter at that moment, cheeks red and limbs shaking, typical of a nervous Kathy, an anxiety that couldn’t be controlled. In moments like this, she wished there was a way to control her arms and legs that would shake almost as if she was in the middle of the Aspen snow with nothing on her body but her birthday suit.
Despite her mother’s soothing voice, Kathy knew the older woman was not as calm as her tone of voice gave away. She could see in her eyes that there was nervousness and… fear? Why was she afraid?
“It’s a long story… I—I wish we could have told you this sooner, but you have to understand. We only meant to protect you.”
“Protect me? Why would you—Mom, please, try to make sense right now. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Kathy paced back and forth again, shaking her arms in a frustrated attempt to stop them from trembling, but she ended up sitting down in defeat, tucking her hands between her legs as if that would solve it. Her eyes looked pleadingly at her mother. She was confused, and her mother felt as if she was staring into the eyes of a small bird that had yet to learn how to fly.
“Do you have your eye glasses with you?” Her mother asked while Kathy’s father finally made an appearance in the living room, carrying a pile of notebooks that Kathy swore she had seen in his study before.
“No. The glass got shattered.”
Even while Kathy was replying to her mother, her eyes wouldn’t leave the thick brown books her mother had placed on top of the coffee table in front of the couch, or the numerous notebooks her father had hidden in the different shelves of his study desk whenever she came in the room.
“How did that happen?”
“Someone knocked against me and they just fell to the floor. People stepped on it before I could pick it up again,” a sigh left her lips and she faced her father with a determined look on her eyes that he knew was only for show. Every time he’d set his eyes on her shaking limbs, he wondered if it had been the right choice hiding such a big secret from his daughter all those years. “Please… Tell me what is happening.”
Kathy’s mother and father exchanged a look and her mother let out a deep sigh, staring at her hands as if not quite sure of how to start. The man placed his hand on her back, soothingly and slowly sliding it up and down in an effort to calm down his wife.
“What you saw… those lights… If we have to explain it, we have to go back to the start—” “More specifically to when you were born.”
It was hard for Kathy’s mother to speak, she was aware of it and her husband knew it as well, reason why he interrupted her, hoping that if he’d go on, his wife wouldn’t choke up in tears at the memories.
“In the first years of your life… you were blind, Kathy.”
It hit her like thunder.
“What—dad, what do you mean… blind?” Kathy wasn’t born blind. How could she? Even if she had to wear eye glasses ever since she could remember, that was as far as it went. And even that had been a lie. She was starting to wonder if any of her memories held any ounce of truth at all. “How could I have been born blind if I can see perfectly well now? This doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“You weren’t exactly born blind…” A sigh escaped her father’s lips, the man not able to meet his daughter’s eyes and seeking strength in the grip of his wife’s hand holding onto his. “You see, Kathy… you have this—this power… just like me and your mom.”
Kathy couldn’t understand what was happening, but she was expectant to hear what kind of power her parents thought she had. She was never a person to have special abilities, unless one would count reading A Song of Fire and Ice in a day and 2 hours a special ability. She didn’t. All she could think of was how much that situation didn’t make any sense and how close she was to crying. The frustration was getting to her.
“Please just tell me what it is… get this over with,” she pleaded, a trembling hand reaching up to her red hair, sliding fingers through her locks in exasperation. Never would she think she’d be in that situation.
Her parents exchanged a look and this time it wasn’t her father that talked to her, it was her mother that reached forward and slid a thick brown book across the table.
“The answers are here.”
Kathy took a glance at the book and she almost laughed. The thick cover was clearly old, made of a fabric that she thought to be leather, dark and unwelcoming. There was a symbol of a pentagram made of a black thread on the cover and above, the title, Book of Shadows.
Were her parents playing a joke on her?
Looking up at her mother and father sitting on the couch, holding hands, a nervous and concerning look on their eyes, her mother almost on the verge of tears, she realized that this was serious.
“What is this?”
“That is… your great-grandmother’s Book of Shadows. You can open it,” her mother explained, eyes so focused on the book that Kathy thought that there was a big secret in it that held the fate of her family. Probably not. Even so, she leaned forward and lifted the book, realizing it was much heavier than she initially thought, and placed it with a thump in her lap. She turned it open, realizing on the first page how ancient it was. The pages were stained with age and there was the scent of sage and rosemary emanating from the inside. It called out to her. “This is where your great-grandmother, your grandmother, and myself, have written our… potions and spells for all these years.”
