THE GOOD NEWS
“Lucifer.” The girl said.
“Hail the light.” The Circle repeated.
Their room was full of hushed voices trembling with desire. I was disorientated. I looked down at the long white gown I’d been given, now entrenched with sweat. Streams of murky blood and gelatinous patches slid down my thigh. Between my legs seemed to be nipped at with scissors. The agony had driven me to delirious euphoria. My eyes were blinded by tears, all I could make out were faint figures standing around me.
There was a dreamy glint of candles burning. At the heart of the Circle, a furious fire stood high above our heads, casting a hellish glow against our faces. Even the luminance of the silver crowned figure burned a burnished crimson against the rising flames. The figure was sitting with her elbows tucked in and palms facing up, her face veiled by darkness.
“Hail Diana of blackest night born.” The figure spoke.
The figure’s voice broke the atmosphere in a raspy groan. Hushing and antsy anticipation were smothered out by the roaring of the fire. The atmosphere was heavy, and my body felt like it was crushing beneath the weight of its own bones.
“Remove her gown.”
The figure beneath the veil spoke. Her voice was like God over the sea of faces. They cut my gown down the middle with a large knife.
“Master is here.” The figure said.
An immobilizing silence consumed us. Long thumps pounded against the floor. I kept my eyes on the ground scanning the toes around me, when I saw a hissing jade green snake slithering from beneath their feet.
As I gazed into the flames, an ember spewed out from the base of the fire. As it sizzled and diminished in the air, I remembered how I too once burned for a boy, and how in this moment I was also being reduced to dust. As I stared dreamily into the flames, my final moments began to play in my mind like tattered footage.Spring wasn’t usually hot, but this year Pastor’s wives were showing cleavage. Moises and I had grown up together, our mothers were best friends. I turned sixteen that week, and Moises invited me after school one day to his house since his parents weren’t home. I swooned at him, the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen. Before his face beloved of gods and men, I worshiped. His name was a sacred incantation on my lips. My legs were weak when he said he wanted to spend time alone.
People liken the feeling to butterflies, but for me they were more like bats, swarming in scattered directions violently crashing against the linings of my stomach. He smiled when I agreed and kissed me gently. His lips were sweet like vanilla and I melted into him shamelessly. Moises and I walked to his house with hands interlocked. He took me to his room and closed the door.
He held me in his arms and I fell gently against his bed with my fingers intertwined in his hair. Our tongues danced in each other’s mouths. Moises ran his hands down my stomach and his fingers against the slickness between my legs. I was enthralled and terrified all at once.
“No,” I said.
“You keep saying that.” Moises’s eyes flared.
“I’m not ready.” I retorted.
He made his way down my neck, and his hand was back between my legs. I resisted, but he kept going. Within moments Moises was clawing at me with a cold stare in his eyes, a beast with bloodlust. Before I knew it my body had given out on fighting back and all I could do was focus on trying to numb the pain. I could smell the meat and potatoes we’d had for lunch that day on his slimy tongue wiggling around in my mouth. Hot wafts of his rancid breath suffocated me.
“Please don’t do this…” I begged.
“Just let me.” He said straining his voice.
Boy of my foolish young heart. What felt like a scream exploding from my chest escaped as only a fleeting gasp as he violently thrust himself into me. I saw in my mind glimpses of innocuous childhood memories together, like talking on the phone late at night in hushed voices. His face scrunched as he began to grunt.
“If you love me you’ll just stop moving.” He said.
His ruddy complexion was bronze against the dull light slipping through the cracks of his bedroom window. His body was drenched with sweat as he rammed against me. My eyes were rolled to the back of my head. I was a rag doll in his hands. He started to hack and trembled with ecstatic pleasure, grunting with each thrust. I felt the hot gush of his conquest burn inside of me as he fell onto my chest.
He pulled out of me, my unflowered bud was now torn open, leaking his excrement’s and my own blood. The darkness kept my secrets, as the seed of that night took root now in my stomach. The memory would soon grow inside me.
“I love you.” He said, panting.
I was slain.
