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Authors: Ellen Schreiber

Once in a Full Moon (4 page)

BOOK: Once in a Full Moon
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“I didn’t know it meant that much to you,” he said.

I gazed down at my shoes.

He took my chin and raised it so I was facing him.

“I guess I should have . . . it just seems so silly,” he said. He glanced at the crowd, then back at me. “I don’t want to wear a clown wig or Darth Vader mask. You’d think I’d look ridiculous.”

“You’re afraid of what I’d think?” I asked, surprised.

“I guess. You and everyone else.”

“Nash, you are gorgeous,” I said. “No matter what you wore, no one would be laughing
at
you.”

It was funny to me that deep down inside, the all-star athlete of Legend’s Run High still was insecure.

“Are you just charming me?” I asked.

“Did it work?” he wondered aloud.

I couldn’t help but smile.

But before I knew it, Nash kissed me and I was quickly lost in his lips. At that moment I no longer cared how he was dressed.

I
t was mid-November, and a few weeks had passed since my friends and I were circled around a campfire in the woods and Nash had told us his frightening werewolf story. Footballs, goalposts, and grass were replaced with basketballs, hoops, and hardwood floors. The red, gold, and orange autumn leaves had fallen or been blown away and now many trees stood naked. The temperatures fell, too. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground.

I loved the first fresh snow when it blanketed the town and closed the schools, or a weekend snowfall when it accumulated enough for us to stay indoors with a cozy comforter, a good book, and tasty hot chocolate. I loved the sound of the snow crunching underneath my boots or the ultralight snowfall on a silent street. I loved magical moments when the only impressions in the snow were the tiny footprints of a bird. And I cherished the memories of when Juliette and I were younger and dragged our sleds to Hillside or another nearby slope.

We hadn’t had a major snowfall yet, however, only cold weather and occasional flurries. Snow wasn’t nearly as great when it wasn’t enough to close school. Then it was just inconvenient and messy to trudge through, soaking the hallways, and leaving me crossing my frozen fingers that I wouldn’t wipe out and land on my backside in front of the entire student body.

Abby, Ivy, their beaux, and Nash and I were in library study hall keeping warm. In our English class we were studying American folklore and had been assigned a paper on the subject. I kept thinking about Mr. Worthington’s werewolf story. I decided werewolves would be a good subject for my essay. It was one thing to have Nash tell a campfire story to scare us, but I was even more intrigued that Mr. Worthington seemed impassioned by the tale himself. And besides, I could use him as a resource for my paper. Nash’s story was exhilarating and frightening because of the thought a werewolf could be living among us. Though I didn’t believe in their existence, I could only imagine that the early settlers had felt alone like we had been in the woods.

I went to the stacks, scanning the aisles for anything werewolf. I picked up several books.
The Encyclopedia of Monsters
and
Myths and Mysteries.
I found
The Book of Werewolves
and was pulling it off the shelf when it slipped from my hand.

As I bent down to pick it up, someone was already handing it to me. It was Brandon Maddox.

For the past few months I’d only had brief encounters with Brandon or passed him on the way to class. We were in a few classes together but he sat in the back, his head buried underneath his wavy locks. He always ate lunch by himself. I’d never admit to my friends that I thought Brandon was handsome. He had deep, royal blue eyes that shined through his short, shaggy dark hair. If he were an Eastsider, he’d surely be one of the most popular guys in school. But since fate led him to be on the Westside, he was greatly ignored.

Brandon didn’t say anything. I sensed it was not because he was afraid to but because he was the kind of person who chose his words carefully.

I wanted to say thank you. But as he continued to gaze into my eyes, my words escaped me.

“Celeste! Get over here,” Ivy called. “What are you doing?”

I headed over to my friends, feeling slightly more flushed than I had when I’d left them.

“Werewolves?” Nash asked when he saw me holding my stack of books.

“I thought I could ask you to tell the class the Legend’s Run Werewolf legend. I could score some extra points,” I said.

“Is this my paper or yours? I’m not working on two,” he said, and buried his head in
Sports Illustrated.
“Besides, I was hoping to buy my paper off the internet.”

“Nash!” I said, horrified by his plan.

“I’m just kidding, Parker,” he said to me. “Lighten up.”

