The Witches’ Pots #TwitteringTales

Three ancient hags sat around a fire, stirring their black pots which they added things too and whispered over.

‘Tail of rat dropped in this potion for a diplomat.’

‘Eyes of gnome dissolved in this lotion for Jerome.’

‘Tongue of duckling tender in this poison for the king.’

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/01/15/twittering-tales-119-15-january-2019/ with thanks).

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Here We Stand (Part 7)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

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.

‘What?’

‘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.

‘Oh?’

‘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…

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 5)

Monday morning dawned. My alarm rang in six am and feeling fully rested I got up and prepared for my day in the bakery. Leaving for work, Midnight followed me as he normally did. The cold crisp autumn air felt good on my face and I took in deep breaths. At the end of the street, we turned right and walked down into the high street. We passed the line of tall trees that marked the entrance to the woods. The wind shook loose the leaves and I felt myself being blown about too.

The town centre was empty and silent. A Halloween banner flutter above a pub doorway and the fountain splashed away to itself. I walked two minutes further down towards a one way road used only by buses and taxis, just before where my shop sat. The old three story white building did seem slightly out of place, but when you looked at the buildings – a bank, a pub, a chippy and a clothes shop- that where across the road, it did fit in as all the buildings in this section dated from the mid-twenties.

I dug out my keys and unlocked the door shutter. Pulling it all the way up, I unlocked the double locks on the front door and went in, a small bell tinkling above me. Flicking on the lights, I closed the door and turned to see Midnight rubbing himself against the corner of the drinks fridge. Shaking my head, I looked around the bakery. To my left ran the glass counter with its many currently empty shelves for displaying all the cakes and other sweet things. A smooth curve started off another glass counter which was split between hot food and sandwiches. To my right were three large fridges; one for cold drinks, the other for prepared sandwiches and the last for reduce priced things. A half a meter further along that wall was a narrow staircase with a white notice above reading Café seating upstairs. Next to the stairs a door marked staff only, kitchen.

I walked over to the door, unlocked it and let myself in. The kitchen smelt faintly of sugar, spices and bread. Dumping my bag and coat on a side table, which wasn’t really used for anything, other than to hold the kitchen phone and notepad, I got to work. At my cooking station, I pulled out the plastic cover lists and began reading what I should be making today. Mostly it was cream filled cakes, fruit muffins, gingerbread men –now Halloween was over- and cookies.

I turned on the radio and gathered everything I needed. The bell jingled and I heard voices entering the shop. I looked through the glass counter and saw my business partner and bread maker arriving with her younger sister. I said hello and they hurried over and launched into asking about the party. I smiled and laughed most of it off, though they were pleased to hear about the coming boost in customers. They set to work soon after as the rest of our eight staff drifted in.

The morning passed quickly and we survived the lunchtime rush, though ran out of eclairs, strawberry tarts and pumpkin seed topped brown bread. I had my lunch at two o’clock on the third floor, which was divided into a staff break room, toilets and the office. Relaxing in the fake leather desk chair, I eat a ham sandwich and drink my coffee. For the rest of the afternoon I did some admin work.

A loud knocking called me out of my thoughts and the music I had been listening to via headphones. I slipped the buds out of my ears and with a glance over my shoulder at the door shouted out to the knocker.

‘Sorry to disturb you, Becks,’ Daisy said.

I smiled and waved her in. She made a quick attempted to get white icing powder off her blue apron and purple cord pants. She was my cake designer and decorator, though she only worked part-time and had often left at this time.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘There’s a man asking for you downstairs. He said his name’s Fred and you invited him to afternoon tea.’

I frowned and pursed my lips. The office phone rang, making us both jump.

‘Okay. I’ll be down in a few,’ I said.

Daisy nodded, took the blue net off her blonde going grey hair and left.

I picked up the phone and dealt with a customer checking on their order. When I hung up I went downstairs and saw Fred staring into the reduce price fridge.

‘Hello,’ I said.

‘Hi. Nice place you got here,’ he spoke back, ‘bigger than I thought.’

‘What do you want?’ I asked suddenly defensive.

He shrugged his broad shoulders and I noticed that he didn’t look that different out of his knight’s costume. He was wearing a black polo shirt with a company logo on it and dark blue trousers. He was ruggedly handsome with his blond hair and beard, but it was his blue eyes that held me.

