It was during one of her long sleepless nights that she dreamed up the idea of the oath. In her little studio apartment by the river, she sweated out her summer madness over mason jars of sangria and sad songs on the radio.
She set up an altar under the window that looked out at the neon lights of Main Street, with its bars and nightclubs. She liked to be near the nightlife, the rock clubs, and the jazz clubs she frequented. Near the cafe she sometimes read poetry at and the used bookstore she browsed.
She stacked books from that bookstore on top of her little altar. It was a small antique wooden table with a marble chessboard on top. She stacked books of poetry and copies of Romeo and Juliet high enough that it was chest level when she knelt in front of it. She covered it in the things she prayed to. Love and romance and sex and death. Bundles of love letters she wrote but never sent and marble notebook diaries thick with pasted pictures from magazines.
The altar had four cardinal points, as they should. A red candle that smelled of cinnamon for fire, the south, and illumination. An antique bread knife she had sharpened to a point for air, the east, and inspiration. A chipped shot glass of rainwater for the west, and intention. A smooth river rock for earth, the north, and stability. They were all on the edge of a circle drawn in chalk. In the center of the circle was a mirror.
She pictured the one who incited the spell. She winced at the thought of him, she winced that she was so tied to a man. Yet there it was, her heart and mind completely tied to that thin boy with the leather jacket and the perfectly messy hair.
She saw him in her mind’s eye, the brown of his eyes, the black of his hair, the silver of his earring. She remembered his wide wolf hungry smile and the perfect way he leaned against a wall, a cigarette tucked behind his ear, and his thumb in the belt loop of his jeans.
He played in a band that didn’t have a name and he wrote graffiti at night with his friends. He smelled like beer and smoke and sweat, but something else too, some spiced cologne that was just barely there, or maybe just in her imagination.
He didn’t know her, not really. They had been to the same parties and they drank at the same bars, heard the same bands. She’d been introduced to him five times and every time she smiled at him as he looked at her with no recognition at all.
Still, she loved him, somehow. She thought of him constantly. She dreamed of him. She listened to the demo tape she had gotten of his nameless band until it had worn out and broken.
She ached for him and so she knew it was only right she bled for him. With a prick of her finger, she made an oath to the full moon. She promised she would do anything he asked of her. Though he hardly knew her. She just wanted to give herself to something. She wanted to do something drastic, something crazy, something sacrificial of her whole self.
She made an oath to obey his every word and submit to his every desire. She swore to old gods and new, to the four elements and the guardians of the four gates. She affirmed to that which was above and that which was below that she would be his servant, his thrall, for all her days and all of his.
In the days and months and years after, she ran into him dozens of times. She waited with bated breath for his command, be it dangerous or perverse. She waited for her chance to be overcome by her own spell, to feel the power of her oath.
Her oath came into play only once in all the time she knew him. One summer night, three years after she cast the spell. He had played a set with another band, filling in for their bassist, who broke his arm.
She stood at the foot of the stage, wide-eyed and in love with him. His eyebrows were knotted in concentration as he slogged through what seemed to be unfamiliar songs. After twenty minutes of playing the band was covered in sweat and he looked at her, seemingly for the first time, and she smiled brightly at him.
“Yo, can you grab me a beer?”
And she did. She got him a beer. He smiled and nodded at her as he drank it and it was magic.