Definition of Enchantment: When one finds themself in a state similar to being under a spell. Or in other words, magic.
“What do you ever do for fun?” the sharp voice of Gina Sanchez demanded with an evil giggle.
Cora Wright looked up to meet Gina’s dark eyes.
“Are you asking what I do for fun or are you really asking if I know how to have fun because I seem boring to you?” Cora asked in a dry voice.
The football boys let out “ooooos!” causing Gina’s cheeks to burn.
“You’re a real bitch, Cora, and while they laugh, they all know it,” Gina hissed into Cora’s ear before slinking off towards the back of the classroom.
Cora sighed before reaching for her pen and continuing her assignment. She could hear Gina whisper-shouting to her three friends: a volume used to make sure a certain person can hear you, but low enough where they could deny it if you called them on it.
“Hey, Gina,” Cora said, standing and turning slowly, her eyes cold, “Did you know I can hear you?”
Gina blinked a couple of times before tucking a braid behind her ear.
“Maybe you should mind your business, then,” Gina retorted.?
“It’s hard when you make sure the world can hear you.”
Gina blinked her heavy eyelashes a few times, her words surely stuck in her throat. No one ever spoke to her like that, and the heavy silence was evidence of that. Cora walked to the back of the classroom in slow steps before sitting directly on the desk in front of Gina.
“Eww, don’t come near us. Everyone knows you’re strange, Cora.” Of course it was true, at least to the eyes of Westfield High Schoolers. Somehow this only encouraged Cora to linger around longer, even slip into the uneven chair. “Go back to your desk,” Gina scoffed.
Maybe it was the breaking point of months’ worth of taunting, but Cora knew it would destroy her if she ever let Gina’s sharp words lacerate her.
“Oh, joy! Cora’s making friends,” the teacher, Mr. Bush, gushed, lacing his fingers together and holding his hands beside his face like a cartoon. “What a wonderful thing.” Cora stared at him from her new desk without a word. “O-kay. No words from Miss Cora today. Shall we move forward in discussing our favorite subject: advanced statistics?”
The class groaned.
“Hey, Gina,” Cora whispered, turning in her desk, her face emotionless as ever.
Gina scrunched her face up, just the sound of Cora’s voice an excuse to show her disgust.
“Literally stop talking to me.”
“I just have a quick question,” Cora told her.
“No, I’m not gonna let you see my homework,” Gina snapped.
“No, I was wondering if you would show me your idea of fun.”
“What? Why would I do that? So I can be seen hanging out with you?”
“Well, I figured out of everyone here, you must have the most well-rounded idea of what’s fun and what’s not.”
“Like I said, literally stop talking to—”
“Ladies! Oh dear! Did I not make it clear at the beginning of the year? No talking during my class.” Mr. Bush shook his head. “Ladies, I’m going to have to ask you to both go wait for me out in the hallway,” Mr. Bush said with sad eyes. “Now.”
“This is bullshit,” Gina argued. “She started talking to me!”
“Please. Go into the hallway. This is already hard enough for me, sweetheart.”
“Sweetheart?!” Gina demanded.
“So sassy!” Mr. Bush half giggled.
“OOO,” the football boys called again.
Gina stormed out of the room, fuming as she stomped out and joined Cora.
“What the hell?” Gina spat, standing directly in front of Cora now.
Cora didn’t say anything at first.
“I still want you to show me what you find fun.”
“You just did that to get me in trouble. It might not affect your record, but I have an image to upkeep.”
“Contrary to what you think—”
“Fun!” Gina howled again. “Well, I’ll tell you what’s not fun! That. Was that your idea of fun?!” Gina seethed.
“Then what was the point?”
“We didn’t do anything.”
“Yes, you did! You talked your way into a referral for both of us!”
“Yes, but who was in charge of all that?”
“What? The teacher? Why are you–”
Gina stared at Cora for the longest time.
“And it seems that you’re not going to explain?” Gina said, her eyes wide with anger.
“What’s your idea of fun?” Cora repeated.
Gina placed her forehead against the wall and gritted her teeth together for a moment.
“Parties. There’s always one Friday night at Sunny’s,” Gina grumbled.
“Will you take me with you?”
“Tonight? To a party?”
“If tonight is Friday, yeah.”
Gina turned to stare at her. Cora’s eyes were shimmering blue, catching the beam of light sneaking through a hallway window. Gina burst into laughter.
