Look At Me, It’s Halloween

Outfit! All Welcome.

No way was Everly going to miss a particular event that had crystals, fire, Wiccan books and products and not to mention other things that Ever was dying to see. She went alone, none of her current friends seeing the wonder in all of it like Ever did.

She was a bit cold, having only wore fishnet tights on her lower half and an oversized sweater dress on top. Her wrists chimed with all the bracelets she wore, a large purple crystal hanging from her neck. She even dyed her hair lavender for the event. There were small tables with purchasable trinkets on display. There was a fortune teller tent, small rides and power-up haunted houses. A true Halloween event but more tailored toward those with Everly’s taste.

She was almost overwhelmed with all the different little things she could explore. But she lacked a map. Ever strolled to the nearest person, aloof that she was a complete stranger walking up to someone with purpose in her eyes. Aloof purpose, but that wasn’t what counted, right? She tapped them on the shoulder, clearing her throat.

"Excuse me, do you know if this event has a map of all the vendors? I didn’t see one at the entrance." Her voice was light and innocent, not matching her rebel attire what so ever. Funny, but that never stopped her before.

 Apollo felt slimy, claiming a table for his own and filling it up: painted chicken feet, impersonalized magicked poppets, rattling skeleton keys. Tarot cards. Miscellaneous bottles and baggies of oils and dust. Shit that went from fifteen dollars to seventy-five, that people would buy up hungrily and desperately. Shit that made his mother sigh—

 It was bad enough that he profited off their abilities, she said. But she’d kill him if she knew about how far he’d taken it, not caring in the slightest that very money he made vending garish chachkies was exactly went into the electricity bill, the water payment, their rent… Whatever. She didn’t have to know.

 But with the light tap that landed on his shoulder, Apollo just about jumped out of his skin. He was a kid again, caught doing something very, very naughty.

 A purple-haired girl stood before him, eyes wide with wonder.

 Thank god. Apollo shrugged. He looked about, half-expecting an answer to materialize, then shrugged again. "Don’t think so. Least, I don’t know about one." Was there ever a map? This was his fifth year at the festival. He supposed he'd know something about a map if there'd been one.

 "Looking for anything in particular? I’m pretty, um—" He reached up and tugged absentmindedly on a wayward loc. "Pretty familiar with the setup."

The man’s jump cause Everly to jump. All her confidence scurrying away like a retreating rabbit faced with a difficult decision. Eyes widened as she took in the man and his booth, eyes drawn to the rattling keys and tarot cards before flickering back to his face. She automatically assumed he was a Wiccan, and not the kind that she was. She just felt it in her soul that she identified as one, but her exploration into the culture was always hidden due to controlling parents.

There were no maps. That was fine. That just meant Ever would get to walk around here forever and be in her element. She nervously tugged at the bottom of her short sweater dress. "Well thanks anyway," she replied, her voice soft.

"I’m just looking," her eyes flickered down to the rattling keys, side-stepping to reach out and touch one on the table. "What makes these keys rattle? I don’t see a battery device or anything. It’s pretty cool..." she offered, colors blooming in her cheeks, a stark different to her normally pale, freckled skin.

 He really had to get rid of those keys.

 Noisy and flashy, they drew too much attention. Which would be fine ordinarily, but they weren’t the sort of product Apollo wanted costumers looking at for long. Sure, it wasn’t easily visible upon first sighting, but a scrutinizing study would be sure to reveal the telltale groove connecting bow and shank. Undone by a sharp twist and pull, opened to reveal a neat row of 3.5mm button batteries—

 "Have you seen the ritual kits?" Ignoring her question, he made a quick grab for one of the thin, fragilely-folded cardboard boxes he had stacked into neat pyramids. "I have them for just about anything: financial success, good health, fertility, protection — for yourself, for your house, for someone else… Whatever you want, just name it. And if it’s not there, I can always do a custom order."

