I stared at her, puzzlement filling my face as her words echoed inside my head. The urges between my legs faded and I forgot about everything else for a moment. Then reality hit.
‘You don’t know me…Why do you want to?’ I asked.
She shrugged and said, ‘there’s nothing here for me now. My gran…’ she touched the cross at her throat and began rubbing it between her fingers, ‘she died a few months back. She was all I had.’
‘Well, I’m sorry about that…but-‘
‘There’s nothing left here! Everyone will move out soon and I…I don’t think they’ll let me go with them…’
I looked at her again, trying to figure out why she believed that. I looked at how pale her skin was and went for a guess, ‘because you’re sick?’
She turned her head way and rested her chin on her shoulder, ‘yes,’ she breathed, ‘but that’s not the only thing.’
I pulled a face, wondering if she had lied to me, ‘so you’re supernatural then?’ it was the only other explanation.
She nodded, ‘I’m a witch.’
Maybe I should have been more surprised, but I was too busy thinking about how much of a risk her coming along would be.
‘I can’t let you,’ I spoke after a few moments of pause.
She put her hands on her hips. Her breasts sticking out even more and gaining my full attention.
‘Why not?’ she snapped, ‘I know how to fight and I got things to trade for food. My gran and I use to travel all the time. And I know how to forge and I can make healing potions to sell and I can tell real fortunes.’
She folded her arms over her chest. Blocking my view and making me look up at her. Her face was set in determination. There was no way she was going to be talked out of this.
‘That’s all well and good. But why me? Why do you need someone to travel with? Don’t you know it’s easier to be alone?’ I asked.
‘Of course it’s easier, but there’s safety in numbers too. Plus, I have more chance of being left alone if I’m with you,’ she added.
A thought slowly formed in my mind, ‘you want a bodyguard?’
She shook her head, ‘a companion.’
‘I don’t know….’
‘The cards said you’d be difficult,’ she sighed.
‘Look, we need to leave. Come back to granny’s – mine and I’ll make us some hot food. We can talk about it more there.’
I frowned and turned my head to look at the line of trees behind me. My feet wanted to go towards them, I needed to carry on walking. She was right when she said there was nothing here for anyone and yet I couldn’t do it. I turned back and saw that she was already walking away, clutching the edges of her dress in both hands. She was wearing knee length leather boots, so I couldn’t actually see anything of her legs. Still though…
I followed her, casting all my thoughts aside. We walked into the clump of trees that the biker gang had come from and I saw a small house just to the left of us. It was sheltered by the trees and other nature, so if you didn’t know it was there you might miss it. We followed a path of flattened grass and arrived at a gate and fence. It was white, picketed and intact. A plastic red sign on the gate read Healer’s House. Potions and fortune telling.
She opened the gate and walked in. There was a little path running through the front garden and to the front door. On either side plants had taken over and there were little labels sticking up from the ground. I looked around, fascinated at everything that was growing. I heard her unlock the door and go in.
A soft meowing and her muttering voice drew me away. Looking over I saw her holding a small black cat. She was hugging it and rubbing her chin on it’s head. I went over and saw that many things were hanging off the front of the house. There were wind chimes, sun catches dream catches, fluttering bits of paper, ribbon and feathers.
‘Why would you want to leave here?’ I asked.
She shrugged, ‘because it’s time to move on.’
‘The cards tell you that?’ I sneered.
She shot me a warning look then walked into the house. I looked out across the garden then further along the treeline and towards the church tower. My thoughts whirled. Being mean to her wasn’t going to help. My stomach rumbled and I realized how hungry I was. I had become so use to it now though that I just forgot most of the time.
I walked into the house, closing the door which caused a tinkling charm to sound. A hallway ran ahead of me, three doors leading off to rooms. There was a fourth and a staircase to my left. There was so much dark brown wood everywhere it was unbelievable. This place had been untouched by everyone but those living here.
I went into the first room and found a nice, tidy living room. There were handmade cushions and blankets on non-broken armchairs and sofas. An old TV stood in one corner as if just waiting for the kids to come home and switch it on for cartoons. Just like I had seen pictures of and heard stories about. In the far corner was a bookcase, stuffed full of things.
Going over, I felt rugs under my feet and the gentle squeak of floorboard. It had been awhile seen I had seen books. Slowly, I reached out and touched the spine of one.
‘You read?’ she asked.
I half turned, my hand falling away, ‘Barely.’
‘I’ll teach you if you want.’
I glanced back then turned fully to her, ‘this must have taken ages,’ I said indicating the room with my hands, ‘anyone would kill for a place like this. How can you want to leave?’
She looked at the floor and I noticed she had taken the dress off and was now wearing jeans and a loose t-shirt.
‘I must,’ she finally whispered, ‘come into the kitchen.’
She walked away, her footsteps muffled by the hallway carpet. I followed, my fingers unable to stop touching things. The kitchen was warm and bright. She had a fire going in the old stove. I guessed she had light it before going to the church. The cat was curled up on the floor next to it. There was a small table and chairs in the middle of the kitchen and I took a seat.
The curtains were drawn over the windows, but some light still seeped in. Herbs and plants hung above us, drying. There was a collection of small bottles and jars to one side, with recipe book beside them. The air smelled sweet, sugar like, but I had no idea what the cause was.
She made tea and brought it over with a plate of biscuits. Then she went back to the stove and returned with two steaming bowls of stew. She give me a bowl then picked up the teapot.
‘What’s your name?’ she asked as she poured the tea.
‘Elk. What’s your’s?’ I answered then realized I had never asked her.
‘Jasmine. Do you take milk and sugar?’
‘You have them?’
She nodded and held up a small bowl and a jug.
‘How? And yes.’
‘We use to have a goat,’ she said as she handed me a tea cup.
‘I sold it and the sugar gran got ages ago.’
I hummed and picked up a spoon. The stew looked good. I had a small sip and it tasted so rich and meaty.
Jasmine sat down and picked up a biscuit. She dunked it into the tea then began nipping on it. I watched her feeling full of mixed emotions and thoughts. How could I leave this girl behind?
But I knew I just had too.
To Be Continued…