“What’s funny?” Cora asked.
Gina chuckled to herself, looking down at her periwinkle nail polish
“I like your nails,” Cora told her before retreating down the hallway.
“Where are you going?” Gina asked.
“I’m out of here. Meet you at yours at nine?”
But Cora was already down the hallway, swinging her arms from side to side.
“How about this one?” Cora’s mom asked, holding up two dresses.
“I like the pink.”
“Really? Not the gold?”
“Nope, I like the pink one.”
“Alright, fine. It’s probably the better one even if the gold is a better shade.”
“Thank you for your approval.”
Cora’s mom smiled before reaching for the door handle. “Actually, Mom, wait. How come you aren’t making me stay home after that whole situation today?”
Her mom’s eyes widened for a second before she pressed her eyebrows together.
“That thing in class. They said I was going to get a referral for it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Didn’t you get a call from the school?”
“Should I be concerned?”
“Huh? No, no, don’t worry about it.”
Cora and her mother held prolonged eye contact until Cora looked away to fix her dress.
“What?” she asked, an edge in her voice.
“Are you doing it again?”
Cora turned back around.
“Doing what?” Cora asked. This time her mother looked away. “I’m only asking because I have to.”
“You don’t. I’m fine.”
Cora’s mother looked at her quickly when Cora faced the mirror, readjusting her silver chain necklace.
“Can you hand me that?” Cora asked, gesturing to the red lipstick laying on her vanity.
Her mother handed it to her before slipping out of the room.?
“I think your friend is here.”
“Perfect,” Cora breathed before grabbing her coat. “I’ll be back by 12.”
“12? That’s a little late.”
“Is that not okay?”
They stared at each other.
“No, no. That’s fine. Just… be safe. Make good decisions.”
“Of course,” Cora smiled before sauntering towards the gleaming headlights.
From inside the car, sets of eyes stared down Cora’s approaching figure.
“Her?” Gina’s friend, Brooklyn, sneered.
“She wants to know what fun it is,” Gina retorted with a snarky smile.
A couple of other people, including the driver, filled the car. They were all part of Gina’s posse, all people Cora had seen around school at some point or another.
“Hi,” Cora said, slipping into the back seat.
Gina’s friends moved over grudgingly while Gina just looked at her from the front passenger seat.
“What are you wearing?” Gina asked. “Are you going to Sunday brunch or something?”
Gina’s friends snickered as if on cue, but Cora only buckled on her seat belt and asked, “Where’s the party?”
“Top secret location,” the driver mumbled sarcastically.
The other two girls in the backseat were hugging the other side of the car, which was fine with Cora: it didn’t offend her.
“You sure you don’t want to go home before it’s too late?” Gina asked.
Cora remained quiet.
“She’s talking to you,” the closest friend, Brooklyn hissed, elbowing Cora.
“Oh. No, maybe next time.”
“She’s funny,” the driver uttered, nudging Gina. “You should try to actually be funny and lighten it up,” he added.
Gina said nothing in response, just stared forward at the dark road as the car pulled off.
They heard the party before they saw it. The upbeat music drifted all the way down the block as well as colorful flashes of light. As soon as Gina walked in, it was like the entire premises were welcoming a celebrity.
“Hey Gina!” “Gina, you look so good!” “Gina, we still need to hang out sometime.”
Gina stopped to talk to a girl called Kitten all the while Cora trailed behind her.
“Gina! It’s been so long!” Kitten exclaimed, hugging her.
“I know. I hate that we never get to hang out anymore.”
“School is so boring this year without you,” Kitten cried.
“You know it wouldn’t be like that if my mom didn’t make me transfer to that other school.”
Cora watched quietly, afraid that Gina had forgotten she was standing there, and she’d overheard a personal moment she wasn’t supposed to hear. At that moment Gina seemed to remember Cora was at the party.
“Who’s this?” Kitten asked when it appeared that Gina was never going to introduce her.
“Her? Oh, this is just someone from my newer school.”
“Someone? Is she your friend?”
Gina glared at Cora before saying in a definitive grunt, “No.”
“She wants to see what a real party is like.”
Cora gave a little wave, careful not to look at Kitten for too long. Kitten had this suspicious look in her eye as she scanned Cora for potential issues. It didn’t last too long because the same guy from the car, the driver, who also turned out to be Gina’s boyfriend, stomped in and grabbed Gina by the arm.