She was about to turn a page over to glance at the words written and the drawings of plants when she suddenly looked up at her mother. For a long moment, she wasn’t quite sure what to say and her lips didn’t open for one split second.
This wasn’t an Harry Potter movie. Where they meaning to tell her she was a wizard?
The thought made her laugh, inevitably, whole-heartedly, because she honestly thought this was a joke. Even with the weight of the thick book on her lap and the open pages on a plant growth spell and detailed description of how aconite and belladonna acted as potent poisons and should not be used in a potion, Kathy didn’t believe a single word her mother was telling her.
“Come on… Dad, this can’t be serious,” a chuckle left her lips as she looked at her father, but she was met with the same look on his face, serious and slightly hurting while his left hand soothed his wife’s back, hopefully reaching her soul that seemed so hurt by what was happening. They had always thought they would have more time.
All laughter died down in her throat and she felt like the world was spinning and she’d throw up at any second. Her stomach hurt, and her trembling hadn’t died down, despite the fact she was now a lot less worried about that and focusing on the book instead. She flipped through the pages rapidly, eyes going through every title at the top for only a split second, absorbing everything in a swift pace.
Attract love spell jar. Happiness Spell. Protection Spell. Cerberus Hex. Bad Moon Rising Curse. Thorn in My Side Curse. Restarting Spell. Protection Vial. How to enchant items. Spell for wealth. New Year Spell Bottle. Candle Magick.
She stopped when she recognized her mother’s writing. The title read Sleeping Spell and it had been the first entry she had ever wrote.
“It was my first spell… I was having nightmares and had trouble sleeping… Your grandmother taught me that spell and told me to make it my own. I got to write it on the family’s Book of Shadows. It was a happy day for me.”
Seeing the glimpse of a smile on her mother’s tearful face, Kathy felt her heart being tugged. One glance down and she read over the spell, how her mother had included the use of a candle, moonwater, a sigil and a chant to Nyx. If she remembered correctly from the books she had read so far, Nyx had been the goddess of darkness, a personification of night by the Greeks.
Moonwater? Sigils? Chants to a goddess? How did any of this made sense? What even was moonwater and what the hell was a sigil?
The sound of her father’s voice calling out to her broke her out of her trance and she couldn’t help but think that something big was coming in the next words he’d say. Kathy was expecting her dad to say this was all a prank but thinking back to what she saw on the subway train, what her parents were trying to explain at that moment and the books on the coffee table and on her lap, she was sure that this was a dream that couldn’t be closer to reality. And for that, she feared what was coming.
“The lights you said you saw… those weren’t just any lights…”
One glance at her wife, gathering the courage needed and suddenly he was looking back at his daughter, eyes boring into her soul.
“You can see magic, Kathy.”
Silence settled in the living room of their family house. If one took a minute to listen closely, they could hear children outside in the neighborhood still playing, laughing and yelling. The wind was blowing against the back door of the kitchen that lead to her mother’s garden. And it made sense to her know, as she listened closely and realized exactly where she was, exactly what her life had been and what it was hiding in the surface.
Kathy didn’t say a word, but she looked down at the book in her lap and rapidly went through the pages, one after the other, eyes scattering the words, picking up on every single potion and spell her mother had written down and the ingredients she had used.
Basil. Lavender. Mint. Thyme. Rosemary. Sage. Spearmint. Bay laurel. Rue. Mugwort. Lemon balm.
All the plants her mother had always told her how to grow, how to nurture and take care of because it could be useful to her in the future. She had always heard her mother say how good most of those herbs were for stomach aches, headaches and other problems. It worked amazingly when used in teas and Kathy had grew up with a special love and admiration for nature and her mother’s exceptional garden.
After all those years, she realized, stomach aches and headaches, insomnia and stress, were not the only things her mother used the herbs for. She made spells with them. She used them for potions.
She used them for magic.
Kathy couldn’t believe what was happening. She had always had this healthy fantasy of receiving the Hogwarts letter or have Hagrid banging at her door to tell her she was a wizard, or even perhaps join Rachel Morgan in her wonderful but honestly almost deadly adventure as a witch. Yet, now that she was discovering that part of herself that had always been hidden, an ability she could only imagine in dreams, Kathy didn’t know what to do or say. She couldn’t understand why her parents had hid something so important from her all this time.
