26 of March, 2021 – 2:03 AM
If there was one thing that I knew how to do well, it was how to disappear. I was skilled in casting glamour, and I always triple-checked my phone’s ringtone before stepping out, ensuring that there was no chance that I would make a sound. A couple of years back, I taught myself how to charm objects, inadvertently turning an old necklace Mami had gifted me into a ward against spell trackers. Val had bought me my first broomstick when I was four, and she and Nanny made sure I knew how to ride like an expert. On top of all that, living with Nanny and his family’s affinity for security magick prompted me to learn to find weaknesses in his spellwork. It took years of trial and error, but eventually, I figured out that Nanny’s other affinity, fire, was a major factor in his spellcasting. Once I had realized that, it was only another week of research before I felt confident enough to create my own water-centered counter-spell: and it started with a denim jacket I bought from a thrift store.
I soaked it in seawater blessed by naiads from moonrise to moonset for an entire lunar cycle. Every morning, I would pull it out of the seawater and hand-wash it in cold freshwater (also blessed by naiads), before I let the jacket air dry on the balcony, soaking up natural sunlight. There were a couple of days when I had to hang the jacket in my bathroom so that it didn’t get rained on–allowing me to collect rainwater in a jar–but the results were the same. By the end of the month, the first phase of my spell was complete.
Phase two involved DIY and crafting, which is seriously not in my repertoire, but I figured I would give it a go anyway. Using a hot glue gun, I adhered tiny plastic mirror shards and miniature scallop seashells onto the breast pocket flaps, all the while whispering enchantments for protection and–here’s the kicker–negation of wards, seals, and barriers. As long as I wore that jacket, Nanny had no clue that I was sneaking out as often as I was!
I’m no fool–I was aware that Nanny knew about my sneaking out. With his affinities as strong as they were, there was no way he couldn’t have known that I was sneaking out my window, climbing onto the roof with a broomstick, and kicking off into the night. The man’s livelihood depended on knowing my whereabouts at all times. That being said, once I created my barrier-negating jacket, I noticed him growing increasingly suspicious in the two months that followed. He knew that something was up–before that, I was sneaking out once every two or three weeks–but thanks to my spell, he couldn’t sense me sneaking out, leading him to believe that I was potentially up to something worse. After I realized that, I started leaving my jacket home every second or third time I snuck out; that way, Nanny would never get too curious.
“But Cari!” I can hear you asking. “If Nanny doesn’t care that you sneak out, then wasn’t that entire month of soaking and enchanting a jacket pointless?”
First off: no, it was not. I was in middle school when I started sneaking out, and I did so for the sole purpose of stargazing. Since he knows me so well, Nanny was aware of my intentions and wouldn’t stir up drama over a little rebellion here and there. However, if I were to say, sneak out to meet people or go to a party, and I did this on a regular basis, then he would set up a magick detection spell and monitor me 24-7.
And who likes to sneak out regularly and partake in debauchery? That’s right, high schoolers!
Basically, the point of the jacket wasn’t to be able to sneak out occasionally without letting my guardian know–it was so that I could sneak out as much as I want without him knowing. I was planning ahead for teenage hijinks because I predicted that I would take part in some once I entered the academy. Mind you, I did not expect to go through so much in the first week of classes, but still…
“But Cari, you said ‘first off,’ implying you have another point–”
Yeah, I do. It’s called: “I Do What I Want,” with the subtitle, “Master Strategist Cari de Ardo Shames You For Being Too Dumb To Think On Her Level,” and includes an image of a middle finger with a caption that reads, “What else did you expect?”
So, on this particular night, I slipped my “beach” jacket over my pajamas, threw on my boots, put on my anti-tracking necklace, and checked my phone’s volume. There were some messages on Enchat that I hadn’t read–I muted the freshman and enchanter groups to give me some peace of mind, but Lilly had made a group with Helena, Angel, Finn, and myself, resulting in some unread chats from the nonbinary unicorn. I made a mental note to check the chat again on my way to school in the morning and pocketed the device, eager to get going.
