By Naina Tomar
“Girls, I would like you to meet Miss Tajun Rivera.”
The young woman in front of me steps aside grandly to show the other eleven girls the new member of the Coven. Me.
I don’t even realize I’m glaring when I gaze across at each of them. It’s automatic, what can I say? They all look pretty different, but none of them are completely white. There’s one girl who stands out from the others, though.
She has the darkest hair, so black that it’s almost blue, but her skin is the lightest, like the pages of a new book. The tips of her hair are dyed violet to match her eyes and the tiny flowers strung in her hair like flower-waterfalls.
They all have colored eyes. Am I meant to have colored eyes?
The girl stares back at me upon noticing I’m staring at her.
“Your eyes are black,” she says.
I roll my eyes instinctively. I don’t need reminding. “I’m not really normal.”
My voice is practically heaving with salt.
“Oh, you’re normal,” another girl with a strange, faraway voice pipes up from the back of the group. “If you can do witchcraft, then you’re just like us.” I notice her blonde hair and straw-colored eyes. She doesn’t look Asian. But I know she’s not white, because her skin is olive and I can see the top of her head where the dye didn’t go. Her natural hair is dark brown.
Am I being racist? Probably.
“Thank you, Tajun,” Davina says to me. “I am going to take you to my hut to brief you on the Coven rules.”
I want to groan, but I know it will sound rude. Before I leave, though, I turn to the girls. “I don’t take ****.”
Khun Davina stares at me the entire walk to her hut. It’s not far into the forest, just a few hundred feet, but my legs are tired anyway because yesterday I ran nonstop for three hours.
I converted the dry Indian trail to ice so I could skate my way here. I’m weird.
Davina closes the door behind us when we enter the room. She gestures for me to sit. In the darkness, there is one thing shining bright, and that is the crystal ball sitting on Davina’s dark wooden desk. It has a light purple tinge to it.
My eyes are very sharp, so I can easily scan all her features. She has a very curvy figure, clothed in a tight black catsuit with a hole where her impressive cleavage is. Why am I looking at her chest?
I avert my eyes to her face, which has a chiseled jawline, flawless black makeup, and soft grey eyes. Her long, wavy hair is perfectly ebony.
“Hello,” Davina says. “Welcome to the Coven.”
“Hola,” I reply.
“What can you do?” Davina asks me sharply. “I let you stay here last night because you told me you could do magic; is it true?”
I nod. The woman is scary, especially from this angle. I’m not small, but she looks so dramatic with the crystal ball illuminating her face. “I can change things to suit my wants or needs.”
“Example?” Davina raises an eyebrow.
I drill all my concentration on the outfit I’m wearing. One of the Coven girls had a spare change of clothes. It’s a tiny, showy dress that matches my eyes. But it’s not my style. So I picture something else in my mind and the dress morphs into it.
Thick black leggings, a black corset top, a shiny black suit jacket, and five-inch heels.
Davina smiles. “I see.”
“So can I stay here?” I ask. “My parents kicked me out and I had to travel here all the way from Argentina.”
“Yes,” Davina nods. “Your hut is set up for you once I have spoken to you more about the Coven.”
I cross my arms over my chest and poke the marble floor with my heel. The sound echoes around the hut with surprising acoustics.
“One,” Davina says, “You do not question the things I ask you to demonstrate. Two; you shall not communicate with boys or men from absolutely anywhere. Three; you must practice the peaceful art of Zen and the dangerous field of elemental or manifestation witchcraft. Neither is difficult. And lastly, if you want to have a threesome please do not do it within my line of sight nor hearing.”
I almost burst out laughing, but I control myself. The rest of the rules seem okay, since I knew this was a place for unity, magic, nature, and simplicity, but the thing Davina said about not being allowed to talk to boys seemed a little harsh.
Not that I’d seen them around anywhere here. Or any other humans, for that matter.
“Why can’t we communicate with boys?” I ask.
“Males are dangerous,” Davina replies, frowning. “Males want us dead. This world is not innocent, Tajun. This world is terrifying. If you think about how badly women are treated in the places you’ve lived, think about how badly witches are. Because I can assure you that people would rather see magic dead than see a unified utopian world.”
“Oh.” That’s all I can say. I think she’s wrong.
My best friend in Argentina was a boy. He was kindest person I knew, and whenever he smiled the corner of his eyes would crinkle happily. His hugs were the best medicine. And he knew how to make everyone feel better.
“Are you romantically attracted to men?” Davina asks me, no judgement in her voice. Everything she says is purely honest.
