Whenever something seems too good to be true, you better believe it is. There’s a fad that’s been making its way through social media for some years now. It’s starting to appear in more and more books, movies, TV shows, songs, and of course, the popular girls’ conversations in everyone’s school. I’ve never been one of them, but I’ve still tried to keep up with the trends for the distant hope that their type would see me one day.
That trend I’m referring to is manifestations.
The idea of manifestation has been riding up the coat-tails of the cult zodiac following for quite some time and the two seem to have a lot of crossover in followers. With its sudden prominence on the high-pitched voices of cheerleaders in the halls of my high school, I decided it’d be worth a quick Google search.
I read a few sites with decent explanations, all basically saying that manifestation is the idea is that you can will positive or negative outcomes into your life just by thinking about them. And like many things, while the concept brands itself as a new idea, it has roots as far back as the footprints of Hinduism in the same framework as ‘karma’. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed to be one of those religious off-shoots just like zodiacs, Buddha statues, and even yoga classes. And being one that’s not really the religious type, I wanted to write off the whole thing in the same manner I would to any of those other practices as a bunch of crockpot anti-science stuff. But I’m here to tell you manifestations are anything but that and there are consequences in messing with otherworldly powers you don’t understand.
Despite my initial doubts, I decided to give it a shot. My first attempt at manifestation was popularity – something I’d always wanted no matter how much I’d tried to deny it. Another term for manifestation is ‘The Law of Attraction’, which was supposedly verified by quantum physics, and from my understanding, employing this so-called ‘law’ would be as simple as strongly focusing on my goal of being well-liked with the idea in mind that it was already true. So if I wanted girls like Maddy, Sandra, Jaclyn, and their posse to like me, I’d have to pretend they already did.
The difference was immediate. I walked into school that day with my shoulders pressed back, my chin up, and a rigid strut in my step. None of those things were reminiscent of the girl I was the day before and you better believe people noticed. While I walked towards my locker I caught reactions in shockwaves out of the corners of my eyes. Boys turned their heads with dropped jaws, girls rolled their eyes, and even my own friends seemed to shy away as I passed them.
And when I got to my locker, it took mere seconds for Jaclyn to approach me. She batted those makeup-painted eyes and shined her perfect white smile my way. “Hey, girl,” she said.
I was shocked. Her nor any of her friends had ever even looked my way. I didn’t think they knew I existed.
“Betty, right?” I really couldn’t believe she was talking to me. There had to be a Betty behind me, or maybe she was getting ready to spill something on me or call me names or maybe it was all in the name of a dare. But she instead proceeded to give me her phone number, tell me we should follow each other on Instagram, and told me about a party they were having on Friday night after the football game. I was invited. I was gobsmacked, but I still didn’t give the manifestations a second’s credit. This was all easily explainable. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t witchcraft and it sure wasn’t religion – it was just the power of positive thinking: that old “dress for the job you want” saying. But the thing is, I hadn’t changed anything else. I hadn’t smiled at anyone, I hadn’t put any makeup on, I hadn’t changed my clothes – nothing. And there’s not a thing about me I would say is conventionally attractive, but that day everything seemed to change. This was all down to a change in posture…right?
But then I tried it again. My next target was a guy in school. I know it sounds corny, but I’d been head-over-heels for him since the second grade. His name is Jake and his short list of ex-girlfriends consisted of only the most popular girls in school, one of which was Maddy. Until getting invited to that Friday party, I would have never given myself a chance with him. But before going, I thought, why not shoot for the stars? Let’s really test this Law of Attraction.
And sure enough, when I got to that party, his eyes shot to me faster that a bullet. I saw him slinking around the corners of the living room, sipping some liquid courage out of those red solo cups and talking to his friends and stealing glances. And then eventually, he came over. And to my surprise, the football team’s varsity running back was nervous to talk to me – me, some poor nerd named Betty. This guy, who took some of the worst beatings in the game of football, had the jitters when it came to simple conversation with a girl who’d gained popularity about 72 hours ago.
But this is the first time I felt like something was wrong – like I’d asked for too much. In theory, everything was going great. I was suddenly popular, I had eye of the guy I’d always dreamed of, I was in six more group chats by the end of the night, and had been invited to three more parties over the next couple weeks. But it was all wrong. I felt like someone – or something – was watching me. In that moment with Jake I felt invincible, but on the walk home I felt like my life was in danger. A dark force was hanging over me, and I already suspected I wouldn’t be able to will it away so easily with these manifestations.
On Monday at school, I’d apparently already started to make enemies. I mentioned how Maddy was one of Jake’s ex-girlfriends, but what I didn’t mention was that she was his most recent and that they broke up about three weeks prior, and she wasn’t about to let me forget that.
Maddy pulled me aside after English class with that I’m-not-over-him fire in her eye. He was off limits, she’d told me, and ironically more so than he’d been a couple weeks ago since I was making waves in her friend group. But who was she to tell me I couldn’t date Jake? He’d been my dream for so long and he was finally, for the first time in life, attainable. And after all, I could now manifest whatever I wanted.
And while she walked away satisfied with my superficial nods, I’m ashamed to say I pictured her death. It was the middle of the night on the off-ramp of the nearby highway. A gray and red-glowing haze rose from a single car wreck – the wheels were bent in, the windshield was shattered, the driver’s door was smashed in, and fire rose from the underneath the car’s mangled hood. I pictured it with an admittedly maniacal satisfaction. It wasn’t directly meant to be a manifestation…or at least I can try to keep telling myself that. But I remember the image so clearly since it was one of the most vivid waking pictures I’d ever painted in my head.
The next Saturday the news broke. Maddy had been alone, driving home from an away game on Friday night and was piss drunk. She lost control of her car, taking an exit too fast off the highway. And then the pictures hit the news: the burning car, the bent wheels, the mangled door, the shattered windshield, and the fire exuding from the engine. It was all the same – exactly as I’d pictured it. And while I watched the TV that day, I noticed something lurking in the tree line out the window: a shadowy figure standing perfectly still between two trees in the backyard. It appeared calm and patient. And despite it having no distinguishable facial features, I instinctively knew it was looking directly at me and I understood the violence in its intentions. My heart jumped to my throat and skipped a couple beats. I looked away, then back. It was gone.
Maddy isn’t dead, but the doctors say she’ll never walk again, might never speak, and will have to take any food in liquid form for at least the next year. And as crazy as this whole thing had been, I knew it was my fault. She didn’t lose control of the car – I’d made it happen. I’d manifested it.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing that shadowy man more and more. And each time I see him, he appears to get just a little closer and stays a little longer. I first saw him between the trees, but then I saw him poking his head around a corner at the end of the hallway at school. I saw him in the mall, then four rows away in the stands at the football game. I saw him driving a car that was tailgating me…I even saw him in my bedroom doorway. As terrifying as the figure is, I’ve gotten used to him – almost accepted my fate.
I know one day his vengeance will come and I probably deserve it for what I’ve done. I haven’t touched any of that manifestation stuff since the car accident, but that doesn’t absolve me of what I’ve done. My punishment will be when I least expect it: sudden, painful, gory, and possibly deadly.
So my message to you is to never mess with those invisible cosmic forces no matter how silly they might sound. Things that are too good to be true will come with their consequences and that, you can’t manifest your way out of.