Laurie’s skin felt cold and her stomach would not settle. It could have been the swap meet crowds, large groups of people made her nervous. Also, the buyers and sellers in the arena parking lot were very unlike the polished patrons of the malls Laurie preferred. She averted her eyes from two unwashed men hawking ancient VHS tapes and hurried forward across the asphalt.
The stall was nestled between a tamale cart and a truck that sold athletic shoes out the back. Patterned scarves served as a table cloth, the fabric set with carved boxes and round clear crystals. Bundled bits of earthy smelling herbs drove the unpleasant scents of the swap meet away. Behind the table, a plump grey-haired woman and a middle aged man sat on coolers and watched the crowd move by.
Laurie tightened her jaw into a smile as she stepped from the throng, nervously showing too many teeth. “Hi.”
The middle-aged man stood his expression flat and unmoved by her oversweet tone. He looked expectantly between the table’s cheap new age offerings and the teenager.
Laurie fished out a folded piece of notebook paper from her purse with damp palms. “I have a list. My friend said I should come here. Allison.” She hoped his unfriendliness would warm at the mention of a regular. She didn’t even see recognition.
The man only flicked his eyes at the ingredients before passing it back to the old woman. The coolers were opened and the woman pulled out crinkled rolls of reptile skin, a small bag of little pointed teeth, and a few other things Laurie was too squeamish to harvest herself. Laurie fiddled with the sticks of incense on the table, pretending not to watch the process.
They bundled the ingredients in smooth brown paper and named the price. Laurie sucked in her breath, wondering if she’d heard the man correctly through his thick accent. She grit her jaw and pulled out the bills. The man passed the money back to the round old woman.
Laurie tucked the parcel deep into her purse.
“They overcharged you.” Allison scraped the last bit of nail polish off her cuticle.
Laurie looked up from her own half painted toes towards the parcel, still wrapped and set on her bedroom desk. “Then you should have gone. They didn’t know me.”
Allison closed her eyes and took a breath, communicating just how much frustration Laurie was causing her. “I told you, my mom found my spell book and flipped, I couldn’t have gone. Besides, I’ve graduated.”
“Graduated what?” Senior year was two years off for both of them. Laurie didn’t know what Allison was talking about, but it was beginning to sound like she’d navigated the swap meet for nothing.
“That hedge witch stuff.” Allison said. “Do you think our foremothers really sat around curdling milk? No, they held dark congress with demons and didn’t take shit from anyone. I’ve been talking with someone.” She flipped her hair back over her shoulder dismissively.
“Who? A demon?” Laurie rolled her eyes and checked the time on her phone. Her dad would be calling her down for dinner soon and she really wished Allison would get her delusions of grandeur in check. Her parents already thought Allison was a bad influence, and they didn’t even know about the coven.
Allison locked eyes with her friend. “Maybe.”
Laurie blinked. “What? Allison, are you serious?”
“I’ve always been serious about this. And she sees that.” Allison stood, stretching her arms above her head. The girl grinned. “Bitch, welcome to the major leagues.”
Three things were [legally] stolen from this piece: nail polish, a VHS tape, and a book of spells. Go give the thief her due over at Creatures, Critters and Crawlers.