the black lake coven

Ok here’s the thing. There’s no explanation for what is happening in this apartment. Last night I was sitting at my desk, which faces away from my bedroom door. And I heard someone come into my room and open my closet door. Obviously I thought it was my mom, and I assumed she was looking for some clothes or something, so I asked what she was looking for. She didn’t respond, and when I turned to look no one was there, but both my bedroom and closet doors — which were CLOSED I swear they were closed — were wide open. And I heard footsteps on the carpet! I heard them! Like it was so real that I wasn’t even scared, I called my mom to see what she needed. She was in the shower.

I got scared after that hahaha.

Then this morning I got up and got ready for school and my backpack wasn’t where I left it hanging on the back of my door. So I’m running around my bedroom, late, and my mom’s shouting from her room that we need to hurry, and I have no idea where my stuff is — and then my mom calls from the living room, “Shiloh — are you okay?”

She sounded spooked so I gave up on my search and went to see what was up — and spread out all over the living room floor was my backpack and all my books and papers. Everything was shredded, even the backpack.

I just stood there, dumb, staring at the mess.

My mom must have been staring at me.

“Why?” she said. She sounded totally aghast. Like, obviously. She must have been horrified. Who else could have made them mess except for me?

But listen — I really didn’t do it. I swear to god I no memory of making that mess.

There are only two viable scenarios that explain what happened. I don’t know which I prefer. They’re both horrifying.

Either I did it — I shredded all my school things and have no memory of doing so OR there was someone else in this house last night.

I swore up and down to my mom that I didn’t do it. She’s so worried. She was like freaking out in the car on the way to school.

She kept saying shit like, “I know that you’re having a hard time right now, what with everything that’s going on, but —” and then before she could actually accuse me of anything she’d sorta catch herself. And then finally she said, “you’re talking to your therapist though, aren’t you? It’s okay if this isn’t the right fit. We can find someone else.”

And I know she’s trying to help, and I know she just feels helpless, but like bitch I didn’t do it!!!!

So then she said, “Maybe we should send you to a psychiatrist. Maybe they’ll be able to do more.”

Which is totally fair honestly, like if it were my kid doing violent things to her school stuff in her sleep I’d send her to a psychiatrist too.

Unfortunately I was too freaked out and pissed off to have this level of compassion at the time. I don’t remember what I screamed at her, but the gist of it was this:

YOU CAN’T JUST SEND ME TO A PSYCHIATRIST AND EXPECT ALL MY PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED THAT ISN’T GOING TO FIND MADELYN AND IT ISN’T GOING TO KEEP WHATEVER WAS IN OUR APARTMENT LAST NIGHT FROM COMING BACK

And then I got out of the car, crying, and stormed up to the school. Which definitely didn’t help my I don’t think I need psychiatry case. At least I had the wherewithal not to tell her I’d seen a psychic and he told me I was going to die hahahaha.

Anyways, I stormed up the school steps right by Tilly and she called after me but I couldn’t face her so I ran away, which like — yikes. But at that point everything with Tilly was looking way too dire for me to even consider talking her right then. I hadn’t spoken to her since my freak out at the psychic’s office. I’d ignored like five texts from her. FIVE. And then I ran away from her. Nice one Shiloh, way to ruin the one good thing that’s happened since school started.

I should have known that I hadn’t really ruined it. Tilly tracked me down at lunch.

I was in Ms. Dukes room, alone, doodling aimlessly, when she found me. When I looked up at her she happened to be standing directly between me and the ceiling light so her black curls were sorta haloed in light behind her and it was too beautiful to look too long at.

ANYWAYS.

“You’re acting weird,” she announced and I sorta fixed my eyes on my book and she said, “I’ve been giving you space but I thought —” and she stopped and I glanced at her and her cheeks were slightly rosy and I wanted to die. She cleared her throat. “I thought we were sorta in it together now.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“It’s… it’s okay if you’re not into me, or whatever,” she said, unable to meet my eyes. “Like, I don’t want to put pressure on you or anything, but… I mean you still need friends don’t you?”

And then my throat unexpectedly constricted, which was NOT acceptable. There are few things more horrible than crying at school.

“Shiloh?” Tilly asked. I glanced up at her before I could stop myself and then stupid tears spilled out and her expression got all worried, and she grabbed my hand and that was just way too much and I started crying.

