“Next,” Sapphire nodded to the security guard, who was at my other side.
“Well,” he said, leaning back and puffing himself up. “I did say that a fire extinguisher should have been nearby, and I’m going to repeat that. And I think it’s a downright bad sign for an altar to go up in flames-”
And I just tuned it out after that. He wheedled on and on, saying how safety should always come first and not actually sounding sad or thoughtful at all. After five minutes, he finished with “yeah, safety.” And then he smiled as if he’d actually said something.
Next was the phys ed teacher, Maria. “You know, I’ve got native ancestry,” she said boldly. “Not sure from which tribe, but definitely in there somewhere, way back where.”
Always a good start to anything. Claim ancestry to back up your claim.
“I think it was the shell that did it,” Maria continued. “You’re not supposed to burn it in a shell. It’s offensive. I think there’s a connection there between burning offensively and your shrine catching on fire.”
“But it was white sage!” Amethyst declared, as offended as could be. “It would have purified-”
“Not your turn to talk,” muttered Sapphire, still writing.
“It can’t be that!” finished Amethyst, crossing her arms over her heaving bosom.
Maria held up her hands. “Just taking a native’s perspective on it.”
“This was a residential school,” said Sapphire cautiously. “Perhaps we need to be extra cautious to be respectful of native traditions. There has been enough harm to them committed on this land.”
Maria nodded righteously, but Amethyst burst up. “But it was not disrespectful!”
“Sit down. Next,” demanded Sapphire.
Amethyst thumped down, face crinkling with restrained tears.
Bjorn was next. He mumbled that it was ‘quite the fire’ and that he ‘wasn’t sure what to make of it’, which was all lies. Except for it being a big fire. That it had been. But not having an opinion? Despite his big beaming smile at the end, the guy was obviously just not wanting to tread on toes.
After Bjorn was Crystal, who went on a similarly cautious walk-around of the issue. Then there was – MoonRaven, our nurse.
“I think it shows a deep disturbance in the psyche of this place,” she said with a nod. “Definitely wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some native burial grounds here or something.”
“Children were sometimes buried on the residential school lands,” said Sapphire with a nod, scribbling away.
Great! So now it was official-ish! We were on a native burial ground. Just perfect.
I barely heard the thoughts of Ivy, Sapphire’s secretary, but Paulette drew herself up with gumption. “I think we didn’t exercise perfect caution, and it bit us in the butt,” she said defiantly.
Amethyst looked away angrily.
“We are all to blame in some part,” she went on to say. “But good ritual is like math. I know math, and so ritual,” she paused “I think I second what Thunder said. It didn’t quite go right. We ought to look inside instead of just outside. What did we do that made them, the spirits, want to set our stuff on fire?”
Not just ‘our’ stuff, but Amethysts’ stuff specifically, I noted silently to myself.
Then, it was Amethyst.
Sapphire designated her with a hand, and the entire table held its breath. Probably, even the wood of this table literally stopped being porous for a minute. That’s how the energy was in the air right then.
Amethyst stood up, clearing her throat. Pen still scribbling, Sapphire said “You can sit down,” in a very flat voice.
Amethyst sat down with a face. Sapphire completely ignored it, still jotting down stuff. Then she looked up, just to see the whole table holding its breath and amethyst staring angrily at Sapphire.
Sapphire straightened, shaking out her hand. “It’s your turn to talk. So talk.” Let us have it, she seemed to say. I braced myself mentally, deciding that I would keep in mind that Amethyst was a … fully fledged adult who ought to be in control of her emotions? Eh, oh well. Good luck to us all.
Amethyst sucked in a breath, then said with a broken voice damp with tears “I can’t believe you all have been attacking me!”
Sapphire kept a very neutral face, but she wasn’t writing this down.
“I, held that ritual,” Amethyst was breathing in heaves and starts. “Out of the goodness of my heart!”
“We weren’t questioning that,” started Paulette, only to be interrupted by Sapphire.
“Not your turn,” Sapphire said flatly, still not writing anythign down.
“I, do NOT see the point of all these ad hominem attacks!” Amethyst wailed, tears beginning to stream down her face.
“They were not ad hominem attacks,” said Sapphire matter of factly, clasping her hands over her notepad.
Amethyst wasn’t listening, gulping and sobbing. “I did my best! And you,” here she looked directly at me “Attacked me! After my shrine burned! And you!” she glared at Sapphire. “you brought us all to this evil infested place!”
Sapphire raised just one eyebrow in a very unimpressed way. It was sexy as hell. But now was not the moment to dissolve into a pile of goo at her feet.
“I can’t imagine the sorts of trauma that the children who come here will have to endure!” she wailed. “This place is dangerous! Haunted! And you,” she looked around the table “Will blame them for their own problems!”
Amethyst rose up to her feet, glaring Sapphire down. “I can’t believe this place! I can’t believe you!” she shrieked at Sapphire. “I am a high priestess! I know how to do ritual! And you are all doubting me-”
“Actually, it is because you are a high priestess that we are holding you responsible for the results of your ritual,” said Sapphire tartly. “You led a ritual that, according to some of us, may have been poorly done. Surely if you weren’t powerful your mistakes wouldn’t have had such a catastrophic result.”
Was she- trying to compliment Amethyst? Was she? Was it working? Amethyst was standing there, mouth ajar.
Sapphire looked down at her paper, tapping her notes with her pen. “Your ritual’s result was dangerous, and seems to have greatly upset you. However, it is not an attack against your personality or powers or will. I think everyone here will agree that you did it out of goodness and concern. We all appreciate your presence, I am also sure. I think that, what I have mainly heard around this table, is that your ritual’s disaster was caused both by your own accident as well as the spirits of this land. The spirit’s actions are not your fault.”
