The White Witch by B.C. Morin by B.C. Morin - Read Online

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The White Witch - B.C. Morin

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Two more weeks. I sigh as I reach over and slam my hand on my alarm clock. Only two more weeks until graduation. I glance at the face down, unopened letters from the major universities I have applied to and shut my eyes tight. Thank God I get to the mail before my parents. Dad and Elizabeth would never have let me wait to open them. It’s bad enough that I applied late and won’t be attending any until the winter semester; I also feel bad lying to them and telling them that I haven’t received any letters. I’m not sure I’m ready for the possible disappointment just yet.

You up, kiddo? my dad’s deep voice follows the light knock.

Yeah, Dad, I’m up.

Okay, just making sure. Don’t want you to be late, your keys are on the hallway table.

I strip the covers off and leap from the bed, running to my bedroom door and yanking it open. You fixed it?! I half yell, hoping my morning breath doesn’t cause him to cringe.

My dad laughs briefly, and as I catch a glimpse at myself in the mirror behind him I see why. Morning hair, crooked jammies, and an overtly eager smile across my face almost makes me laugh, too. Yeah, baby, my friend brought it over late last night. I went to tell you, but you had fallen asleep again while you were reading. His hazel eyes smile from between the black rims of his glasses. His dark brown hair is becoming more littered with grays and the hair touching his glasses tells me he’s been pretty busy and hasn’t made time for a haircut.

Daddy, you’re the best. I get on my tip toes, wrap my arms around him, and take in the Irish spring soap and clean linen smell that is his. I love that he is a broad shouldered man, no matter how quick the hug, I always feel like I’m enveloped into the safest spot I can think of.

He laughs, squeezing me into a bear hug and lifting my feet off the ground. Yup, no more embarrassing drop offs at school for Katelyn by the old man.

It wasn’t embarrassing. I start as he puts me down. Well, you know, not much, anyway.

Hey! He jabs at my stomach trying to tickle me.

I laugh and grab my keys off the table, my phoenix keychain dangling from the metal ring. Freedom again. Muahahaha.

Freedom? My dad leans against the wall, crossing his arms against his chest. Honey, you say that like you are some bad teen, who needs to get out and start trouble. He pushes off the wall and leans down, kissing my forehead. Your idea of freedom is going to the bookstore, library, or coffee shop.

Hey, don’t judge. I raise my eyebrow, looking right into the eyes that so much resemble my own.

I’m not judging, he says as he raises his hands in mock defeat and heads toward the stairs. Hell, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I run back into my room, excited to finally have my car back. It might not be the fancy brand new cars that half the kids in my school drive, but it worked, well, again anyway and it’s mine.

In my room, I grab my jeans, black v-neck, and boots and head to the bathroom to get what I hope will continue to be a great Monday started. I run my hands over my long brown, layered waves and turn to make sure that it doesn’t look too much like I just woke up. I’d brush it, but let’s be honest, if I did that, I’d look a bit like Diana Ross by the end of the day. Wavy hair was pretty, but with the right amount of humidity it could be pretty scary. After a bit of mascara, eye liner, and lip balm, I brush some powder on my barely sun-kissed skin and get rid of any shine.

Morning, Liz, I chime as I walk into our kitchen and head straight to the coffee maker.

The smell of the freshly ground beans fill the room and I don’t hesitate to take a deep breath.

Morning, sweetie. You seem to be in a good mood today. Guess you talked to your father?

I pull the keys from my pocket and dangle them in the air before sliding them back.

I got your coffee started. Liz sits down at the breakfast table waiting for our morning ritual.

I pour the coffee into my favorite mug that is already filled almost halfway with creamer, before reaching for a toaster strudel in the freezer.

Waiting for my food to pop up, I sit at the table across from my stepmother. It still amazes me how my father managed to find himself a second wife who looks so much like the first.

Elizabeth Miller is five foot eight inches of extreme kindness. She is one of those women who is always so positive and full of energy, she makes you want to just hug the hell out of her, or hit her, depending on your own mood. Okay, maybe not hit her, but damned if she won’t let you wallow in grief or a bad mood for a while. Her perfect big brown curls are pulled back into a ponytail today and she is in her jeans and a t-shirt from my dad’s ice rink.