“You said…” There was a burning question on her mind that she couldn’t help but shake off. “You said I was blind? H-how did that happen?”
She could see her parents’ uncomfortable look as they shifted in their seats, seeming nervous in the way they looked down or not meet her eyes. Her parents had always been such honest people, in the way they acted around others, how they always showed who they really are with no fear of what others would think. And until that day, she had always thought they’d always attempted to tell her the truth at all times. She thought to herself that perhaps she was wrong about everything and it caused sadness to build up in her.
“Well… you see, your mother was in a coven ever since she turned 18.”
“Honey, she doesn’t know what a coven is,” her mother looked over at her husband and showed a slight smile, obviously attempting to lighten the conversation and calm everyone’s nerves. It was a good attempt and Kathy could appreciate it if her nerves weren’t so on edge. “A coven is a close-knit group of witches. There are hierarchies and we gather around to do group spells and learn with each other. Not every witch has the same powers and we often complement each other’s abilities. I, for example, draw my energy from herbs, plants, crystals and stones. I am a kitchen witch, as they now say.”
Despite everything, Kathy sat there quietly in the couch chair, staring at her mother almost unblinkingly, reality settling in with every second that passed and with every detail in her mother’s story. Her gaze would settle on every small feature on her mother’s face as she talked and with the more she heard, the more Kathy realized that her mother was being honest.
“Every witch in our family has been in the same coven for years. It’s an old coven but—it’s not as traditional as some out there. We accept religious and non-religious witches and basically any type of witch. There are young witches and older witches. Your grandmother was a High Priestess and your great-grandmother too. It is the top of the hierarchy, the leader of the coven.”
“What about you?” Kathy had questions but for her parents’ sake, she went along with whatever they’d say to her. She wanted to understand what lead them to hide that information from her, why she was able to see magic lights in the hair and why there was so many different colors to it. She had too many questions and some didn’t even make much sense.
“I never got the chance to. I left the coven before that could even happen,” her mother explained, glancing over at her husband and back at her daughter with a now more relieved smile. It seemed as her daughter was slowly understand and accepting what they were telling her. “Your father was never religious and most of the older covens are solely composed of Wiccan witches. Wiccan is a religion that witches follow. I am religious, and always have been, but your father isn’t. He wasn’t when I met him, but we accepted each other despite it.”
“We happened to meet at a Samhain Festival, which is a Festival of the Dead, every October 31st. Sort of like Halloween—but for Pagans. I didn’t want to go but, your aunt and my friends forced me to,” a chuckle left his lips and he looked at his wife with a warm smile. “I am glad they did though.”
“You always said you had met a coffee shop on a Autumn afternoon,” Kathy attempted to held back the offended and hurt tone on her voice but she was unable to. Not even the story of how her parents had met had been true.
Kathy’s parents looked at their daughter with an apologetic look on their eyes. They could understand the hurt in her gaze and how glassy her irises were, how much brighter the green color of her eyes was when she was holding back tears. She had been attempting to hide her emotions for a while now and her parents knew it.
“We couldn’t tell you the truth. We couldn’t tell you anything.”
“Why not? Why the hell not—I’m your daughter! This is my life as well and I haven’t heard a good reason from you as to why this was all kept hidden from me!”
Her father let out a long and deep sigh and looked up at Kathy with a serious and pained expression on his face.
“The coven your mother was in and all our family members—your aunts, uncles, grandparents and our close friends—all came to an agreement… We did what was best for you…” Kathy was scared. There were tears threatening to leave her parents’ eyes and her mother could not even look her in the face. “There is a civil war between covens. There has been a war for over a century… Old covens believe that modern witches should be eradicated because they don’t follow the old ways of practicing magic. To them, it’s a disrespect and a disgrace, and they believe that modern witches that use technology and other modern techniques are not deserving of using magic.”
“They are extreme,” her mother continued, finally looking up at her daughter with red and puffy eyes, the mere thought of explaining it causing pain to her. “They want to bring back dwarf and pixie slavery… and not only that.”
