“She’s here!” squealed Amethyst, stating the obvious.
The car looked like someone had taken a hammer to it, and a sledgehammer to other parts of it. It rattled as it drove up the gravel driveway, and seemed to just give up the ghost as it turned off before us.
Us, that is, being most of the teachers, the security guard, and Sapphire. Sapphire stood at the front, arms crossed and a pleasant look on her face that might have been trademarked by some makeup company, it was so neutral. She was poised, collected, and looked professional.
So, obviously, Amethyst had to run forward, squealing and shaking her hands with shawls flying. “Hello!” she squealed as she ran around the car.
Whatever might have been happy in Sapphire’s face turned grim. Her chest rose and lowered in a sigh, but she kept her poise.
On the other side of the car, I heard a weird accent. I saw a large shape and bright colors. There was a brief hug wherein Amethyst’s shawl draped around the figure – and then they both stepped from around the car.
The woman was large, round about the middle. Very round. Her hair was dark and frizzed out at the sides with whatever would cooperate being pulled back into a ponytail. She was wearing bright colors in strange shapes zig-zagged across her shirt on a black background. Her skirts swished and swished in a horrid shade that looked like a washed out grass stain. Or maybe vomit. She was wearing sandals.
“Ah! Hello! Bonjour!” she said, with a parisian accent as she walked over.
“Bonjour, comment allez vous?” said Sapphire in fluent french, greeting her and asking how she was. She offered a hand, which the madame clasped in both of hers.
“Ah! You have such strong hands!” declared the madame. She looked Sapphire up and down. “You try too hard. And you-” she waved expressively, bangles jangling around her wrists. “Need to get in tune with your inner goddess. Maybe you should masturbate a bit more.”
“I am so glad you came here for this banishing,” said Sapphire in sickly sweet tones as she tried to draw back her hand.
“Mmm,” the woman closed her eyes. “I sense a love affair. A -”
Sapphire yanked her hand free. “I thought you had been explained that we wanted a banishing from you-”
“Oh! Madam! I am intuitive!” she declared, hands butterflying about herself. “I do and say as the spirit calls!”
“Well, the staff have been very anxious about the state of our property, spiritually speaking,” said Sapphire sweetly. “They, especially,” and here she designated Amethyst with a hand “are very eager for you to do what needs to be done with this place.”
“Ah! But! I say and do what the spirit demands! And you!” she gestured up and down to Sapphire. “You are a woman who does not accept herself! You need to embrace your inner-”
“That is not what you are being paid for,” said Sapphire tartly.
The woman rolled her eyes wildly, shaking a hand to the sky. “But the spirits are speaking! And you need to accept yourself! Embrace your feminine side!”
“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. What about the land?” and Sapphire gestured to the building. “Do you want a tour?”
“Oh no, I will go where the spirit tells me to go!” She flicked out her hands, taking in a deep breath with her eyes closed. She then exhaled loudly. Inhaled loudly. Exhaled loudly. Then, like she was trying to waft incense closer, she waved a hand up to her face. “I’m sensing a disturbance. A tension, a sort of-”
Sapphire’s face could be described as → unimpressed. Strangely enough, that’s exactly how I felt as well.
“Some dramatic pain, maybe a death, a -”
Sapphire heaved a sigh.
“Lo-ots of pain, a history that is long and-”
“It’s an old building, yes,” said Sapphire icily.
The woman inhaled loudly again. “I am seeing a young woman, maybe lovers,”
I looked around. Amethyst was watching with rapturous attention. Crystal was starry-eyed. Aurora was perplexed.
“I sense-” another big inhale that could have sucked in a bee. Then her eyes popped open and she zeroed in on something past us. “That pond!”
“It’s a pond, yes,” said Sapphire softly.
The woman rushed forward, circling around us and making a beeline for the pond. Sapphire drew a sharp breath and followed, clearly irritated. We all followed, a little herd that was fascinated with these ongoings.
The woman drew to a standstill beside the pond. “Right here!” again, more hand waving and inhaling with eyes closed. “Someone was murdered!”
“How interesting,” said Sapphire dryly, but we barely heard it.
“Oh my!” declared Amethyst, waving her arms as she reached between Sapphire and the madame. “Could that be the bad vibes?”
“Quite sure it was the decades of children being tortured here that did it,” said Sapphire in a dark snap. Then, too late, you could see it in her face that she realized what she’d said.