‘Just to see you again,’ he said sheepishly, ‘I finished work early and thought I’d come and find this place. You did give me the address.’

‘I know…I’m really busy right now,’ I said softer.

‘It’s fine. I’ll come back later or maybe another day…’

‘Great. You do that,’ I said, ‘maybe try an apple turnover or a vanilla slice,’ I suggested.

He nodded and I went back upstairs. Sitting back down, I couldn’t get him out of my head. His let down face kept popping up and I wondered why I had been so mean. I pushed on and got the rest of the things I wanted to get done finished.

Going downstairs as the baby grandfather clock in the café chimed five o’clock, I found the last customers leaving and the staff starting to clean up. I give them a hand then after they had left, closed the shop. Locking the door shutter and taking in some deep breaths of the cold air, I heard my name.

Turning, I saw Fred jogging over to me.

‘You were right about the apple turnover. Really good,’ he said catching his breath.

I laughed, ‘you’re welcome. Sorry for being short with you before. I was in the middle of sorting out some last minute changes to an order for next week.’

‘It’s okay. I thought maybe it was me…’

‘You?’ I questioned.

He nodded, ‘yeah, you didn’t want to see me again or something…not that you said that…It’s just, at the party yesterday, I really wished I’d talked to you more.’

‘Oh, I see.’

‘I wanted to give you my number, but I had to leave in a hurry, remember?’ he rushed.

I nodded and smiled, ‘do you want to give it to me now?’

‘What? Oh, yeah sure. Give me a second.’

He pulled his phone out of trousers and I grabbed mine from my bag.

‘I’m afraid I’m not free till Sunday. That’s my only day off,’ I stated.

‘That’s fine, maybe we could go out for lunch?’ he suggested.

‘I’d really like that.’

‘Here’s my number.’

I smiled and we swapped numbers.

************

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Cooking Up A Storm (Part 4)

Halloween cake

Midnight came around slowly. I stood in the kitchen, watching the clock’s hands click together under the large number twelve. The Witching Hour, or that one single minute when this world and whatever was beyond it touched. I sighed into my ice cold mug of water and thought about making something warm to eat.

Around me the party was in full swung, though a handful of people had been celebrating the hour as if it was New Year’s. The kitchen was an overcrowded mess of abandoned plastic cups and plates, food and drink lingering on them. Someone had left their black wig behind and it sat like a dead creature on top of the toaster. Music flowed from the living room -the latest dancing/club songs with heavy, fast beats and shouting lyrics.

I finished my water, washed my mug in the already full sink and put it back in the cupboard. Squeezing my way out and into the hallway, I went upstairs and joined the queue for the bathroom. Ahead of me the pink princess and a Storm Trooper were chatting away. I leant against the wall and looked sleepy downstairs. Laughter and voices mingled with the music and I couldn’t hear anything but a jumble of sounds.

I rubbed my ears, eyes and head.

‘Oh, hello again. Is this the bathroom queue?’

I twisted and nodded before I realised who had spoken.

‘Good job I don’t really need to go…that badly!’ the shining knight chuckled.

I smiled weakly and rested my hands against my stomach.

‘So…er…I didn’t get your name before…’

‘Becky.’

‘I’m Fred.’

I nodded, strangely remembering that though it had been about three or four hours ago.

Fred joined me against the wall as the queue moved down. A grey, raggy ghost floated passed us and downstairs, trailing dirty torn fabric behind it like a bride’s veil.

‘I handmade my costume,’ Fred picked up, ‘original my friends and I were being the Scooby Doo gang. I was going to be Fred. But the guy who was going to be Shaggy decided he wanted to be Fred and we had an argument over it. Then the guy who was being Scooby got the flu and he couldn’t make it.’

‘Oh. I’m sorry to hear that,’ I automatically said.

‘Yeah. We were still going to come like that up until two days ago, but then ‘Velma’ decided she’d rather be a vampire like her boyfriend and so we called it off.’

I nodded and slide along the wall as the other four people before me moved up. A teenage girl rushed passed us. She was dressed as a black cat, but her makeup was looking smudged in the seconds I saw her for. I heard the pink princess mutter that the cat girl had had argument with her parents about leaving.

‘What did you come as?’ Fred asked.

