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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1017027-A-Message-from-Chelsea
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by Seuzz
Rated: GC · Book · Occult · #2183311
A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
#1017027 added September 9, 2021 at 12:03pm
Restrictions: None
A Message from Chelsea
Previously: "A Chat with Chelsea

Your thumbs hover over the screen of your iPhone, but after a minute's hesitation you toss it away without sending a message. Whatever Chelsea is up to, it seems best not to pester her.

Will concurs with your decision, though he doesn't seem any happier with it than you feel. After a long silence, you change the subject with a sigh: "Oh, the reason I was late getting up to the school," you tell him, "is because Laura wanted to talk to me. She came clean about lying to, uh, you and everyone else about not meeting up with me that night."

Will grunts. You tell him the rest of your conversation with Laura, more or less: How she wants to know how to come clean with everyone else, and how she should apologize to the guy she wronged.

"Well, I guess that's all pretty ironic," Will says. He doesn't seem much interested in what you have to say.

"So she's going to come talk to you at some point."

"What do you want me to say to her?"

You wince. "Tell her it's alright and you understand, I guess."

"Is that how you feel?"

"I don't give a shit at the moment."

You're starting to feel restless and distracted, and seize gratefully on a text from Leah. She says she's still wasted from last night, and asks you to come to her house to hold her hand (as she puts it) while she recovers. You ask Will if he wants to go along.

"No," he replies with a wry smirk. "I should keep my schedule free in case Laura wants to talk."

* * * * *

It's a cool and overcast day with intermittent showers, but though the thermometer is hovering in the mid-forties, Leah wants to sit outside, shivering inside a heavy sweater and pants, beside her backyard pool. "You're gonna catch pneumonia," you tell her.

"I'm not sick," she snarls back. "Besides, look at you, in shorts. God," she snarls, "it's like you have to go around showing off the sexiest legs in school!"

"Thanks." You cross them a little self-consciously. Jack's girlfriends are always telling him how hot he is, probably because they know it's safe to. "Is that how come you're shivering? I'm giving you a fever by showing you my legs?"

She leans forward to swat you. "God, I got so wasted last night!" she moans as she falls back into her chair.

"That's what you said when you texted me."

"I danced with, like, six different guys, and I don't even remember who they were!"

"So how do you know it was six different guys?"

"They were all dressed different."

"Maybe you were dancing with a quick-change artist."

"I asked you over so you could sympathize with me, not so you could be funny!"

"I'd like to be both. But I don't see why you need my sympathy, not if you got to dance with six guys last night."

"It just tells you how wasted I got. Usually I only dance with a couple, and chillax with Brianna and them. But last night—" She shakes her head, then winces.

"So how did it happen?"

"I don't know. No, yes I do. I got started on whiskey out at Eastman, while we were waiting."

"That was pretty bold of you."

"Fucking Mitchell brought it out. I was too embarrassed to pass on it."

You nod in understanding. Mitchell Belz is a bad influence in the school chorus—a black-clad sex pest who boldly grins as he boldly gropes, a tactic that somehow manages to get him past the girls' defenses so that he can talk them into doing almost anything. There's stories that he's even managed to slip a long and bony finger down the back of the pants of the girl standing in front of him during the middle of a concert, sliding it down her butt crack and goosing her two semitones sharp in front of a parental audience of three hundred.

"And then I got pee-oh'd at Genesis. She was mooing on about Blake some more."

"Really." Inwardly you can't help wincing. Genesis Lee is also hot for Jack's secret crush.

"So I just got out of control. Because you know Genesis is too chicken-shit to do anything about Blake."

"She probably shouldn't anyway, you know."

Leah's eyes are clenched shut, but she pries them open fractionally. "How come? What have you heard?"

"Oh, I just mean she needs to be with someone more her speed."

Leah grunts. Then she says, "Last night I was Blake's speed."

At first you just think it's another self-directed jibe. But something in Leah's tone catches your ear. "Blake wasn't one of the guys you danced with, it it?"

She flinches. "Yes," she mumbles.

"Oh, shit."

