Katie tiptoed through the grass, careful not to let the sound of her footsteps on the brittle grass make too much noise. As she approached the shed, she saw that there was indeed a light inside; flickering fire light, if she wasn’t mistaken. She’d already had her birthday cake. What were they planning now?
She hesitated outside the door, listening for voices before she entered. She wanted to figure out who was trying to trick her, but the only sound she heard were muffled, low tones and a moan that she couldn’t identify. That low moan gave Katie pause. Perhaps she shouldn’t enter the shed. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
As she debated whether to turn around and head back to the house, she heard her friend Lydia’s voice rise with intensity.
“Renounce the demon,” she said emphatically. “Exorcise him from your soul.”
Chills ran through Katie’s body. She felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck. Her hand remained frozen on the door latch as her body struggled with flight or fight.
“Help,” she heard another voice call weakly from inside. An old voice. Trembling and frail. It sounded like her grandmother.
Katie tugged the door open. Lydia’s head whipped around. Her body remained poised over the prone figure of Katie’s grandmother. In her hand, Lydia held a metal cross, steaming with heat. Katie stared at the fire in the small hibachi next to Lydia. Her mind couldn’t make sense of the scene before her; her best friend crouched in the darkness with a fire inside the shed, her grandmother trapped and cowering beneath her.
“What are you doing?”
Katie stepped forward and Lydia spun around, thrusting the hot cross toward Katie. Katie backed up, taking in the oven mitt on Lydia’s hand, the burn mark on her grandmother’s wrist, and the agonizing moans emanating from her grandmother as she grasped her injured wrist and tried to rise.
“Stay back, Katie.”
“Lydia, what are you doing? What’s going on?”
“I’m saving her soul, Katie. Your grandmother is possessed.”
“Possessed? Grandma, are you okay?” Katie tried to peer behind Lydia, who moved forward to block Katie from her grandmother.
“She’s got a demon in her, Katie. I’m getting it out.”
“What are you talking about?” Katie took a step toward Lydia, ready to brush past her, but Lydia swerved into Katie’s path and thrust the crucifix close enough to Katie’s skin that she could feel the heat. She paused, debating whether to run back to the house for help, but afraid to leave her grandmother here alone with Lydia.
“Don’t worry. I know how, Katie. We learned about exorcisms at our church. I know what I’m doing.”
“Lydia, this is crazy.”
“I need to do this, Katie. She’s got an evil spirit inside of her. You even said so. I’m trying to save her.”
“I didn’t say that.” Katie glanced behind her toward the house. Had anyone noticed her coming out here? Would anyone else see the firelight from the window?
“You called her a leprechaun. You and your mother said she’s always playing tricks, working her magic. That’s not Christian, Katie. Magic is the devil’s work.”
“Oh my God. Lydia, we were just kidding.” Katie lunged closer to her grandmother, but Lydia cut her off again.
“I’ve seen the demon in her with my own eyes,” Lydia said. She stood stock still, the weight of her knowledge filling her with an authoritative demeanor Katie had never witnessed before in Lydia.
“Lydia, she isn’t possessed by a demon. She isn’t really a leprechaun,” Katie pleaded.
“Katie, I know this is hard for you, but she is. I saw proof. She’s carrying a bag of gold.”
An image of a small green bag with dollar signs and a rainbow ironed on immediately flashed through Katie’s mind. “That’s my birthday present, Lydia. That’s what my grandmother gives me every year. It’s a joke because my birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Lydia tilted her head and put the crucifix-free hand on Katie’s shoulder. “Katie,” she said softly. “It’s alright. I’m going to make your grandmother all better.”
Lydia turned her attention back to Katie’s grandmother who still lay on the floor, cradling her burnt wrist. Lydia moved toward her, holding the hot crucifix in front of her as she began her incantation.
“Oh, Jesus, Lord our Savior. Protect this— Ow!” Lydia jerked around as Katie pinched her.
“You’re not wearing green,” Katie said.
Lydia sighed. “Katie—“
Katie reached out and pinched her again, hard enough that it would cause a bruise. She nipped her arm, her stomach, and her waist.
“Ow!” Lydia yelped.
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day. You’re supposed to wear green.”
“Katie, I’m trying to do something important here. I’m trying to exorcise the leprechaun from your grandmother.”
Katie shook her head. “It’s not going to work, Lydia. You’ve got the wrong person.” She reached up and tucked her hair behind her tall, pointed ear. “She’s not the leprechaun, Lydia. I am.”