She took her time. Each stroke became longer and more sparkly. It wasn’t necessary but dramatic as was the theme and when he come up behind her to hug her, she smiled in the mirror. She patted her lips one more time letting the blue shimmer by candlelight, washed her hands and returned to the party. The back stairs were set with alternating black and white candles, twelve each and the entire backyard was covered with string lights so everything twinkled.

“Don’t you think this is dangerous?” she asked, waving her hands over her Mary Janes pointing to each votive on her way to the bonfire.

A lavender laced joint was being passed around.
“We are doing it again.”
“What?”
“Thirteen stories.”
“No.”
“Yes.”

“So,” Petesia clapped his hands together and went over the rules for the newcomers as she took her seat. “One person starts–they set the theme. Last year it was ‘Video Game or Nightmares’ and we were supposed to guess which is which after each story. This year…”

Osiria cut him off, “This year we have no theme because we haven’t started.”

Timidly, Ava cut in, “Isn’t the theme Shakespeare in Space?”

Orb laughed loudly next to her and Jelinda shot a glare his way.

“Well, it’s a Midsummer’s Night Space Dream but the theme of the stories and game can be anything,” Petesia said.


“So this is how it works,”Osiria immediately turned her attention back to the circle. “Someone starts the story. The person who starts set the tone; the theme of the story and the rule of the game. We go around until we get to thirteen. Since there’s now only ten of us, three people will go twice. The last person has to end the story that the first person started.”

“What’s the catch?” “Mr.” asked taking the joint from Ophelia.

“It’s got lavender in it,” Cat said.
“No, with the game.”
“Well, legend has it that whoever it ends on is cursed.”
“Mr.” passed the joint to Pan.
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.”
“Annnd…” Petesia interjected.
“Annnd, we make you tell us the weirdest thing about you .”
“Ohhh, cool!”
“Well we did that before.”
“Or you have to confess all your secrets.”

Pan passed the joint back to Cat who winked at Petesia quickly.
“Or maybe act out the story for us.”
“That’s not all, “ Petesia pointed at Artemis letting his fangs shine.
The crowd waited.
“The story comes for you,” he winked, not at Artemis or Ava but at Cat. “And it comes to life.”
Osiria grabbed the joint from Pan before he could take a drag.
“Who wants to start?” she said. “I start almost every year so I’m trying to pass this time.”
“Oh you play every year?” a woman in a fairy costume asked.
She had named herself “Eliza.” Petesia and Osiria nodded at her.
“We try to keep them kind of short though,”Osiria looked at Artemis.
“There’s only ten of us, “ Marco said, circling to the group.
“Three people will go twice, “ Cat turned to gently remind him.
“I’ll go first!” Artemis cheerfully volunteered.
“Really?” Osiria shot her a look.
“Yeah, I love games!”
“So…” she rubbed her hands together and looked at Petesia across the fire. “The first story is called…The Woman Who Walked for Miles.”

“The 13th Story”

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