Each day afterward was excruciating. I spent my entire night crying in the bathtub too terrified to even tell my parents. What would our mothers say? I had to see him every few nights when our families had dinner together. All I thought of was the destruction. Our mothers would choose sides and I would be the cause of severed ties. All I did was blame myself and ruminate, why didn’t I fight back harder? My mind was flooded with my darkest thoughts. I became painfully aware of my own mortality, and how much of a prison your mind is.
In Italian class, my second month of trying to hold together my shattered remains continued. The week before I’d found out my worst fear was confirmed: I was the black Madonna carrying his spawn. Mr. Leeland spoke conversational phrases in his native Sicilian accent. Moises sat in front of me without ever a glance back.
It was only in front of our family that we had to still act in love. I was beneath dirt to him, just something to be jettisoned and tossed aside when his yearnings were satisfied. I was nauseous when I thought about his thick eyebrows and dark hair that fell in gentle waves. We were only 16 but Moises turned heads wherever he went. I always seemed to be more of an accessory or charm than anything substantial compared to him.
I tried sending out distress through my clothes. I went from summer dresses to flowing black and hiding, anything I could use to feel invisible; but no one noticed. His Jasper eyes locked with mine, and he flashed me that beautiful smile. I watched him, seething with rage. I imagined leaping over the table and carving his throat open with my pencil. The pencil snapped in my hand. Moises gasped.
“There is a better way.” A voice said.
Mr. Leeland’s voice droned over the classroom. Moises’s startled eyes settled, cool and comfortable; relishing. I turned around to see a girl no older than myself. Everything else faded away. I couldn’t hear Mr. Leeland’s voice anymore, all I could focus on was the iron-clasped grip she had on my lungs. She was alluring, like a painting you wanted to admire endlessly.
Her face was benevolent and ethereal, yet the longer I stared into the dark moons that formed her eyes I grew a sense of foreboding. There was an ancient power emanating from her bones, a force powerful enough to sway the tides.
“I can help you.” She said.
“Can you?” I said, exasperated.
“Lily?” Mr. Leeland’s voice tore through the trance I’d slipped into.
“Yes, sir?” I spat out.
“Who are you talking to?”
When I glanced back I saw only the same wall that’s always been behind my desk. I wondered then if I was beginning to lose my mind.
I’d spent the entire day replaying the image of the girl in my mind. It helped keep my focus off the pain. As I sat alone by the water fountain I met eyes with Moises from across the schoolyard. There was sunlight in his eyes, rays of honey that seemed to light his face just right. He was the ugliest man I’d ever seen.
Vomit rose up to my throat. Moises turned his face away, half smiling, half feeling. I disassociated myself. Most times I was convinced none of it really happened. I looked at life with a newly found detachment. I’d become a leaf scattered by the wind, my thoughts escaped me drifting everywhere and nowhere at all.
All I’d had was my cat, Luna. Luna always seemed to know when I was sad, and when I spent that dreadful night howling into a towel in my bathtub, she sat beside me.
“Do you usually sit alone?” The girl said.
I looked up at her, the sun was over her head creating a golden halo.
“How did you get here?” I said.
“Your family isn’t home yet, they’re working late this evening.” She said, smiling. She laid her other hand on my stomach.
“This will serve you a greater purpose.” She said.
I nodded obediently, and lead her to my house.
The floorboards creaked with each step we made through the front door. Specks of dust were caught in gray hues through the blinds. The girl wandered around my house. A swift black figure moved across the hallway. I scanned the room around me quickly. The girl had already begun walking towards the lamp. Luna emerged from behind the lamp. Her tail was slowly moving back and forth. Luna always seemed to appear when I needed her. Luna leaped into the girl’s arms and purred, brushing the top of her head against the girl’s arm.
“Luna.” The young girl said.
“How do you know that?” I said, my voice shaking.
“She told me.”
The girl wore a deep sense of control with the curves of her lips. She tilted her head.
“She doesn’t speak to you?” She said.
The girl made soft kissing sounds beneath her breath to Luna.
“What’s your name, then?” I asked.
The girl paused and set Luna down at her feet. She stared into my eyes and snickered. The longer she stared, the more I could feel her. She brushed her long black wavy hair behind her ear. Luna was walking in circles around her, glaring at me intently.
“My name is never said aloud.” She said, finally.
“Are you hiding?”