Becca stared at the key that had dropped out of the box and into her hand. It was a normal everyday key. The birds had cleared the sky and the rush that had pushed through her body at their immediate flight was fading, allowing her muscles and mind to work again.
She heard the meow again. Cora. “I’m coming,” she said, as if the cat could understand her.
Upon entering the house, Cora began pacing in and around her legs with a purring so loud she could hear it even while standing. She bent down and ruffled the white fluff that was Cora’s head. The box, she sat on the small table by the door. She looked up to see that the large chandelier still hung. The dimming light meant the switch by the door was all the more important and when she flipped it up, the lights dazzled across the walls. The house was impeccable.
She found a note propped against a vase of flowers on the table she had sat the box.
You will notice that your aunt wanted the house to be perfect for you. Please contact me if there is anything that you need.
The house looked similar to when she was a girl. It felt smaller now, even though it was still an enormous house, especially for one person to have lived in it alone. The walls were covered with flowery wallpaper, the floors hardwood with rugs, and the doors solid wood with decorative iron handles.
She knew the library was to the right. She had loved that room as a child. Books upon books, all either within reach, or even better, a ladder to climb for the unreachable. The meowing cat was not about to let her go back to that memory though, as Cora was determined her dinner was next on the agenda. And Becca knew she was late on that account.
Upon entering the kitchen, she found it had been updated. The stone counter was not what she remembered, nor the additional greenhouse entry. A greenhouse. She would have to explore that.
She found the cat food just as instructed, in a box by the first cabinet. Her bowls were on the counter. “That’s not gonna be a thing,” she said to Cora as she poured the food into the bowl. Cora began her purrs again. Becca ran her fingers down her silky fur as Cora munched up the little bites. She laughed at the absurdity of the cat’s place on the counter and thought Oh, who cares.
She made her way into the greenhouse, it’s heavy air filling her lungs. She couldn’t help but notice all of the sweet and strange smells. The dim lights were soft and welcoming. The air was warm and inviting. At the end of the first row, there was a seating area. It overlooked the outdoors but it had gotten dark out, so the view was blocked. She would have to check it out in the morning.
Still, the area was nice. A large bench with a cup left behind. She wondered if Aunt Jo had left that cup behind and the emotions inside her began to show themselves. She could feel them in her throat at the idea of never seeing Aunt Jo in that house again. She imagined her sitting on that bench, drinking her tea and looking out over the lake.
Aunt Jo, I do miss you. I didn’t know I would. She let her hand run across the edge of the shelf as she walked past a row of plants and then her fingers couldn’t help but feel the softness of the plants as she grabbed up a leaf. She was gentle and loving as she moved it back and forth between her thumb and middle finger.
She paused and listened intently. A whisper. She heard it again. She walked to where she thought she heard it coming from. Again. She waited, holding her breath. And then heard the wind brush across the side of the greenhouse. Cora had entered through her little door. All was lost. What is wrong with you? My god, get it together.
She picked up Cora and headed back into the kitchen. “I need to go get my things,” she said to the cat. Seriously, stop. You are talking to a cat.
Becca went out to the car and picked up all her belongings. She didn’t even pause at the staircase, open to the floor below and curving around like a grand entrance to heaven. She simply hopped up to the bedroom in which she had always stayed as a child, before remembering she could actually take over the master bedroom. Nah…..
The room was freshly cleaned and smelled like ginger cookies. A candle was lit on the dresser. That doesn’t seem safe. She looked it over and saw that it hadn’t been lit for long, which freaked her out a bit. Who had been in the house? And was that the voice she had heard?
She began looking around. “Hello?” she said. And then repeated it even louder before adding, “Is anyone here?” The thoughts in her head swam. She was in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. She held her phone tightly and picked up a glass as if that would protect her from anything.
Then she heard a crash downstairs.
She slowly exited the room, peering around the edge of the hall to see Cora having dumped over a vase of flowers. The glass all over the floor and the water slowly making its way toward one of the elaborate rugs. Damn you, cat.