I looked down at my long black velvet dress as if I had forgotten. I so wasn’t in the mood for this, I just wanted to pee and go home.

‘A witch,’ I spoke softly.

‘Oh?’

I watched Fred do a double take of me then arrange his cardboard sword’s sheath at his left hip. He was quiet for a few moments, but I shrugged off his reaction, having gotten used to it.

‘I thought they had hats and green faces and…’ he trailed off.

‘I’m a white witch. We like to look normal,’ I added and made the effort to give him a small smile.

He pressed his lips together and glanced away from me. Luckily, the man I had first seen him with – dressed in a black robe and now caring a scythe- came up the stairs and interrupted us.

‘We’re leaving.’

‘I need to go first,’ Fred pointed out.

‘You can go at Jess’s,’ the grim reaper responded.

‘I can’t wait that long! I’ll be quick.’

Grim rolled his heavily black makeup eyes and looked at the queue. There were three people ahead of me now, four ahead of Fred.

‘Okay. Fine, we’ll be in the car,’ Grim breathed and swept back down.

‘Can I go in front of you?’ Fred desperately asked me.

‘No,’ I hissed, ‘sorry,’ I had to add as he recoiled from me, ‘it’s been a long day. I’ve been cooking since this morning and I spent most of yesterday baking too. I’m really tried and I just want to go home.’

‘Okay,’ Fred muttered. He paused then questioned, ‘baking? What do you do?’

‘I own a bakery. Dawn – the hostess – asked me to make all the desserts for tonight,’ I explained.

‘Oh, wow. So you made all the cakes and stuff? They were really great,’ Fred gushed.

‘Thanks.’

‘Wait. You made the cakes?’

We both turned to look at the pink princess as she broke into our conversation. She was balancing on tall thin baby pink heels which just peeked out from underneath her multi-layered flowing pink skirts. A matching shoulder bag was over her left shoulder and the bodice of her dress was decorated with lacy flowers, stems and leaves. Her long blonde hair was loose about her shoulders and her face was delicately made up.

I nodded, ‘yes,’ and really wished Pink hadn’t heard that.

‘Do you do birthday cakes? I’ve twin daughters and it’s their birthday next month. I’ve been looking for a Disney pink castle,’ she rambled.

‘Okay. I’ll give you the website. Do you have a pen?’ I said calmly.

‘I’ll put it in my phone,’ Pink said and dug in her bag for it.

I give her the website and she typed it out as there was another switch of the bathroom. Pink was next, followed by the Trooper then me.

‘That’s it,’ I finished.

‘Great, thanks. I’ll check it out,’ Pink stated.

I rested against the wall again, putting my hands behind my back. A small voice in my head whispered, just think about all the business you’ve drummed up tonight!

‘So…where is your bakery?’ Fred whispered into my ear.

I turned, not realising how close he was and whacked him with my hair across his chin. I pushed my hair back as we both ignored that. Whispering back I give him the address before pointing out the shops that were close by so he could visualise it. He nodded and the conversation ended.     

Finally, it was my turn in the bathroom. I used the loo, washed my hands and face, dried off then left. I stole a glance at Fred as we switched places. He shot me a cheeky grin before closing the bathroom door. I went downstairs avoiding the new line of people and opening the front door, stepped out into the night.

A crying Midnight met me on the front door step. I looked down at him as he raced towards me and began rubbing against my legs. I picked him up and single handed unlocked and opened the door. I felt for the light switch, shut my eyes against the sudden glow and blinked a few times to clear the dancing spots. Still holding Midnight, I shut and locked the front door, walked to the bottom of the stairs, turned lights on and off then went up to bed. Pulling off my dress and hanging it back up, I took off my underwear and slipped on a soft cotton nightie. Midnight, who I’d put on the bed, pawed at the throw blanket and watched me.

‘It was an okay party,’ I said softly, ‘everyone liked my food and I seemed to have drummed up some new business. I met this guy too…’

Midnight meowed.

I got into bed and flopped against the pillows. Midnight came up to my face and curled up beside me. I watched him shut his green eyes and listened to him purring. I petted him then turned off the lamp and rolled over to sleep. I didn’t have to worry about suddenly feeling wide awake, my exhaustion was too heavy and soon I was so out of it that the apocalypse could’ve happened and I would’ve been none the wiser.