“A rumor started that there was a prophecy about an all-seer witch, a witch that didn’t have one or two special abilities but all of them combined. Supposedly a newborn girl that would end the civil war and bring back the good to all covens. I always thought that was a rumor to keep the modern and less traditional old covens to fight and expect the end of the war with a new-found hope. And even though we thought it was rumor…” Her father exchanged glances with his wife and Kathy knew in that moment that this was more serious than any other topic. “Old covens started kidnapping new-born witch girls and it is rumored that they are attempting to take away their powers and sell them into slavery.”
Kathy was shocked. For what she could understand, there were witches out there growing up into slavery. New-born girls being stripped away from their essence and sold like meat. For all she knew, she could have been one of those.
“They are ready to do anything to win this war… Anything.”
She wasn’t aware of exactly that meant but if she were to be frank with herself, Kathy didn’t even want to think about it. What would have happened to her if her parents hadn’t hidden magic away from her? She could have been sold to someone, she could have been killed.
“So we made the decision to make you blind after you were born. If you couldn’t see magic, if you couldn’t use it… they couldn’t take you away from us,” her father was attempting to dry her wife’s tears while he explained everything to his daughter. “We hid everything from you. Everything about this world. We thought it was the best decision.”
“But even though we made you blind… the spell didn’t work for long. Somehow, as you grew up, your vision was slowly returning. No spell worked. We tried everything, and we even asked for help from your grandmother… The only solution we could think of were those glasses. With the glasses, you couldn’t see magic. It is a spell to enchant an item, a powerful one, that is renewed every six months and that was the only solution that worked.”
Every piece of the puzzle she was trying to put together so desperately ever since the bizarre start of that morning was slowly fitting into place and she could see the big picture, understand the situation and why it happened the why it did. She wasn’t necessarily ready to assume the fact she could see magic or even be aware of exactly how to deal with this new-found power, but she was starting to accept the story her parents were telling her. It seemed like the only logical explanation as to why she could see things no one else could see. And yet, there was nothing logical about it.
“What about the lights that I saw? You said it was magic… how does that work? Why does it appear in lights? Why were there different colors to it?”
Her father smiled to himself. To him, the questions were a sign of acceptance, and he thought to himself that perhaps this was better for his daughter. If she knew the dangers she was facing, she would know better how to defend herself. Even if the solution to hide this world from her had been the right one when she was merely an infant, at that moment, when she was seventeen, it was better to be prepared.
“Magic is energy and intent. Every person has energy and can use it, but we, witches, use it differently. We pour our intent into an item, a spell, a potion, whatever our power is, and we let our energy flow. Depending on the type of energy and intent we use, magic will assume a different identity,” and while Kathy’s father spoke, he took one of the books on the table, with the title A Discovery of Witches, the cover black with a red flowing color in the shape of smoke seemingly travelling across the fabric in a beautiful artwork. “Protection spells are green. They are meant to protect people and are usually cast on items, spaces, even on people, though it takes a higher ability to be able to do so. Red often represents blood magic is being used. Blue is usually the color of the energy flowing through a water witch and any spells using water as their primary focus.”
As he placed the book in his lap and opened it on the first page, a blank white page with no title, no artwork, no word written on it, he took a pen out of the small pocket on his plaid grey shirt and wrote something that Kathy couldn’t see. One more second of staring at her father’s handwriting and she realized he wasn’t even writing. He was drawing some sort of cryptic but hauntingly beautiful calligraphy.
“There is also energy that flows through a witch that takes the color that best represents their personality.” A smile as big as her father’s heart took over his lips and soon Kathy was staring as the man’s palm stood flat against his finished calligraphy work. One moment he was doing this, and in the next, his hand was shooting forward, and dark yellow, almost gold, blobs of light were leaving the book, flying upwards and forward, creating the same symbol he had drew on the paper. Yet now, the symbol was floating on air, golden lights swirling around it.
“This is a sigil. It’s a symbol with magical power. You place your intent and energy into it and acts like a spell,” his father seemed proud of himself while Kathy just stood there, stunned, with a gleam on her bright green eyes that showed how astonished and awestruck she was. Her mother simply smiled, a gleam on her own eyes while she looked at her husband. “While your mother is great at herbs and potion, my ability is to draw sigils. I create them out of words, so I draw my energy from my writing.
“This is what I like to call an Athenaeum Sigil,” he explained, making a small motion with his fingers that caused the energy to flow brighter and draw the sigil bigger and (what Kathy could swear she felt to be) more powerful. “An athenaeum is a place that promotes learning and collects knowledge. The name comes from the Greek goddess, Athena. It helps me when I’m reading and researching information for one of my works.”
