Shadow Magic

By @kayla
Shadow Magic

After the death of her grandmother, Aila Hall's life turns upside down. Her new gifts as a witch have her stumbling down a dangerous road. All manner of supernatural beings are out in the open and Aila races to find her grandmother's murderer.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

         Every person has several moments in their lives that drastically alter the path they’d chosen. It could be the birth of a child, a new lover, change of job, or the loss of a loved one. No one knows when it will happen, only that it will. Destiny or fate, whatever you want to call it, has its own plan for each of us. You can believe you make your own choices but you’re wrong.

This morning, the smell of smoke woke me from my bed. Running to the kitchen, I searched for my grandmother. My voice was hoarse as I called for her. I kept searching. Suddenly, heat flared up the side of my arm, so intense I dropped to the ground. Frantically, I looked for the source.

There was nothing.

The smoke cleared and the sensation of burning left my body. A chill settled around me, sending goosebumps down my arms. Cold sweat ran down my back as I picked myself up off the ground. The chirping of my phone pulled my attention to the counter.

“Hello?”

“Aila, this is Offer Davis. There’s been an accident.”

“Who?” My voice trembled as I asked.

“I’m so sorry. Glenda was in a car accident.”

I felt the air leave my body and I clutched the phone like a life line. “Where is she?”

Silence.

“Davis? Which hospital?”

“I’m sorry Aila, but your grandma didn’t make it.”

My world shifted, everything tilting and I dropped my phone. This wasn’t possible. Davis’s voice sounded through the tiny speaker on the floor, his word inaudible. Tears streamed down my face as I stood there, unable to move.

Distantly, I heard knocking but couldn’t process where it was coming from. A moment later someone was gripping my shoulders, their rough hands hot against my skin. I blinked several times, trying to make out their face.

“Aila? Are you alright?”

I shook my head.

“Come on, sit down.”

It was Mark. His dark hair and brown eyes came into focus as he steered me toward my couch. I’d known Mark for years but hadn’t seen him in almost five.

“I’ll get you some water.”

I nodded.

My phone was still on the floor but the screen was dark. Mark scooped it up as he walked past and flipped it closed. I watched him grab a glass and move to the sink before turning my attention to the wall. A picture hung there. My grandma riding her horse in one of the many rodeo’s she participated in when she was younger.

My chest ached. The pain threatening to suffocate me as it gripped my heart. Nothing made sense. I slumped over and put my head in my hands. This couldn’t be right.

“Here,” Mark said, handing me the glass.

I took it with trembling hands. “Thanks.”

“Are you alright?” He asked for the second time.

No. “Yes.”

He stared at me a long moment. His gaze penetrating my lie. “I’m sorry.”

I shook my head. I couldn’t put words to what had happened. “Why are you here?”

“My dad told me about your grandma. A friend from the station called him.”

“Before me?”

Mark nodded. “He’s a close friend of the family.”

We sat in silence. I took a sip of the water. It soothed my throat, the raw itching feeling from earlier fading with each drink. What did I do know?

“I’m sure your Aunts will be here soon,” Mark said.

“Yeah,” I said before a sob cut off my words.

Mark moved from the chair to sit next to me on the couch. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and I leaned into him. Crying was not something I did in front of people but I couldn’t stop it. My body shook the grief poured out.

To his credit, Mark simply sat there, one hand brushing my hair. After what felt like an eternity, the tears slowly faded. I was still sucking in painful gasps of air when a knock came at the door. Mark went to answer but my aunts beat him to it.

Aunt Mila and Aunt Barb entered, their faces bright red and puffy. They quickly crossed the room, both wrapping their arms around me. I would have cried if I’d had any tears left. Instead I hugged them back, thankful they were here.

“I’ll go make some tea,” Aunt Mila said.

Aunt Barb sat next to me, her thin hands holding mine. Mark stood leaning against the wall, watching. Aunt Barb told me about the phone call from Officer Davis. She’d received it not long after me. My insides ached as she spoke but my tears were spent for the moment.

“Here you go dear,” Aunt Mila said as she handed me a mug.

I sat my water down and took the tea, grateful for the warmth. That chill lingered even after I’d finished my cup.

“We have some things to discuss Aila,” Aunt Barb said. She patted my hand then looked to Mark. “We’ll take it from here.”

Mark’s eyes went from my Aunt to me then he nodded. “I’ll check on you later, okay Aila?”

“Okay.”

After he left, the aunts settled around me. They seemed to be preparing for something so I waited unsure of what to say. I couldn’t form a solid thought that didn’t involve the accident and I just wasn’t ready to talk about that.

“Okay,” Aunt Barb began, “we have some rather weird things to talk about.”

“Are you sure they can’t wait until tomorrow Barb?” Aunt Mila asked.

“No, we’ll make it fast.”

I looked between my two aunts, thoroughly confused as to what was going on. If they needed to talk to me about something then I wished they’d just get on with it.

Aunt Barb patted my hand again. “This is going to sound strange, but I promise it’s the truth.”

Aunt Mila nodded. “You are going to start feeling weird and seeing things. Things that aren’t really here.”

“You are a descendant of a long line of witches, Aila.”