The madame gawked. “What happened here?”
“I didn’t tell her!” stage whispered Amethyst with bulging eyes.
Sapphire smiled and shrugged, folding her arms behind her back. “A residential school is all.”
“What’s that?” asked the madame, suddenly losing her accent and waving demeanor.
“A native school,” said Amethyst.
“That’s not what a residential school was,” snapped Sapphire. “It was run by nuns, and the children were prisoners.” then, to the madame, she said “Look it up later. It’s not important now. Now we just need you to feel.”
That placated the woman somewhat. With a nod, she did the whole inhaling thing again. This time, she exhaled loudly through her mouth. Her eyes popped open. “Where did the ritual take place? The one you spoke to me about?” she said to Amethyst.
“Oh! This way!” and Amethyst began rushing away, the madame in tow. With their backs to her, Sapphire paused as if wondering if she really wanted to follow. Then, determined, she did.
Once we had reached the other side of the building where the firepit was, the madame gasped. “I feel so much aggression! Anger! Fire!”
“Well, we are by the fire pit,” said Sapphire tartly.
“Oh yes but, ahhh,” another inhale and hand waving. “This is-” a quick exhale then another inhale. “I sense a fiery spirit. Maybe a dragon.”
“One of the statues that burned was a dragon statue!” squeaked Amethyst.
“Mmmm,” said the madame most wisely. Now she swam her hands around above the fire pit, closing her eyes as if it took all her focus. Another inhale.
Mentally, I made a note that if any of my students wanted to breathe like that, they were getting detention. No matter their excuses or ‘feelings’.
As if reading my mind, the madame said “I feel,” another giant inhale. She wafted air up to herself – then sneezed. “Oh, you can still smell the plastic,” she said, grossed out and now waving the air in the other direction.
I wanted to smack my forehead with a palm. This was just too much.
“How about that banishing ritual?” Sapphire asks pointedly, crossing her arms over her chest. “We,” she checked her phone “don’t have that much time.”
“Oh, my dear, you can’t rush the spirit,” the woman gushed, still waving her arms as if swishing them in water.
“I’m only paying you for an hour,” said Sapphire tartly.
“It does not matter, I don’t do it for the money,” said the madame, closing her eyes again.
Sapphire looked quite angry at this, and I sympathized. How else would she get this person to leave?
“But, I can sense your impatience,” the madame said. Lowering her arms, she drew herself up and sniffed one final time. “We shall begin the ritual.”
Oh good goddess! I breathed a sigh of relief. But then I paused, realizing that it was this woman who was leading a ritual… did I really want to see that?
Yes, yes I did, said that part of me who loved binge-watching dramas. I really did.
We trailed along after the madame as she marched past to her car. “I didn’t know what would be required, so I brought whatever the spirit moved me for,” she declared as she approached her beat-up car.
Then, like an old school peddler from some poor village, she began drawing out stuff. And stuff. And stuff.
There was > a shaman’s drum, three different bundles of white sage, a wand covered in polymer clay decorations and crystals and feathers, a hooded cloak, a handful of candles, chakra stones, rune stones, and sticks.
And that was trip one.
Then there was a cauldron full of crystals, statues of the goddess and god, more candles (this time chakra colored), cone incense, a jug of water, pink salt in a salt shaker, and a silver circlet which she quickly popped onto her own head, as if afraid someone would steal it away.
Back around the fire pit, I simply stared as she began sorting through her miniature mountain of stuff. Then she turned around and faced us. “Alright!” she called out. “I’m going to need twelve volunteers! We need to be thirteen!”
Oh, good goddess. Now I was torn. I wanted in, but I also wanted to not be involved. I wanted the knowledge, but not to be stained by this ink. Crap.
Sapphire, for her part, was obviously not curious. She had backed away a good three steps from the madame. Amethyst was waving a hand ecstatically. By my side, Crystal was humming and nodding, slowly stretching an arm up.
I decided to hold back. You know what? I could be curious but I didn’t want to be injured. I could watch from outside and get a view, and that should be enough for me. That should be enough for me.
Except, dummy me, I hadn’t realized that we were already thirteen, including Sapphire. So if Sapphire backed out, everyone else had to go in.
“Come, come!” called out the madame. “We need to be thirteen!”
And I, the only one who had stood back (besides Sapphire, who was now almost a dozen feet away somehow) grudgingly walked over to the circle.