Kimiko Shimizu’s birthday sleepover was the best because we got to stay up all night and be space pirates. I don’t mean playing pretend. That’s for little kids. I mean we summoned the mirror witch who took us to the Wormwood Miranda.
You know how to do it, right? Richelle told me you and Carmen Lodge got the mirror witch to give Mr Blunt the PE teacher a rash and that’s why he had to take term three off and go to Thailand for treatment. No? Well, that’s what Richelle said but whatever.
So okay, after pizzas, Nina makes everyone lemon, lime and bitters with extra bitters and Kimmy gives each of us a mirror with lines scratched on the rim. We all stand in front of her big mirror, which she says her grandmother said she could have when she died, but her grandmother’s in the Hyacinth Park rest home so I don’t even know. Anyway, we all angle these hand mirrors until they’re reflecting each other and then on the big mirror the scratches line up to make an arrow shape.
And we have to say this, like, spell or chant, I don’t know, three times through, which went:
Mistress monstrous, can you hear us?
These reflections call you near us.
With your heart a dark as pitch
You can grant us just one wish
We are fierce so you should fear us
Mistress monstrous, can you hear us?
Come to us you mirror witch!
D’you notice how much it sounds like “Martian Rover” by Ophelia Vernon? Yeah, we sang it the last couple of times. Have you heard Priya sing? She’s really good. Like she could audition for The Voice. Like I don’t think they’d let her get through cause she’s just a kid, but she’s really good.
The mirror witch looks like Charlize Theron but old. That’s what I thought anyway. Priya says she looks like her viola teacher’s girlfriend, except that she was a redhead. Kimmy says the witch looks like her grandmother looks in old photos from when she was at university in Prague. Richelle said the witch didn’t look like anything but she heard a voice like a big cat roaring except that she understood it like real words.
Kimmy brings out this offering bowl and Richelle says “Do we have to cut ourselves and drip blood in?” and then we all go quiet because, well you know, maybe? But Kimmy fills the bowl up with jelly beans from the party stash. They don’t have lollies where the witch is from, hey?
The witch drags us all through the mirror into her world and Nina almost vomits because she overdid it on the bitters. We fall through this void of shimmering dust and weeping stars and really it’s a bit too high-gloss for me. But then we end up on the deck of this old sailing ship in the middle of space.
I don’t know how we could breathe. Mirror stuff? Who cares? The mirror witch took off before we could ask. I saw she’d swiped a bottle from Kimmy’s Dad’s liquor cabinet so maybe they don’t have booze in the mirror place either?
So the ship is haunted by this ghost of the old captain, who’s this cranky old nanna called Misery Janks. She staggers around the deck complaining about how the Wormwood Miranda hasn’t had a crew for four hundred years. Priya’s just soft and she gets all weepy and says we’ll be her crew and bring her back to her home port so she can lay to rest and whatever? None of us know sweet FA about sailing or anything except for Richelle’s uncle takes her surf kayaking down the coast sometimes, but we go along with it. I hear old time sailors were drunk all the time so how hard could it be?
But Nanna-Captain Janks doesn’t want her bones buried in her old garden or whatever, so she says let’s go raiding and pillaging. I suppose that’s pretty antisocial now I think about it but we were all sugared up so we said yes.
We set course for the nearest star, where we find this world full of chanting lizards, crystal mountains and warring tribes of mantis-people. And for ten and a bit years we sack their treasures and scatter their bones, looting and plundering everything that’s not nailed down. We take whatever and whoever we please and drive Nanna-Captain Janks’ enemies back to their nests out behind the cold stars. We grow to womanhood. Hard, merry cutthroats, every damn one of us. Proud, straight-backed killers, thirsty for mantis-blood. It tastes a bit like red cordial.
And one day the Wormwood Miranda, riding low and slow with the looted riches of another war-queen who thought she could outsmart us, is coming back to her home port, which is this awesome floating palace orbiting a planet swirling with purple and orange lightning-clouds, when the mirror witch returns. She’s not too steady on her feet, so we think she must have just finished knocking off the bottle of scotch by herself. Then she says it’s time to go home.
We all say goodbye to Nanna-Captain Janks, who isn’t happy to see us go but has to admit we were the best crew she’s ever had. She even has a sneaky cry when she thinks we can’t see her. Then the mirror witch brings us back through to Kimmy’s place just as the sun comes up.
Back to being the children we’ve almost forgotten we ever were, in a dull and lifeless world we no longer recognise. The days here taste of sawdust and sunburn, and life is a weary trudge towards an inglorious grave. I ache to return to the stars.
Anyway, that’s why I didn’t do my homework last weekend.
Do you know what trigonometry is?
Can I copy your answers?