Just two more weeks, I sigh.

You act like school is torture. Her green eyes peer at me over her coffee cup.

It is, I say dryly, before drinking down some of the hot hazelnut flavored goodness.

Well, you can’t hate it too bad considering you have all A’s. She gets up as the toaster pops up my flaky morning treat.

Just my way of ensuring they will never have a reason to hold me back.

More coffee.

Liz laughs as she puts my plate down in front of me, the fruit flavor filled pastry calling me to eat it in one bite. They always think I’m joking when I talk about school, so I just let them go with it. As long as my grades are good and I’m not going through some crazy goth or piercing phase, they don’t ask too many questions.

Oh! Ana called you last night. Liz gives a smirk. You know, I really like her, she’s sweet. Ana is our next door neighbor’s kid. They moved in last year, much to my parents’ delight, since up until then I constantly gave them excuses as to why I wouldn’t invite friends over, or get asked to go to a friend’s house. With Ana being so close, they have successfully forced me to hang out with her twice by inviting her parents over for dinner. She really is nice and all, but I rather like keeping to myself. I try not to get too attached to anyone, not since fourth grade when my best friend decided to call me a freak in front of all our friends and never spoke to me again, well, not kindly anyway. Not my fondest memory.

Yeah, she’s cool. I shrug my shoulders.

I see Liz sigh to herself as she looks at me sadly. To be honest, I see her and dad doing that every once in a while, though they try not to make it obvious.

The rest of the morning consists of conversations of inviting Ana and her family over for another bar-b-cue, the universities I was waiting to hear back from, and my upcoming birthday.

I pull into the parking lot at school early enough to get a spot near the exit. Perfect, first one in, and then afterschool, first one out, just the way I like it.

The bleak and sterile halls have been practically wallpapered with flyers for all kinds of end of school events and parties. I look at my watch and see there is still half an hour ‘til homeroom, so I walk to the back of the school where we have a collection of wooden and metal picnic tables for the kids to sit at during lunch. Seems like the perfect morning to sit back and get a bit of reading done.

"This is our table, nerd." The obnoxious voice of Samantha Cooke echoes through the empty area.

Goodbye, perfect morning.

"Last week, you said that was your table." I turn, straddling the bench and pointing at a table two rows down from me.

Samantha’s friend reaches out from around her, knocking my book to the ground. Oops.

I roll my eyes as I reach down to grab my book. Very mature.

It was an accident, Kay-tee. I’m sure Nikki didn’t mean to do that, did you Nikki? Samantha glances over her shoulder as Nikki and Samantha’s other goon, Taylor break into a fit of giggles. "She was just trying to help you out of our table."

Is there a problem here, girls? Our guidance counselor, Mr. Wentworth walks over, only taking his eyes off me when Samantha begins her explanation.

Oh, no problem at all, Mr. Wentworth. Samantha bobs her blonde cheerleader ponytail as she talks. We were just talking to Katelyn about the book she’s reading. I’m thinking of buying it.

"Really? You, want to buy a book? The school counselor isn’t fooled and I have to restrain a smile at the sarcasm. Ms. Miller, is that correct? Is that what is going on?"

Samantha sets her jaw and glares at me over Mr. Wentworth’s shoulder.

Yeah, um yeah, that’s what we were talking about alright. I wave the book in front of him before packing it back into my messenger bag and a huge gust of wind comes out of nowhere, almost knocking it out of my hand. The sudden hard breeze prompts a confused look from Nikki and Taylor and gritted teeth from Samantha as she smooths down her ponytail, though Mr. Wentworth isn’t fazed.

My heart beats hard against my chest as I pray silently that no other weather anomalies appear. Please, not now.

Hm. Mr. Wentworth scrunches his brow at me and then shifts his eerily grey eyes from me to Samantha several times before deciding to walk away.

You did good, Katelyn. Maybe I won’t have to kick your ass for being at our table, Samantha sighs as she looks at her perfectly manicured hands.

Whatever. I get up and begin to walk away when Taylor, grabs my arm and spins me around.