The drill of my phone alarm smacked me out of sleep. I mumbled back from the black depths, feebly waving my hand around to locate the noise source. My fingers tapped against the side table and came back empty. Sitting up, I clicked on the lamp and looked around. The sound was coming from my bag which I had discarded beside my wardrobe and under my dress.

I got up and zombie shuffled over. Behind me Midnight let out a loud cat yawn and padded across the bed towards me. I grabbed my bag and pulled out my phone. Turning off the alarm, I read the time twice. It was seven AM.

‘I’m going back to bed,’ I mumbled.

I reset the alarm for nine and had another two hours sleep. Midnight joined me again then pawed at my face a few minutes before the alarm went off again. Waving him away I rolled over, but he came back and pressed his padded feet into my cheek. I got up with a growl and checked the time. Midnight meowed and rubbed against my back.

‘You want breakfast, kitty?’ I mumbled.

He replied with a long mew and tried to get into my lap. I stood up and left the room. He zoomed around me and made it into the kitchen way ahead of me. After feeding him and making myself some toast. I decided that today was going to be a lazy Sunday. I had some Halloween themed movies to watch and lots of snack food to eat. And God knew I needed the break. I didn’t bother getting dressed after I had eaten, instead going straight on the sofa and pretty much staying there all day.

To Be Continued…

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 3)

3332 

I surveyed the party like an uninvited stranger. Clutching a black plastic cup in my hand and sipping the Witch’s Brew Punch, I wondered from decorated room to room. I did know most of the people, despite the array of costumes and their plus ones. Halloween themed music was blasting out of the living room where most people were dancing. I knew all the songs off by heart having spent most of the past week listening to them.

Upstairs, some kids were tucked away in the bedrooms playing with toys or on game consoles. Most were stuffed from eating sweets and the evidence was clear to see on the floor. A girl dressed as a bat offered me a Chupa Chups lollypop, which I gratefully accepted and popped into my mouth. On the way back down, I walked passed a line of adults. My mind couldn’t help but think it strange to see two Frankenstein’s monsters, Dracula’s bride and Morticia Addams chatting away about a sports celebrity whilst queuing for the bathroom.

Ducking into the dining room and avoiding the drooping cob web cloud, I made a beeline for the only empty chair. Dawn had arranged the room so that the large table was against the wall to the left of the door and the eight matching chairs along the back wall, creating all together an upside d ‘L’. I sank onto the chair, taking in the creepy black netted drapes looping the ceiling above me and the drifting orange and black balloons.

‘This cake is so nice!’

A loud male voice drew my attention. I looked shyly to my left and saw that I had sat down next to a water nymph/ Siren / mermaid looking woman. She was wearing a long pale blue wig and a floaty dusty blue dress that rippled around her. Next to her was a male zombie and he gone to town with the makeup and effects. He almost looked like he had walked off a movie set. He was also stuffing lemon cheesecake into his mouth.

‘You’ve made a mess,’ the water nymph tutted and slide out her napkin from under her plate.

‘No, no, I got it,’ zombie replied and shoving the last bite in, began dapping at his lower face.

I smiled and took a drink of my punch.

‘You should so try it though. It tasted so nice,’ zombie continued in the background.

‘I’m good.’ nymph replied, ‘I might have one of those gingerbread things, later.’

‘Better get one now, looks like they are going fast.’

I stole a glance to see him nodding over to the table before looking over. It was true. Four women – a sexy devil, a pink princess, a gothic vampire and Alice, were piling their plates high with food, including my gingerbreads and cupcakes. Behind them two men, one dressed very minimally as a skeleton and the other wearing a black t-shirt with Error 404 Costume Not Found, were reading the labels attached to the dishes. There were maybe five other people that had walked in a few seconds ago, that were grabbing plates and starting at the buffet.

Nymph and zombie got up and went to the end of the table. I watched them helping themselves to more food, making soft excuses to the other people. I took another drink and turned to look down the line at the other guests in the room. The remaining five chairs were taken up by a family with the three kids dressed as a ghost, Harry Potter and a pumpkin baby. The mum appeared to be a witch in a black and blue cheap satin dress and the dad was a cowboy. The kids were all eating my cupcakes and mum kept wiping their faces whilst the dad, looking a bit tried and withdrawn, was eating my pumpkin pie with a fork.

