“Be careful, if you pop one of those things, it’ll wake the baby,” Michelle told her husband Charles as he blew up pink balloons, preparing for their baby shower. They had planned to have it a few days earlier, but Michelle had gone into labor earlier than they had expected. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, named Andrea. They decided to go forward with the celebration when she got home from the hospital, giving friends and family the opportunity to see baby Andrea.
“Don’t worry, I got this, you just relax,” Charles told her, as he blew up more balloons.
“Don’t you have work to do? Your election is in two weeks. Why not let the maids take care of the decorations?”
“Work can wait. Besides, I want to do this. Let the maids take care of the house before the guests arrive.”
Charles's phone started to ring. He grabbed it to see who it was, and his face became concerned.
“Who is it? You don’t look very happy.” Asked his wife.
“It’s her.” He replied in a fearful tone. “I already told her she isn’t welcome, but she won’t stop calling me.”
Michelle began to get worried. “You think she’ll show up? What if she does?”
“She won’t. She knows I’ll have my guards throw her out of here and she’ll be spending the night in a cell.” He told her.
Juanita Bonet was the eldest sister of Mayor Charles Bonet, and far from a family favorite. Ten years earlier, Juanita was suspected of putting a death juju on their father, to inherit the family fortune. After the death of their father, a will was discovered. He was leaving the family fortune to Charles and leaving nothing to Juanita. This angered her, and she hatched a plan to kill Charles. He found out, but before he could confront her, she disappeared. When the news spread of his wife’s pregnancy, he started getting calls and messages from Juanita, who wanted to come to the baby shower. Charles refused and threatened her if she were to ever come around again. But this didn’t stop her from calling constantly.
Charles turned his phone off and went to go grab a drink. The thought of his sister coming back made him uneasy. He decided to increase security just in case.
At 3 pm, their home was filled with guests from all over Louisiana to celebrate the birth of baby Andrea. The dining room was filled with gifts, everyone was happy and enjoying themselves, admiring the Bonet’s new bundle of joy. Suddenly, Charles felt an odd presence, like something was wrong. The house began to shake, and everyone started to panic. Michelle grabbed Andrea and held her tightly. The odd presence Charles felt began to get closer. He turned around and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His sister.
“Security!” He yelled. But no one came.
“Oh, brother. It’s so good to see you. It’s been so long.” Juanita glared at him with an evil smile stretched across her dark face. She was dressed in rags from head to toe and looked as if she hadn’t bathed in weeks.
“Security! Where is security?” Charles demanded.
“Oh, they are taking a nap. They won’t be bothering us. Don’t worry.” Said Juanita, still smiling sadistically. She looked over at Michelle, who was holding baby Andrea. “My beautiful niece! Give her to me!” She demanded.
“No!” Michelle yelled.
“Don’t you go near her!” Screamed Charles.
Juanita turned around, facing her brother. “Unless you want me to kill you, and everyone else in this room, including your child, I supposed you better let me see her.”
Charles knew that Juanita had always been involved in powerful black magic and could make things happen if she wanted to. Bad things. He didn’t have a choice. “You can hold her, for a minute.”
Juanita clapped in excitement and reached over to grab the baby from Michelle. Juanita held the baby in her arms, while The Bonet’s and all the guests watched in terror. “Look at you, just as beautiful as your auntie.” She said to Andrea. “Unfortunately, I can’t stay, but I won’t leave without giving you my gift.”
Charles and Michelle looked confused.
Juanita reached into her pocket and pulled out red sand. She sprinkled it over Andrea’s mouth. She whispered something in the baby’s ear, kissed her on the cheek, and handed her back to Michelle.
“What did you just do to my daughter?” Charles asked, frightened.
“I gave her a gift. On her sixteenth birthday, she will fall into a deep sleep. She will sleep for eternity. Only in her dreams will she exist.”
“No!” Charles yelled. Michelle started crying, and all the guests were in awe.
Juanita snapped her fingers, and all the guests in the room except Charles and Michelle fell asleep. “None of them will remember a thing.” She laughed.
“You evil bitch!” I’ll kill you!” Charles charged at her but with a flick of the hand, she sent him flying across the room.
“Goodbye, brother. It was a pleasure seeing you again.” The house began to shake, and within seconds, Juanita was gone.
All the guests began to wake up, confused. Michelle and Charles just stood there, not knowing what to say, or think.
(sixteen years later)
Andrea rushed downstairs to see her birthday gift. Her parents had been keeping it a secret for weeks, but she knew they had gotten her the car that she wanted. Her parents were still sleeping, but she rushed outside barefoot and anxious. As soon as she saw the silver Lexus sitting in the driveway with a big pink bow, she screamed with joy.
