Here’s the first part of my next short story staring Evie, the pagen witch who faced down a zombie in her last adventure. Let me know what you think. Is the beginning fast enough? Give you a good sense of the character and the world?
“I’m going to fail the bar again,” Ashley said, eyes wider than a saucer of milk. She took a gulp of her beer, staring past me into the restaurant like she was watching her law career flush down the toilet. “I’m going to fail and lose my job and that’ll be it. In this economy, when employers find out I took three tries to pass the bar and lost my firm job because of it, I won’t even be able to get a job at the Public Defender’s office.”
“No,” I said, shaking my finger at her. “Hey, look here.”
She sighed, looking me in the eye.
“You are not going to fail again. You had some bad luck last time. You got sick and then you got hit with a few questions in areas you didn’t study enough because the bar prep course said it was unlikely for those areas to be on the test. That’s all.” I held up two fingers about a centimeter apart. “You failed by this much. Which sucks! Because you were right there. But that means this time,” I tapped the wood table, “you got this.”
She looked at me like she wanted to throw her drink in my face. “Evie, I say this with all the love in the world, but shut up and stop being positive. I want to wallow. I want to cry, and say why me, and bitch about the fact that I failed by half a percent. Because being right there, knowing if I’d checked A instead of B on one or two multiple choices, or put one more line in an essay, and I wouldn’t be going through this all over again, is devastating. Okay?”
“Nope, because if you believe you’re going to pass, you’ll do better. It’s all about positive thinking.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know I don’t go in for all that New Agey stuff.”
I bit my tongue. No, literally, because I wanted to say, “I come from a long line of witches. I practice techniques to track and move energies, and I do spells and potions dating back to the druids. My ancestors helped build Stonehenge. This is old age, baby.”
You can’t say that to normal people in modern day Utah.
Or, you know, to Mormons.
Hey, if they get to call me weird for my charms and crystals, I get to call them weird for their magic underwear. Fair’s fair.
I stuck my tongue out at her.
Ashley laughed, taking another drink of her beer.
“No really,” I said. “Studies have shown if you believe something, like you will do well on a test or in an interview, like you’ll recover from a sickness, ect… that it affects your body. This is why placebos work. It’s the mind telling the body it should be getting better, so it does. You wear a good luck charm to a test, you think it’ll work, just slightly, so you are more confident on the test. And that’s usually what gets people. They get scared, lose confidence, second guess themselves, and eat up time.”
“So you’re saying it’s like Friday the Thirteenth? You think there’s bad luck, so there’s more accidents and stuff?”
“Exactly,” I said, grinning because she wasn’t too far off on that one. “You know, since people in western cultures believe it’s a bad luck day, their good luck just kind of floats off them and then black cats go and scope it up.”
She stared at me. “Hahaha,” she giggled a second later. “Where do you come up with this stuff?”
Ha! She thought I was kidding.
Okay, so it wasn’t luck per say, as in luck was something you could grab onto and bottle, but it was good energy. The stuff people made every day with their thoughts and deeds. It’d been called luck, karma, chi, the Tau, and of course, the Force. It was all the same idea. Energy.
And when millions of people had the idea that a day was quote unquote, bad luck, even if they didn’t really believe it, they did shed a little of their good vibes energy just by the collective thought that it was bad luck.
I grinned, shrugging. “Oh, you know, it’s in my New Agey books.” I took a sip of my wine. “Though, it’s not just black cats that can scoop luck up, they just have better marketing people, built their trademark and all that. Actually, all cats can do it.”
She snorted. “Too bad we can’t get those cats to pass the luck to me.”
I froze with my glass halfway down from my lips.
Now there was an idea!
# # #
“I have a great idea,” I said to Faye that night on the phone. “You know the cat luck scramble on the thirteenth? What if we do that this year, only instead of just keeping the energy like other witches, we donate it to my friend Ashley and your husband… so they have more luck on the bar this time?”
Faye didn’t say anything for a moment. Then, “Are you high?”
“Haha, you’re hilarious. No. I’m serious. You already know how to do the spell. You have Missy do the luck prowl every year. What if we ask the other witches in town to have their cats do their normal gathering, but instead of just storing it for themselves, they donate to a good cause? We’ll store it in the usual necklaces, or something more manly for George, and give them to them the day before the bar.”
Another pause. “You’re serious?”
“Yeah! Why not?”
“Welllllll, I mean, it’s possible. The cats never gather a lot. It’s more a silly novelty than anything anyone’s ever put to good use. But if we got all our friends with cats to do it and put it in one, well two places, it might be concentrated enough to give them a boost. Just in case.”
“And they’ve both been studying so hard, while they’ve been working, they might need the extra good vibes. Ashley is strung out and barely functioning, I had to drag her to dinner tonight to get her to take a break, and I’m sure George is right there, too. The mindset Ashely’s in? She’s going to psych herself out of passing. What do you think?”
“Well, I know why I’d want to give it to George, he’s my husband. Why are you so hell bent on helping Ashley? I mean, this isn’t going to be easy, and it won’t make a big difference, especially if she doesn’t believe in it.”
“She’s my friend. This is what friends do. Even when one of them is cranky-pants.”
“Yeah, Ashley can be a bit of a downer.”
“So can I. And when I was a downer mess first year of law school, she was one of the people kicking my butt to study so I didn’t flunk out. You were another one of those people, which is why I babysit your kid. It’s more of a trade. See, I’m not a good friend, I’m a good vibes capitalist.”
She laughed, making me grin.
“Okay,” Faye said, “I’m in.”