Kathy wished she could move her hand further and touch it. She wanted to feel the energy, feel what magic was, feel the sigil and what it represented. There was amazement clear in her expression.
“Your aunt Elizabeth is better at Divination, but she always wished she could draw sigils.”
“Yeah, sure—you’re the one always sulking when everyone asks her to read their palms or draw their fortune in the tarot cards,” his wife retorted with a raised eyebrow at him, finding amusement in the way his husband pouted.
Aunt Elizabeth comes distinctively to her mind when she hears her parents mention her. She was always the one that wore the long brown skirts and earrings so big that her cat attempted to get his paws on it every chance he got. She’d always laugh at Milo and his desperate attempts to play with her jewelry.
But despite remembering her aunt to be always such a cheerful and wise person, a little crazy in the head sometimes, Kathy could also remember when she’d take her out when she was babysitting her and how people would look at her in a way she couldn’t understand when she was younger. Looking back on it now, she knew those looks to be of skepticism and disapproval. She remembers people talking to each other and spilling rude comments about her aunt, telling each other how she was scamming people for money with her palm readings and tarot cards.
Not even once did her aunt let her smile fade in front of Kathy or allow those comments to get to her. Even if the young girl would ask her why they were saying such mean things to her, the older woman would laugh and tell her how people chose to not believe what they couldn’t understand.
Her mother’s voice called her attention again and a smile appeared on the older woman’s face. Kathy looked up again at her parents, realizing that the gold energy that had flowed from her father’s sigil drawing was now vanishing into thin air as his focus was taken away from it and his attention was back on her daughter and on holding tightly onto his wife’s hand.
“I’m sorry we kept this away from you. We understand that you’re mad at us for it. But—it was for your own good. It’s not just an excuse,” a deep sigh escaped the older female’s lips, the weight of responsibility weighing down on her shoulders. “We will teach you everything. You don’t have to join a coven or the Wiccan religion—you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But if you do want to practice magic, or at least learn about it, we will help you with everything.”
“It would be best if you’d at least learn a few protection spells… just basic stuff to keep you safe. It doesn’t hurt to learn at least that.”
Kathy could see the apprehension on her father’s face, the fear and want to protect his only daughter. She could understand every feeling her parents were experiencing at that moment.
It wasn’t as if Kathy wanted to turn her back to magic and never learn or talk about it ever again. It wasn’t as if she was shutting herself off to it. She just wanted to take some time to think and not be overwhelmed by all the information she had just learnt of this new world that was a new reality for her, this new ability that she hadn’t known about and would suddenly become her everyday life.
“I just—” The red-headed girl stood up from her seat and attempted to fathom the right words to say. Her parents were staring at her expectantly, almost pleadingly, and she felt pressured to give them an answer right away. Truthfully, she couldn’t. She needed time for herself. “Can I go for a walk? I need fresh air… I need to think this through—get used to the idea.”
There was a hint of disappointment that crossed her parents’ eyes but it only lasted for a split second as they realized that perhaps there was hope that their daughter would come to a conclusion soon. Even though they had hidden magic away from her for so long, part of them didn’t wish for that wisdom and knowledge to die down in her generation, to disappear completely. They wanted to teach her everything there was to it and perhaps she could protect herself better from the harms of the new world they were throwing her into.
“Yes, of course. Take your time, sweetie.”
Kathy nodded as if also telling herself it was alright, that she could take her time deciding whether or not she’d completely shut down this side of her life or simply embrace it.
For a moment, she stood there, staring at the books on the table and the sigil drawn by her father. It didn’t take longer than a moment though, for her to walk out the house, hearing nothing but silence and expectation hanging in the air as she shut the front door of the house behind her.
The cold Autumn wind was welcoming in her lungs. After feeling suffocated by information, Kathy took a second to lean against the door and simply breathe, eyes closing and taking in the air that smelt of last night’s rain and oak wood.
You can do this.
Her eyes fluttered open once again and, with a deep sigh, she took a step forward and walked out into the street.
Now that she was alone, she had time to think, and yet nothing came to mind as she took step after step forward. All she could think about was how Zoey and Anna were doing and how they would think that this was the craziest story they ever heard. She wasn’t too sure if she could tell them about magic and that was something that worried her even more. How could she accept this ability into her life if she couldn’t share anything with her best friends?
