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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1012209-Do-You-Mind
by Seuzz
Rated: GC · Book · Occult · #2193834
A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
#1012209 added June 21, 2021 at 12:01pm
Restrictions: None
Do You Mind?
Previously: "Real People

Your eyelids feel weighted with lead as you mash a reply into your phone with your thumbs: Y meet you ask Joey.

Did u finish?

You grunt to yourself. Y, you ask her.

Joey types in a long reply. Your eyes are crossing themselves with sleepiness when her text finally pops up.

Did you try it out? I tried mine out and if you tried yours out I think we should meet before school. Or maybe we should meet if you not tried yours anyway. Hurry say yes I don't got much time.

Whatever is going on, it's dumped a bucket of ants down her pants, so with a sigh you text that you'll be along in an hour or so to pick her up at her house. You're levering yourself out of bed and feeling for the clothes you dumped on the floor when another text comes in: Meet now somewhere I can drive to meet you.

Does she even have a driver's license, you wonder. Then how come you ever had to pick her up? You text her back to suggest meeting at the McDonalds at the South Creek shopping center. That's about halfway between your houses.

Your parents aren't up yet, so you leave a note on the dining room table, telling them that you're out early to meet a friend and will be back soon.

* * * * *

Early bird senior citizens, you think to yourself as you prowl through the McDonald's parking lot, looking at license plates. Lots of veterans plates and the kind of bumper stickers that grandparents put on their cars.

Oh, but one of them is being driven by a teenage girl. Joey jumps out of a green minivan and hurries over to meet you as you pull into an empty space. You roll down the window and give her a look as she bounces up.

"Hey," she gulps. "Did you bring the doohickey with you?"

"Yes. So what's all the—?"

"Did you try it out last night? When you finished making it?"

"No, I just went straight to bed. I was—"

"I tried mine out." Joey holds up a gleaming silver band. Her expression mixes terror and exhilaration in equal parts.

Up to now you've been too exhausted to feel much, but now a sense of wariness steals over you. "So what happened?" you ask her.

She hands it to you, then runs around to the passenger's side.

You're frowning at it as she hops into the seat next to you. It doesn't look like the band you made. Yours has runes scratched into it. Hers has ...

You have to blink a couple of times, and you feel your eyes wobbling in their sockets as you try to take it in. One side of the band is blank, but the other has Roman lettering on it. No, the letters are floating over it. That's what makes your eyes hurt. The name JOSEPHINE MARIE TARTAGLIONE seems to be floating over the blank surface. The name glows with a bluish light, like neon.

"Mine didn't turn out like this," you tell Joey. Your tongue feels thick in your mouth.

"Not if you didn't finish it!" she retorts. "You finish it by putting it on your forehead! You didn't do that, did you?"

"No. I was wiped out, went to bed early." You rub your eyes.

"Well, get yours out and do it now," Joey insists. "I wanna—"

"Hang on. Why couldn't this have waited till this afternoon?"

She doesn't answer right away, and when you look over she's biting her lower lip, like she's trying not to burst out crying.

"Alright," you sigh, and turn to dig inside your book bag. "I'll try it out and—"

"And I'll go get us some coffee! You got any money?"


"Well— You take yours black? Or with cream? Sugar? How much?"

"Uh, two sugars, no cream."

"I'll be right back." She hops out. "And lay down when you do it. It'll knock you out, like the masks did!" She slams the door on you, and sprints to the restaurant.

You cuss silently to yourself, and wonder for about the tenth time since you've met her what you've gotten yourself into by getting chummy with Joey Whateverhernameis.

* * * * *

Someone is stroking your forehead when you wake up. You twist around and look up. A pale, upside-down face frowns down at you.

With a groan, you turn onto your side and push yourself up. Joey's frown, seen right-side-up, turns into a tentative smile. "It worked," she says.

"What worked?" You're stiff all over, and grumpy.

"The thing. See?" She holds up a metal band.

You suck in a deep breath as you take it from her. It makes your heart go sideways to see your name floating over the metal strip. WILLIAM MARTIN PRESCOTT. "So what's it do?" you ask.

"Did you bring the book?"

"Yeah, it's in my bag. Why didn't you take it out?"

Joey shrinks a little. "I didn't wanna go digging through your stuff without permission."

What is with this girl? you ask yourself as you haul the book out of your bag. She pushes up close to you as you flip to the spell, and lay the metal strip on the page. You can hear her breathing heavily as the page comes loose, and turns.

There's only a single sentence of Latin on the other side. "I knew it!" Joey squeaks.

"Knew what? What does it say?"

"It's a mind-reader thing! It copies minds!"

* * * * *

Joey is so excited that it takes her a full minute to stammer out her explanation of what the Latin says, and how she has deduced what the metal strips are for.

To know the mind of another, she tells you, is the best translation of the book's instruction. "So it's got to copy people's minds, right?" she exclaims. "Like, that's how you get to know someone else's mind! You copy their mind with this thing, and then you can put it on, like you put on a mask, and then you've got their mind inside yours! Their memories and stuff. Like the masks copy bodies? These things copy what's in your brain! I mean, that's gotta be what it means! Right?"

It gives you a pretty queer turn, to think that this metal band that you're holding may have copied the inside of your skull, the way a memory stick copies the hard drive of a computer. And that if somebody plugged it into their skull ...

You swallow. "So how do you use them? How do you, um—"

"I think we just put them on," Joey suggests. "I mean, we'd have to put on each other's." Her eyes are very wide, and she gulps. "Like, putting on a mask. Maybe, if we put them onto our foreheads—"

"Do you really want to do that?" you ask her.

"D-do you?" she stammers.

She does. You can she does. But she's too scared to come out and suggest it.

Because to get inside someone else's mind ... To know what they think and how they feel ... To remember what they remember ... All the stuff that they've done ...

Joey interrupts your reflections. "Okay, I guess this was a bad idea," she says, and she scrambles for the door handle. "I'm sorry, I—"


"I just get really excited, I get too excited, I know," she gabbles as she falls out of your truck. "I should get home anyway, I—"


She stops, and gives you a fearful look.

"If you want to do it," you say around the blockage in your throat and chest, "if you want to try it out ... Yeah, I'm up for it. It's just, you know—" You rub your temple. "It's still kind of early for me. My brain—"

"You want to wait till this afternoon?" Her eyebrows peak.

"No, we can do it now." You check the time on your phone. You've still got an hour before classes start. "And then, well—"

Joey sucks on her upper lip. Something inside of you seems to break.

"Here," you tell her, and shove the metal strip at her. "Go put it on."

Her face lights up, though she is still pale. "I'll be right back," she says as she takes the strip from you. "And here's mine!" She presses the other strip into your hand, then hops across the parking lot to her minivan.

But you do nothing, not yet. The thing feels hot in your hand, and after another minute you drop it onto the truck bench and look away. You catch your expression in the rear view mirror, and wince.

Do you really want to get inside Joey's head, to find out what she thinks and how she feels? You've got an awful feeling that she takes you, and this stuff, and your relationship, a lot more seriously than you do. Do you want confirmation of that?

Or would it be worse to find out that, no, she's just a really excitable girl?

And when she puts your thing on, she's going to get a pretty good idea of what you think about her—and she might not be flattered. Is that going to freak her out? Maybe that's another reason to hold off and not put the thing on. If she has some kind of freakout and wants to break things off with you, you could do that without having violated her privacy in such a bad way.

Next: "A Mix-Up at the McDonalds

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