What did you say, Fakelyn?

The name is Katelyn, I say lowly through gritted teeth.

Nikki walks up next to Taylor, her hands balled into fists.

And… I didn’t say anything. Nothing at all, I finish.

The first bell rings, letting us know that we only have ten minutes to get to class, and I silently thank God for it. I use the welcome distraction to yank my arm free and walk quickly away from the outdoor eating area.

So much for having a good Monday.

I see Mr. Wentworth again on my way to homeroom and try to shrug off the shivers I get. He eyes me as I walk down the hallway and though I look forward, pretending not to see him, I feel his eyes burning into me. I’ve thought about telling my dad about him a few times, but never got the nerve to do it. I had seen him following me home a couple of times when I didn’t have my car, but I continued to convince myself that the three years of martial arts I took when I was thirteen would kick in if he ever attacked me.

Hey, I saw that you got your car back when I was leaving for school this morning, Ana whispers, as I slide into the seat beside her and take out my English book and notebook.

Oh, yeah. I flash a quick grin. Good thing too, I was getting tired of asking my dad or Liz if I could borrow their car or have them drop me off.

So are you going to go to the end of school bash? I hear James Bancroft is hosting it this year and he has a house on the shores of Shippan. Ana glances at the teacher to ensure that she isn’t being watched.

I tuck my hair behind my ear, Oh, um, I’m not really into that scene. I’m not much of a partyer. I shrug my shoulders and open my book to the page Mrs. Landsley has given us.

Oh, well, I’m not much of one either, I mean, I might go, I’m not sure. Ana drops her gaze to the floor as she shuffles her feet.

I think to myself and though I normally try to stay away from people, I think of the conversation I had with Liz this morning and go completely against my instinct. I’m going to the Stamford Town Center this afternoon to stop by the bookstore before going to the rink. You want to come? I have a flash of a ponytailed little girl with her hands on her hips yelling at me and calling me names, wind whipping around us, and water at our feet and silently hope this friendship doesn’t end the same.

Ana’s eyes light up and suddenly, I’m feeling a bit better about possibly having a friend. Yeah! Have you read the new series by Patterson? Oh my gosh, it’s-

Ms. Ortiz. Mrs. Landsley stands at the front of the class with her arms crossed, the sound of her tapping pointed shoe reaching us clearly. Is there something you would like to share with the class? Perhaps you would prefer to be the one to explain how the seven soliloquies reveal the character of Hamlet and his quest for identity? A corner of her lip creeps up, pushing an overly blushed cheek out beneath her straight black hair. Her eyebrow rises above her beady brown eyes challenging Ana.

Ana glances at me quickly and grins before beginning, Actually, ma’am, I believe that they seem to reveal that he is virtuous, though quite indecisive. These characteristics are explored through his various ways of insulting himself for not acting on his beliefs, and his constant need to reassure himself that his deeds are in fact, correct.

Mrs. Landsley sets her jaw and she squints her eyes at Ana and me before turning back to the board amidst all the OOhhhhhhs and Buuuurrrnnn from the rest of the class, and hissing That’s enough! over her shoulder at all of us.

I laugh out loud for a moment, relieving myself of the childhood memories and look at Ana mouthing, good one. before passing a note to her telling her where my car is parked so she can meet me there after school.

The day goes on and I manage to avoid Samantha and pretty much most of the school population by disappearing during lunch and eating on the floor of hallway B while I catch up on my reading. I catch sight of Mr. Wentworth once more, but I manage to slip into a stairwell before he sees me. For a guidance counselor, he doesn’t spend much time in his office counseling or even offering guidance. Not that there is much of a need for that here. Most of the kids in Shippan High already have therapists they see because their mommy and daddy don’t pay enough attention to them, and apparently the expensive cars they drive and expensive vacations they take just aren’t enough. Just last week one of the girls in my class was having a fit because the BMW that she was given for her birthday didn’t have a pink interior like she requested. Really? Ugh. Two more weeks, Kate, two more.

Thanks for asking me to come along, Ana says in a cheerful voice as she straps on the seatbelt.

