“Are you insane?” Daisy said, looking incredulously at Marty.

Marty laughed, and Daisy could not help but think about how her laughter always sounded like bells. Daisy and Marty were sitting in their dorm room on a mild spring day. The frost of winter was recently gone, leaving rainy days in its wake. This day was no different. Spots of sunlight shone through the dark grey clouds. As Marty laughed, Daisy focused on a ray of sunlight that appeared fleetingly on the floor.

“I’m not insane,” Marty replied once she recovered, and Daisy turned her attention back to her best friend. “You would love it, too. It’s not what you think, Daisy. We don’t go around worshipping Satan or anything like that.”

Marty’s shining brown eyes held only honesty, but Daisy couldn’t accept her words. When did Marty decide to become a Wiccan? More importantly, why did she decide it? Daisy, like Marty, believed in the supernatural- ghosts, fey, magic. But actually practicing magic? Being a witch?

Waves of uneasiness overwhelmed Daisy when she thought about doing magic. Her palms began to sweat. Marty should be put in a mental institute for this. Daisy resolved to snap her out if this craziness. She took a deep breath. Jumping up from her desk chair, she straightened her stature and spoke.

“I won’t let you do this to yourself.”

Marty’s blonde-brown eyebrows furrowed. “What are you saying?”

Daisy strode across the room to where Marty sat cross-legged on her bed. “How could you be practicing magic? Why would you do that to yourself?”

The other girl groaned. “Oh, Daisy. This is why I didn’t tell you before. I’ve been a Wiccan for seven months now.”

She could not face her. Instead, Daisy turned and began to pace around the room. Marty’s announcement left her speechless. She racked her brain for something sensible to say, but was at a loss. When she rounded to face Marty again, though, words tumbled from her mouth before she could stop them. “Are you kidding me? You’re crazy, Marty, you know that? You’ve officially gone off the deep end.”

“Daisy-”

“Why didn’t you want to tell me?” Daisy stopped pacing and turned sharply to face Marty. She still sat on her bed, and Daisy resented her for being so calm.

Marty screwed up her face. After a moment, she untightened her muscles and let out a breath.

“Because I knew you’d react like this. I was afraid. I’m sorry. I really am sorry, Daisy. I should’ve told you,” Marty said in a low voice.

Daisy had turned away from the other girl as she spoke, and stopped in her tracks as she heard the speech. Marty was not always quick to apologize. When she did, Daisy knew she was sincere. It’s not that big a deal, Daisy reasoned. On the other hand, it was. She thought about all of the secrets and lies that must have accompanied Marty keeping this from her. “It’s…” Daisy stumbled. “This isn’t okay.”

She shifted on her feet to face Marty once more. Noticing the hurt expression on her face, Daisy looked away. Finally, looking up she said, “Your life, your rules. I can’t be part of it, though.”

“Daisy, wait!” Marty cried, rising from the bed. “Just see what it’s like. I know you’ll love it. Please. There’s a celebration tonight for Ostara. It’s the Spring Equinox.”

“No,” Daisy cut her off.

“Tonight, in the woods by the soccer field. We’re just celebrating nature,” Marty continued as if Daisy had not spoken.

She could only give Marty a look. With that, Daisy grabbed her jacket and left the room without another word.

***

The warm spring air swept past Daisy as she walked across campus. She lowered her head against it, but without a hood, her dark hair flew behind her in the gusts. Daisy’s heartbeat quickened as she considered Marty’s proposal. Marty had been practicing magic for so long. Not only that, but now she wanted to take Daisy down the rabbit hole. Too reluctant to jump, though, Daisy preferred keeping her feet on solid ground. Then again, would it be that bad? Marty did not seem worse for being a Wiccan. She actually seemed… Daisy did not want to admit it, but Marty seemed happier, brighter somehow.

That doesn’t change the fact that she lied, Daisy thought to herself.

She did not want to think about it. The hurt the revelation caused made her stomach knot. Daisy wanted to confront her again, but the thought of facing Marty made her steps quicken. Instead, she decided to get lost in town.

***

The hot chocolate felt warm between Daisy’s hands. After hours of wandering around town, she had finally come back to campus and was sitting in the dining hall. For Daisy, the now chilly day and her disheartened mood was cause for a few cups of hot chocolate laden with numerous marshmallows. Sitting in the corner, she looked out at all of the people there. She wished she would see someone she knew, because her long hampered feelings were now simmering below the surface. Her face burned red, and Daisy longed to throw the hot chocolate at the wall. She forced herself to be still, though. Suddenly, Daisy felt her phone vibrate. The screen was still lit when she pulled it from her pocket, and Daisy saw that she had received a message from Marty. She unlocked her phone and read it:

“I really hope you come tonight. I know you’re mad, but if you come you’ll see why I enjoy it so much. And I know you’ll like it, too. I’m sorry I lied, but I hope you can forgive me.”

Daisy groaned. She read the message again, hoping she’d read it wrong. There it was, though, and Daisy knew she could no longer avoid it.

Yes, she was angry. However, that did not mean she could completely reject the girl who had been her best friend for almost a decade. They had survived ordeals much worse than this. Daisy looked down into her hot chocolate. Knowing that Marty would give her a chance, she decided she would do this for her. First, though, she finished her drink.

