The Black Craft

How can I fear the end when I know that where I am
headed is to a new destiny?
Being a reincarnated Witch isn't easy. 18-year-old Billie
is struggling with coming to these terms. On the eve before her
eighteenth birthday she discovers she and her family are Witches,
her best friend is an Empath and the school Principal is a
Vampire.

The first eighteen years of her life she's been kept in
the dark all so that she and her brother could have a normal
childhood. But her fathers' choices has led to disastrous
consequences. Billie must learn to conrtol her powers and gain
strength as the first Vampire is reborn in the small town of Penn
Gate.

A lot of questions surround the new kids, Astrid, Christian and
Desiree. Billie doesn't trust them and likes it even less
when her own brother, Brian, begins to date one of them. But
what can she do about it when she has to keep her own secrets
safe?

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23. Graduation Day

The big day dawned three days after Eve’s funeral.  Matilda had stayed at mine every night and learned from my family all about witchcraft and the pagan craft.  When we drove to school in the morning there were more cars in the parking lot than usual.  Dulcie, Brian and Willem had to park their cars down the street at the local supermarkets’ car park.  Matilda found a spot far from where she normally parked and I made it in on time to park in my favourable spot near the main entrance.  As I stood waiting for them by the front doors they all rounded the corner together.  Brian, Dulcie, Riley, Matilda, Willem and Faith, I couldn’t help but think what an odd sight it was to see two of the most popular girls in school coming in together with the biggest misfits at Penn Gate High School.

 

We’d all come a long way in the past few weeks together.  Riley bounded up to my side with his graduation robes and cap slung over his arm.  Hand in hand we walked with the others until the bell rang indicating the start of the school day.

 

Dulcie was running about the school helping Leonard most of the day, she had to keep herself away from the students because a varying blend of emotions engulfed them all.  There was excitement in the air but with a small dose sadness.  When some of us had a free period we walked around to the gymnasium where there were doors that led out to a path.  Following the winding path it eventually veered off in two directions.

 

The left path took you to the football pitch and the baseball field, the right path took you on a further winding path surrounded by many plants and flowers until you reached a small court yard.  Here Leonard and a few others were setting up a temporary wooden stage and a podium where the graduates would be called out to come up and receive their diploma.  There was a frame built up on the back of the stage for curtains to hang from, this would be where the graduates gathered to line up before ascending the side steps of the stage.

 

Dulcie darted past me running errands for Leonard and his staff and working on her valedictorian speech.  The ceremony was to start shortly after lunch and the family and friends of the graduates began to gather amongst the fold out chairs twenty minutes prior to the beginning of the ceremony.  Since it was such a small school in such a small town there were only just over a hundred fold out chairs placed in the court yard and barely sixty students in our senior year were graduating.

 

Going to class felt pointless since what we did most of the time was play games on the chalk boards without teachers.  Many of us instead chose to prepare ourselves for the ceremony.  Matilda and I fished out our make-up purses and discussed what colours we each should wear.  Since the robes this year were in the school colours, black and red, Matilda instructed me to go with smoky eyes and I suggested she work with golden tones for herself.

 

With the make-up done and class over we went to the girls changing rooms to do each other’s hair.  Matilda helped me put some big wavy curls in my hair while I helped her straighten her own out before we changed into our robes.  Dulcie had already changed and made herself up when we found her a nervous wreck.

“I can’t wait for this to be over.” she said.

“The speech?” Matilda asked.

“No, high school.  I can’t wait to get out of here.”

“Me neither.” I agreed.  “Are you sure you’re up for giving the speech?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.  Come on, let’s get some food.” she said as the lunch bell rang.

 

When we entered the cafeteria and grabbed a tray each I found Kyle Reid behind the counters.

“Hi, how are you?” I asked.

“I’m better.  It’s been rough but I’m getting there.” He said in his lilting Scottish accent.

“I thought you were headed off to England.”

“I did go.  Mr Howell introduced me into the pack and they helped me transform without losing it.  I can transform without the help of the full moon now.” he said happily.

“Good.  How long are you back in America for?”

“A while.  Mr Howell is helping me take care of my mother, we’re moving her to a better hospital in Montreal.” he said handing me a plate of lasagne.

“I hope she’s well.”

“Thanks.  Good luck today.”

“Thank you.” I said before paying for my food.

