Lily had always liked the ritual of throwing of spaghetti to determine whether it was done. It hits the wall, clinging for dear life and it sticks. Because it was ready. Throw it too soon and it falls to the ground, ruining what little value it had to begin with. Yet when it sticks, it's a clear affirmation: hey, I'm ready, you can go ahead and put me on your plate. A firm answer. Yes or no. Simple.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same luxuries as spaghetti. Life, a lot of times, doesn't give you that option. Things are taken--stolen--too soon. Before you even had time to get ready. Hell, you didn't even make it into the pot. You were flung, still stiff and uncooked, into situations that you weren't prepared for. And some situations could never be prepared for--like the one Lily was stepping into as she crossed the threshold of her family's shop 'Shaman Sense: Witchcraft Supplies and Psychic Readings'.
She walked through the curtain of beads that hung over the entrance. The sound of New Age music swam through her ears and tacky paper lanterns lit her surroundings creating a magical ambiance that drew in customers like a moth to a flame. Books lined the entire left wall, everything from Witchcraft For Dummies to Advanced Elemental Magick. The smell of lavender incense instantly made her feel at home as she walked up to the counter, prepared to take her shift.
Lily's mom was on the phone, presumably with a customer. "Sorry, we don't sell animal sacrifice supplies here." Her voice was low and sultry, which is the facade she put on for customers. For some reason people didn't think you were legitimate unless you sounded, and looked, like a cartoon character. She wore long, billowing dresses and scarves around her head, ridiculous amounts of jewelry hung from her body and heavy makeup adorned her eyelids.
"We're vegans... And members of PETA," she explained. "But I'm sure Madam Ophelia might have something for you. I could give you her information..."
Lily shook her head in disapproval. Halloween was just around the corner and the weird kids were getting excited about their first animal sacrifice. It was revolting. She ignored the rest of the conversation and opened the back door where the real magic supplies were kept. She stashed her bag next to the cases of mugwort and other dream-type herbs and wrapped the spare scarf around her head, not bothering to change out of her jeans.
"I don't think it would be appropriate for me to recommend an animal for sacrifice... Or sacrificing in general. Like I said, maybe you should contact Madam Ophelia. Her shop is just a few miles away... Right... Sure... No, no, I believe that's illegal," her mother said, giving Lily a grimace when she walked back into the front room.
Lily started unpacking the new shipment of Candle Magick kits while her mother continued. "Honestly, sir, I don't know anything about sacrificial practices. Shaman Sense mainly deals with white magic and psychic readings. We don't dabble in dark-- No, we-we don't carry that either," she explained, looking even more uncomfortable, her voice rising an octave. "Sure, sure. Have a good afternoon."
She hung up with a sigh. "I can't wait until Halloween is over. That's was the third call today about animal sacrifices. And a few hours ago...someone actually called about an instructional book on virgin sacrifices. Do you think I should call the police?"
She plopped down in a purple reading chair and closed her eyes, massaging her temples with her fingertips. "No, they probably won't actually sacrifice a virgin. I honestly don't understand why the freaks of the world don't shop online." Lily stacked the kits on one of the desks they used as a display table, along with the individual candles and candle oils: Ambrosia for love, Birch for protection, and Marigold for clairvoyant dreams.
"Me neither," she said, opening her eyes back up. "Oh, Lily, I almost forgot. You have a reading in a couple of hours. Tarot."
Lily groaned. Readings were such a chore. She and her mom, along with various other family members, were actually psychic, but that didn't mean that their readings were true. People didn't come to Shaman Sense to hear the truth. When a person seeks out supernatural help, they want one thing and one thing only: good news. So that's what they give them.
"Great," Lily mumbled.
That's when the bell at the door rang overhead, signaling someone's entrance into the store. The beads rustled and from behind them came a group of men--all in suits, all in ties. "Can I help you?" her mom said, getting up from her chair.
The man in the front--a short and stalky fellow--pulled a badge out of his jacket. "We're with the Sorcery Guard. Are you Ms. Atria Fowler, the owner of Shaman Sense?"
