Authors: Melody Carlson
“Yeah, that’s cool. That’s kinda how it is with me too. But I guess I have some hang-ups about drugs personally. I mean, my brother got pretty messed up, and I just don’t really want to go there.”
Allie nodded. “Me neither. So, you can just relax about that. But as I was saying, you want to do something this weekend?”
“Sure, like what?”
“Well, I’d invite you over to my place, but my mom’s got something going on this weekend and—”
“Why don’t you come over to my house?”
“Okay. You mean like tomorrow?”
“Sure, tomorrow’s great.” I knew I should probably check with my parents since they entertain a lot and might not be too thrilled if I have someone over, but then I hadn’t heard of anything going on. And I figured they should be glad to see me having a friend over—especially someone who
into drugs. And as I studied Allie, I realized they might even think she looked like a normal girl. Other than her clothes and the tiny diamond stud in her nose, in some ways she even reminded me of Caitlin, and my parents think she’s the greatest.
So maybe this is the beginning of a friendship. Who knows?
Okay, I want to quit writing now, but I know I’ve been avoiding something in my diary. It’s as if I’m trying to sweep something big under the rug. It’s that whole talking to God thing. I made the mistake of e-mailing Caitlin and telling her that I’d tried it. And of course, she was so happy and is even saying that this is the “beginning of something big.” And well, now I just want to forget the whole thing—cold feet, you know. I guess I’m scared that I could be entering into something
I’m not really ready for. In fact, it’s really similar to the way I feel about drugs. Although I’m sure that makes no sense. But it’s true. I’m just not ready for either of those—drugs or God.
RELIGION AND DRUGS
i’m not wanting
that make me hang
by a thread
i can’t handle
all the scandal
that injects me
with such dread
i’m not ready
that makes me feel
like i’m dead
i may be lost
but it’s my choice
and if i’m tossed
or lose my voice
i’ll just remember
what I have said
I waited around all day and Allie didn’t come over until after five o’clock yesterday, but then she didn’t go home until around two today I hadn’t actually asked her to spend the night, but hey, that was okay. And fortunately my parents were cool, and they even sort of acted as if they liked her—in their chilly and impervious way. Why are they like that?
But I have to admit it was pretty funny when I introduced her to them because I couldn’t even remember her last name. I guess I hadn’t thought of it since middle school.
“This is Allie—uh—” I looked at Allie then bit my lip.
“Curtis,” she said with a grin. “Allie Curtis.” Then she shook my hand. “Glad to make your acquaintance—uh—Clara?”
I laughed. “Sorry.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Allie,” my dad said, as if he was doing me a favor. “Are you new in town?”
Then she explained how they’d lived here a few years ago. “But then my dad’s job got transferred, then my parents got divorced, and my mom decided to come back to her hometown.”
“Oh, your mom’s from here originally? Did she go to school here?” This came from my mom, always trying to make connections. It drives me
nuts. “Maybe we knew her back then.”
“Her maiden name was Thornton, Elise Thornton.” Allie waited for them to respond.
“No.” My mother shook her head. “Doesn’t sound familiar.”
Then Dad jumped in. “Well, I’m sure you two won’t mind if we old fogies skip out on you and take in a film tonight.”
“Not at all, Dad,” I said, relieved to have the house to ourselves.
“There’s a pizza in the freezer if you want.” Mom slipped on her coat.
After they left, Allie walked around our house and just kept saying things like, “Man, I didn’t know you were so rich.”
She rolled her eyes. “Says you.” She ran her hand over Mom’s grand piano, looking at the photos lined up in their polished silver frames. “Who’s this?” She stopped at a picture of Josh. “What a hottee. Can I meet him?”
“That’s my brother Josh. But don’t get your hopes up; he’s almost twenty and he’s into religion.”
“Religion?” She frowned. “You mean like studying for the priesthood? Because I think that’s a sin—not allowing priests and nuns to get married.”
I laughed. “No, he’s not going to become a priest.”
“Okay then. How can I meet this hunk?”
I took the photo from her hands and set it back on the piano. “Forget about him, Allie. He’s in love with someone else.”