 

When I walked to my table with Matilda and Dulcie we were joined by Brian, Riley, Willem and Faith.  They were all in graduation robes except for Brian, who wouldn’t graduate for two more years.  When we were all sat down at the table Brian jumped up again and withdrew a camera from his bag and began snapping pictures.

“Sorry, Nan made me promise I’d take pictures for her even though she’ll want more at the ceremony.”

“Well, that’s enough.  Now sit down and eat your food.”

 

We were finishing our meals when we saw the kids from the school band pick up their instruments then head off in the direction of the court yard.

“It’s almost time!  Are you nervous?” Riley asked.

“I think I’m struggling to believe that high school could be over in just thirty minutes.”

“I’m excited.” Matilda said happily.  “What about you guys?” she asked the Smiths.

“Um, we’ve all done this before.” Faith said.

“Yeah, but like a century ago.  So much has changed since then.” Matilda noted.

“She’s right.”  Willem said.  “But even though times have changed it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make it any less meaningful to us.”

“Hi guys!” Rowanne said walking up behind us.

I almost choked on my food.  “Rowanne what are you doing here?”

“We got here early so we could get good seats.” she explained.  “Don’t worry.  Leonard knows I’m here to get Brian.”

“When is your graduation, Rowanne?” Dulcie asked.

“Next week. I can’t wait!” she said excitedly.  “Are you all excited?”

“Hell, yeah!” Said Matilda.

“Oh, we’re going to have a party back at the house!” Rowanne said gleefully.

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.  Mom and I have been cleaning up the garden so we could have it there.  It’s just going to be our small crowd.  Nana has something in store that you can’t have anyone around who isn’t in the witch ring.”

“Okay, cool.”

“I better run.  Come on, Brian.  Good luck out there!”  She called over her shoulder as she and Brian departed the cafeteria.

We hastily finished our lunch, touched up our make-up and then headed back towards the court yard.  The winding path was decorated in the school colours, tinsel covered the plants and there were school spirit posters everywhere.  I could even here the school band practising ‘Star Spangled Banner’ as we neared the court yard.  Mrs Parkinson, the deputy Principal, was at the rear of the stage standing in front of the closed curtains, lining kids up in alphabetical order.

 

I saw Brian a small way away with his camera talking to someone who was hidden by a tree.  I walked over before heading to my place in the line to see who he was talking to.  My heart froze.  Grandma Preston stood behind the old pine tree looking at the pictures on Brian’s camera.

“What are you doing here?” I asked through stiff lips.

She blanched.  “I just wanted to see you graduate…”

“Get the hell out of my school.” I said.

“Please…”

“I said get out.  You weren’t invited, you’re not welcome here.”

“You are my granddaughter.”

“Am I?!” I laughed.  “Funny, ‘cause the way you’ve been treating me the past three years I was under the impression you’d disowned me.” I turned to Brian.  “What the hell are you playing at?  I thought you said Nana had asked you to take pictures.”

“I asked him to take the pictures.” Grandma Preston said.

“You - ?  You kicked him out of your house because he was showing early signs of his powers and now you’re using him to take pictures?  What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Trouble, Billie?” Leonard asked from behind me.

“She wasn’t invited and I want her to leave.” I said to him.

“Very well, Brian, why don’t you go join your family?” he said and patted him on the back.

“I have every right to see my granddaughter graduate.”

“Mrs Preston, I am Leonard Earle Smith and I am Principal of this school.” he said proudly.  “I wish you off school grounds immediately.  I do not want you upsetting this fine young woman on a day of celebration.” he said laying his hands on my shoulders.  “Off with you now.”

Grandma Preston ignored Leonard and turned back to me.

“Wilhelmina -”

“Don’t!  My name is not Wilhelmina it is Billie Josephine Black!  You are not welcome here, I am not your granddaughter and I never want to see you again for as long as I live and breathe.”

 

Without another word she stormed off in the direction of the school parking lot.

“Are you alright?” Leonard asked removing a handkerchief from his coat pocket, under his robes.

“Yes.” I said as he dabbed at tears on my cheeks I hadn’t noticed were there.

“Liar.” he said impassively.  “Go quickly clean up your make up.  I’ll delay them here.” he said stowing the handkerchief away.

I caught up with Dulcie and borrowed her compact mirror so I could see once I’d completely cleaned away the tears.  Seeing Grandma Preston was not someone I wanted to see today of all days, I began to feel ominously better when I cleaned up the rest of my face and turned to see Dulcie smiling at me.