“Come on,” he grumbled, dragging her behind him.
Gina said something that resembled a protest, but Cora didn’t catch it. Cora looked at Kitten to see what the general vibe was, but Kitten sort of shrugged and walked into the kitchen. Cora narrowed her eyes trying to see where Gina and her boyfriend were going.
Cora, following Kitten’s lead, wandered into the kitchen as well, seeing a terrible sight. Some of the members of the football team (from class earlier) were surrounding a group of girls jeering and laughing in their faces. Something about “why would you wear that” and “you don’t even know how to party if you’re gonna get mad” followed by more evil laughter. This sent a chill through Cora’s veins as she realized she was relieved that it wasn’t her, but she noticed something in her, an old familiar feeling, of pure rage and hatred. As the boys continued with what they’d later call “their little game” Cora lunged forward, throwing herself in between the boys and their victims while holding out the nearest kitchen utensil she could find. A plastic spoon, not a viable item of protection, yet Cora’s face of fury and her non-shaking arm, pointing the plastic utensil in their face, somehow made it appear the same as a newly sharpened knife.
At first the boys laughed until they saw the open knife drawer right next to her. Cora saw it too, the way her eyes darted from the drawers all around her to the icy blue eyes of a linebacker, Jason.
“Chill out,” Jason mumbled. “No need to act all crazy,” he told her, trying his best to sound cool, nonchalant.
Kitten and Brooklyn watched from the sides, surely shocked that their beloved Gina could bring such a freak to a party.
“Are you sure?” Cora asked, no hint of hesitation or wavering in her crisp voice.
The boys made a face before subconsciously taking a step back when she stepped forward.
“We were just kidding around,” Ian, another football player, croaked while sucking on his teeth.
“I don’t think the girls would agree,” Cora told them.
Cora took a moment to look at the two girls who had their gaze permanently glued to the sticky kitchen floor.
The third football player, and quarterback, Chase, began to chuckle as he took an extended swig of his beer.
“Jesus Christ. It’s a free country. We can say what we want. If they want to dress all slutty, maybe they shouldn’t be surprised when people make comments,” Chase laughed.
Cora turned to him, slowly, taking steps until she was standing right in front of him.
“Oh, God, what are you going to do? Scoop me to death?” Chase guffawed, eyeing the spoon.
Cora dropped it, never leaving his eyes. Every eye in the house was on Cora and Chase. You could hear the plastic meet the floor with a distinct little clink.
“I don’t need anything for what I’ll do to you if you don’t leave these girls alone. Or anyone else for that matter.”
“What do you want me to do, go to the library then?” Chase chuckled.
Cora stared at him for a very long time, until his face contorted, he called her a bitch, and eventually backed out of the kitchen with his buddies. Cora breathed a sigh of relief inwardly as she turned to face her audience. They quickly averted their eyes and continued to go about their business. Everyone except Gina approached Cora without caution.
“No one’s ever spoken spoke to Chase like that,” Gina breathed, clearly enamored but hesitant.
She waited until the excitement around them died down and she could speak to Cora alone. Cora shrugged.
“How did you do that?” Gina asked, her deep brown eyes practically sparkling with curiosity.
“I don’t know. He was being a terrible person and I didn’t like it.”
“Well, none of us do,” Gina said a bit bitterly, “But none of us are ever able to say anything.”
Cora’s gaze was perfectly indifferent. She even seemed quite bored.
“Like I said, I don’t know. All I know is I’m sick of seeing people get away with certain things.”
Gina’s face proved she still had questions, but she laid them aside. Instead, both Gina and Cora found themselves looking up at the old disco ball that was gently spinning, reflecting off bursts of blue, purple, and green light. For that moment, they must’ve forgotten where they were. They temporarily nodded off, only to awake to the glimmering mirror ball. Enchanted. When they woke up, it was due to Gina’s nagging boyfriend.
“Come on, Gina,” he was pleading. “You promised.”
Gina appeared deeply uncomfortable as he grabbed her, and Cora had to pretend she couldn’t hear them even though she was standing right beside them. She was listening intently though.
“Maybe later?” Gina offered, weakly.
The boyfriend grabbed hold of her wrist.
“No. You said that already.”
“I know but—”
“Come on,” he demanded, gruffly, dragging her once again.
Cora remained still, watching them disappear in the corner of her eye, never losing sight of their location.