‘Becks? Becks! Did you have something to eat yet?’

Dawn’s voice cut into my thoughts and I turned to look up at her. She was dressed as a dark angel with a short black tutu dress and black feather wings on her back. She also, for some unknown reason had a golden glittery fairy wand in her left hand.

‘No, I’m not hungry,’ I replied with a weak smile.

‘Don’t lie. You’ve been so busy, I bet you forgot all about it.’

Dawn pulled me to my feet and I just had time to make sure my long black dress didn’t catch on anything. She dragged me over to the table, pressed a black paper plate with a childlike drawing of three ghosts floating out of graves into my hand. She grabbed one for herself, then began selecting food and putting it on both of our plates.

‘Everyone is enjoying your cupcakes and the cheesecake. They keep asking me where I got them from and of course I say your bakery,’ Dawn began reeling off, ‘I’ve given the address to a few people now. One woman was really interested in you making a birthday cake for her daughter. Turns out she’s a huge Goth and loves that Tim Burton movie… you know the one?’

The Nightmare Before Christmas? You know it’s not actually his movie right?’

Dawn shot me a frowning look and put some potato salad on my plate.

‘He just wrote it that’s all. Okay, I get that makes it still his movie, but he didn’t directed it like everyone believes.’

‘Hey, Dawn! How are you! Loving these cookies. Where did you get them from?’

We looked up to see undead Snow White standing next to us with a corpse bride on the other side of her.

‘From this awesome new bakery,’ Dawn responded then began chatting away.

I only half listened, turning my attention to the other food on offer and my almost full plate. Someone knocked into my elbow.

‘Sorry. Sorry. It’s this…thing,’ a rushed male voice sounded in my ear.

I glanced then had to stare at the knight in shining silver. He was tall with blonde hair, a neatly trimmed blond beard, board shoulders and most bluest eyes I had ever seen. The full body armour was cardboard just spray painted and he on a blue pants and a long sleeved t-shirt underneath. From the leather belt around his hips danged a cardboard sheath with a sword handle poking out.

‘That’s been his opening line all night! Leave the ladies alone, Fred!’ said a man dressed in a huge black robe, who stood beside him.

‘It’s okay,’ I mumbled back.

‘I’m really sorry,’ Fred said again.

I shook my head and turned away, trying to fake interest in the dark angel’s, undead Snow White’s and the corpse bride’s conversation about my desserts.

To Be Continued…                    

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 2)

Midnight was meowing behind the front door when I got back. I unlocked and opened it to scoop him up. Burying my face in his warm black fur, I tried to hold my tears in. I closed the door with my foot and sat on the sofa. I rubbed the cat against my cheeks and made soft meowing noises back. Midnight, strangely a big fan of cuddles for a young male cat, demand more.

‘Did you miss me? Yeah, you did. You eat all your food? Good kitty,’ I baby talked.

He gave me a string of meows then fell into purring and curling into ball in my lap. I stroked him and watched him dozing off. The warm and content feelings jostled with my sad ones and I did wipe the corners of my eyes.

‘He just had to bring her up,’ I told Midnight, ‘I know I shouldn’t complain. It’s still important to talk about her, but today? No. I don’t want to think about it.’

My phone ring and I scrambled to find it in my bag whilst trying not to disturb Midnight.

‘Hello?’

‘Becks, hey! Is your car okay? When you coming over?’ Dawn’s excited and rushed voice shouted in my ear.

‘Car’s fine. What time did I say? Five or six?’ I answered.

‘It’s quarter to now,’ Dawn responded then began speaking to someone else in the background.

‘It is? Oh. I still need to ice the gingerbreads. Everything else is ready though. So, six then.’

‘Can’t you come now, please?’

I petted Midnight as a long hum escaped my pursed lips.

‘We need to set up the table then get ready and that’s going to take a while. I need to wash my hair still and Amber just found out she can’t get into her costume.’

‘It’s baby weight!’ Amber’s voice yelled back followed by bursting girly laughter.

‘I can’t,’ Becks pressed, ‘if you want them to look right, I just can’t. And there’s no way I’d want to rush them after all my hard work.’

Dawn signed heavily down the phone then whispered to someone else, ‘she can’t get here for another hour.’