“Did you just take away my sadness?”

“Yup.”

“Oh, DC, I don’t want you feeling sad today.”

“No, it’s okay.  I’m getting better at it.  I’m already starting to let it go.” she said.

 

We walked over to Mrs Parkinson so she could place us in our alphabetical slot.  I was closer to the front of the line than any of my friends.  Dulcie was a few students behind me and the Smiths and Matilda were closer to the end.  When the last of the friends and family had taken their seats Leonard took to the stage.  He made a small speech that I didn’t really take in as the reality of the fact that I was graduating hit me.  Mayor Palmer came marching down the winding path, his rotund belly preceding him, dressed in a black robe and cap covering his gleaming bald patch.  He winked and gave us all a small salute before climbing up the steps attached to the side of the stage along with his assistant.  The blood pulsing in my ears blocked out most of the conclusion to Leonard’s speech but when the school band started playing ‘Star Spangled Banner’ his voice rapt my attention.  The line started to move forwards as he called the students out.  Only a few minutes had passed when Leonard began to call out for the kids whose surname began with B.

“Barr, Chloe.  Bean, Jessica May.  Bird, Michael.  Black, Billie Josephine.”

I turned the corner of the stage to climb up the steps and heard my family cheering and applauding me on.  I had to hike the gown up when ascending the steps in fear I’d fall over and embarrass myself.  When I held my head up again I glanced at Leonard in time to see him wink.  Since Mayor Palmer was our guest speaker he would also be the one to hand out the diplomas to each graduate whose name was called out by Leonard.  Mayor Palmer’s hands were sweaty when he gave me my framed diploma and shook my hand, I saw Michael wiping his own hand on his gown after his sweaty encounter also.  Dr Pole, the chemistry teacher, indicated for me to switch my tassel from my right side to my left just before I descended the steps.  Taking my seat next to Michael Bird I watched the rest of the graduates accept their diplomas as Leonard continued to call them out.

“Call, Anna.  Carney, Dean.  Clements, Sean.  Cortes, Dulcie.”

 

I jumped up and cheered her on amongst her cheerleaders and her aunt.  I waved and congratulated her over Anna, Dean and Sean.

“How do you feel?” I mouthed.

“Much better.” she smiled mouthing back.

“Gabriel, Bruce.  Green, Victor.  Groves, Hannah.  Hart, Christian.” Leonard called.  Christian didn’t appear.  “Hart, Christian.” Leonard repeated.

In a flurry of robes Christian dashed on to the stage, shook Leonard’s hand and yanked the diploma from the Mayor’s clutches before leaping off the other side of the stage and running out towards the parking lot.

“Holland, Jack.  Howard, Stuart.  Howie, Yolanda.  Hush, Dakota.”

 

The line of students began to dwindle as Leonard worked his way through the alphabetical line.  Eventually, after an hour, he arrived at the S’s.

“Sloane, Kerri-Anne.  Smith, David.  Smith, Faith.  Smith, Riley.  Smith, Willem.  Snow, Bianca.  Stanley, Matilda.”

 

Nobody jumped out of their seats to cheer Faith on so I caught Dulcie’s attention and she shot up with me, clapping and whooping as Faith descended the steps.  The same happened again with Riley and Willem, this time my family joined in as Dulcie and I jumped up and down to cheer them on.  Riley and his siblings sat several rows behind us and Matilda was just one seat away from them.  We all cheered her on, her family, her friends, my family, the cheerleaders and the footballers.  Even Eve’s parents, whom were there to accept Eve’s diploma, cheered Matilda on.

 

When the last of the graduates had taken their seats Leonard began to introduce the speakers.

“Congratulations all!” Leonard applauded.  “Here with us today we have a very special guest.” he said unenthusiastically.  “Without much further ado I give you Mayor Arthur Palmer, our guest speaker.”

A scattering of applause broke out as the Mayor stepped up to the mic.

“Good afternoon, it’s a great honour to be here today.” The Mayor wheezed as he searched his pockets for his notes.

