Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friends and Séances, Love and Regret

Hattie, Jewel, and I are spending the night at Katie’s house because we’re too young to cruise the streets of the small town, where we go to school, in cars we don’t own and with dates we’re too young to go on—officially. Instead, we play records and dance, talk about friends and enemies and 1971 fashion. Jewel changes clothes, under the clothing she’s wearing, like a magic act. I change in the only bathroom in the house, while Hattie and Katie strip down to dress in their PJs, in front of everyone.

As I walk back to Katie’s bedroom, I stop to stare at her brother’s vacant room. He’s out on a date with an older girl that I’m convinced stole him from me. My junior high crush is long gone, but not the memory of belting out, for him to hear, Loretta Lynn's song, You Ain’t Woman Enough to take my Man, with Katie singing back-up—a regrettable performance. Later I conclude that love is time consuming and heart wrenching—made of sweetness, until it sours and easily replaced with new love.

Back in the bedroom, the four of us occupy Katie’s full sized bed, crisscrossed, propped on our sides—talking again. That’s when I bring up the accident of my childhood friend. I tell them she had fallen off a hayride wagon and underneath its wheel. I tell them how I’d heard, that the wheel ran over her head, but how she stayed alive to call out for her mom and dad, when someone found her. Then she died. I say it’s sad that she won’t get to be with her family again, except in heaven, or grow up like we’re doing. No one says anything until Katie says, we should have a séance to see if she wants to talk to us. 
Someone says we need a candle so Katie sneaks one into the room along with matches to light it and places it on the floor. As if we’d done this before, we form a circle around the candle then sit with crossed legs and hold hands. Katie decides the lights should be off and leaves the ring of girls to flip the switch, then in the candle light, she joins hands again.

No one points out the waltzing shadows unleashed on the walls, by a single flame. With wide eyes we stare at each other, eyeballs dancing from friend to friend, chests heaving with anticipation—and fear.  For whatever reason, I take the lead and call out to my friend asking if she is in the room and to say something if she is. One of the other girls says something, but its muffled in my ears because there is a deafening pressure, and they need to pop.  
We’re still holding hands when the flame stretches upward, then flickers in an attempt to stay alive, but doesn't. The hush of darkness lasts only seconds before screams pierce the silence. Hysteria rouses us to race to the door, tromping each other until someone flips the switch and the lights come on.

“What was that?” Katie says, in spastic breaths.
“Who blew out the candle?” Jewel demands.

Each girl shakes her head—no, but we still challenge each other with raised eyebrows.  The  séance over.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.