WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
STORIES I TELL TO GIRLS
by Michael Williams
“I’m not trying to pry, Auntie Ann,” Maria said to the crone of the Book People, lying badly and showing the disregard for it of young people everywhere. “But why don’t you ever tell us stories about your life?” She asked it with that infuriating innocence of youth, the way a child can go straight to the heart of the hidden.
Lorraine, high priestess of the Book People, froze at the half-open library door.
Auntie Ann as usual said nothing. Lorraine had heard Auntie Ann speak many times but for a specific reason: the older woman was trying to pass on what she had learned in her many years of crafting magic, preparing Lorraine for when she would become the coven’s crone.
That was what the Book People were: a coven working magic through the written word. As the wheel of the year turned they gathered together, trespassing at some library or another to reach into the vast expanse of condensed intention; to make meaning out of the cast dice of a billion words. They broke the law to do their work because magic often requires a sacrifice. The Book People set their own respectability before the gods as an offering they were prepared to burn.
This night, however – Halloween, or Samhain, or any number of other names –the Book People were on their own turf: a little branch library near the tiny town of Pittsboro. Technically they were trespassing there, too, but they had found a key, left out as though just for them, and they took it as a special kind of blessing.
“Is something wrong with the door?” Warren was the scribe, recording their rituals in a great tome he carried.
“No,” Lorraine said. “Just… thought I heard something.” Maria asking Auntie Ann about her past, tonight – this night, when the dead were close enough to touch with the lightest of effort… A chill ran up Lorraine’s spine. Dressed in her usual array of spandex-cotton blends, Lorraine looked the part of the mother of the group, ready to cheer on a soccer league or pilot a mini-van straight into outer space. She felt ice in her heart, though. Maria, the energetic young maiden, had a way of being the first one to stumble onto something and last to understand its significance.
“I just feel like we could learn a lot from you,” Maria said. She smiled, but it was coy.
Auntie Ann’s voice cracked when she spoke, like a piano that hasn’t been played in too long. “I try not to dwell on what’s dead and gone. It has a way of showing back up if it thinks it’s been invited.”
Maria’s eyes lit up with the flame of curiosity almost rewarded. “Oh, but please? Please tell us one story? Just one?” Maria’s pleading eyes turned to Lorraine for just a second. “I bet you’ve told Lorraine all kinds of stories.”
“Oh, girl.” Auntie Ann let out a great big breath with a lot of years behind it. “There are stories I tell to women,” she said, “And stories I tell to girls.” She smiled, though. “And you are still a girl.”
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
Michael G. Williams is a native of the Appalachian Mountains and grew up near Asheville, North Carolina. He describes his writing as wry horror or suburban fantasy: stories told from the perspectives of vampires, unconventional investigators, magicians and hackers who live in the places so many of us also call home. Michael is also an avid athlete, a gamer and a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi. You can find him here: http://www.robustmcmanlypants.org/perishables/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/perishables.novel