 

He finally found them and sat them on the podium in front of him before searching his pockets yet again for his glasses.  When I looked all around me at all the teachers, graduates and friends and relatives they weren’t paying the least bit of attention to him.  Even Leonard kept glancing at his watch every few seconds.  When Mayor Palmer finally had his little round glasses perched on his crooked red nose, the crowd began to busy themselves when Mayor Palmer lifted his notes to start his lengthy boring speech.  My eyes darted back to Leonard to see him gesturing with his hands the way I do when I move objects with my power.  From what I could make out he wanted me to get rid of Mayor Palmer’s notes, we all know he was an older man and his memory wasn’t as great as it once was hence the reason why he’d taken to writing notes for his speech.

 

Fearing that if I motioned with my hands I might attract unwanted attention, I tried to move the cards with only my mind.  Just as Mayor Palmer began to read from them I tugged them from his grip, concentrating hard I tried to make it look like they had gotten caught up in the breeze.  I made the notes flutter around in the air as the Mayor tried to jump up and grab them whilst apologising to the crowd for the delay.  I made the cards flow to his left and kept leading him away from the mic like a dog chasing a bone.  Once he was safely off the stage and had called the help of his assistant, to help him catch the flying cards, Leonard stood up to the podium once more.

“Well, until Mayor Palmer catches his notes perhaps we should call on our Valedictorian, Dulcie Cortes, to give her speech.”

The crowd applauded and the band gave a quick short burst of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ as she ascended the steps and made her way over to the podium.  To keep the Mayor busy I sent the cards flying up a tall blossom tree until they were perched on one of the highest branches.

“Thank you, Principal Smith.” Dulcie said as Leonard took his seat.  “Today we graduate.”  Dulcie began smiling and received several joyous cheers from her fellow students.  “A new era is dawning for us and so many opportunities lie ahead.  But we must thank our teachers, I believe, for helping us grow, for helping us discover the people we want to be after today.” She said and we all stood and applauded the teachers that sat on the stage behind her.  “I was voted by you all to give a speech and you all know how much I love to talk,” laughter from the crowd, “but when I sat down to write my speech I wrote several different versions.  Each more boring and longer than the last.” she said receiving more laughter.  “Instead I wrote a poem which I think covers every aspect I would’ve put into a speech anyway.  I call it ‘We Are Painters’, here goes.

 

The road ahead is canvas

What we choose to do we paint

Soon the page is blank less

New painters we shall acquaint.

 

Make wise your decisions

You’re on your own from here

Bring forth your sleeping visions

On your canvas they will appear

 

And when you lay your brush to rest

Take comfort in what youve chosen

For lifes a bitch, Cest la vie

But, oh, the rest is golden.

 

The crowd and teachers applauded Dulcie as she curtsied and stepped away from the podium to be replaced by Leonard again.

“Thank you, Dulcie.  Now if you would all please turn to page ten in your programme you’ll find the lyrics to our song.

 

I turned through my programme, that I found on my chair after my trip to receive my diploma, and found that our graduation song was ‘Getting Better’ by The Beatles.  I smiled to myself as the school band came to their feet as did the teachers followed by the audience and graduates.  It was a good song to go out on and I think it complemented Dulcie’s poem exceptionally well also.  We all had good fun singing it, even if we weren’t particularly good at it.  When the song ended Leonard, still standing at the podium, called out,

“It’s that time.  If you’ll allow me to count you in.” he said touching his cap.  We all removed our caps, Leonard shouted, “3... 2... 1...”

 

We all whooped and cheered as we sent our caps flying high and dozens of cameras started flashing non-stop until we scooped them off the ground again.  With the prospect of school finally over for us all it was time to celebrate.  Even the Mayor had stopped chasing after his notes to cheer with us.  Leonard thanked Dulcie and the Mayor once more before we all split off to find our families.

“Congratulations!” Nana shrieked happily as I ran into her arms.

“Let’s see that diploma.” Riona called out.

“I can’t wait for my graduation, now.” Said Rowanne enviously.

“Let’s get back to the house so we can start the party.” Nana said.

“Let’s take pictures first, Mom.” Riona said as she started snapping pictures again.

 

She took pictures of me by myself, with Brian, with Riley, with Dulcie and Matilda and with Riley’s family.  When the flashes subsided I invited Riley and his family and Matilda back to our house for a Graduation Party.  Guessing by what Rowanne had said about inviting only those in the witch ring I was certain this wasn’t going to be your run of the mill Graduation party.

