Home > Bring Me Your Midnight

Bring Me Your Midnight
Author: Rachel Griffin





My mother once told me I was fortunate I’d never have to find where I belong. Being born with the last name Fairchild on a small island due west of the mainland meant I had already found it before I even knew to look. She’s right, the way she is about most things, but I’ve always thought that if I needed to find my true north, I’d find it in the depths of the sea.

The piercing cold of salt water and the thick silence feels more like home than the ornate five-bedroom house perched just two blocks from the shore. The water welcomes me as I wade in and submerge myself, the sounds of the island fading away until they are swallowed whole. My long hair floats out in every direction, and I push off the rocky bottom and swim, keeping my eyes open. The currents are getting stronger, and I watch for any signs of restlessness or agitation, but the sea is quiet.

For now.

I float on my back. The sun rises above the horizon, chasing away the dawn, and the hazy gray of early morning is replaced with rays of golden light that sparkle on the surface of the water. I’m the only one out here, and I can almost fool myself into believing I’m insignificant, a tiny speck in an impossibly vast world. And while the latter is certainly true, insignificant I am not. My mother made sure of that.

I roll over and dive toward the seafloor, deeper and deeper until the water cools and the sunlight fades, entirely unreachable. I pause close to the bottom, reveling in the way expectation and duty can’t follow me here. Reveling in the way my life feels like my own. My chest aches and my lungs beg for breath, and I finally relent, kicking toward the surface. The sea ejects me, and I gasp for air.

It’s still early, but the Witchery is coming to life in the distance. Many of us rise with the sun to take advantage of every minute of magic we can. The days are getting shorter as winter draws near, and the long nights of our northern island mean we will soon have even less time with our magic.

I take another deep breath as soft waves lap against me. I’ve already spent too much time out here, and I turn toward the shore, but something draws my attention. It looks like a flower, light and delicate as it rises through the water to greet the sun. I swim toward it and watch as it surfaces, gently floating an arm’s length away, inviting me to reach out and take it.

I blink, and the flower vanishes. I scan the water for any sign of it, but there is none, and I realize I must have imagined it. My mind is hazy with the upcoming ball, playing tricks on me in my favorite place. But it’s enough to undo the peace of the morning, and I swim back in, knowing there is too little time to recover it.

When the bottom is close enough to scrape my knees, I stand and trudge up the rocky beach, fighting the urge to look for the flower one final time. I wring out my hair and grab my towel from my bag. Salt clings to my skin, so familiar that I no longer rush to rinse it off. I slip into my sandals and twist my hair back in a low bun, then gather the rest of my things.

“Better hurry, Tana,” Mr. Kline calls from the sidewalk. “Your mother is on her way.”

“Already? She’s a half hour early.”

“You weren’t the only one up with the sun today.”

I give him a grateful wave and rush toward the perfumery, thoughts of the ball and the stress of being late mixing in my stomach, turning it sour. I should already be in the shop, getting ready for the stream of morning tourists, but the first ferry doesn’t dock for another forty-five minutes, and I’ve never revered the schedule the way my mother wishes I would.

I turn onto Main Street, where dozens of magical shops line the cobblestone road like wildflowers in spring. Storefronts in baby pinks and sky blues, soft yellows and minty greens stand out against the often-overcast haze that blankets the Witchery, inviting people in, gently reassuring them that magic is as sweet and delicate as the colors of the doors they walked through. In an hour, this strip will be full of tourists and regulars from the mainland who visit our island for perfume, candles, tea, baked goods, natural textiles, and anything else we can infuse with magic.

Dense green vines climb stone walls, and clusters of wisteria hang above doorways, every detail meant to convey that this place is special, but not threatening. Peculiar, but not frightening. Enchanted, but not dangerous.

An island so lush and lovely, one might forget it was once a battlefield.

Large daphne shrubs encircle bronze street lanterns, their strong floral scent filling the air with more magic than we ever could. I sprint over the cobblestones until the perfumery comes into view on the corner. My best friend is waiting for me, leaning against the door with a cup of tea in each hand.

She raises an eyebrow at me as I bend over and rest my hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath.

“Here,” Ivy says, shoving the tea in my face. “It’s our Awaken blend.”

“I don’t need your magic,” I say, ignoring the tea. I push my key into the lock and open the door, ducking under a waterfall of lavender wisteria.

“Really? Because you look terrible.”

“How bad?” I ask.

“There’s seaweed in your hair and salt crusted in your eyebrows,” she says.

I grab the tea from her and take a long sip. It feels good as it slides down my throat and settles in my stomach, its magic working instantly. My mind clears and energy moves through me. I rush into the back room and change out of my wet clothing and into a simple blue dress.

“Sit down,” Ivy says, and I give her a grateful look. Her dark brown eyes glimmer as she moves her hands over my face. I feel the salt lift from my skin and light makeup settle in its place. I don’t have a talent for makeup the way Ivy does; mine usually comes out too dramatic for my mother’s taste, but Ivy gets it perfect every time. As she works, I tame my hair, drying it instantly and letting it fall in loose waves down my back. Ivy holds up a mirror.

My dress brings out the blue of my eyes, and my chestnut hair doesn’t look quite so plain with curls in it. Nothing about my appearance reveals that I was recently in the water, and while my mother will be pleased, I like the way I look when touched by nature and slightly disheveled, a person instead of a painting I’m afraid of messing up.

“Thank you for your help,” I say.

“How was your swim?” she asks.

“Not long enough.”

The small bell on the door rings just then, and my mother flits into the shop.

“Morning, girls,” she says as she walks into the back room. I sit up straighter when I see her.

“Good morning, Mrs. Fairchild,” Ivy says with a smile.

My mother looks polished as always, her blond hair pulled back into a simple knot, her tanned skin glistening with whatever new makeup she’s trying from Mrs. Rhodes’s skin care shop. Her lips are stained pink, and her blue eyes are rich and vibrant.

Always put together. The perfect new witch.

The floor is wet and littered with seaweed, and my mother looks down. “Ivy won’t always be here to cover up your failings, Tana. Clean this up,” she says, leaving the room.

I grab a mop from the closet and wipe up the mess, ignoring the sting of my mother’s words. I throw away the bits of seaweed that followed me into the shop and make sure the tile is dry before putting the mop away. Magic is tied to living things, and unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to the floor.

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