I caught myself wondering how loud a necromantic ritual was, on average, and if any of Hara’s neighbours would complain, and if they would complain would they interrupt the ritual and spend the magic objects she had carefully circled on the linoleum. I imagined, too, the outline of a pentagram. Shook my head; returned to the task at hand. Shut up and tried to harbour no intentions in my hands.
“It is important,” Hara had said, me being too in love with her to have said no to this, which was a large part of why she would never be in a relationship with someone like me, “that you hold the candle like this and don’t twitch too much when the wax runs down your hands, okay?”
“Okay.” We had practiced all day. It wasn’t hard but we only had one chance, so she had dripped wax onto my hands and peeled it off a hundred times. I had accepted the kind of person I was and what prospects I had, but it still stung. I learnt to not yelp, lost myself practising an argument with her in my head, tried to chart all the possible ways that conversation could lead to her tearing down my reasons and exposing the futile affection underneath. I was just having that argument with myself, though, I knew enough to know that whatever she said it would be uncharted waters because loving somebody doesn’t mean you know their mind. Not like that.
While she read, the symbols faded from the page. On the floor was something she loved about him: a pair of tickets to some concert he’d invited her to when they were getting to know each other. On the floor was something she hated about him: a t-shirt with an offensive slogan. She’d said his Epipen would be too obvious. I imagined the t-shirt to define him, of course, but he was just a person with a few blind spots, just like me. I was territorial about my blind spots. I was doing this for my friend. I held the candle steady. On the floor was something he’d written: an old homework sheet. On the floor was something he’d been but no longer was: a volleyball trophy. On the floor was a tooth Hara had outrageously stolen from the open casket, bringing a small hammer and having to fish it out from his mouth because of gravity. Pursed his lips again.
Her spellbook was blank pages up until somewhere near the end of the book, where intricate patterns were laid out and Latin mixed with neologisms. A spell works like this: the ink lifts off the page as you read it out loud with intention and if you fuck it up something happens but not what you intended. “You know it always fucks up anyway?” I had said, picking a fork in the road and shaking my head at myself without moving.
She had been peeling wax off my reddened hands and she had stopped what she was doing to look me in the eye.
“I mean, he’ll come back changed. He won’t be the same person he was before the –” I hadn’t known what noun phrase I was going for. I would have liked something gruesome and lugubrious without revelling in his death.
“So what? You’re not the same person you were when I met you. I’m not the same person falling asleep as I am waking up.” There had been heat in her voice, enough to melt wax. “Don’t you know that this, this whole ordeal, has irrevocably changed me too? It’s only fair.”
I had, of course, merely bit my tongue. I imagined my whole body to be like a tongue, but I forced it to be still while I held the candle.
I watched my friend speak with intention. She spoke so low only those who listened with intention would hear.