Sure, anytime. I pull out of my spot and edge my way through the packed parking lot.

You know, to be honest, Ana fiddles with her fingers in her lap, as we put more distance between us and the school, I was starting to think you didn’t want to be friends or something.

Oh. I pinch my brow, thinking about how to respond to that as my stomach twists. I’m not a very social person, please don’t take it personally. You’re cool and all, and I do want to be friends, it just takes me a while. You know? Hello, giant leap out of my comfort zone.

Ana smiles, and I hope my response has satisfied her. Yeah. It’s cool.

Lookout! Ana screams as she grabs hold of the handle above her door and braces herself.

I hear the screeching of my tires as my heart drops into my stomach and my jeep stops just inches from the passenger door of a black Tahoe with windows so dark you can’t see inside.

What the hell? You have a stop sign, you ass! I’m waving my arms like a mad woman and pointing to the stop sign behind them, but the SUV just picks up speed and keeps going. Wow, couldn’t even put down his or her window and apologize?

For real! Ana puts her hand over her heart and takes a few deep breaths. Geez, that scared the hell out of me.

Ana and I spend most of the afternoon in the bookstore coffee shop talking about the books we bought. Well, Ana did most of the talking, that girl never runs out of things to say. But hey, better her than me. Luckily, her mom’s office is near the mall and she tells me that I can drop her off there before heading over to see my dad at the rink, which works out great because that way, I don’t have to drive all the way back to our houses in the Cove.

I open the doors to the ice rink and take a deep breath. An unconscious smile makes its way across my face and I leave it there for a moment before walking in. I walk by the office and smile at Liz as she sits behind the glass organizing some papers. He’s got you up here today?

Yes, Connie is sick so I’m just hanging out here. Are you getting on the ice today?

How much time do I have?

About an hour. She smiles, knowing me far too well.

I glance in the direction of the ice rinks and feel the pull to make my way over there. Yep, an hour’s perfect. I have my final essay on Hamlet due on Wednesday and I want to get it out of the way tonight. So that works… skating now, Hamlet later.

An essay due in the second to last week of school? Liz clicks her tongue and shakes her head. That’s just ridiculous.

Tell that to my AP English Lit teacher would ya? I adjust the strap on my messenger bag and head to my dad’s office on the far side of the building. I glance at the figure skaters practicing and realize that I will never cease to be amazed at the things they can do.

I have been watching figure skaters since I was six, and though I tried it out for a bit, I never really took to it. I’m sure the fact that I’m kind of clumsy didn’t help my situation. But I do love to skate, so in between public skating sessions, and hockey games and practices, I always have the other ice rink all to myself.

Hey kiddo! My dad looks up, his eyes smiling. I look at his face and smile in return, the additional greys in his hair spark a memory of six-year-old me sitting with him, watching The Three Amigos and asking him when he ‘painted’ his hair white to be in that movie? He really did look just like a younger version of Steve Martin.

Heard you hung out with Ana today, he begins, looking back down at the papers he is reviewing.

How did you-

Ana’s mom texted Liz and she told me, he interrupts.

Gosh, you’d think it was an event or something. I throw my hands up in the air.

My dad looks up this time cocking an eyebrow. Isn’t it? I just about called the media!

Very funny dad. I squint my eyes at him and scrunch my nose. So, very funny. I slip my sneakers under his desk and walk over to the corner of the room where my hockey skates await me.

All kidding aside, Katie, he says, looking up at me, I’m glad you’re coming around. Liz and I were starting to worry about you never wanting to go to a friend’s house, or have one over.

Geez, dad, you talk like I have no friends at all! I wrap the too long lace around my ankle before tying it.

Um, you don’t, Katie. My dad’s voice carries a hint of sadness.

Just don’t get too excited, I’m not about to call her over for sleepovers or anything, ok?

Fair enough. He goes back to reading the paper on his desk, and I make my way to the empty rink for some private skating time.

Almost two hours after having dinner I’m cursing my teacher for assigning this Hamlet essay paper to us when pretty much most of the school is doing nothing but watching movies and having social time in class. Alright, ten pages, one and a half spaces, I say out loud to myself as I press the print now button on the screen.