‘Look. I’m about to do them now, so I’ll just set the table when I get there. Okay?’

‘All right, please try to hurry though,’ Dawn said back unable to hide the disappointed tone.

‘I’ll try. Bye.

‘Bye, Becks. She says an hour. I’m going to wash my hair…’

I hung up, then moving Midnight off my lap, went into the kitchen. The heavy smell of ginger, cinnamon and toffee blasted all other smells away. I checked the toffee apples and finding them set, moved them on to the table with the collection of other things. Then I put all the gingerbread shapes on one plate and prepared the icing.

‘It’s too silent, I mumbled.

Finishing off the icing, I went and turned the TV on. Midnight jumped up on the coffee table, tail swinging and watched me channel flicking. There wasn’t much on, so I put the news on and went back to the kitchen. Feeling better, I sorted out the icing for colouring, then got piping the designs on the biscuits.

I didn’t need any inspiration or drawings, I had been making these gingerbreads for the last five weeks. With the news reporters droning on in the background, my hands worked by themselves and I began thinking again. My dad had been right about my mum. Tonight had been her favourite out of the whole year, just like it was mine. She would spend the whole of October planning and preparing. Sometimes, especially as I got older, she’d call me in to help make cakes or muffins or something that involved pumpkins.

I felt my chest get a little tight, but instead of stopping I thought it best just to go on thinking about her. She was never a ‘normal’ mother or wife, being a white witch saw to that and yet, she manged to embrace everything and make it happen. That’s what my dad was talking about before.

Almost an hour later, I was done with the forty gingerbreads. Leaving them to officially set, I wrapped up each toffee apple in black Halloween foil finished with a bit of ribbon and put them in a carry bag. Digging out my notebook, I ticked them and the biscuits off.

‘So, now I get it all into the car, grab my suitcase, put food down for Midnight then it’s party time!’

Midnight meowed at his name, but didn’t appear, which meant something on the TV had his attention. I put some more food in his bowl, topped up his water, then picking up my notebook again, ran through the list once more; ‘pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, Halloween cookies, lemon cheese cake spider web, Halloween cupcakes, Graveyard mud moose pie, toffee apples and gingerbreads. Yep, all done. Okay, to the car.’

I grabbed a large bag from the table, which had the cookies, cheese cake and muffins carefully boxed up inside and headed to the front door. I got my keys from my handbag on the way and went out to the car. I spent a good few minutes, carrying stuff out and storing it as carefully as possible in the boot and backseat.

Midnight tore himself away from the TV to watch me. Finally sorted, I locked the car and hurried upstairs. Taking my small suitcase -thankful I packed my clothes and personal stuff last night- from the corner and going back down again. I nudged Midnight out the door and hurried to the car. Ignoring his howl of unhappiness, I put my suitcase on the passenger seat.

‘Done. Everything. Good. Front door. Midnight, what are doing? Are you in or out, kitty? Aww, I’m sorry.’

I picked him up and Midnight tried to climb on to my shoulders.

‘I’m sorry you can’t come. Oh! The TV.’

I darted back inside, putting Midnight on the sofa and turned it off. Then remembering, I hadn’t closed any curtains or checked the windows or the back door, ran around the house doing that.

‘I’m good now. Bye, Midnight.’

He gave me a long mournful meow, like a toddler who didn’t want to be left. I waved good bye to him all the same and locked the front door. Getting into Herbs was like stepping back into the kitchen. The car smelt of warm spices, pumpkin and other sweet delights. I checked the time and then my phone. Dawn’s house was half an hour away and it was five past six.

I texted her then drove off, the excitement of the party finally hitting me.

To Be Continued…

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 1)

The small square kitchen breathed of sugar and spice sweetness, which was my favourite scent. Though only just, as I loved the aroma of damp, earthy leaves and trees on a crisp mid-autumn morning, the most. Twirling the golden toffee around the last of the red apples, I hummed along to the Monster Mash. My body and feet moved in time with the beat, my slippers slapping. I stopped my hands to ease the toffee and apple apart. The strands snapped and I beheld my creation.

Glistening like gold under the kitchen lights, I set the toffee apple down on pale blue side plate that was cover in hard yellow sugar glops. Checking the pan, I saw there was just enough left to get a second coating. Glancing to the right at the almost ready toffee apples, I went to the oven behind me and peered in at my last lot Halloween gingerbreads.