“That’s not fair.” She made a face. “I
I smiled. “Actually she’s a really nice girl.”
Allie shook her head. “I doubt it. Besides, I
really nice girls. They give me the creeps.” Then she folded her arms across her chest. “I guess I’ll just cast a spell on her.”
I watched her as she closed her eyes and took on a very serious expression. “Are you losing it? Or maybe you watched one too many episodes of
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
She opened her eyes and laughed. “No! And I wouldn’t really put a spell on your brother’s girlfriend. That would be wrong.”
“What’re you talking about?”
“Haven’t you ever heard of Wicca?”
“Yeah, a little. Are you into that?” I studied her closely. “I mean, are you really a witch?”
“I don’t ride a broomstick or wear a pointy hat or anything, but I am learning about witchcraft.”
“Yeah, I’ve ordered a couple things from this really cool website. It’s fun and makes a lot of sense to me.”
“Well, the craft isn’t about casting mean
spells. You’re not even supposed to hurt people. The motto is something like: If it doesn’t hurt anyone then it’s okay. That’s not exactly right, but it’s something like that.”
“So what is it about then?”
“I guess it’s kind of a religion, but they don’t call it a religion.”
“So do they worship the devil and stuff like you see in movies?”
“They don’t believe in the devil.”
“Do they believe in God?”
“Not exactly. It’s more like the god in you—like there’s a goddess inside you, and you have the magical powers to control your life, for good of course.”
“And just how do you do that exactly?”
“I’m not totally sure about all the details yet. You have to read and memorize a lot of stuff. And then you make these things, kind of like witch tools to help you—but you’re the only one who can make them or they don’t work right. Then you study these spells and charts and stuff and learn about herbs and read their books. You can even take their seminars, but it’s pretty expensive.”
“Sounds pretty complicated too.”
She frowned. “Yeah, it is, a little.”
“But you think it’s legit—like it’s really true?”
She nodded. “It sounds pretty good to me.”
is it true
? Or are they just pulling your leg and getting you to buy a bunch of worthless crud.”
“No, it’s for real, Chloe. Witchcraft has been around since the beginning of time. Way longer than any other religion.”
I thought about that. “But does that mean it’s right?”
“Well, I’m sure your gorgeous brother would think it’s wrong.” She grew thoughtful. “Unless I put a spell on him to convince him otherwise.”
“You would do that?”
“No, not really.
would probably be wrong. But I do think witchcraft is right. Because it’s right for me. I need some answers for my life. I want to feel like I have some control, you know? Not as if I’m getting tossed about like a leaf in the wind.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
We talked about Wicca some more, but the more she told me about it, the more confusing it became. And I could tell that she still didn’t fully understand it herself. “I guess it’s fine for you, if you really believe in it. I just wish it made more sense,” I finally said.
“Well, I’ll keep reading and studying, then I’ll try to explain it better.”
We went up to my room and she immediately spotted my guitar. “Do you play that?”
“Sure.” I picked it up and strummed a few chords.
“But do you know any songs?”
“Yeah, a few. But I mostly just play my own songs.”
“Your own songs?”
“Yeah. I make them up.”
“Cool. Wanna play one for me?”
So I played one of my earlier songs called “Cinderella Shortcut.” It’s about a girl who was always kicked around by her older sisters until she locked them both in the hall closet then ran off to the dance without them.
Allie laughed. “That’s hilarious. You really wrote that?”
I nodded. Then I told her about my demo tape and the coffeehouse.
“You could be performing at the Paradiso! That’s like almost famous!”
“The key word being
“I wish I were a musician,” she said. “I mean, I like to sing and everything, but I don’t play an instrument.” But even as she said this she was drumming her fingers on top of my guitar.
“How about being a drummer?” I suggested suddenly, pointing down at her fidgeting hands. We both laughed.
“Yeah, my mom’s always on my case because I’m always thumping on something. Just tell me if I
get on your nerves. I forget that I’m doing it. I was diagnosed as hyperactive in second grade, and they had me on Ritalin for years. Maybe that’s why I’m not into drugs now. I quit taking the Ritalin last summer. And I’m probably more hyper than ever now, but I feel more alive too.”