It was like she was getting whiplash from the conversation. Her mind slow to follow, turning to blink at him, hand paused mid-air to reach for one of the keys. "Um...no..?" she said, voice hitched at the end. He continued on, grabbing one of the aforementioned kits.

Her hand was pulled back, crossing across her midsection to wrap loosely around her elbow. Maybe he was nervous and new to this whole thing. Ever knew that if she had to man a booth all by herself she would be extremely nervous. "Protection from what exactly? Can I make my own?" she said, eyes narrowing as she looked t the kit, curious as to everything that was in it.

"What’s in it?"

 Again, Apollo’s shoulders raised.

 "From whatever you need protection from, I guess. Bad luck, evil spirits." His dark gaze flew over her more quickly and lightly than a mosquito. "—an ex you can’t get over." Maybe it was the unnaturally-colored hair, or perhaps just the oversized sweater, but there was an air of lonely desperation about her. Rattling keys seemingly forgotten, she’d focused on the kit in his hands with a laser-beam gaze. Like she was trying to see inside, like she wanted the power of it for herself — without the limitations of an instruction booklet.

 Yeah, of course she did. Everyone did.

 "Depends on the ritual you want. S’long as you’ve got the proper elements in place, you can do just about anything."

Every snorted. She most definitely didn’t have a ex. Evil... she didn’t care about either. Unless she hung it up in her car for when she picked up Uber customers. Some people were down right weird. "I don’t think I need to worry about that," she said, not catching his judge once-over.

"Um.... interesting..." she muttered, wondering why he was holding onto the box like his life depended on it. "What else would you recommend?" She asked, stepped up to the table and picking up a deck of tarot cards. "Can you read these?" She held up the deck, turning to look at him.

 Okay, so that was a lukewarm no to the DIY projects. Cool, cool. The girl shifted her attention right along to the tarot cards and Apollo, returning the ritual box to its rightful place on the pyramid's topmost level, followed close behind. Tarot cards, no problem. They were familiar and trendy; people, younger girls especially, ate them up.

 "Yeah, I can," he replied, reaching out for the cards. His palm faced up towards the sky. "And much better than most other vendors here. Madame Edwina over there--" he cocked his head towards an older, shawl-laden woman a few tables down "--usually just tells you you'll find love at a great price, but it'll be worth it, so don't worry. For thirty bucks."

 Apollo snorted.

 "I'll do yours for ten."

Ooooo. That sounded like a good deal actually. Plus, maybe she’d buy a pack and learn how to do them by herself as some sort of hobby. She loved that sort of thing. But also because she felt... drawn to it? Ever didn’t really know. She chalked it up to destiny.

Ever but her lip, rolling it gently between her teeth. She was fidgeting. Twirling one strand of hair around her finger before actually giving him an answer. "I’d love that actually," she said after a few moments. She didn’t want to be robbed of money and told something they thought they wanted her to hear.

"As long as you’re the real deal. I’m not your average girl, you know," she said said, trying to hide her nervousness. Ever didn’t care about money, boys or what other people thought. She wanted to live her life how she wanted to live it.

Her most unpopular belief being: she believed the supernatural was real and that she was one of them.

 Yeah, who didn't want the real deal? Who didn't want to feel like they were pitching their hard-earned money into one of the many bonfires scattered about? Apollo couldn't blame the girl -- nor could he stop the flicker of pity and flash of second-hand embarrassment that went wriggling through his stomach in reply to her earnestness.

 Maybe she wasn't an average girl, but he was an average guy. With average bills and average loans to pay off, without even mentioning his mom's higher-than-average medical costs that never failed to keep him from staying comfortably afloat--

"Okay," Apollo began cautiously, using his elbow to clear some space atop the booth. Then, more confidently: "Okay." He separated the cards into three decks, squat and only roughly identical. "I'll have you re-stack the deck, adding the piles or further cutting them beforehand. Whatever feels right. And you'll need to name the purpose of the reading. This isn't a free-for-all."

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