“Be still, Zach,” she commanded. I quit squirming; Nana had a way of pinching the very blood out of you when you didn’t mind her.

I was only twelve then, and I remember I went barefooted, knowing it might be for the last time that year. I liked the feel of the grass tickling between my toes, and felt sorry for Nana Maralyn in her big black boots.

By and by we came to the little clearing with the big flat rock sticking up out of the ground. Nana smiled, and went ahead of me so she could go sit on the rock. She closed her eyes at first and took a deep breath, then opened them and looked at me.

“Come here, Zach,” she said, holding out her arms to me. I went to her and sat down, wondering what she wanted. She took a little flute from her purse and began to play a song I thought I might have heard before, but I wasn’t sure. It made me sleepy, and when Nana Maralyn got up and nudged me down flat on my back on the rock, I didn’t resist her very much. I could hardly keep my eyes open.

She went on playing that tune for a long time, and I wasn’t exactly sure when it finished. I think I might have gone to sleep, because the next thing I remember was Nana painting something cool and wet on my chest. It felt kind of nice, but when she tried to put something in my mouth I opened my eyes to see what she was doing.

Moonlight flooded down all around us from the fat full moon. Nana had the sparkly perfume bottle in her hand, and held my mouth open while she shook a few drops of blood on my tongue.

“Oh, yuck, Nana, you know I hate blood,” I murmured feebly, trying to spit and sputter. Nana wouldn’t let me, and finally I swallowed it just to get rid of the nasty taste. She started playing her flute again after that and I drifted back to sleep.

The next time I woke up it was morning, and I was still lying cold and stiff on that darned rock. Nana Maralyn was nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t believe she’d left me to sleep outside all night.

I sat up and looked at my bare chest, which was covered with symbols painted on with some kind of gritty white paint. It flaked off when I touched it and smelled like old cough drops or Mentholatum. I scraped it off me and stood up, shivering a little. I knew what had happened, then. Nana Maralyn had done the Ceremony on me.

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