Honor the Goddess
It sounded like a real kick at first. You know how absolutely New Age Cindy
is -- pendulums, trances, crystals, Tarot -- stuff like that. I don't really
believe in that crap, but I go along with her because sometimes she has real
flashes. Remember Rick? The real cool guy I met last summer? Yeah, the one
with the Harley. Well, we went out a few times, hit it off okay, and I was
thinking, hey, girl, jackpot, when out of the blue, Cindy calls one day and
says, Alison, are you going out with Rick tonight? I say sure, a little
barbecue and kicker music -- why not? It's Friday. She gets real intense and
says, don't go. The cards predict disaster for one of my friends tonight
and the pendulum picked you. Stay home, lock your doors, and go to bed --
alone. Well, I would have just said screw you, but she was spooky, almost
hysterical, so I said okay. Rick was really pissed when I canceled. But that
was the night he laid that Harley down on a strip of wet asphalt - took three
layers of skin off his face and tore up his knee. Kinda made a
believer out of me.
So anyway, when Cindy called a couple of days ago and said we should go to a
full moon ceremony honoring the goddess because it would be a real
woman-bonding experience, and the moon was going to be closer to the earth
than it would be again for about twenty years or something, like I said, it
sounded like a kick. So I said I'd go. If nothing else, I'd have a great
story -- and that's always good for a couple of drinks in our crowd, right?
Cindy said not to eat or drink anything except water after noon and to be at
her house at 9:00, wearing white. You should've seen Janet --
crocheted tunic, white leather miniskirt, and majorette boots. No, I'm not
kidding. When Cindy eyeballed her -- Cindy's wearing a dingy white baggy
robe with sandals -- Janet goes, well, it's all I got that's white unless you
wanted me in a slightly used wedding dress. Janet's a hoot, isn't she?
So we all get in Cindy's van and head for the sticks. Where? Sealy. How
country can you get? Property somebody in the coven owned. Yeah, I said
coven. When we were lowballing down I-10, no escape, she finally clued us we
were going to a witches' ceremony. That struck us as funny -- Janet and I
started kidding around, rhyming witches and bitches. Cindy probably decided
about then that inviting us hadn't been such a hot idea.
Well, we finally arrived, parked the van, and walked down this path lit by
candles stuck in paper bags. What do you call them? Luminarios? Yeah,
that's it. Anyway, the path led to a clearing where a lot of women were
gathered in a circle, most of them dressed like Cindy. It was a pretty
night. I'd never noticed before how much bigger the stars look when you're
away from the city. The moon seemed so close to the earth, I thought I could
almost reach up and scoop out some of that green cheese. More candles were
burning on a stone slab in the middle of the circle and someone was playing
a flute or something like that. The women were chanting. They opened up the
circle for us and we started chanting too. It was easy, just repeating the
last word the person before you said and adding one of your own, and the next
time repeating two and adding two, and so on.
Then one by one, the women began going to the center of the circle and
calling on the goddess of the moon, while the others kept chanting, and the
weird flute music wailed on and on. The moon seemed to be getting closer and
closer to the earth, filling the circle until we looked like its ruffled
edge. Cindy was next to me and pretty soon it was her turn to step into the
center. She looked spacey, we were all getting a little dazed by the
chanting, the moonlight, and all, but she gave me an odd, sweet smile,
squeezed my hand, and whispered good-bye. She shrugged out of her robe,
walked into the middle of the circle, stepped up on the altar rock, and held
her arms up to the moon. She looked so unreal, so pale and beautiful in the
moonlight that I started to cry. Yeah, hard-boiled me. Honest.
The women chanted faster and louder, the flute sounded higher and higher. I
was trying to concentrate on Cindy, but the candles blazed and the moonlight
flooded the circle, blinding me. I lost her. I blinked and shook my hair out
of my eyes and looked again at the altar, but it was empty. No Cindy. I
looked around the circle, thinking she had just gone back to a different
place, but I couldn't make her out anywhere. I heard Janet say, what the
fuck? We broke out of the circle and it formed again as though we had never
been there. The chanting and music never stopped as another woman walked to
the altar. Running and stumbling and holding on to each other, we made our
way back to the van. We waited for Cindy until we couldn't stand the
weirdness anymore. Janet hot-wired the van and drove us back to town.
So anyway, why I'm calling is, if you see Cindy, tell her the van's at
Janet's, and we're really pissed at her for scaring us like that.
Previously published in Suddenly: Prose Poetry and Sudden Fiction, ed. Jackie Pelham (Houston: Martin House, l998)
SuzAnne C. Cole, the author of To Our Heart's Content: Meditations for Women Turning 50, has also published poetry, essays, plays, and short fiction in many magazines and newspapers. She will celebrate the spring by joining a women's pilgrimage to Avalon which includes a Beltane ceremony inside the inner circle at Stonehenge.