“Yo! That was so funny. You got that football guy from your school all scared for his life in there!” Kitten clamored, skipping up to Cora.
“I know,” Cora replied.
“He’s actually real mad about it! He and his buddies stumbled out of the back door into their pickup, and no one’s seen them since.”
Kitten smiled at her, and Cora realized where Kitten got her nickname from. She looked like a little ginger kitten, just staring up at you, innocent and ignorant of everything happening around her, only wanting to play. Inwardly, Cora might have smiled, but she was too focused on what needed to happen next.
Cora left abruptly, hearing her mother’s voice in her ears. She pushed it away. The pink fabric of her dress swished around her legs as she stepped up the staircase. She really was the only one wearing a dress. The others wore ripped jeans and colorful crop tops. It didn’t make Cora feel self-conscious like how you might feel if you showed up at a wedding in a tracksuit. She felt fine.
She stalked the second-floor hallway, taking a wild guess of where Gina and her boyfriend were. Once she walked into the wrong room, finding Brooklyn and some random guy together. She quickly closed the door, choosing more carefully the next time. She swung the all-white bedroom door open standing in the doorway and staring. Inside, Gina and her boyfriend were in a heated argument. He still had his hand curled around her wrist, and he was speaking down to Gina in a threatening tone. Cora marched right in between Gina and the boyfriend before staring into the boyfriend the same way she looked in Ian, Jason, and Chase’s eyes.
Gina couldn’t see much of what happened next. All she knew was that her boyfriend was suddenly very still until his movement ceased and he slumped to the floor. Gina jumped back, her eyes filled with horror, but also with a strong presence of relief. The horror shown first:
“Is he dead!” Gina shrieked, a hint of the girl from class earlier shining through.
“No, unfortunately,” Cora answered, coldly.
“Then— then what just happened?” Gina cried.
“I really couldn’t say except we should probably call an ambulance.”
“I thought you said he wasn’t dead.”
“He isn’t. But we should call an ambulance.”
Cora went ahead and did this while Gina stared with wide eyes. She didn’t, however, go over to check his pulse. Just stared at him from a healthy distance. She didn’t call Cora weird, she didn’t accuse her of murder, she didn’t give Cora a deep-seated glare of hate. She just stood there, in the middle of the carpet, no emotion on her face.
She kept the same face when she was standing in the middle of the front lawn watching as the red and blue lights drove him away, the ambulance’s siren piercing the night.
“So strange that that would happen to him,” Cora sighed, watching the ambulance run down the street, away from the party. Gina didn’t say anything. “I wonder if he has an undiagnosed health condition he didn’t know about,” Cora suggested.
Gina turned to look at her with the slow turn of her head.
“You did that.”
Cora tried to ignore this.
“No. Why would I do such a thing?”
“No, don’t try to confuse me. You did that, but…”
Cora turned to look at her, feeling the churn of her heart in her chest.
“I’m not mad,” Gina admitted. “In fact…”
Her voice was pulled away with the light evening breeze.
“You asked me what I do for fun,” Cora started, looking at Gina carefully.
“I didn’t mean any of that. I was just being a terrible person and I never should’ve—”
“Well, I don’t have fun. I can’t have fun, not with people like Chase and who I hope will become your ex very soon. Everywhere I walk, I can’t ignore it… there’s always people like them lurking around, doing horrible things and yet they always get away with it. Chase will probably make fun of a girl at another party. Your ex will find a new girl to degrade and manipulate… it never ends!” Cora cried out. “I’m sick of them doing what they do. Sick of being a bystander. And a victim… I won’t stand by.”
Gina looked back at Cora, and it was obvious how much Gina agreed.
“Earlier in class… they were laughing at you in that moment, but that doesn’t mean they thought I was funny. It just means it was your turn. They don’t care about us and are going to do whatever they want,” Cora murmured.
Gina hung her head, noticing the little garden near the front patio of the house. Just a small patch of violets, with a slim layer of snow lying on top of them.
“Do you see the flowers?” Gina asked, pointing.
Cora followed Gina’s pointer finger.
“The violets,” Gina started. “They’re beautiful but they’re being drowned by the snow, even if they still look pretty,” she said. They both approached the tiny purple flowers. “My mother calls them sugar violets,” Gina said. “A pretty flower, convincing everyone around them that the thing killing them is just a bit of sugar until it’s too late.”