It felt like an Avril Lavigne song. Like one of the super old ones. Remember that one where she wants to cry in front of that guy for some reason? Lmao omg I’m so embarrassing.

ANYWAYS.

So I told her about my haunted ass house, and my fucked up dreams, and sleep walking, and my torn up school stuff this morning, and about fighting with my mom.

And when I’d talked myself out I looked up to find her staring at me. “I know,” I said. “It’s bat shit.”

But Tilly just frowned. “Did you do it?”

“No!” I said.

“It’s cool if you did,” she said. “We all do crazy shit sometimes.”

I didn’t rip that shit up! Bruh I’m not even strong enough to shred a backpack are you kidding me? I’m weak k when I flex you literally can’t even tell.

“Do you think you’re haunted?” she said.

I thought: YEAH THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I THINK

I said: “oh come on. Ghosts?”

Tilly chewed her lip. “I mean…” she said.

“Oh come on,” I said, trying to sound incredulous, but really I was beginning to panic.

“It’s just that… You know.” Tilly looked at me meaningfully. “Black Lake has always had… stories.”

I stared at her.

Black Lake has always had stories. I mean I guess every small town probably has some spooky stories — but we’re super extra about our spooks in Black Lake. I mean obviously. We’ve got girls mysteriously waking up in the woods for gods sake. We’ve got haunted houses. And most of all, we’ve got the Black Lake Coven — that’s right. A full on coven of witches.

Out in the woods there’s this spooky old homestead that’s much, much older than the rest of town is. Like hundreds of years older. According to town legend, it used to be home to a coven of witches. In the early 1900s a couple girls were even hung from the maple tree at the center of town. Their names were Ann and Isha Black. It says in the town records that they were hung by the neck until dead in punishment for witchcraft. It was a proper witch hunt, except it was only a hundred years ago.

The last of the Black family, Sigrid Black, died in the forties. As far as we know the Black Family homestead is empty out there.

Madelyn and I were obsessed with that shit in middle school. I mean, what 13 year old girl isn’t obsessed with witchcraft I guess but we were really into it. We went out to the homestead once in middle school. We used to bury offerings under the oak tree where they hung Ann and Isha. We got in a huge fight in the seventh grade because I wanted to cast a hex on Bella Short but Madelyn didn’t think we should practice black magic.

But just because Madelyn and I were obsessed with a small-town legend doesn’t mean that there are real, actual witches that exist in the world. Psychics and ghosts aren’t real.

I tell myself, over and over, clinging desperately to my last shred of sanity.

“Look,” Tilly said, frank and confident. “Maybe you are sleep walking. Maybe you tore up your homework yourself in your sleep and don’t remember. And like, that’s okay, you’ve been through a lot lately and if you’re having some kind of brain issue because of that, that’s fair.” She squeezed my hand. “But I also don’t see the harm in trying to get rid of it. If it is a haunting.”

I stared at her.

Tilly didn’t meet my eyes. “Okay, you can look as stunned as you want, but do you really think you’re hallucinating?”

No.

“Well then, let’s try to cleanse the space,” she said. “I have some supplies —”

I had to stop her there. She has some supplies?

But Tilly was cool as a cucumber. “Let’s get witchy,” she said. “I mean at least it’s something right?”

When I said nothing she laughed. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

I told her she sounded like Madelyn.

“Yeah,” Tilly said, glancing down. “I know. I was so jealous of you two back in the day — with your secrets and your spells and your candles. I even learned the tarot hoping you’d let me be in your coven.”

Lmao. Let that sink in for a second. Tilly heckin Marlow learned the tarot to hang out with our lame asses. It’s a wild world friends.

I must have been staring because Tilly said, “Don’t look at me like that!” She was smiling. “I just think that if Madelyn believed it, maybe we should at least try to believe it too. It might lead us to her.”

Then she turned and looked me in the eye. “Look,” she said. “If this witchy shit turns out to be a game we’re using to make ourselves feel better, then cool. We should be trying to make ourselves feel better. And if your apartment is haunted as hell then we’re not going to exorcise it sitting on our butts are we?”

So… maybe she doesn’t totally think this is all a coping mechanism?

And you know what she’s not wrong. Like at least if we light a bunch of candles and idk chant or whatever at least we’ll be trying something.

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