"Yes, that's me," she said, narrowing her eyes in suspicion.
Lily and her mother liked to stay away from the magical government. The strict hierarchies and dodgy politics were too pretentious for their taste. So, of course it was a shock to have them barge into their little magic shop. One of the suited men was looking around with his jaw set in superiority, the other had his set in disgust.
"There's a warrant for your capture. You're under arrest for the practice of Necromancy which is prohibited under section 134 of the Magical Laws and Regulations."
Lily's eyes grew wide, along with the hole that was quickly ripping it's way through her heart. "I haven't done Necromancy! I would never--"
"Save it for Magister Andros. Your trial will be set for sometime next week, until then, off to WarLOCK," he said, approaching her with a pair of glowing handcuffs. It was well known that they, along with the cells at WarLOCK, cut off all magical powers so that the detainee couldn't escape. She had no hope...
"Mom," Lily choked out, her throat tightening.
"It's okay, Lily. I'll be fine. You just stay with your aunt, okay? Keep the store open. I'll be out of WarLOCK before long. They don't have any proof. I love you!" she yelled, though they were already leading her out of the door.
"I love you too!"
Lily crossed her arms over her chest in anger. How could they take her mom like that? With no proof? Her mom would never, ever practice Necromancy. She used to tell Lily all the time when she was teaching her that the dead were meant to stay that way--it was a mantra of hers. Her mom was far more against it than anyone she knew.
She sat down on the purple reading chair in defeat, her head in her hands. Just like that, she was the piece of uncooked spaghetti. Lily wasn't meant to be without her mom until college next year, though who was she kidding? She'd probably end up working at Shaman Sense for the rest of her life. But that thought wasn't a comfort. If anything, it intensified the feeling of loss. She was alone. Completely and utterly.
She thought about calling her dad but surely he would throw a fit, threatening to drag her to Florida to live with him. But Lily didn't want to leave New York or Shaman Sense--they were her home. The only place she knew. Instead she called her Aunt Rosafer who was, decidedly, the most eccentric of all her family members.
"Yes?" her aunt answered. The sultry tones in her voice weren't an act, unlike her mother's, but something that she came about naturally.
"Rose...my mom...she's-she's been taken by the Guard. They took her away in handcuffs! She's going to WarLOCK,' Lily cried, letting a few tears escape her eyes while she was alone.
"Oh, Lily. I was afraid this would happen... You two have been too quiet. They were bound to get suspicious. I'm so sorry. You come to my house right now-you hear? Lock up the shop, cancel any appointments. You need some amaranth tea right away," she babbled. Amaranth was a magical herb--it healed broken hearts. Lily didn't think it would mend this wound, but it couldn't hurt.
"Okay, I just have to cancel one appointment first and I'll be there."
"Alright, alright. Hurry along now." And with that, she hung up.
Lily held her phone to her ear for a few more moments before sighing and slipping it back into her pocket. She unwrapped the scarf from around her head and put it away before walking back behind the counter to find the number to her client.
She searched through the towers of papers on the desk--her mother was one of the most unorganized people she knew. No telling where it was... After a few minutes, she found a piece of paper different from all the rest. It looked like one of her mother's automatic writings...
"The one who walks with God has returned.
The ones who've halted the soul evolution will meet their demise.
The magic world will be restored to it's former glory.
The one who hears the divine shall be the key.
The end is near."
The last line seemed to be scrawled over dozens of times, making the markings deep and bold. It left an ominous feeling deep in the pit of Lily's stomach. The end is near. What could that mean?
Her mother's visions came to her during her automatic writing sessions most of the time. It was something she could only do while in deep meditation--she believed she was accessing the angelic realm. And they always--always--manifested.
Lily didn't know why but reading this made her feel suspicious. This paper couldn't have been more than a few days old, judging by the pile it was sitting it. Why is it that she prophesied that the magical world would be restored to it's former glory and then get arrested by the Sorcery Guard only a few days later? It just didn't add up.
But one thing was for sure: Lily would find out what this meant. And when she did, she would get her mom out of WarLOCK.