The timer went off. Grabbing gloves, I opened the door and pulled the tray out. The smell of hot ginger and cinnamon biscuit dough hit in the face. Smiling, I put the tray in the only gap left on the work top and inspected the different shape gingerbreads. There were three bats, two spiders, two witches on broomsticks and three ghosts.

‘They turned out pretty good, better than the last three lots,’ I said.

Letting them cool, I second dipped the last apple and sang along to the Time Warp. Setting the apple with the others, a soft meowing tickled my ears. I looked over at the back door and cat flap as my small black cat, Midnight, popped through.

‘Hi, kitty!’ I called.

Midnight looked up at me with large green eyes and meowled loudly.

‘You hungry? Where you been, huh? I missed you this morning.’

Midnight responded with a few mews.

I moved and got him some food. He curled around my legs, rubbing his head against my jeans. As soon as his bowl was filled he lowered himself over it and began eating nosily. Leaving him to it, I tided up and filled the dishwasher for the third time. My IPod cycled through some more Halloween themed music and I joined in with the lyrics I knew.

Washing my hands and slipping off my apron, I searched around the kitchen for my phone. Finding it on the little wooden table, I pulled out a chair and pressed it on. It was almost four PM and I had two text messages. The first was from my dad, telling me he had fixed my poor Mini car, Herbs, and the second was my best friend, Dawn, checking how I was getting on. I replied back to her first, letting her know in shorthand that everything was fine and there’d be enough sweet dishes for the party tonight.

I called my dad, ‘hi. I just got your text. Sorry I was in the middle of making toffee apples.’

‘Hello. Oh, okay, that’s fine,’ his soft fatherly voice spoke.

‘So, can I come and get Herbs?’

‘Yeah. He seems to be running fine again now. Are you going to come in the next hour? Just I was going to go out and pick up that cooker for Mrs Dwight.’

‘I can do that. Then I’ll have time to load him up too. I’ve baked too much….’

My dad laughed, ‘send some of it my way.’

‘I shall do. I’m on my way then.’

‘See you soon.’

‘bye.’

I hung up and stepping into the tiny corridor that joined the kitchen, living room and stairs together. Going up and into the first room on the right, I dusted my jeans off and dug another purple t-shirt out from the draw. Switching tops, I put on my dolly shoes and grabbed a purple knitted jacket. I crossed back over the stairs and around into the bathroom. Double checking my chestnut hair and face for flour etc, in the mirror, I let down my hair and put it back up in a neater ponytail. I also add a touch of pink lip balm.

Looking back at myself, I muttered, ‘you’re working too hard, Becks. Those bags are getting bigger and your cheeks are too red.’

I poked my face and debated putting up some makeup.

‘No. No time. Got to get Herbs and then ice those cookies.’

Going downstairs again, I saw Midnight looking up at me as if he was waiting to hear where I was going. I petted him, told him I’d be back soon and to eat the rest of his food. He meowed loudly and stayed put, as I grabbed my bag and left.

Outside a chilly breeze was brushing against the windows and playing lazily with fallen leaves. I walked with my back to it, taking in deep breaths of the wonderfully smelling air. I heard children laughing and talking loudly from a back garden across the road. Crows and other birds called from the rooftops and I couldn’t help but think that it really did feel like Halloween today.

I walked the twenty minutes to my dad’s house and got that nice familiar ‘home’ feeling. My dad was standing between his car and mine, leaning against the sky blue gate. He was checking his phone and sensing he was about to call or text me, I called out a loud hello and hurried over.

‘I’m here. Sorry had to change tops,’ I explained.

‘It’s fine. The brakes are fixed now. Here’s your keys,’ he said and passed them to me.

‘Thanks, so much. I’ll bring the leftovers tomorrow and we can have a post- Halloween party,’ I suggested.

Dad shook his head, ‘you be safe tonight okay? You mother had a bad habit of spell casting and mixing potions on this night….’

A bit my lip and looked down as my thoughts rose up about mum.

‘Seems you’re too busy with your baking right now to bother with all of that again. The shop still going good? Money alright?’

I nodded, ‘yes. It’s all good and under control. We’re planning Christmas stuff now. You should call by sometime.’

