Amethyst almost jingled as she walked down the street. She was adorned in mounds of gemstone jewelry that clanged with every step: necklaces of quartz as clear as the night sky, aventurine bracelets carrying hundreds of charms, huge rings of tiger eye wrapped around every finger. It was a wonder she managed not to fall over with all the extra weight.
She hurried past giggling children and their parents, ignoring their curious glances, and stepped into the forest at the end of the neighborhood. The trees stood so close together she could barely see through them even under the light of the full moon.
Amethyst glanced around before snapping her fingers. The trees suddenly jumped to the side, creating a narrow pathway. She grinned and marched forward, listening as the shrieks of excited children softened to the sounds of the earth: singing crickets, a trickling creek.
After a few minutes of crunching through the forest and sending trees out of her way, Amethyst came upon a clearing. Four figures stood around a small fire.
“About time,” huffed Freya as Amethyst hiked over. Freya wore a red cloak, framing a pale face that appeared almost translucent in the moonlight. She shot a glare at Amethyst, who rolled her eyes back.
“Hush, Freya. She made it. That’s what matters,” murmured Willow. She smiled at Amethyst and tossed her silver hair behind her shoulders. A sudden wind whistled through the trees.
“It’s freezing, even with this pathetic thing,” said Sybil, pointing her boot at the small fire. “Can you do something, Willow?” A sparrow flew to Sybil’s shoulder and twittered in her ear. “Sparrow here’s shivering her wings off.”
“It’s a bird,” laughed Willow. “It’s its own fault if it didn’t fly south for the winter.”
“Have some compassion, sister. It’s a friend.”
Willow sighed and closed her eyes, lifting her arms and turning her palms to the sky. A sudden heat settled onto the group. Amethyst shivered and melted into the new warmth.
“Mm. Thank you, Willow,” said Sybil. She pulled her black cloak tighter around her shoulders. “The animals thank you.”
“I bet they do.”
“Quiet,” said Beatrix in a hushed voice. The woman had no hair and chocolate eyes that seemed to stare straight into Amethyst’s soul.
The witches’ mouths shut. In fact, the whole forest seemed to still. Amethyst could no longer hear the rustling of the leaves or the choir of the crickets.
She tried to open her mouth and stomped her foot when she couldn’t.
“Ah. Apologies.” Beatrix snapped her fingers and her coven sighed as they regained their voices.
“A little tense there, sister?” said Freya, smirking.
“You could say that,” said Beatrix. “We only get one shot.”
“Then let’s make it count,” said Amethyst quickly. She touched her wrinkled face and frowned.
The witches nodded and grasped hands, shuffling closer to the fire. Beatrix began to speak.
“O Magic One, Master of the Coven, we give you ourselves. Sister Sybil, speaker to all living beings, gives you her voice.”
Sybil opened her mouth and sang a sweet melody. The lingering notes sunk into the fire and the flames turned a bright blue.
A twig snapped to Amethyst’s right. She jumped and glanced to the side; there stood a deer, watching them.
“Another friend,” breathed Sybil. “She heard my song.”
Beatrix cleared her throat. “Sister Amethyst, vessel to the earth, gives you her body.”
Amethyst let go of her sisters’ hands to pull a tiny pair of scissors from her pocket. She took a deep breath before cutting off a chunk of her gray hair and wrapping it around one of her gemstone rings. She tossed it into the flames, which turned as yellow as citrine, one of her favorite stones.
Her finger felt naked without the ring. She shivered as she clasped Sybil's and Willow’s hands once more.
“Sister Willow, goddess of the air and skies, gives her breath.”
Willow crouched and blew on the flames, which turned as white as the moon.
“Easiest job,” she whispered. Amethyst grinned.
“Sister Freya, brewer of the Coven, gives her blood.”
Freya pulled a knife from her pocket. She cut into her palm and squeezed a few droplets of blood onto the flames, which turned red.
“Hardest job,” she muttered, grabbing Amethyst's hand again. Amethyst ignored the sticky feel of blood against her palm.
“And I, Sister Beatrix, High Priestess and Altar of the Coven, give my soul.”
Beatrix knelt and put her entire hand in the flames, which turned blacker than the night. She straightened--her hand now covered in odd markings but looking otherwise unhurt--and tilted her head, calling to the moon above.
“O Magic One, Master of the Coven, grant us our years back!”
The flames suddenly burst into a flickering rainbow of mesmerizing colors. Amethyst couldn’t tear her eyes away.
“Sisters, breathe the smoke!” cried Beatrix.
Amethyst leaned forward, almost touching heads with her sisters. The warmth of the fire washed over her face and the smoke made her eyes water. She inhaled, refusing the urge to cough, and imagined all the colors of the flames flowing through her body.
She gasped as her body burned. The heat became almost unbearable, and then it disappeared as suddenly as it came.
She coughed and touched her face, which was as smooth as an apple.
Amethyst blinked at the people around the fire--all girls that couldn’t have been older than twelve.
“A real Halloween treat, yes?” said young Beatrix, smiling at her sisters.
The witches burst into laughter and tears.
“Oh, it’s been too long!” said Amethyst, staring at her wrinkle-free hands.
“Only fifty years, sister,” said Willow, grinning. She waved her arms and a bout of rain snuffed the flames.
Amethyst kicked the ashes around until the clearing looked just like any other spot in the forest. She snapped her fingers and a few flowers popped out of the ground.
“Here’s to immortality,” said Freya. She wrapped a bandage around her cut hand and shook the rain out of her cloak.
“More importantly--here’s to candy,” said Sybil, licking her lips. Another bird landed on her shoulder and twittered in her ear.
The young witches laughed as they hurried out of the forest and into the Halloween night.