I’m taking a “Magic and the Spirit World” course at my college and, so far, I’ve learned a lot. The other day, we learned about Voodoo, or Vodou, and the Haitian Revolution. Do you know that voodoo dolls were once used as a form of psychotherapy? According to my professor, the dolls would hold some sort of medicine inside of them and they would strike the dolls with nails to release it. At least, I think that what she said.
Also, did you know the dolls used to look like this:
In order to hide the them, the practitioners of voodoo used rag dolls instead of statues, giving birth to what we now know of the voodoo doll.
Have you heard of Marie Laveau and her daughter? Marie Laveau was a hairdresser and a Voodoo priestess. Her daughter was also a Voodoo priestess.
Also, did you know that snakes were a force of good in Voodoo?
This morning, I talked to my professor. We talked about priests and priestesses. Do you know that, in some religions, someone would have to partake in a week-long initiation before they become a priest or priestess? However, it takes almost four months to prepare everything, and even before that the person must be a participant in the initiation, then a practitioner of the religion, before being a priest or priestess.
In short, I am learning a lot about different religions and traditions. I’m enjoying myself and I hope you are too.
Speaking of which, I have the first chapter done of “Midnight Embrace”. Enjoy!
Chapter One: Only Four More Years
My best friend, August St. Clair, and I were eating our lunches on the bleachers of our school. It was twelve noon and the coolness of autumn was fading, replaced by the warm winds of summer. The metal bleachers overlooked the football field, where the beloved footfall team played. New Hamilton Grade School, our middle school, was built adjacent to the local high school, New Hamilton High. From the sky, the whole building looked like a massive L. During the free periods, the students could wander to the other side of the building, so August and I often ate our lunches on the bleachers and watched the high school football team.
August was eating an egg salad sandwich, and I was having a red, juicy apple. We eat in silence, the only sounds coming from the birds above us and the older teenagers below us. I looked over to August and thought about all the times that people said that we were as close as brothers. Although, August and I were very different.
August had grayish skin that was covered by a plain white shirt and blue pants. His round face wore an emotionless expressive. His black and white sneakers were worn and torn. His short black hair was combed back into a slick hairdo. His dark brown eyes stared blankly toward the field. A skateboard with white shiny wheels, gold painted axles, and a design of an urban street on its back was sitting in his tattered backpack, which was secured to his back by a single strap. August was about the average height for a thirteen-year-old, but he was much skinnier than most of the other guys in our grade.
I had alabaster skin, my short red hair framed my round-shaped face, and my eyes were of a hazel color. I was wearing my favorite burgundy hoodie with the white strings, pockets on the stomach, and the silver zipper. Under that, was my white collared shirt and I was wearing a pair of blue demin pants, along with cobalt sneakers. I was the same height of August, but not as skinny as him. Not to boast, but for a thirteen-year-old boy, I had a little muscle on me.
“So, how are things with your parents?” I asked as I finished my apple.
August finished eating his sandwich and spoke. “They’re fine, I guess.” His voice was always so low and foreboding.
“Does that mean something good or…” I trailed off, waiting for him to speak.
August folded his arms across his chest and looked off toward the left, away from me. “I honestly don’t know. They been getting more and more tired lately.”
“Yeah, working two jobs will do that to you.” I said.
August made a noise with sounded a groan. August came from a very poor family. They lived in the forest that surrounded our town, in an old dilapidated house. Both of his parents had to work two jobs to pay for the bare necessities. That skateboard, the same skateboard that his parents brought him for his tenth birthday, was probably the nicest thing he owned. It was a lucky thing that the guy was so smart and got a scholarship, otherwise his parents would have to pay for middle school and high school.
Their jobs kept them busy, so most days they didn’t have the time or the energy to hang out with their son. In fact, after they return home from work, the first time they do is go to bed. No one could doubt the love they had for their son, and the same went to August, who would do anything to lighten the burden on his parents’ shoulders.
“Anyways, I wouldn’t worry that if I were you.” I told him. “Grown-ups are always tired.”
“I suppose so.” He said, still not making eye contact with me.
It was quiet for a while after that. August didn’t talk much. He didn’t socialize much neither; I was his only friend. He was a bit of aloof. He didn’t like to hung out with the other boys in our grade and he preferred to not talk to the girls in our grade. He would only speak when spoken to. In class, he rarely raised his hands. In the hallway, he would prop himself against a wall and listen to some music. You could say that he was an introvert, but I preferred to think of him as a shy and timid boy who liked his privacy.
“Thinking about all the fun we’re going to have in high school?” I asked after a minute of silence.
August turned back to the field. He closed his eyes and groaned again. “Turning thirteen last year was interesting to say the least, but entering high school is going to be…” He paused before continuing. “Troubling.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“The entire town of New Hamilton will be expecting a lot from us, the rest of Flos included. You know that thirteen is only a stepping stone for ‘coming of age’, right?”
“Yeah, I know.” I shifted my glaze toward the sky. It was a clear day, so there wasn’t a cloud in the shy. The pink blossoms of the tree above us shaded us from the blazing yellow sun while simultaneously showering us in pink petals. The bluebirds sung a cheerful melody. I watched them launch themselves from the tree and fly toward the horizon. Only four more years.
“Thinking about your wedding?” August’s question snapped me out of my thoughts in an instant. When I looked back at him, his arms were still folded, his eyes were looking at me out of the corners, and he was wearing a sly grin. The question, coupled with that grin, made my face blush a bright red.
My friend chuckled, which made me blush harder. “No need to be embarrassed, William Midnight.” He said. “I was only joking.” He stood up, grabbing the brown paper bag that he carried his lunch in. “Now come on, we shouldn’t be late for assembly.” He was right. The last assembly for the end of the school year was the most important. I stood up, grabbed my lunchbox and backpack, and followed August down the bleachers and into the school.