Spider-man did it.
Sometimes she hated her mind.
For a second, she took the time to laugh at herself. As the wind blew red strands of hair in front of her face, Kathy reminded herself that despite everything, she still had a sense of humor, she still had her family and she still had her friends. She was the same girl she was before she stepped inside the subway train, rushing to catch it, except now she could see magic and discovered she was a witch. Not to mention, she didn’t have to wear those eyeglasses anymore.
She felt like there was a weight lifting off her shoulders. Maybe it was the air around her, the children’s laughter or the sound of car engines that muffled any thoughts she could end up having, turning it into a less important priority on her mind. That was why she liked to take walks by herself. She could be left alone with her own thoughts and make sense of the world around her.
Gaze focusing on something other than the pavement of the sidewalk, Kathy looked around and noticed a stray black cat walking past her. His black tail had white fur on the tip, as well as his paws, but what really caught her attention was the orange lights surrounding it. The energy floating like dancing circles around the animal brought such a positive and cheerful feeling to her that she wondered if that was what her father had meant by how a witch’s personality was found in the spells they made and in the color of their energy.
She didn’t have time to erase her thoughts and focus on finding out where the cat was going or if it was lost, before it had disappeared into an alleyway and completely out of Kathy’s sight. She tried to follow it, but she was met with a short and dark alleyway with no exit, but no signs of the animal anywhere.
A deep sigh escaped her parted lips. She wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about the cat for the rest of the day, wondering if it was okay.
As she turned around and exited the alleyway, back onto the street, she noticed a group of girls turning the corner of the pharmacy on the other side of the thoroughfare. They all seemed to be teenagers, probably younger than Kathy, and they talked lightly and cheerfully about something she couldn’t hear from the other side of the road. Their lips moved as they talked, and the smiles were evident on their faces. They all looked similar with the same type of hair and fashion style, despite the differences in appearance, but only one of them carried around a notebook against her chest, along with other books, that Kathy could clearly see white energy floating around it. It wasn’t like the old woman in the subway train with the ring and the pureness radiating from it, but rather it gave a sense of sterility, spirituality and light. It was a different kind of energy.
And suddenly, as she looked away and around her, she noticed the green lights surrounding the buses that passed by, spells of protection as she remembered her father saying, the blue blobs of energy that followed someone as they walked out the grocery store, the lime color of a girl’s necklace that walked next to what Kathy assumed to be her boyfriend. The color of the energy on her necklace was the same as the one leaving her boyfriend’s fingertip as his thumb caressed the back of her hand.
It was beautiful, but all too overwhelming.
Suddenly, everything else came up to her mind again. The prophecy, the kidnappings, the civil war between witches, the fact she could see magic—everything.
Before she could realize it, she was already rushing back home again, ignoring the text message notifications ringing on her phone. It was probably Zoey, asking why she had skipped class and probably with some smart and witty remark that would make her laugh.
The moment she walked inside her house again, she was greeted by her mother’s head peeking from the kitchen and in less than a second leaving the room to meet her daughter at the entrance. Her father’s footsteps were rushing down the stairs as soon as he had heard the front door opening and her daughter walking inside.
“Mom… dad—can I have my spare eye glasses?”
Their shoulders fell in defeat. It seemed as if the overwhelmed look on their daughter’s face said it all. It seemed as if she had made up her mind.
“It’s overwhelming to see all those lights… I can’t take it. It’s—too much for now,” Kathy explained with a sense of urgency, feeling as if she should justify her choice of words. She hadn’t meant for her parents to look so disappointed. It seemed as if magic was far more important to them as she had originally thought. After so long hiding it away, she couldn’t really blame them. “I need to get used to it. Slowly. For now, I—I really want to wear the glasses outside the house… You can still teach me about magic when I’m inside the house, right? I just—I need my space away from it outside for a while.”
Her father placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze, offering her daughter a reassuring smile. Her mother couldn’t help but smile as well, nodding in agreement at Kathy’s resolve.
“Of course, you can. Let’s take things slow for now. You don’t need to jump into anything.”
Feeling relieved, Kathy nodded at her father and offered the smallest of smiles. For now, it was more than enough, her parents thought.
“I feel like Harry Potter right now.”
The sound of laughter coming from her parents immediately eased her mind.
‘It’s going to be okay’, she thought to herself. ‘I can get used to this.’