She ran down the stairs and pulled the rug up before the water reached it. The bathroom presented a towel, and the pieces of glass were mostly large enough to be gathered up into a trash can. The cat watched the whole process from the entry to the kitchen. I guess this is what I get for feeding you late.
After the cleanup, she noticed that the case was still on the table by the door. She picked it up and headed to the library. The lamps must have been on a sensor because they lit up for her as she entered. Nice addition, Aunt Jo.
The room was as she remembered. Books from floor to ceiling. She sat the case on the large desk and began looking over the titles. They ranged from, A history of the Civil War, to Spells and Potions for the Solitary Witch.
What have you been up to, Aunt Jo? The idea of “crazy Aunt Jo” was solidifying in her mind and the memories of their activities began to return. She remembered the time they mixed up a soup to take to a friend. It was a simple chicken noodle, but there did happen to be some song and dance involved.
Next to where she had sat the case was a blank book. Large and leather bound and inside the front cover was another of Aunt Jo’s letters.
Dear little B,
I hope you have found the house to your liking. You can see I have added some additions! This book is for you. This way you can build your own spells when you are ready. I only wish we could have done it together, but I know the family would have had us both put away. If I can offer any advice, it’s be careful with whom you share your knowledge. I promise I’ll be here every step of the way! To get you started, I have your first spell. Let’s see if you can do it now?
Becca’s eyes widened. What the fuck? She flipped through the large book to all of the empty pages. All were empty except the first.
1 white candle
1 black candle
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon rosemary
Find a nice comfortable space on the earth floor.
Becca looked around the room, forgetting that what she was about to do seemed ludicrous just a moment ago. There was no earth floor in there, but she knew where there was some and she also needed to find bread.
She gathered up all of the supplies and placed them back into the case, carrying that, the book and the cloth that she had found the letter on. She made her way into the kitchen where Cora awaited her place on the counter next to a bread box, of course.
Inside was a small baguette of herbed crusted bread. She scooped that into her arms and made her way out into the greenhouse.
Table cloth spread on the floor, she laid the book open. The case clicked and she removed the items, carefully arranging them. The white candle to the left, the black to the right. She searched around until she found a small bowl and platter. Her memories of Aunt Jo returning. She remembered doing similar when she was a young girl, assisting Aunt Jo in finding all of the right supplies.
The bowl went in the middle. The charcoal added. The bread onto the small platter. The herbs on either side. She next looked for the small candle holders the would keep her candles glowing until the end of the spellwork.
As you light the black candle, say a prayer to dismiss any negative energy.
As you light the white candle, welcome all the positive energy into your space.
Becca closed her eyes and felt the warmth kiss her skin. She felt the words move through her body. As I light this black candle, I dismiss you, negative energy, from my space. You are not allowed to bring me harm. She lit the black candle. As I light this white candle, I welcome you, positive, loving energy, to guide me along my way. She lit the white candle.
Add the coconut oil to a broken piece of bread. Smash together the sage and rosemary in a mortar bowl.
Becca looked around the room. She had to stand and begin her search but found one by a window. She returned to her place on the floor and dropped some of the herbs from their satchels into the bowl, pushing the pestle into them.
Sprinkle some of the mixture onto the charcoal and the rest onto the bread.
She felt the wetness of the newly crushed herbs on her fingertips as she followed the instruction, the smell was earthy and warm.
Light the charcoal and repeat.
I welcome my guides into the space around me. Let them steer me in the right direction and guide me.
Becca followed the instructions.
Eat the bread and repeat.
I welcome my guide inside me. Let them steer me in the right direction and guide me.
This seems strange. Becca paused. She looked at the bread, turning it in her hands. Then she shrugged and popped it into her mouth.
“Becca,” she heard, pulling her from her game. “Where are you?”
She recognized the voice. It was Jenny. At the sound, she looked around and saw that she must look like a crazy person. She quickly blew out the candles and sat them aside. She wrapped everything else up in the cloth, pushing it all into the case. The smoke rose to the ceiling and disappearing as she stood. She sat the case on the shelf full of plants next to her.
“I’m in here,” she answered as she exited the room.