“I’m considering quilting,” Ivy said proudly.

“Quilting?” Jake asked.

“Yes, many people told stories through narrative quilting.”

“Boring!”

“Of course it would be boring to
you
,” Ivy said. “If it doesn’t involve cheerleaders, you don’t want to hear about it.”

“Were there naked quilters?” Jake asked. “Now, that would be interesting!”

Ivy playfully hit her boyfriend.

“I was thinking of investigating witches,” Abby proudly announced.

“You won’t have to go far to investigate that,” Dylan said.

“Well, thanks,” Abby said sarcastically.

“No—I mean you can ask Dr. Meadows,” he said.

“Who?” Ivy asked.

“That witch doctor in Riverside,” Dylan replied. “My mom went there for acupuncture and said she sells books on everything. I’m sure she has information on witches.”

Abby appeared skeptical.

“While you’re there, maybe you can get your fortune told,” Dylan continued. “See if I’m getting any action from you this weekend.”

“You want
me
to go to the Westside and talk to a witch doctor?” Abby said. “Are you crazy?”

“Are you chicken?” Dylan challenged.

“Of course not!” Abby replied.

“Going to Riverside,” he taunted. “Afraid you’ll want to move in?”

“No. It’s just I have volleyball practice.” Abby wasn’t one to be pushed around; she had her reputation to uphold.

“I dare you,” Jake said.

“Dare?” Abby asked.

“Yes, dare!” he repeated.

“Fine,” Abby said, shaking his hand. “Ivy, Celeste, and I will get our fortunes told by Dr. Meadows.”

“I don’t believe you,” Dylan said. “You, in Riverside? I’m not sure they’ll let you in.”

“They better,” she said. “And I’ll prove it to you. I’ll get a reading and then a receipt.”

“Whatever you say,” Dylan said with a laugh.

“And when I do,” Abby continued, “you’ll have to be our servants for a day.”

“Aren’t we already?” he asked.

“And if you don’t, then you’ll have to be ours.” Jake smiled.

“I guarantee
that
won’t be happening,” I said.

My friends cuddled and studied with their boyfriends as I imagined what my fortune might be.

I gazed outside. I could see the moon hanging in the cloudless blue sky. It looked lonely, staring back at me. I wondered if it thought the same of me.

A
fter school, Ivy, Abby, and I left the suburbs for the more rural side of Legend’s Run. Farms, lakes, and vineyards filled the landscape. I always thought the Westside had more character. However, Ivy and Abby were only interested in the strip and indoor malls, restaurants, and fast food in the burbs. Even the yuppies didn’t stop in Riverside but rather pedaled through it on the bike trail on weekend outings. As the years passed, I had no reason to venture there on my own.

As we came into Riverside, antiques shops, used car lots, and neighborhoods without homeowners associations lined the terrain. The businesses had left for the suburbs, and the downtown wasn’t as viable as it once was. However, a small town remained, including a hardware store, bars, flea and farmers’ markets, a biker bar, and Gerald’s Garage—where Gerald still pumped the gas.

“Let’s not run out of gas!” Ivy said.

“It’s not like we’re on the other side of the earth,” I said. “We could walk back.”

“Are you crazy? Walk?” Abby asked, horrified. This comment was coming from the jayvee champion track star. I guess it just mattered
where
she walked.

“Jake said it’s dangerous down by Riverside. So far, it doesn’t look that bad to me.”

“I think it’s beautiful,” I said, gazing into a wooded area. “All these trees and hills.”

“But where do people who live here shop?” Ivy asked. “I haven’t seen a mall for miles.”

“Yes,” Abby said. “And where is a community pool? There aren’t even any health clubs here.”

“I guess you don’t need a treadmill if you are plowing a field.” Ivy laughed.

“They have cars, just like us,” I defended. “If they want to go to a mall, they drive just like we do.”

We continued on and passed a wooded area that ran along the road for about half a mile. Then we came into the small downtown area.

On the tiny main street many shops were vacant, but the ones that remained—a tattoo and piercing parlor, a hair salon, and a florist—seemed to be thriving.

“We could get a tat,” Abby said. “I think a tramp stamp would be really cool. Dylan would love it.”