***

Daisy was reluctant when she came upon the scene in the woods. Hiding behind a tree, she shrouded herself in darkness and watched the group gathered there. The wind had taken on a slight chill since she had first gone out, and Daisy tightened her jacket around her. However, she could not lie to herself. Tonight was beautiful.

The clouds had cleared from the day’s dreariness, and it seemed lighter out despite the time. An innumerable amount of stars dazzled across the sky as far as the eye could see. The moon, round and glowing, seemed so close Daisy thought she could touch it if she only stretched out her hand. The air was heavy with the scent of grass and pine, oak, and elm trees. The group was well enough into the woods that sounds of the modern world melted away in the distance, becoming little more than a whisper on the wind. Daisy only found them by the light of the fire someone had made in the middle of a clearing. She heard their light chatter and laughter, along with the sigh of the trees in the wind, and the night animals scurrying in the darkness.

Still afraid to approach, Daisy clung to the tree she hid behind for a moment longer. It was now or never. Wondering faintly whether it was too late to turn back, she took a deep breath and walked toward the edge of the clearing. Upon hearing her footsteps, a few people, including Marty, turned to watch her arrival.

“Daisy! You made it!” Marty jumped up from her place on the ground, and ran toward Daisy.

She beamed at Daisy before hugging her tightly. “I’m really sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so happy you’re here. You won’t regret it.”

All Daisy could say in response was, “I hope not.”

Marty stepped away. She took the other girl’s hand and led her to middle of the clearing, where the group was sitting in a circle. Pulling Daisy down on the blanket she had previously occupied, Marty made introductions.

“Okay. Most of you know Daisy, so just say hello. Make her feel welcome. But before you do that, Daisy, this is Jack, David, Ellie, and Monica.”

Marty pointed to each person as she introduced them. Daisy waved and said a small hello. She noticed that there were about fifteen people in all.

“It’s nice to see you here, Daisy,” her friend Tom said from the other side of the circle.

She smiled across the fire at him, relaxing a little as she recognized each friend. Daisy was surprised to see him there, but unsurprised that Tom seemed to be the leader. Her scattered nerves calmed more and more with each passing moment.

Daisy spoke shyly, “I’m glad to be here.”

“I also hope that tonight will give you a reason to return,” Tom replied. He turned to the group at large and spoke.

“I am happy and excited to see you all here. Tonight is the night we celebrate Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The spring represents new life, love, happiness, and eternal brightness. While we are only commemorating the holiday tonight, I hope that you all remember the lessons that this day teaches you.”

Tom looked at each person, his eyes momentarily lingering on Daisy. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. The fire crackled happily in the silence.

“All of us, no matter how wrapped up and lost we become in the material world, should never forget to honor the nature and the world that gave us life. The sun, the plants, the rain- they are all a part of this wonderful, beautiful, basic, complicated world. I hope that you keep that with you always,and allow it to guide you through your days. Now I know that life gets in the way sometimes, and we may not see each other at all until the next meeting. So, I want everyone to have as much fun as you can tonight! Let’s begin!”

The group erupted into cheers, including Daisy, who could not help but be moved by the power of Tom’s speech. Everyone rose from their places around the circle and joined hands. Daisy followed suit.

“So far, so good?” Marty whispered to her as they all joined hands.

“Yeah,” Daisy replied happily. “What’s happening now?”

“First, Tom is going to send up a prayer to the Goddess, and then we’ll say a spell for peace, happiness, and a stronger connection to nature. After that is the best part of the celebration. Dancing!”

Marty erupted into a fit of giggles. However, she immediately silenced when Tom cleared his throat and sent her a stern look. Each person in the group bowed their head as Tom said the prayer. His voice seemed to blend in with the sounds that surrounded them. The wind had picked up, and, when it blew, the few leaves rattled like nature-made wind chimes. Daisy could hear owls hooting in the distance as Tom’s voice rose and fell in a poetic cadence. The occasional popping sound of the fire and the feel of the earth underneath her kept Daisy grounded and secure.

With a deep exhalation of breath, Tom finished the prayer and moved immediately into the spell. One by one, the group members joined in. When Daisy had listened enough and memorized the words, she joined in, too. With each recitation, their voices rose higher. Daisy found herself raising her face to the sky, which could be seen distinctly from the clearing. Suddenly, she was moving. The group began to move as one going clockwise, moving increasingly faster with each motion. Daisy looked at the rest as they spun. Each shared a glowing look of happiness and serenity, and she began to realize why Marty was so happy to be a part of it all. Daisy felt herself smiling without a clue as to when it happened. Tom caught her eye. He winked at her, and the simple gesture sent her over the edge. Laughter bubbled up and spilled out of her mouth in a high-pitched sound. Letting go of the two hands she had been holding, she spun around alone. The others let go as well, and everyone began to dance around the clearing. Finding her voice again, she resumed the chant the group still carried.

She closed her eyes and let go of her negative emotions, allowing herself to feel the power of the spell, and, more importantly, connection to nature flowing through her. Daisy felt hands on hers. Opening her eyes, she was delighted to see Marty with a wide grin on her face. Her eyes were alight, and the fire reflecting off them made them sparkle more. Again, Daisy could not help the laughter that erupted from her, which turned infectious as Marty burst into fits of giggles. Daisy was reminded of silver bells as they spun around together, the night sky blending in with the tops of the trees. She thought she could do this all night, and why wouldn’t she? She had to admit that she loved nature, and celebrating it this way was exquisite.

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