A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "The First Temptation of Kelsey Blankenship"
You cuss yourself out long and hard as you struggle into your dress. That was the stupidest thing you could have done, Kelsey, you fume to yourself. Will. Whatever your name is.
Fear and horror fight for possession of your mind and soul as you totter out of the loft and down the stairs. How in the hell are you going to explain to your friends where you were and why you missed the party you were supposed to be hosting? I was sitting up all night with a sick friend. No one would believe it of you, even if that was still a thing in this day and age. Then there's the shame and humiliation of thinking that you could snag Steve Patterson for more than a one-night thing. There was no sign of him in the loft, and there's no sign of him downstairs either, so it really does look like he abandoned you. (How he got away, when you're the one who drove you and him up to the school, doesn't occur to you until afterward.) I'm just another one of his conquests. Like Deanna Showalter, or Kendra Saunders! Worse: What if he took selfies of us while I was passed out? What if he posts them? Oh, God, I'll die!
But the worst fear—which makes you want to throw up—goes much deeper. What if I've fucked things up with Will?
Part of that terror, of course, has to do with Kelsey being furious if she finds out what you've done. Would she have given in to temptation that way? Maybe, but you doubt she'd ever admit it. Which means that if she finds out what you did, she might never speak to you again.
And that would unbearable. Because you did have that moment with each other Friday night, at Joshua Cheswick's party. And the longer you think about it, the larger it looms in your memory and imagination. Two people not merely clinging to each other against the the dark and occult unknown, but finding in each other an unexpected tenderness and mercy.
Oh, Jesus God! What if I've fucked that up? you want to wail as you stumble out to your car.
The only possible way of reconciling with Kelsey, you realize as you buckle yourself in, is by confessing all to her, and throwing yourself on her mercy.
* * * * *
When Will texts you back, it's to say to meet him at Don's Donuts. That's where Keith works on weekend mornings, and you're a little surprised at the choice of meeting place—under the eyes of one of your friends—and you're further taken aback when you enter to find him dressed in a very nice gray wool suit. It's only then that you remember that today is Sunday, and that he needs to be at church in a little while. When you ask him about the suit—which is new—he tells you that the Garners picked it out for him. "It's a hell of a lot nicer than the white shirt and black pants that y— That I used to wear," he says. "So what's up?"
You can see it in his eye: a veiled, but unmistakable curiosity about why you look like a girl who's been ridden hard and put away wet. (Which is what you are.) You snuffle into a napkin and do your best not to notice the way that Keith, behind the counter is openly ogling you.
"I had a terrible night last night," you tell him. "I skipped my own party. I was out with someone else." You start to weep.
"I know," Will says. "I was at your place. You invited me, remember?"
"Oh God!" You almost suffer a nervous collapse right there. "What did everyone say?"
"No, about me! Not being there!"
"You don't want to know."
You bury your face in your hands and weep unashamedly. Will moves over to stroke your arm. You snuggle up next to him. It's ten minutes, at least, before you're able to speak again.
"And it was on account of the stupidest thing that anyone ever did," you tell him. "I met up with Steve Patterson. And I spent the night with him."
Will freezes, says nothing for a long moment. "I see," he finally says. "So how was it?"
"Shut up! I don't want to think about it!"
"So think about what you're going to tell people. They're going to know you were with someone."
"I know! Oh, God!" Almost you lose it again. "I guess I should just man up and tell them I was with Steve. Oh, for fuck's sake, why'd you have to go out to my party? I'd rather tell them I was with you!"
"We can do that."
Your head shoots up.
"Yeah, I left early," Will says. "They didn't think I belonged, and you weren't there to vouch for me. If you want to tell them you came out to meet me and—" He leans in to peck you on the cheek.
* * * * *
He has to go to church, and then home. You have to go home too. Everyone (including your parents) has moved on to the country club for Sunday brunch. You clean up, scrubbing off all the grime and tears and stress, and replacing it with light makeup and fresh clothes: cut-off jeans and a sweatshirt. You are still feeling wrung out when you emerge from your bedroom at a little after noon, but you find energy in picking up the game room from the party last night. After you have the room straightened and vacuumed, you go downstairs and get yourself some leftovers from the refrigerator.
Texts in the meantime have come in, from friends and from your parents, looking for you. You tell them you're at home. Steve has also texted, to ask what happened to you. (He says he jogged down to McDonald's to get some breakfast for the both of you, and he sounds a little miffed that you flew away.) You tell him that it was fun but it was a one-time thing. He only sends back a one-word reply: Watevr. You'll have to gauge his mood on Monday, if you see him.
But the real crisis comes that afternoon, when Amanda asks to meet you at Le Metropolitain. You're expecting trouble, but are unprepared for the crowd of girls—not only Amanda, but Brooke, Lisa, the Garners, and Olivia Byrne—when you arrive. It has all the signs of being an intervention.
But you meet it magnificently, if you do say so yourself. To their demand to know what happened, you reply that you met up with a guy and spent the night with him. And when, undaunted, they ask you who it was, you tell them it was Will Prescott. That leaves them thunderstruck, until Amanda starts making catty comments, which you shut up by telling her that you think you and him are going to start going out. "We made a real connection last night," you declare. "You've always underestimated him, Amanda, but you're too conceited to notice anything really good." Amanda turns very white and says nothing else the rest of the afternoon.
Not that the "intervention" lasts long after that. The other girls mumble their congratulations and retreat, looking utterly baffled. Eva and Jessica linger, though, to ask with barely hidden grins if you are really serious about Will.
"Yes," you tell them, and silently add, So there's something to amuse you body-swapping witches.
Your mind is awhirl the rest of the day, and your heart is in your throat when you text Will to tell him what you told your friends. I told my friends too, he replies. The rest of the evening you text him breathlessly, telling him things about Kelsey Blankenship that he knows very well, and he texts you back stories about Will Prescott that you also know. It's so much fun, pretending like you're getting to know each other, as a new boyfriend and girlfriend.
* * * * *
Monday afternoon. You're waiting for Will—who waited after school for you—when you get a text from him saying that something came up and he had to leave. You've just climbed into your BMW when you hear your name called. Marc Garner, looking very tan and healthy in his soccer clothes, comes jogging over. "Hey," he says as he leans in to talk to you through the car window. "I heard you and Will Prescott have started going out."
"Yes." You give him a tight smile. "Maybe you and Hannah and me and Will could double date sometime."
"That'd be awesome," he says. "I hope it's not just a short-term thing between you and Will." His head vanishes as he kneels to dig into his backpack.
"I hope it's not a short-term thing either," you start to say, but you're interrupted by Marc, who rises again to shove something into your face. The world goes dark.
* * * * *
You're sprawled on a truck bench when you wake, and you've a headache. The fuck? you wonder as you sit up.
You're parked out front of the school, in the teacher's lot, in the cab of a pick up truck. It takes a moment for you to place yourself—it's your truck.
And when you glance down you find that in you're in your clothes. Well, not the clothes you're used to wearing, but the jeans and denim shirt that your doppelganger has been going about in. In the footwell of the truck are a pair of dark boots, a wide-brimmed leather hat, and some suspenders.
You jump up and gape into the rearview mirror. Your original face gazes back.
Holy shit, you murmur to yourself as you stroke your cheek. I'm back!
* * * * *
Kelsey is in her BMW when you sprint over to check. She is looking as confused as you. After an awkward moment you embrace and hold each other.
Next: "The Bit That Comes After the Credits"