“No one is coming at me with a needle,” Ivy said. “Not even for a guy.”

I imagined the tattoos my friends would have: Ivy’s would be a designer label drawn on her arm, and Abby might have one of a volleyball.

Ivy parked her car at the meter in front of Penny for Your Thoughts.

“I don’t have change,” Ivy said. Ivy was used to paying for things with plastic. I don’t even think she owned a coin purse.

“How much should I put in?” Abby asked, rummaging through her purse.

“I don’t know how long it takes to get a reading. I’ve never done it before,” Ivy said. “Is it longer than a massage or a pedi?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I’d had a pedicure several years ago for my sister’s graduation. I was so relaxed and zoned out I forgot how long it took.

I fished some change out of my hoodie pocket and fed the meter.

Penny for Your Thoughts was quite the curiosity shop. Candles, crystals, jewelry, books, and the smell of incense filled the one-room store.

I examined books on healing, numerology, astrology, angels, and interpreting dreams. There were so many different paranormal ideas, I wasn’t sure how a person decided which one to believe in.

I did like the mood of the shop. It was very calm and relaxing. Soothing mandolin, harp, and flute music played over the sound of a roaring ocean. The store was a nice change of pace from our frenetic high school, with lockers slamming and students yelling across the hallway. I was just hoping I could stay awake long enough to get my fortune told.

“Doesn’t anyone run this place?” Abby asked. She got irritated if she wasn’t immediately greeted like a VIP upon entering a store or restaurant.

“If she was truly psychic, wouldn’t she know we were here?” I whispered.

“Maybe she does and doesn’t want to talk to us,” Abby said pensively.

But I was suspicious. Maybe Dr. Meadows wasn’t going to come out right away so she could overhear our discussions. Or maybe she was watching us on a hidden camera.

Abby perused books on witches, and Ivy headed straight for the jewelry displays. Any gift shop was a potential sale to her. She was sizing up some aquamarine earrings that matched her eyes. I thought they were beautiful, and if I had more money, I, too, would have loved a pair. I caressed the glassy stones, trying to figure out how long it would take for me to buy them. Ivy didn’t even bat an eyelash.

“That’s not why we are here,” Abby said, taking the earrings from Ivy and returning them to the jewelry stand.

Abby rapidly tapped a bell on the counter.

“Maybe she’s back there casting a spell or something,” she said. “Or making potions.”

No one came out to wait on us. We were certain the store was open but not sure how long we should stay. My friends were often impatient—but not this time.

“We can leave,” I offered.

“Not without my receipt,” Abby said. “If you think I’m going to be Dylan’s servant for a week . . . I can only imagine the horrors he’ll ask of me. Clean his locker? Forget it. Besides, I’ve been thinking all day of things I can have him do. I really could use a back massage.”

“And Jake can return those skirts I bought at the mall,” Ivy said.

I wondered what I’d ask Nash to do as my servant. Carry my books? My backpack worked fine. Do my homework? I wasn’t a cheater. Clean my room? He never came over. Then it occurred to me. The one thing that would really make Nash squirm. I’d have him host a party and make him invite a Westsider.

“You’re right,” I said. “We need to get those receipts!”

Now I tapped the bell.

A woman appeared, startling all of us.

“I’m so sorry to keep you girls waiting. I hope you had a chance to look around. What brings you in today?”

“Are you Dr. Meadows?” Abby asked.

“Yes, have you heard of me?” she asked incredulously.

Dr. Meadows’s appearance wasn’t that of a typical doctor. She didn’t wear a lab coat or scrubs. She also didn’t look like a witch doctor. She did, however, have long gray hair tied back in a ponytail, and she wore an oversized silk blouse, a floor-length scrunchie skirt, and layered beaded necklaces. I guessed she was in her fifties.

Dr. Meadows had a gentle energy around her. Not that I was an aura reader, but I imagined hers to be a mixture of warm and bright hues.

“We’d like our fortunes told,” Abby said.

“You mean an interpretive reading?” she asked as if fortune-telling was so “yesterday.” “Have you had one before?”

Again, I figured she should already know this, but I just shook my head.

Dr. Meadows turned the sign hanging on the door from
OPEN
to
CLOSED.

