The next morning, I woke before any alarms went off. For a moment, I just lay in bed, wondering where the hell I was. Then, when I remembered where I was, I wondered what was about to go wrong. I sat up, half expecting an alarm, a whack across the head, or some evil spirit to go boo.
Nothing of the sort. I was a clear half an hour before anyone else was to wake, and so I cautiously crawled from bed. Seeing that I had the time, I sat down for some meditation and to finish my witch’s ladder. Again, nothing bad happened. Sure, I was a tad sleepy, but nothing was catching fire.
Once my ladder and meditation was done, I felt refreshed and happy. Today was going to be a good day it seemed. I slunk away to an early shower just as the alarms started going off and people began waking.
As I left the showers I ran into Bjorn. “You’re up early,” he said gruffly, his breath smelling like a dragon’s butt. I nodded with a smile. He grinned. “And you remembered the hair this time. No conditioner.”
I sighed. Was I going to be known as ‘the dude who forgot the conditioner’? But I shrugged and went on my way. It was nothing, really. Not enough to make my day suck.
Once more in my room, I found myself relaxing. Maybe not everything was destined to explode or catch fire in this place. Maybe, just maybe, the ritual had worked and today was going to go harmlessly.
Yes, I thought that maybe things would go smoothly.
Breakfast was a gentle affair. Sapphire told everyone that the rest of the staff were arriving this morning, and that we had better memorize school rules in order to enforce them. To which Amethyst hung her head miserably and nodded to her toasts.
To lighten the mood, Crystal lifted a foot on the other side of the bench she was sitting on. “I remember one!” she said, pointing to her shoe.
“Excellent,” said Sapphire with a wisp of a smile.
There really was nothing more to note about that breakfast. Coffee was had, Cheryl left early for a smoke (strictly off campus, as smoking was not permitted on school grounds – which led me to wonder what she had been doing smoking on the lawn last night). Bjorn started raving about a new book he was reading, and Paulette was happily announcing that she was all ready for the students to arrive.
Cool, cool. All was good. Groovy. Swimmingly. I was half-way back to my room to finish class prep work when an email dinged in on my phone.
It was from the principal, succinctly reminding the staff to have student greeting procedures memorized and be ready to greet and guide the parents tomorrow.
I froze, a hand on my doorknob. We were greeting the parents and new students? Ugh. Somehow this had flown over my head, because apparently this was the second email she had sent on the topic.
Okay, okay, that didn’t mean that today was going to shit. That just meant I had more than enough work to do. Okay, I could manage this.
I was seated at my desk and mid-way to lighting some incense to help me concentrate when I remembered last nights fiasco, and the no-incense rule. Right.
Dumping that incense into the trash (just so I wouldn’t be tempted to light it later), I sat down and decided to work, incense-less.
The day crawled by. I finished my course work by noon and was attacking the emails about greeting the students when ding! My alarm went off to notify me about lunch. Groan. With one final skim-through of the page I was reading, I was just about to get up when a knock was heard at my door. Ah?
Part of me hoped it was Sapphire. Part of me dreaded it being Sapphire, because that would probably mean I was in trouble.
But it was Paulette. “Hi!” she said, waving nervously. “Just reminding you that it’s lunchtime. In case you were too busy.”
“Oh, thanks,” I said, jangling my keys out of my pocket. “Uh, I was just going.”
“Oh, great!” she said with that nervous pep that anxious people have when they enter social situations.
We walked quietly to the lunch hall. As we entered it, Paulette piped up again. “The new teachers should be here by now. Have you seen them?”
“No,” I said, just as I laid eyes on them.
They were with Sapphire, standing before the cafeteria, talking. They all just looked so professional together. There was Sapphire in her black suit that was, really, just amazing on her. She looked like an FBI agent here to kick ass and steal your identity or something.
There was a woman who was short and portly, with a big grin and a calm aura. She was dressed in a button up shirt and a pair of jeans. Her skin was olive and she had soft eyes.
Then, there was ‘her’. She had dark purple hair that cascaded down her shoulders in perfect curls. She was curvy and sculpted in her suit. She was pale, in a sort of Irish way. Beside her, Sapphire’s darker hues came out.
Wow, I thought, crushing on both of them so hard I almost missed the last step that descended into the hall. I didn’t even notice the two other dudes, security guards both of them, until I was passing them.
“Oh, this is Thunder and Paulette,” said Sapphire, gesturing to us as we slid up to the group. “This is Amanda,” she said, gesturing to the purple – haired woman.
What was it with me and women in suits? Gorgeous. Heart-stopping. She looked at me like I was an interesting speck of dirt. I instantly wanted to be the dirt on her shoe.