“Looks like she’s up.” Said Michelle, who was awakened by the screams. She leaned over and kissed her husband. “Good morning.” He didn’t respond, but he was awake. “Honey, I know you’re worried, I am too. But it’s her birthday.” She said to him.
“I know.” He said, still facing the wall. It was the day the curse would take his daughter’s life. Not literally, but figuratively. It was the day Charles and Michelle dreaded for sixteen years. They listened as Andrea yelled from the driveway, thanking them for her gift.
“Let’s go wish our daughter a happy birthday. I’ll put breakfast on.” Michelle got out of bed and headed downstairs. Charles didn’t budge. He knew that today would be the last day he would see his daughter smiling, laughing, happy. Living her life.
When he finally went downstairs to join his family for breakfast, his daughter immediately got up from her seat to throw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. “Thank you so much, dad! I love you! The car is amazing!”
“You’re welcome, baby girl. Happy birthday.”
His daughter noticed that he didn’t sound so happy. “What’s wrong?” Andrea asked, concerned. Charles and his wife looked at each other. “I’m fine sweetie.” He told Andrea.
“Alright, just asking.” Andrea smiled at her father.
Her parents never told her about her aunt Juanita, or the curse. They wanted their daughter to live her best life. They never enrolled her in school, she had a private tutor since the age of five. Andrea was a loner who never really made any friends. Except one. A girl named Piper, who was also homeschooled. They had been friends since the age of six, and inseparable ever since.
“I can’t wait to show Piper my new car!” Said Andrea while she texted her friend. “We’re going to the mall today.”
“The mall? But your mother and I are taking you to dinner.” Her father interrupted. The last thing he wanted was his daughter out of his sight on this day.
“We won’t be there all day. Just for a while. We can still do dinner later. Please, dad?” She begged.
“I just really wanted all of us to spend the day together.” He said.
“Let her go. Two hours. Then we can have the rest of the day.” Said Michelle. “It’s alright Charles, she’ll be fine.”
“Umm… jeez guys I’m just going to the mall, I’m not dying,” Andrea said jokingly. Her parents looked at each other with disappointment on their faces. They felt guilty for keeping the curse a secret. But they didn’t know how they could ever tell her.
“Sure. Have fun. We’ll see you in two hours.” Charles agreed.
Andrea ran up to her room to call Piper and tell her about her new car. Her parents didn’t know how to feel. It was 9 am and the curse hadn’t taken effect yet. Maybe it wouldn’t? Maybe, Andrea would be safe after all.
“The car is really nice, Andrea.” Said Piper as she sat on the passenger’s side while Andrea drove to the mall.
“I know right!” Andrea’s curly brown hair blew in the wind while she had all the windows down. Her silver Saturn ring sunglasses went perfectly with her magenta lipstick. “My parents are amazing!”
They parked near the entrance and went inside. Their first stop was a frozen yogurt place that was Andrea’s favorite. She ordered a chocolate brownie swirl and Piper ordered strawberry. They took a seat at a nearby table. Piper stared at Andrea as she took large spoonfuls of her treat.
“Andrea, I wanted to talk to you about something.” Piper began to get nervous.
“Oh good, I wanted to talk to you about something as well. But you can go first.”
“Well, we’ve been friends for a really long time. We’ve only ever been around each other.”
Piper was struggling to put her thoughts into words. She had a secret that she had been wanting to tell Andrea for a while now. “I care about you, a lot. I got you a gift for your birthday, and I was just waiting for the right time to give it to you.” Piper paused. “Andrea, I-”
Suddenly, there was a loud thump. Andrea’s frozen yogurt was spilled all over the floor. Next to her body.
“Andrea!” Piper yelled out, jumping out of her chair, and rushing to help her friend. She was unconscious. “Andrea! Wake up! What’s going on!” She shook her frantically. “Someone, call 911!” The cashier panicked and ran to call for help. Piper sat there holding up Andrea’s head, crying and worried. Within ten minutes an ambulance had arrived. Andrea was rushed to the nearest hospital, with Piper by her side.
When they arrived at the hospital, Piper sat by Andrea’s bedside, waiting for her parents to arrive. When they got there, Piper was distraught. She tried to explain that she had no idea what happened. That Andrea just passed out. Charles and Michelle just stood there, looking at their daughter. They were at a loss for words.
“We knew this day would come. It’s my fault, I should’ve protected her that day.” Charles said in a faint voice. Piper didn’t understand.
“What are you talking about Mr. Bonet?”
