This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:
This week's photo is from American photographer Jerry N Uelsmann. He has some interesting pieces, definitely work checking out. This particular image is not on is site, but is on other art sites attributed to him.
Here's a link to the prompt image.
A little dark magic in this one....
Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 678 words for those who are counting (not including the title, scene break marker, and byline).
There is a link to a downloadable PDF version of the story at the bottom of the page.
The Disappearance of Lori McCarter
K. R. Smith
"Everyone picks on me, Kristen. Everyone. My parents, the teachers in school, even the other kids—well, most of them. I'm no worse than anyone else. Why do they always notice when I do something wrong? Or dumb. And sometimes they pick on me for no reason at all. Why?"
"It'll be okay, Lori. I have a friend who can help. She knows how to do stuff. Meet me down by the water at sunset."
"Who is she? What can she do?"
"It doesn't matter. Just be there."
"Okay. If you're sure it will help."
When Lori arrived at the shore, Kristen and several others were waiting. One girl was holding a box, though she couldn't see the contents. She waited at a distance unsure what to do.
"Come on, Lori," Kristen said, waving her closer." Then, pointing at a girl with long, dark hair, she said, "This is Maeve. She's going to help you."
"Hi," Lori said. Her voice was weak. "You can really help me?"
"What, exactly, do you want?"
"For the people who pick on me not to notice me, not to see me when I do something wrong so I don't get in trouble all the time."
"How strongly do you want this?"
"More than anything."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Can you do that?"
"I can." Maeve looked around at the group. "I need everyone to form a circle. Lori, you should stand at the center."
As the girls formed a circle around Lori, Maeve placed items at the four points of the compass around the outside: a stone, a feather, candle, and a bowl, conveniently filled from the bay. She then gave each girl a small candle and a crystal. All the candles, including the one outside the circle, were lighted.
Maeve took a position at the northern point of the circle and instructed Lori to face her. She told the others to hold the candles in front of them and follow her lead with the crystals. Maeve called on the spirits of Earth, air, water, and fire. She twirled her crystal in front of the flame; the other girls did the same. A thousand colors danced over Lori as Maeve asked for protection from the sight of her enemies. The chant was repeated with some of the girls adding to Maeve's voice. Lori turned within the circle at Maeve's command. She then called for the circle to be closed and pressed her palm onto the candle extinguishing the flame. With some trepidation, the girls emulated her action. With only the small candle outside the circle burning, Lori disappeared into the twilight darkness of the evening.
As Maeve was thanking the elements, a man came up the beach, walking briskly and grumbling.
"Have any of you seen Lori? Stupid girl should be home by now. She has chores to do. Someone said she was headed this way."
"Who are you?" Maeve asked.
"I'm her father, as if it's any of your damn business."
"She was here earlier," Maeve replied, "but she's gone now."
"Figures. Stupid, lazy girl." He mumbled as he continued down the beach.
The girls waited until he was out of sight, then started giggling.
"It worked!" one said.
"Lori, did you see that!" Kristen squealed. "He didn't even notice—"
The girls stood open-mouth as the consequences of the spell became obvious. They looked around while calling Lori's name, but no voice answered. Then they turned to Maeve.
One of the girls asked, "What did you do?"
"What I was asked to do." Maeve replied. "Were some of you the same ones who teased her, tattled on her?"
The girls exchanged glances, but only Kristen spoke.
"Maybe." Her voice quivered.
"That would explain much," Maeve said. "Next time," she continued while walking away, "think long before asking my help."
"Wait! Can't you bring her back?"
Maeve turned and looked into each girl's eyes. "No. Only you can do that."
"How? We don't know magic!"
Maeve shook her head and smiled. "There is no magic required to be a good friend."