“Seriously, Allie, how about taking up the drums?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. I’d love to. Sounds great.” She folded her hands tightly together and placed them in her lap as if she were trying to keep them still. “But, hey, I might as well come clean since you’ll figure it all out sooner or later anyway.”
I watched her as she looked down at her hands, a grim expression on her face. “What are you talking about, Allie?”
“Well …” She looked up at me. “After seeing all this … I mean, like your parents and your big fancy house … I guess you might as well know that … okay, let’s just say I won’t be inviting
over to my place anytime soon.”
I knew what she meant. But I just waved my hand as if I could wave it all away. “Oh,
. Sheesh, you shouldn’t worry about that. I mean, I’m not at all like my parents when it comes to money. I’m not into this material stuff at all.”
“That just seems totally unfair.”
She laughed now. “Because, hey, I’d switch
places with you in a heartbeat. I could seriously get into all this material stuff real easy. It’s only the people who have money who act as if it’s not important. The rest of us know what it’s like without it.”
“Well, maybe you should do one of your Wicca spells and see if you can make yourself rich. Or maybe you could switch us around. I really don’t think I’d mind being poor. I mean, look at how I dress.”
She made a face. “So, anyway, that’s why it’s easy for you to say, ‘Sure, why not take up the drums, Allie?’ Do you have any idea what a drum set would cost? And then, how the crud would I pay for lessons?”
Suddenly I remembered something. “Hey, I think we still have an old drum set.”
“No, seriously. My brother was into drums for a while.”
“You mean Josh.” She got that dreamy look again.
“Yeah, he was playing with some friends who were trying to start this band. But I don’t think he ever actually practiced, and they eventually kicked him out.”
“Cool. I wouldn’t mind playing on Josh’s drums.”
I rolled my eyes. “Well, if you think they’ll be
all full of good vibes, you better—” But before I could finish she cut me off with the chorus of that corny old Beach Boys song.
She grabbed my hairbrush, holding it like a microphone, and started belting out goofy lyrics about good vibrations in a husky alto voice that was actually pretty good.
Pretty soon, I had to join in and we had ourselves a pretty good little duet, although she definitely knew the lyrics way better than me.
“Do you honestly like the Beach Boys?” I asked when we’d finally worn it out.
She laughed. “No, but my mom definitely does.” Then she made a face. “But I’m warning you: Don’t go laughing at me for liking the Dixie Chicks, or I’ll have to leave right now.”
I grinned. “Actually, I kind of like them too. Although I don’t usually admit it to anyone.”
“So what about those drums?”
“I think they’re still up in the attic. I used to go up there and just wail on them when I was little, and I don’t think anyone’s ever moved them.”
“But still I couldn’t afford to—”
“Oh, don’t worry. You could probably just have them. Or maybe borrow them. Or
!” I stood up and started pacing across my room.
? You’re creepin’ me out, Chloe. You look like some mad scientist who’s going to sew body parts together to—”
“That’s it! We could set them up in the poolroom.”
“Poolroom? You guys have a poolroom? Do you have an indoor swimming pool too?”
“Yeah, you bet. And a bowling alley and a tennis court and a movie theater—”
“Oh, come on.”
“No, silly, it’s just an old pool table that’s set up in an unfinished space above the garage. Josh and his friends used to hang out there when he was in high school.”
“Hey, I wouldn’t complain about a pool table at my place—well, except for the fact it wouldn’t fit. So, what are we waiting for? And after we move those drums we can shoot us some snookers. Bet I can beat you too.”
And so we spent the evening knocking around and moving the drum set and fixing pizza and playing pool. It was actually pretty fun. And I almost told my mom that I was happy today, but that might’ve been going overboard.
But I’m still not completely sure about Allie. I mean, I really like her. But there’s just something that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s all her witch talk or her hyperness. Or maybe it’s just me. But she’s fun and I do like her. Not only that, but she might have the makings of a musician in her. And after I showed her the correct way to hold the drumsticks (I remembered
from when Josh taught me), she seemed to take right to drumming.