He stared at his daughter with tears in his eyes as he held her limp hand. “Sixteen years ago, my sister put a curse on Andrea. On her sixteenth birthday, my baby girl would fall into a deep sleep, forever. She will never wake up.” Piper couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Black magic?” She whispered with her hand over her mouth. In Louisiana, hearing about these practices was common for most folks who grew up near the bayou. But most people only knew little juju’s and hexes. Nothing as strong as what Andrea was under. Piper knew this was the work of a powerful woman, and there was nothing they could do. “No! It can’t be! Not her! She doesn’t deserve this!” Piper cried.
“I know. I wish I could change things. I wish it could’ve been me instead.” Charles sat there, in more pain than any father could imagine.
Months passed by, and they watched her sleep. Charles and Michelle brought Andrea home a few days after she had gone to the hospital. The doctors couldn’t find anything medically wrong with Andrea, and her parents wouldn’t tell them about the curse. So, they took her home. In her room, she slept, peacefully. Piper came to visit her every day. She was the only one besides Charles and Michelle who were allowed near Andrea. Charles spent days and nights searching for his sister, in hopes that she would take back the curse. But he didn’t find anything. No signs of her at all.
Two years passed by, and Andrea hadn’t aged a day. Still, her parents and her best friend were by her side. One night, while Charles was sleeping in a chair next to his daughter’s bed, the house began to shake. Charles was startled out of his sleep by the sound of a flower vase falling to the floor and breaking. Michelle came running in to see what was going on, along with Piper who had spent the night. Suddenly, there she was. Juanita.
“Did you miss me, brother?” She said, with that evil smirk on her face. She looked different this time. Older, and frail, like she was sick.
“Juanita… It’s really you.” Charles uttered. Juanita walked over to Andrea’s bed, and leaned over, moving a stray curly hair from Andrea’s face. “You stay away from her!” Michelle demanded.
“Hush woman! You should be happy to see me.” Said Juanita.
“Juanita, please. Take back the curse. Spare our daughter. You can curse me instead.” Charles begged.
“Now what fun would that be?” Juanita laughed. “Don’t worry. Today is your lucky day. I’ve come to take back the curse.” She ran her hand across Andrea’s soft brown cheek. “Under one condition.”
Charles and Michelle didn’t like the sound of this. “What condition?” Asked Charles.
“I want her youth, in exchange for my dying, aging body.”
“No! Over my dead body!” Shouted Michelle.
“That can be arranged.” Juanita snapped back.
“Please, stop. Juanita, I beg you. Just take back the curse or let her be.” Said Charles.
“I didn’t have to come here. I’m doing you a favor. If I want, I can kill the both of you, take her youth, and let her lie here until she dies. Your choice.”
“No!” Shouted Piper, crying for her best friend’s life.
“Have it your way then.” Juanita stepped back, opening both arms, and mumbling in another language. The house began to shake again. Piper looked over at the broken glass on the floor and picked up the largest piece. She charged at Juanita and shoved the large piece of glass into her chest. Right in her heart. The house stopped shaking, and Juanita screamed out in pain. She fell to the floor, her lifeless body, sitting in a small pool of her own blood. Charles and Michelle stood there, in shock. Piper dropped the glass, in disbelief of what she had just done, tears rolling down her eyes. She looked at Andrea, who was still lying there. She walked over toward her and whispered in her ear.
“I love you.” Piper then placed a gentle kiss on Andrea’s lips. Charles and Michelle gathered around their daughter. Juanita was dead, and the curse was still there. They all felt hopeless. That was until Charles felt Andrea’s hand move. He couldn’t believe it. “Andrea?” He said in a soft, hopeful voice. Suddenly, her eyes opened. She was awake.
“Andrea! I can’t believe it!” Charles shouted in excitement as they all cheered happily.
Andrea sat up. “Mom, dad, Piper. What happened to me?” She looked over at the dead body on the floor. “Oh my God! Who is that?”
They all looked at each other. “There is a lot we need to tell you. But right now, we're just happy to see your beautiful face.” Her father hugged her tightly. So did her mother.
Later that night, Charles and Michelle explained everything to Andrea and got rid of Juanita’s body. Andrea took it all well and understood why her parents kept it all a secret. She was just happy it was all over. They all were.
Andrea and Piper sat on the porch, sitting in silence. Piper reached into her pocket, and pulled out a small necklace, with the letter P hanging from the end. “I never got a chance to give you your birthday gift.” She said to Andrea. She then pulled out a necklace she was already wearing, identical to the one she was giving Andrea, except hers had the letter A hanging from it. “I got this necklace a few months before I got yours. I wanted it to be a surprise too. I love you, Andrea, I always have.”
Andrea smiled and reached for her gift. “I love it, and I love you, too.”
Even the strongest black magic in the world was no match for true love.
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