Then I tip-toed out of my bedroom and to the adjacent guest room that doubled as my storage locker, glancing around as I opened the closet. Nanny had organized all of my old belongings into boxes, each labeled accordingly and stacked at the bottom of this small space. Leaning against the wall was my most prized possession–my broomstick Star.
Elegantly hand-carved from alder wood by woodland sprites in Europe; treated with black coffee stain and black glaze so that it shimmered in the moonlight, boasting curves that put models to shame and a thick bundle of dried oak twigs as its tail, bound to its handle by an orange nylon wire. I had hung little metal charms from the wire depicting the symbols for air, travel, raidho, tiwaz, and vegvisir, all anointed with frankincense essential oil. I polished Star every six weeks and recited my enchantments for speed, flight, and balance at least once a season. You might think me a bit loony for that, but Nanny’s the one who made sure I knew how to properly care for my broom. After all, what’s the point in owning one if you can’t be responsible enough to provide the upkeep all on your own?
I retrieved my broomstick and, without realizing it, I was smiling. There was just something about it–its smooth finish against my palm, its familiar weight, the faint scent of musty pine and citrus, the soft twinkling of the charms in the dim light pouring through the nearby window… The power of the enchanted besom blended with my magick and desire:
The wind in my face. The ground down below. The sky and clouds all around. Just me and the stars.
I hurried back to my bedroom with Star in hand, plucked my goggles off my dresser, and made a beeline for the only window in my suite that faced the backyard. I had everything I needed, and nothing was going to stop me.
Opening the window carefully, I set Star on the sill and climbed out first. I had done it a few times in that home already, that I already memorized where to step to avoid making noise. This was not one of those “sneaking out so Nanny won’t get suspicious” instances, but rather a full-blown: “I need to go Goddess-knows-where for who knows how long and do whatever it takes to eat away this negativity and doubt.”
I pulled my broomstick through the opening, careful not to damage it in the process, before shutting the window and taking a look around. It was dark, even with the moon nearly full, and I could not see another soul in sight. My eyes flew up, studying the constellations around the sacred white orb; I barely made out Ursa Major and Leo before I made up my mind.
I won’t go as far out as I normally do, I conceded as I climbed further up the roof. It’s nearly a quarter past, and I still have to go to Sacred Bullshit tomorrow.
Once I felt comfortable with my position, I slipped on the goggles, straddled my broom, and cast my glamour. A childlike giddiness bubbled up inside me as the connection between witch and broomstick grew stronger. I could feel Star vibrating in my grasp, eager to let loose.
Smirking, I took a deep breath and focused on the New England breeze. I drowned out everything–the sounds of nearby traffic, the eerie light from the surrounding street lamps, the feel of the roof beneath my boots, and my memories of the past week. Jude and the Hollingsworths, Max’s overbearing nature, Dane’s pigheadedness, Aerwyna’s warning, Elyse’s cruel, judgemental words–I visualized a powerful gust of wind blasting it all away, carrying my most recent negative feelings of them off into oblivion. It was more than just an exercise in letting go, but a preparation for take-off. I felt lighter, as if I were a bubble rising with the updraft.
My anticipation mounted–and so did I.
My feet were no longer touching a solid surface; I was high above, lifted into the air by an enchanted broomstick and sheer willpower. Joy welled up inside me and burst out in the form of an unexpected laugh and a single tear. This was my safe place, my haven–surrounded by nothing but the wind, seen only by the moon, and staring ahead to endless possibilities.
All it took was one swift, explosive thought: GO!
We sped off into the night, my eyes trained ahead as I steered my broomstick west. Star fed off my magick–my hopes and dreams–and multiplied it so that we flew high and fast and far. My lips upturned in a huge grin, I couldn’t help but pull a few tricks. A triple spin, a barrel roll, an inside loop…
I flew off into the night and left my worries behind, unaware that my night was far from over.