There’s something wrong with Harlow. Not wrong, exactly…no, no, I was right the first time, there’s definitely something wrong. I mean, I’m not really one to point fingers cause we’re all a little crazy in this house but…something isn’t right. I was so caught up in my own shit, my own problems, that I didn’t even notice what was really happening to her.
Some friend, right?
Whatever it is, whatever she’s going through, it’s not her fault. If there’s one thing I know, it’s once the Grove gets a hold of you it’s hard to come back from that. Nobody ever comes all the way back from that. But I’m worried. At first I thought she was talking to herself. It wouldn’t be that weird, you know? She was alone in that room, in that asylum, for so long, I don’t know, I just thought maybe she was trying to soothe herself. Like she does with those paper animals she makes. It was just…company. They were just company. Now I realize it’s much worse than that…something much more dangerous.
She’s casting. Conjuring.
I don’t think anybody else has noticed. I don’t even know if Harlow’s noticed. It’s almost like a tick or a nervous twitch. It only happens when she’s creating her animals. When she starts folding those tiny squares of paper it’s like she disappears. She doesn’t hear me or see me; she just sits and folds and creases and whispers so softly even I have to strain to hear her. I’m not the only one who hears her but I’m the only one who really sees what she’s doing. I’m the only one who knows she might be dangerous. I don’t even think she knows. But I’ve seen this before. I know what magic can do.
But what am I supposed to do? How can I judge her? How can I tell anybody her secrets after everything she’s done for me?
I told her what I did. What those things made me do. What I still want to do. I told her everything. I told her about my cravings. My urges. How some nights my teeth ache with the need to feed on something that’s pulse is still beating on my tongue. She doesn’t judge me. She doesn’t fear me. She still wants me. She still needs me. Nobody needs me but she does. Nobody sees me but she does. We are kindred in a way. It’s like the monster in her recognizes the monster in me. Accepts it. Maybe even loves it a little.
We aren’t supposed to be together. Dr. Ling says you shouldn’t get into a relationship when you are still healing from a trauma but our whole lives are traumatic. I mean, we aren’t…together, that is…not really. We don’t kiss or make out or go on dates but sometimes she will slide under my arm and put her head on my chest and hold my hand and I think that I could be with her. When she holds my hand my mind is quiet for a little while and maybe hers is too.
She’s not always…crazy? Most of the time she seems more together than I am. She smiles, she laughs, there’s life behind those sea glass eyes. There’s more left of her soul then there is of mine. There’s more left of her heart then there is of mine. We’re both crazy. We’re both damaged. We’re both broken. Why not be crazy and damaged and broken together, right?
Sometimes we can pass for normal, whatever that is, at least to the outside world, those who don’t see us every day. When we walk through the halls of school and she curls her arm through mine, people probably don’t think anything of it. They don’t see that I’m a killer and she’s done things so dark, so twisted, that she only talks about them with the lights off where she can’t see my face, terrified of what she’ll see when I hear what she’s done.
There’s trust here. I trust her more than I trust almost anybody. But I can’t ignore what she’s doing. I don’t know exactly what she’s doing but I know that I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen another cast spells as she does. Hushed whispers hissed through tense lips, spoken in some foreign tongue I couldn’t even begin to understand. I saw the damage it did. I saw the people it hurt.
Magic is a gift but it is also a curse. Harlow isn’t just a witch, she’s a reaper. She casts her spells in an old tongue I’ve never heard, eyes blank, hands moving of their own volition, folding and creasing and creating her origami army and conjuring…something. Something. I just don’t know what. Whatever it is, it’s old and dark and it swallows her down until she can fight her way back to the surface.
So do I tell? Do I say nothing and wait? I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing but I know she’s playing a dangerous game. I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen it before. There was a witch on the preserve who gave herself over to magic. But what do I do? Do I break her trust to save her life? Do I just watch? My father just watched. My grandmother just watched.
Magic swallowed my mother whole and the world watched and did nothing.
But what if I’m wrong?
But what if I’m not?