So she has to share her distress about seeming to have stabbed one of her friends in the back by dancing with her friend's crush when said friend is too shy to even make eye contact with the guy.

And what do you say?

Oh, the usual sort of thing Jack would say. Sympathetic noises, the occasional sly joke, some pointed comments about Genesis's lack of guts and grit, and some other pointed comments to puncture both Leah's swelling sense of guilt and her implied boasts about being able to catch Blake's attention. You do it with half a brain, though. With half of Jack's brain, even.

Because murmuring along beneath your patient exterior is a hotter stream of commentary. At least some of you girls have a love life to worry about. At least you all have a serious chance of getting a boyfriend. And by the way, as long as you're worried about making each other feel bad by doing and and saying insensitive things, do you think you could wonder about my sensitivities sometime?

But beneath that hot stream runs a much colder one. Jack, you doorknob, shut up with the inner gay drama. No one wants to hear it, not even you. Leah and them like you, they trust you, you're good with them, and you love them. You'd rather be like Charles?

Eventually more of Leah's friends come trickling in, in answer to the texts that Leah sends in answer to theirs. You get texts too, and as it's nearing noon and you're all outside, you casually organize a makeshift picnic by asking your correspondents to bring a package of hot dogs, or some buns, or a jar of relish, or a bag of chips over. Pretty soon there's a dozen kids out by the pool. You're not in the center, but everyone has something to say to you.

* * * * *

You take off while the party still in motion, though, after you get a text from Chelsea, asking you to meet her up at the gym again. She says nothing about Will, though, and you don't inquire. It'll be enough that you get to talk to her again, and it would probably be better without him along.

Naturally, you are hopeful that she has changed her mind, and will have something to say about stuff.

Her car isn't in lot, but Gordon's is. That's the first clue that something's amiss. But you try the gym side door anyway, and find it locked. You're taking out your phone to text Chelsea that you've arrived, when it swings open. A strong hand grabs and pulls you in.

Then you're lifted high in the air and held there, enclosed by brawny arms with your own arms pinned to your sides. Gordon Black, the captain of the basketball team and Chelsea's boyfriend, steps forward to grip you by the chin.

"I hear you're not happy just being a band faggot," he tells you. "You want to be a cheerleader too. And I also hear you're also being a very faggoty pest to my girlfriend."

You return him a very even stare, and say nothing. There's no point.

What comes next is, all things considered, relatively pleasant. Yes, Gordon gut-punches you twice, hard enough that you vomit all over the gym floor, and then he has his friend, Steve Patterson, drop you and push your face into the mess. But otherwise he is fairly restrained as he explains to you, in a lot of ugly language, that if you so much as make eye contact with Chelsea ever again, he will make you eat your own cock—"like an egg roll." But he doesn't even force you to mop up your own mess before picking you up and hurling you back outside. You crawl back to the minivan and huddle in the back seat until you feel mostly human again.

So now you know there's no chance of talking to Chelsea about your and Jack's body swap, ever again.

* * * * *

Will calls you later that afternoon. Laura, you noticed, wasn't at Leah's party, and that is because (you learn) she spent the afternoon with him, apologizing for her lies and trying to explain them. "Dude, she laid some pretty heavy shit on me," he tells you. "She says she was going crazy because she was having a major crush on, uh, you, and that's how come she got so flustered that day."

"Really." You don't care, and are laying on your bed, nursing your sore abdominal muscles.

"Really. And she says she's over the crush but she still wants to majorly hang out with you. Don't worry, I didn't commit you to anything."

Why not? you wonder. You're going to be me and I'm going to be you for the rest of our lives, it looks like. It's your call.

"You there?" he asks when you say nothing.

"Yeah."

"Well, I wanted to get that out of the way before I sprung the big news on you."

"What big news?"

"Chelsea texted me about twenty minutes ago. She wants to meet us up at the school again tonight."

Oh, fuck! You're about to tell him what happened to you when he adds that the text came via the "Clover Mystery" number.

That gives you pause. Chelsea texted you from her own phone. Why use Clover's phone to contact the other guy who was pestering her?

Next: "The Third Man

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