“No, I’m a lesbian.” I am being honest. Like her, I always tell the truth, even if it’s painful. “But my parents didn’t kick me out because I’m gay, they kicked me out because they finally realized I was a witch. It was the final straw for them. They could barely deal with all the death threats from villagers or the demands from the mayor telling me I was going to be burnt at stake for my sins.”
“Was the major a man?”
“Yes,” I reply earnestly, “He demonstrated the absolute worst toxic patriarchy in the whole country. I don’t know how I’m not dead yet, to be honest.”
“Witches cannot die easily, that is why,” Davina says. In the entire time we’d been talking, she has kept her expression blank.
“Am I going to live forever?”
“No,” Davina says. “Before you leave I am going to make a prediction.”
I stare at her. “Are you a fortune teller?”
Davina nods again. Our eyes briefly connect before she looks at the glowing ball.
I’m forced to remind myself that she is my leader, and is probably more than five years older than me, so it’s pretty weird to be looking at her like that.
Davina’s hands move to the sides of the glowing crystal ball. The inside is glowing even brighter. I can’t tell how she is predicting anything when the only sorts of shapes I can manage to make out are clouds, but when she’s done her head snaps up and she looks directly into my eyes again. “You will obey my orders, but others shall not. In return, they will face great danger. You, however, will stay on the side of good, and you will meet the one you were destined for in the process.”
My eyes immediately widen. “Really?…”
“Yes, Tajun, yes,” Davina clarifies.
The light from the orb fades to nothing, and the room goes pitch dark.
“Was that supposed to happen?” I ask in the darkness, pulling off my shoe so I can turn it into a glowing orb like the one from before.
“I can only make one prediction per crystal ball,” Davina explains as the room lights up again. I search for something to convert to another shoe.
I end up using a paperclip.
“Tajun,” Davina interrupts. “I must escort you to your room now. It will need furnishings, but it will work in the meantime. I will contact some forest dwellers.”
“There are other animals that live here?” I ask. “Can they speak our language?”
“Many,” Davina says. “And yes, they are able to communicate with us. But since we are witches, we are able to speak any language anyway. Now, I will take you to your hut.”
We walk out of her hut and into the light. Davina leads me closer to where the meeting place was before, and we locate my hut, which is hidden in a circle of tall jade bushes. I turn one of them into a gate, and we walk through to my hut.
It’s quite a beautiful little house. It’s a hexagonal, two-storey, and painted in raspberry pink, royal blue, and canary yellow on different sides. It reminds me of my old Argentinian village.
We walk inside, me almost tripping on a perfectly smooth, pure white board, and I look around.
To my right is a small living area, lit with warm, cozy orange lamps, and to my left is a modest kitchenette. At the back of the room is a staircase and on the side where the living area is, there is a small fireplace burning with iridescent violet flames.
Up the little staircase is an elegant bedroom, with a four-poster bed, chaise lounge by the window, and a walk-in wardrobe. A door to the side leads to an ensuite. This place is beautiful.
“How did you manage to get all this stuff? And the hut?” I ask Davina.
“Witchcraft, Tajun,” Davina says. “But not the evil kind, don’t worry.”
“Oh, okay,” I say, and my mouth is somewhere between a smile and frown. I must look really stupid. “Well, thank you, Khun Davina.”
“There’s no need for such formalities here,” Khun Davina smiles. “Just call me Davina. Titles are strange.”
I think I’m blushing again. Curse my gay heart. But for some reason, Davina telling me I can just call her ‘Davina’ instead of ‘Khun Davina’ makes my brain go all mushy.
She must think I’m crazy. I know I certainly think I’m crazy.
“Right then,” Davina says. “I will leave you to settle in. This evening we meet at eight for dinner, in the Coven square, and then at dawn tomorrow for breakfast. Lunch is at one. At eight o’clock, two hours after breakfast, we begin our daily lessons.”
“Will the jade bushes around my hut die?” I ask suddenly. I don’t know why that question came out. “Since it’s winter, I figured things might not flourish . . . unless a witch in our coven has powers over nature or something.”
“All the living plants and animals will survive at any time of the year,” Davina answers. “And as a matter of fact, we do have a eco-witch. Her name is Opia. She’s the tall girl with the dark green curls and freckles.”
Now that I think about it, I do remember seeing a girl with green hair sitting next to the blonde before. I wonder if they’re friends. Or maybe more than that – they were holding hands.
“Thank you, Davina,” I say as she moves to the staircase. Light fluttering in from the six windows in my bedroom shine onto her beautiful face as she looks at me. Her eyes are slightly golden.
Davina smiles and winks as she sweeps away.
I think my heart has just lifted.
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