“Hi,” I said robotically, lifting a hand.
“Hi!” said Paulette at my side excitedly.
Amanda was our school psychologist. The nurse was named Phoenix. The security dudes were named Fred and Jason. One of them had a Thor’s hammer tattoo on his beefy forearm, and the other didn’t. That was how I was going to tell them apart.
“Food!” barked Cheryl, lifting up the grid that closed the cafeteria to indicate it was closed.
“I hope you’re going to be more charming when the students arrive,” said Sapphire staunchly as we turned to the food.
“Abracadabra! Food! That charmin’ enough?” sniggered Cheryl as she began to hand out frilly sandwiches.
Sapphire gave her a ‘look’ and Cheryl swallowed that comment. “I’ll try ma’am,” she said to her sandwiches.
“Good,” said Sapphire tartly. Then she took her tray and marched away to the staff’s usual table.
The rest of the staff arrived in a burst. There was Amethyst and Maria who were chatting up a storm, and who immediately grouped around the newcomers like they were fresh coffee.
“I just love your hair,” said Amethyst, gushing.
“Thank you,” said Amanda, completely composed, as if she was used to people gushing over her all the time.
“You look so professional,” said Maria.
“That’s because I am a professional,” said Amanda tartly.
Okay, maybe I liked her a little less now. Which was a good thing anyways. I didn’t need to crush dramatically on every woman around here in a suit.
So I sat down and hoped to finish lunch, get the hell away from all this sexiness, and bottle back up inside my room.
“So what kind of Wiccan are you?” Ivy was asking Amanda as they sat down with the rest of everyone around the table.
“I’m not Wiccan,” Amanda said scornfully. “I’m a reconstructionist. Kemetic.”
“Orthodoxy?” I hear Aurora ask.
“No, independent,” said Amanda tartly. “I don’t take well to being told who my deities are, and that’s part of entering into the Kemetic Orthodoxy.”
There were agreeable hums from around the table. “Well!” exclaimed Amethyst. “I’m not one for structure either. I like things to be free, creative, and whimsical!”
“Oh, I like structure,” said Amanda coolly. “I just like choice too.”
Amethyst was baffled. Amanda was smug. I was starting to think that Amanda was secretly a jerk. Bjorn leaned forward, trying his hand at the newcomer. “Have you heard that this place is haunted? It was a residential school?”
“Oh?” asked Amanda, wholly undisturbed.
“I had it cleansed by a Mohawk shaman,” said Sapphire calmly, eating away primly.
“And it wasn’t enough?” asked Amanda.
“Oh no it wasn’t!” gushed Amethyst. “The vibe was awful! I tried to do a cleansing ritual but it was too powerful – my altar caught fire!”
Amanda’s eyebrows rose. “It was too close to the fire,” muttered Sapphire as an explanation.
“It ex-ploded!” enunciated Amethyst tearily. “All my statues! Gone!”
“Oh,” said Amanda quietly. “That is awful.”
“Yes,” sniffled Amethyst dramatically before saying mournfully. “So we had to bring in an expert. We brought in Madame Hoffier.”
“Who?” asked Amanda.
“A local,” said Paulette with a squeak.
“Oh,” said Amanda, as if locals were cheap and useless. My dislike for her grew by ten percent. I tried to tune out the conversation, but kept being dragged in by quips of this and that. As it turned out, Amanda was some sort of big-wig psychologist who was speaking at this and that conference. She name-dropped a few psychologists she was presenting with, and I guessed it was supposed to be impressive, but it was just getting on my nerves.
I was clearing up my tray quickly, trying to escape, when Paulette flashed me a smile. “Back to getting ready?” she asked.
“Ready for what?” asked Amanda as if she was automatically included in all conversations.
“The apocalypse,” I said as a joke, but it came out serious.
“Oh, so you’re a christian witch?” asked Amanda, laying those professional eyes on me.
Sapphire looked at me at the same time. The whole table looked at me. Amethyst gasped in awe, as if I was a rare specimen.
“Uh, no I, don’t talk about my personal beliefs,” I stumbled, trying to dig my way out of that hole. But it was too late. Like tomato sauce on a white shirt, I was stained now by the touch of Christianity.
“Oh? Why is that?” asked Amanda, sipping her coffee with such a professional air that it was grating.
“I thought you were Gardnerian,” asked Crystal curiously.
Sapphire cleared her throat. “No one is under duress to talk about their beliefs.”
I flashed Sapphire a smile, turning to drop off my tray and leave. As I walked away I heard Amethyst whisper “He says ‘Jesus’ all the time!”
Oh, great, I thought as I walked out of the hall. Now I’m the Christian witch in a group of traditionalists. Great.