Amethyst sniffled. Sapphire pressed on. “No one here wants to attack you.”
With a sob, Amethyst plunked back down onto the bench. It squeaked loudly, or was that her?
“We are all worried,” Sapphire insisted. “The way the ritual ended was a powerful sign. I think what we need is to work together to solve this issue, instead of letting it divide us.”
Amethyst nodded with another squeak. She held out her arms for a hug from Sapphire. Sapphire cleared her throat. “I uh, not the hugging type but uh?”
“Group hug!” declared Crystal, lurching up from her spot.
Oh, good Goddess. Cries of ‘Group hug!’ went up, and the table mobilized itself. Like a swarm with Amethyst as the wounded bee, everyone rushed to coagulate around her.
I sat there, me and Sapphire exchanging a look while everyone else patted Amethyst and exchanged body warmth. I shrugged. “Not a hugger,” I said. Sapphire nodded, smiling awkwardly at this display.
After a few moments of hugging and patting and laughing through tears (in Amethyst’s case) everyone took their places again.
“Alright, we have one more person to hear from, then we brainstorm solutions,” said Sapphire before handing ‘the floor’ to the woman sitting at her right.
The woman, who I recognized as the detention teacher, merely shrugged. “I think it’s all been said,” she said warm-heartedly. “I really hope we can find a working solution, and make sure that this place will have good luck and protection going on.”
Everyone nodded and hummed appreciatively at that.
“Alright, good,” Sapphire said with determination. Flipping through her notebook, she drew a packet of cue cards from the back and set them before herself. “We are now going to try and find solutions.”
Everyone leaned forward eagerly.
Once again, the air was full of suspense. Possibilities! Endless opportunities!
“So,” Sapphire flipped through her notes. “It seems like we need to fix whatever it was that caused the upset. Maybe a ‘we’re sorry’ sort of ritual, to pacify the spirits?”
There were hums and haws around the table. I nodded vigorously. Sapphire wrote in large ‘we’re sorry’ on a cue card and set that before herself. Then she took another and, while talking, wrote ‘banish’ on it. “We could banish all negativity-”
And that, that’s where it went screwy, if you ask me.
“That’s what we need!” declared Amethyst, gasping in awe at her own revelation. “A banisher!”
“M-hmm,” said Sapphire, “we can-”
“No, we bring in a real expert!” exclaimed Amethyst.
Sapphire just looked at her, shoulders heaving in a sigh.
Amethyst waved her hands as if ushering us all to lean in and share this secret. Except she was now talking super loud and fast. “I know a lady! A real witch! And I mean- she teaches!”
Uh, okay? You’re saying that to a room full of teachers, but okay?
“M-hmm?” Sapphire set down her pen, face completely nonplussed.
“We can have her come and – we don’t even need to tell her what we think! She will just,” Amethyst swept her arm sideways as if clearing the table to spite the floor. “Everything! Clean it all! She’s intuitive!”
“Oh, that could be nice!” chirped in Crystal.
“A real expert!” claimed Amethyst. “And she’s cheap! Only a hundred an hour!”
“A hundred an hour?” asked Sapphire tartly.
“Oh yes!” said Amethyst. “That’s cheap!”
I … wasn’t so sure. Neither were several others. And yet – Amethyst was passionately ranting on, declaring this woman a ‘friend in the Goddess’ and a ‘good, strong soul’ and a ‘really skilled banisher’!
“It won’t hurt to try,” suggested Bjorn.
Sapphire raised her eyebrows.
“I will message her!” Amethyst began rifling in her bosom and pockets. “If she’s available, we must have her come before the children get here-”
“If we decide to call upon her,” said Sapphire tartly.
“I think it’s worth a shot,” said Paulette slowly.
Aurora nodded. “Sometimes a blank slate, without judgment, is the best thing.”
Sapphire nodded slowly while Amethyst typed away at her phone. “This is an emer-gen-cy,” said Amethyst, probably narrating what she was typing. “We need this woman straight aways!”
Sapphire raised an eyebrow. “And, what accreditations does she have?”
“Oh!” Amethyst raised her hands. “She does it all! Fairy reiki, dragon summonings, elf shamanism, elder channeling, you name it!”
Sapphire, to her credit, kept on a very composed face. “Elf shamanism?”
Sapphire stared off into the void as if somehow broken. “Hmm,” was all she said.
I tried to rescue this situation. “Well, I’m sure that if we were to put our heads to it, we could do another ritual that would fix things.”
“I’m not leading another ritual,” said Amethyst tartly.
Sapphire looked to Aurora. “You could, if you’d like. Or I could.”
Amethyst looked pointedly at Aurora. “How experienced are you at banishing? It can get gritty sometimes!”
Aurora kept her cool. “I haven’t led many rituals.”
Amethyst, eyes bulging, pointed to her phone. “This lady has seen it all! Demon summonings, oh!” the phone buzzed and Amethyst grinned. “She says she can be here today!”
“Alright, all in favor of this raise your hand,” said Sapphire grimly, as if she already knew the outcome.
Most of the table raised their hands, to my surprise.
“Hmm,” said Sapphire grimly. To Amethyst, she said “So where was this lady trained?”
“Oh, she’s intuitive,” said Amethyst. “Do I tell her to come?”
Sapphire smiled grimly, like she was telling someone to nail her inside a coffin. “Yes. Do it.”