When we pulled up outside my house Nana led everyone around the side, by the carport, to the back garden.  It didn’t look as shabby as it normally did.  Riona and Rowanne had really pulled out all the stops when they started working this morning.  There were paper lanterns hanging from the trees and fairy lights all around the walls.  Tables had been set up to eat at and there was even a small square of hard wood for us to dance on.

 

Nana and Riona started to bring out the food, lots of party and finger food, and lay them out on the tables while Rowanne and I pulled out all the CD’s we could find and our portable CD player.  The garden looked magical with all the decorations and the lighting it made the party so much more exciting.  We danced all night and ate and sang at the tops of our voices on the make shift dance floor Nana had created.  When it was darker out and the crescent moon and stars shone down on us Nana turned the music off.

“Okay, time to get back in the cars.”

“What?  Why?  We were having so much fun.” I said dismayed.

“Don’t worry, dear.  We have a surprise for you.” Nana said.

“Yes, we’re not breaking tradition.” Riona said excitedly.

“Tradition?” I asked.

“In your car please.” Nana said firmly.

 

We piled into our cars and I let Nana drive mine since she and Riona had blindfolded me.  Leonard rode with Matilda and Dulcie, Riley rode with myself, Nana and Riona while Rowanne rode with Willem and Faith.  They made many twists and turns to fool me, since I knew all the streets so well considering how small Penn Gate really was.  After about twenty minutes they came to a stop.  When the car doors opened they wouldn’t let me walk, fearing I’d guess where I was, so Riley carried me.

“Right, here’s far enough.”  Nana said.  “Do you know where you are, Billie?”

“No idea.” I said still in Riley’s arms blindfolded.

“Good, set her down, Riley.” Riona said.

 

When Riley let me get back to my feet Riona removed my blindfold.  We were surrounded by tall trees that were blocking out the light of the moon and stars.  When I looked around at them all I saw they had torches and lanterns to help see where we were.

“We’re in Penn Peaks.  Why?” I asked.

“Every family has a tradition.  When their children graduate they get a gift.” Riona explained.

“A magical gift?” I wondered.

“Yes.  Some families give crystal balls or Ouija boards.” Said Riona.

“We do something else.” Nana said.

“What?”

They glanced at each other beaming.

“There are many things you have learned in the past few weeks since your birthday, Billie, but there is still more for you to learn.”

“Such as?”

 

They laughed with excitement and handed me a long slim box wrapped with a big black ribbon and bow.  I pulled on the ribbon and lifted the lid of the box to find a broomstick inside.

“This isn’t what I think it is, is it?” I said grinning.

“It’s a flying broomstick.” Rowanne said in awe.

“No effing way!” I said jumping up and down excitedly and they all laughed at me.  “How do I fly it?”

“Hop on.” Riona instructed.  Once I had the broomstick between my legs she said, “Now, think of the spark within you.  Imagine it attaching to the broom, making you and the broom one.  Now tell the spark what you want to do.”

“Forward.” I said and the broom shot forward as my feet dragged along the ground.  “Oh, no, up!” and the broom shot up through the trees.  “Aargh, slow down!” I shouted.  “Go straight and stay still.”

 

The broom righted itself and hovered high in the air.

“Holy effing crap!  I’m on a flying broomstick!”  I laughed.  Two figures swooped out of the trees beneath me on similar looking brooms.

“Not bad for your first attempt.” Riona said as she and Nana hovered on either side of me.  “Now, just think of what you want to do instead of shouting it.  The broom will fly more smoothly now that it’s accustomed to you.”

 

I took a deep breath and thought ‘fly around the tree tops’ and it did.  It was an amazing feeling as the chill breeze blew back my hair and moonlight made my robes shimmer.  Nana and Riona stayed close to me in case I had an accident or fell off my broom as I swooped around the tree tops and down through the forest.  ‘Land’ I thought as I saw the torchlight of my friends just ahead of me.  It wasn’t exactly smooth but I didn’t hurt myself or break the broom so I thought I did rather well.  They all applauded me when I swooped down in front of them.

“That was amazing!” I said excitedly and they whooped.

“You did really well.” Rowanne said as I approached her.

“Yeah, that was really cool.” Dulcie said.

When I turned to Matilda she looked upset.

“What’s wrong?” I asked concerned.

“It just all feels so final.  Graduation, moving on to college.  It feels like we‘re coming to an end.” she shrugged.

“You couldn’t be farther from the truth.” Nana said comfortingly.  “This isn’t the end, this is only the beginning.”

 

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