The library was a quiet temperate sanctuary after a crazy day of junior high. More importantly, there were shelves full of wonderful books for me to browse, including every book in every LJ Smith series (The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, The Forbidden Game, Dark Visions, and Night World). But I found the Secret Circle books first, and I read them over and over again in my library haven.
The Secret Circle books, for those who have not yet seen the television program, feature a young girl named Cassie who moves back to her mother’s hometown and discovers that she is a witch. She finds friends, a coven of fellow witches who are the children of her mother’s old circle, and she finds love. True, soul mate love.
Reading the books, I yearned to be a witch and to have a soul mate. But real-life sixth-grade love did not live up to the LJ Smith version. A boy, who I will call CW, came up to me in the schoolyard and asked me out. Which may sound spontaneously romantic, but with the crowd of sixth-grade girls around me shrieking “Ooooooooooohhh” and “Say yes! Say yes!” the scene was less starry-eyed and more embarrassing.
I dodged his calls, planning to avoid him, for the rest of my life if necessary. But my mother insisted that it wasn’t right for me to ignore him. I felt like vomiting the next day when I went up to him in the cafeteria and told him that I had changed my mind; I didn’t want to go out with him. But afterward I was euphoric; I had done it! I was the bravest girl in the world!
That feeling lasted until about 3:10 when, almost at the library, I was approached by a large girl, two years older than me, who introduced herself as CW’s best friend. “Why don’t you like him?” she asked, frowning, her arms crossed, her body blocking my passage to the library. “He’s a really nice guy. You should go out with him.” She loomed over me.
I wondered if I was about to get into my first fight.
And then CW himself popped up and said “Whatever you don’t like about me, I’ll change it.”
And even I, at only 11, knew that was a crazy thing to say to someone who you had never spoken to before you asked them out. I insisted that I absolutely would not go out with him, and I escaped into my refuge: the library, where I could read about the Secret Circle and daydream that someday a boy would ask me out who would actually be my soul mate.
I also tried a spell designed to create a talisman for strength and courage. I was supposed to find a nice flat stone and carve words of power onto its face. Turns out it is also really hard to carve words onto a stone.
Having failed as a witch, I settled for just enjoying the Secret Circle books. I still love them for teaching me about who I am: someone who believes in true love and was willing to hold out for it. And someone who still wishes she had magical powers.