“We can’t have any distractions,” she said. “Let’s go into the reading room.”

The reading room was painted indigo blue, with a hanging teardrop chandelier. There was a square table with chairs on each end. In the corner were a small waterfall and a tea service.

“I thought you’d have a spooky room with a crystal ball,” Abby said.

I wouldn’t admit it to Dr. Meadows, but I was surprised, too. Though I didn’t subscribe to her New Age philosophy, I certainly respected that this was her establishment, not ours.

“I’ll go first,” I offered. I just wanted to get this over with.

“No—I will,” Abby bulldozed, and scooted into the chair before I could land on it. Ivy and I took the empty chairs by the tea service and observed.

Dr. Meadows took Abby’s hand and matched her gaze. Then the doctor closed her purple-painted eyelids. I imagined she was planning her dinner menu.

“You are a very spirited girl,” she began. “That is good. It will take you far. But you can relax. It is okay to slow down. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

“Wow—she’s good,” Abby said.

I wasn’t impressed. Just by looking at Abby, a stranger could tell she was athletic and high-strung. And it wasn’t much of a reading, I thought. Was she going to meet a handsome stranger? Was she going to win the grand prize on a reality show?

Ivy and Abby swapped chairs. Ivy’s hand was ultrafeminine, as dainty as the porcelain teacup. Her perfectly manicured nails were without a hangnail or uneven polish like mine.

“Worldly things are very important to you,” Dr. Meadows said. “But it is okay to find the things that matter most inside.”

Ivy was very pleased with her reading. It was as if Dr. Meadows had been a mentor to her all of her life. And all she did was feed her a line from any self-help book.

Dr. Meadows offered us tea. “It’s ginseng. Lots of antioxidants.”

Ivy and Abby pounced on the idea of having a few drinks. We hadn’t stopped at a coffee shop and I knew they were suffering from latte withdrawal.

“Do you have sugar?” Abby asked.

“It is supposed to be taken in its pure form,” Dr. Meadows said, and poured two cups. Then she turned to me.

“No thank you,” I politely said.

“Ah . . . a skeptic,” Dr. Meadows said. “Always one in the room. Dragged here by your friends? It’s okay,” she offered again. “I didn’t put anything into the tea.”

I know. I watched you
,
I wanted to say.

Ivy and Abby were sipping from their teacups like we were dining with the queen of England.

Dr. Meadows held my hand for a moment. She was dead silent.

“I see snow,” she began. “Beware of the woods . . . of the sounds of howling. There could be outsiders who will turn . . . underneath the glow of the full moon.”

Chills raced up my arm and straight to the top of my neck. I tried to pull my hand away, but her grasp was too tight.

We struggled for a moment until finally she released her grip.

“I think it’s time we go,” I said, rising.

Dr. Meadows still seemed to be in a trance.

I turned to my friends, who reluctantly returned their teacups to the table.

“We have to go . . .” Abby said.

“Yes?” Dr. Meadows said, coming back to life. She sighed an exhausted sigh.

I marched out of the room, and Ivy and Abby followed.

Abby grabbed a benign, humorous book on witchcraft for her essay and she and I placed our money on the counter when Dr. Meadows finally appeared. Ivy handed her a credit card.

“We need three receipts, please,” Abby requested.

Dr. Meadows handed us our change and gave Ivy her receipt to sign.

“I hope you will come again,” Dr. Meadows said, escorting us to the door. “At least for some tea.”

“This is the best time we’ve ever had!” Abby squealed, giving Dr. Meadows a hug.

“I’m coming here for jewelry!” Ivy said.

I, on the other hand, decided this would be my last trip to Penny for Your Thoughts. I would have gladly traded in my bogus reading for the stunning, luminous earrings, since they wound up being the same price. Now I knew why they called them “fortunes.”

When we reached the door, Dr. Meadows had parting words for my friends. “Thank you so much for coming,” she said, giving each an embrace. “You’re such delightful girls. Remember what is inside of you—not just what is on the outside.”

My beaming friends exited the shop.

Then, suddenly, Dr. Meadows turned to me and grasped my shoulder.

“Celeste,” she said vehemently. “Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.”

BOOK: Once in a Full Moon
2.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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