“Can you keep a secret?” the words rub against the air like sandpaper. I imagine the snow is the remains of the silence that hung to thickly a moment ago, scraped to fluttering dust.
A snowflake drifts down as I contemplate the question, swaying, looping, steadily downward…. “I guess.”
The girl giggles, and I can’t tell if her cheeks are red with glee or the cold. “This way,” she says, bouncing on her heels. Somehow she manages to keep balanced in her chunky black platforms as she teeters back, then abruptly forward into an energetic stride. Even in the boots, she’s an inch or two shorter than me, but she moves like a mouse on caffeine. My strides may have been longer, but I struggle to keep pace as she leads the way to secret she’s so excited to reveal.
Through the haze of snow, and far down the dirt country road, I just barely make out the shadowy form of a crooked old barn. As we get closer, I can see that it’s leaning, bent under the weight of years and years of neglect. My heart flutters as the girl finally reaches the barn and whirls around to face me, giggling as she leans against the graffitied slats.
“Come on!” she says cheerily, crossing her arms across her bare stomach. I don’t know how she can stand to wear a crop top in this weather, even under a winter coat, which hangs open, loose around her. Like she doesn’t need it.
I finally catch up and I’m out of breath. She’s giggling. “Glad you could join me, slow poke.”
I give a playful glare and straighten my posture. “What did you want to show me?”
She gestures to the barn, “Do you believe in ghosts?” she asks in a false-whisper.
I roll my eyes, “No.”
“Good, ‘cause they’re not real,” she laughs and whirls around once more, her open jacket swinging to hit my middle, which is far more bundled up than I think she’s ever been. Her ungloved hands work to pull open the door, a task of which she must put all of her rather pathetic quantity of weight. Only once it creaked open a crack did I realize that maybe I should help, but it was too late. She gestured for me to follow before darting into the dark.
I sigh. This is a bad idea. I barely know this girl.
Of course, before I can finish that thought, I’m already squeezing into the rickety old barn.
I blinked, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dark. The girl was perched on a bench on the opposite side of the barn with what might be properly described as a tome open in her lap.
“Sit down,” she said, patting the space beside her.
My nerves jittering, I did as I was told.
The page she was open to was written in some kind of old-looking language, with some passages in what I knew was latin. There were pictures as well. Symbols that could only be occult in nature, carefully drawn in between blocks of text.
“Are...are you going to summon a demon?” I asked. My heat was in my throat, beating, suffocating.
She hummed, balancing her elbows on the book, resting her chin on her laced fingers, “That depends. Can you keep a secret?”