Luna Friar

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I never thought that unconsciousness would feel so real; I never thought that if I touched the flames engulfing me, it would hurt. It would hurt like hell. But it did. And above all, I never thought if this happened, I wouldn't be alone. But I wasn't alone. 

Amid my transformation to dust—Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Those words sang in my brain like a distant memory. I could hear church bells ringing in the background, and I could feel the soft sweat of a thumb rubbing against my forehead—I jerked out of my thoughts to a shrill scream echoing against every corner of the fiery room. 

"Who's there?" I managed to croak as my body felt like it was crumbling. The words were still in my brain.  Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. It was dark, minor-key choir echoing the cantor after his solo in each verse. It pulsed against my weakening skull. My feet ... clacking against the pale tiles of the church floor like a horse galloping. 

The world became very dark. All of my senses dulled to this shell. All that was left was the shallow echo of my heart. It engulfed me like a protective shield. But I knew it wouldn't last forever. If this curse was to kill me from the inside out, that was my fate. 

In the darkness and solitude, I found my mind wandering off to lethargic memories. Right before I decided to "take a nap"—my words, not a euphemism; I was only lying to avoid causing mass panic—I felt something cold pierce through my train of thoughts. It made me dizzy, and I had to giggle endlessly to repel attention from my swaying legs. 

And then, the fire engulfed me into unconsciousness. Burns charred my legs until they were numb and then gone. Then, finally, everything disappeared. Everything was black. And then, white light in the form of a cross swells against my sight. 

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. 

Was this it? The moment I saw the light? My spiritual awakening? I sure as hell hoped not. Whatever it was, it gave me the strength to come out of the shells of my charred, old self as someone new and glorious. No more flames filled the room. The floor tiles were warm, but not piping hot. 

In the distance of the room, I heard a faint moan. Piled under a mountain of smoke-emitting ashes, a hand stretched out from the tip. Its willowy fingers dangled in the dense air for help. The moan seemed muffled by the ashes. 

I rushed across the steam-imbued tiles, latching my hand onto the dangling fingers. I yank the trembling McKayla out of the mountain of ashes emitting smoke from it charred dirt. Her dusty lavender locks were a rat's nest, tangled with charred dirt. She coughed continuously. 

"Thanks," she said after catching her breath. Purplish welts tattooed the indents of her lips. One eye trailed off to the side. Her face seemed to sag in several places. Her chest swelled with each breath she emitted. And then she collapsed onto the floor, her body spasming in every muscle. It was like she was a machine glitching. Recalculating. Recalculating. 

A pulse of blood pounded against my chest, and all I could do was inhale and fall to my knees at her side, tears teeming at my cheeks. "Remember you are dust." I placed my hand on McKayla's cold chest and sniffed through my nostrils as these last words exited my mouth: "And to dust you shall return." 

Those words were my bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. An ironic spell for a faithless soul. But maybe I didn't need religion to have faith. My faith was in myself, and that in itself was enough to make me strong. Plus, who needed religion: religion was for those who were in denial that there were species superior to humankind — I'd seen witches; they were far more capable than any human I'd met. 

McKayla's weak body began to vanish, and a more defined hourglass figure with toned legs appeared. Her lips were fuller. Her eyes were rounder. Everything about her appearance was, to say the least, defined, even the bounce to her locks. 

"Mack!" I squealed, throwing my arms around her toned shoulders. 

"Something isn't right." Instead of my name, McKayla's first words after the transformation were something isn't right. Was it me? Was it the coma spell? What was it? Her eyes wavered toward me and widened with a gasp. "Oh my gosh. Luna, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to insinuate that you're the problem. You're anything but the problem." She then explained, "It's my fingers. It feels like electricity is surging through them." 

"Wait." I paused for a second, contemplating carefully over my next words, which followed in a slow rhythm. "Is it possible we're ..." I didn't want to say the word. Anything but that word. That word brought us nearly to the door of death. That word was a reason we were in this situation. 

"Just say it!" McKayla urged, her voice pleading with me like a beggar vying for food or money. 

"Witches?" The dreaded word came off my lips like a motorcycle's roaring engine: it was fast; it was curt. Then, entered the sigh from my chest and another quick sequence of words. "Is it possible we're witches?" 

Silence seeped through the ashy room. My heart swayed to a gentle thrum. I gazed into her dark brown eyes. Under sweeping lashes of platinum blonde, they flickered against my sight like electricity which billowed through the air with her sigh. "I guess we should try and find out." 

As our breaths billowed through the silence, McKayla seized my fingers, energy surging through my veins. Maybe our thoughts were the same because we weren't even saying anything—there was no movement of our lips—but still, our emotions were loud and hovering over us. 

I squeezed my eyes together, imagining myself safe under the warmth of the camp. Janessa's smile sometimes peeked into my brain, but I had to shut it down. As much as I cared for Janessa, my feelings for her wouldn't be enough to escape this hell. It would take these simple words: Safety and warmth. The concept repeated again and again and again until it was blaring in my thoughts. Safety and warmth. 

I could feel the buzzing of McKayla's soft prayer against my skin. She had a similar wish. She didn't wish for warmth, but for safety. In her thoughts, I could hear the flickering of flames. They were as loud as thunder, but only for a moment. Then, they grew faint as gentle crackling in the background—an aria of soft flickering. 

Only when I opened my eyes did I know it was real. 

Everyone was staring at me as if I were something foreign. Did I look different? I certainly felt difference. A new form of confidence pooled through my veins. And one thought popped into my head as took in each pair of squinted eyes: you should see me in a crown. 

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