I blinked. What?

“Yes,” Aunt Mila continued, “it sounds crazy, I know. You have a gift and now that, well, now that you are the last your magic will be extremely powerful.”

I shook my head. “Hold on a second. You guys can’t be serious?”

“We are.”

“That’s not possible. Why are you doing this?”

Aunt Barb released my hands and stood. Her eyes never leaving my face, she raised her hands in the air. Static filled the space around us, prickling my skin. My heart slammed against my chest as the sensation intensified. Suddenly, every object in the room began to levitate.

I scrambled backward on the couch, wrapping my arms around my knees. “What the hell?”

Aunt Barb lowered her arms and everything returned to normal. “I am also a witch, Aila.”

“No, that’s not possible.”

Aunt Mila tried to smile at me, her round face still splotchy. “I know it’s hard to understand but it gets easier.”

“Are you a witch too?”

“No,” Aunt Mila said with a strained laugh. “I’m not.”

My family was crazy. That was the only explanation.

“Why are you telling me this now?” I asked them, still unsure if I should play along or deny all of it.

“Because,” Aunt Barb said with a sigh, “your powers will be active now and you need to know. It could be dangerous if you’re left unaware.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. “So what does it mean?”

 “We can work on that tomorrow. Just know that if anything weird happens, it’s okay.”

My aunts both looked at me, their faces so genuine it made me want to believe them. But it just wasn’t possible. I was in shock. That was all.

“Okay.” Maybe if they thought I believed them they would leave.

“Do you need us to do anything for you?” Aunt Mila asked.

“No, I’m fine,” I said, a little too quickly. “Really.”

“Maybe we should stay, make some food?”

“Seriously,” I tried to relax, leaning forward and giving them the best smile I could muster. “I’ll be fine.”

The aunts looked at one another then back to me but finally nodded. They paused at the door.

“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call us.”

“Thank you guys,” I told them and hugged them both tightly.

Even if they were crazy I loved them both deeply. I knew they were struggling too, dealing with this in their own way. Even if they believed they were witches, I would always love them.

After we said our goodbyes, I sank back onto the couch, unsure of what to do next. This was all so surreal. Witches and magic. If my grandma were here she’s swat both my aunts. Then again, grandma’s library was packed full of herbs and books on witchcraft. Did she think she was a witch too?

A pang of sadness washed over me as I realized I’d never get the chance to ask her. More tears slipped down my face and I buried my head into the arm of the couch. I couldn’t so this. It was too much.

After a few minutes, I sat up. I’d just have to find the answers myself.

The library was dusty like always and the hint of lavender wafted through the room. The smell brought tears to my eyes but I held them in. Searching the shelves, I found an old book titled Secrets of the Craft by Sara Chiles.

I took the book and sat in the old armchair near the window. The sky outside had clouded over and everything was dreary and cold looking. It fit the day perfectly.

Flipping open the book to a random page I began reading:

Every witch has her own unique signature. Each of us learn and use magic in a different way. Take my friend for instance, she has the ability to see time. Not just the past or future but the present as well. It’s an ability all her own.

Others can brew strong potions and even some can control the elements around them. If you want to learn more about a specific affinity, please visit our website. I have a book tailor made for each one.

I closed the book. It sounded more like a crack pot trying to sell her items to a delusional audience. I searched for another book when I came across a journal of sorts. It was a small, red leather bound book. The pages were worn and the ink was faded in spots. I opened it up the first page.

Today, I successfully made my first potion. After three weeks of trying to produce a proper repellant, it worked!

3 pinches Lavender

2 pinches Eye of Newt

1 cup Toad’s oil

1 dash Dragon breath

It repels all manner of dark magic. I was so excited I nearly shared my success with Aila, but alas, I was afraid she’d shy away from me. She’s so young and still traumatized by her mother’s leaving. I will wait a little longer.

The words on the page didn’t make sense. Grandma? She made potions? Her handwriting was unmistakable. I’d keep this journal with me. How many people knew about her? I needed answers and kept finding more questions. This wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I left the library still wondering around the house with no real goal. I felt like a robot, simply going through the motions of life. I made something to eat then tried to watch a movie. Finally, I moved to the front porch. I needed fresh air.

The air was a little chilly but spring was on its way out and I knew summer was right around the corner. I had a week until my birthday which happened to fall on the first day of summer.

I looked out over the driveway and down to the barn. The horses were all inside by now, eating dinner. The sky had cleared up and the bright blue was slashed by reds and purples. The setting sun cast the trees into deep shadows as it sank behind the hills. This place was beautiful in the evening.

Gravel crunching pulled me from my sightseeing. Mark’s black charger pulled up in front of the wraparound porch. He stepped out, eyes scanning the area around him before jogging up the steps to where I was sitting.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey.” I patted the cushion next to me. “Have a seat.”

The porch swing moaned a little as he settled down. Mark didn’t say anything else and we sat in comfortable silence. It had always been that way with Mark. Easy. I loved that about him. We’d always been so close and I didn’t realize until now just how badly I’d missed him in my life.

“Thanks for coming back,” I said after a while.

“Of course.”

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