‘Maybe, maybe. I should go.’

‘Oh, okay, thanks again. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

We hugged, kissed cheeks then got into our cars. I waved to him and let him drive off first. I drove home, my thoughts still on mum.

To Be Continued…

Old Magic

It was just a curiosity because she had time to kill whilst waiting for her friends. At least that’s what Imogen told herself as she left the coffee shop and walk across to The Olde Magick & Apothecary Shoppe. Pausing by the window to take a closer look at the display, she felt drawn to the place. Even though she’d never admit it to her friends, she actually believed in this kind of thing.

The window display was decked out like so many were for Halloween. There was a large broom stick lying across two stacks of old books, draped with fake cobwebs. A witch’s black hat and stuffed toy cat sat on the end. A small cauldron surrounded by plastic flames and logs was on one side with three witch dolls huddled around it. Opposite was a pile of different size pumpkins sitting in a nest of autumn leaves. Different coloured and sized candles were also dotted around on the black and purple cloth coverings.

There was a large bookcase too, which give backing to the display and stopped peeping eyes into the shop. The shelves seemed a little empty to Imogene, but there was the normal stuffed raven and human skull lined up alongside books with interesting and questioning titles. There was also a collection of glass bottles with old labels on them. The curly handwriting was hard to make out, but Imogene guessed they were for display only. Hanging above where dried flowers and herbs. Fancy lettering proclaimed some of the shop’s stock: love potions, sleep potions, herbs and natural remedies, protective charms, crystals. Tarot cards, Fortune telling.

With a quick glance around, Imogen stepped in. A small bell tinkled overhead and she pushed the door back gently. The air was heavy with a mixture of scents, which attracted the nose, but also give you a headache. She took a few deep breaths and listed off the things she could smell: lavender, cloves, aniseed, cinnamon, ginger and incense.

Staying put, she glanced around. The shop itself appeared small, but different curtained doorways seemed to lead off into other sections. There was also a staircase with a staff only sign above it. The place was crammed with bookcases and tables. To the right of her was a short glass counter with an old fashioned sliver till. A black cat with large green eyes was sat next to it, watching her closely.

‘Hi, kitty,’ she said and walked over.

She rubbed the cat’s head and let her hand drop down the silky fur. The cat meowed and began to purr loudly. Imogen laughed and carried on stroking the cat, whilst her eyes darted around. She couldn’t see anyone and there was a weird quietness. Oddly, she felt drawn to the fortune teller’s doorway. It had always been something that had fascinated her, but she’d never been brave enough to have her palm or cards read.

‘Hello. Can I help you?’

Imogen turned at the voice and saw a woman coming down the stairs. The woman was wearing a white gypsy style blouse, black waist corset and black velvet skirt. Her dark hair was pinned up on her head and her face was heavily made up.

‘Ah, I see you’ve meet Ichabod.’

‘Oh, the cat! Yeah,’ Imogen replied, snapping out of her thoughts.

She gave him a final rub and turned back to the woman, who was now sweeping across the floor. Imogen wondered if she was actually a gypsy and then if she was a real witch. She felt her cheeks go red and tried not to stereotype the owner. She looked down into the counter and saw a silver pendent in the shape of a heart with roses on it.

‘Is there anything you are looking for?’ the woman asked.

‘Not really. I was just curious. I walk pass this place all the time and I…don’t know. It just interests me, I guess,’ Imogen said quickly, half losing her words.

‘Most visitors are, but you are most welcome. I’m Gwen.’

‘Imogen. What is that necklace there…the heart and roses one?’

Gwen slide the door open and pulled out the pendent which was attached to a long sliver chain.

‘It’s a locket. You can put dried herbs inside for protection. There’s holes in the back to let the scent through,’ she explained.

Imogen picked it up and looked at in the dim light. The sliver was worn and the roses pattern was going faint. It had an antique look as well as feeling heavy in her hand. She liked it, but the price tag seemed too much. She put it back on the counter.

‘It’s really nice,’ she commented.

Gwen nodded and fondled it, ‘it’s been in here for some time. I think its waiting for the right person. Some objects seem to do that.’

Not sure how to answer, Imogen started petting Ichabod again.

‘Would you like a reading? I’m offering discounts this month,’ Gwen suggested.

Imogen shook her head, ‘I’m good, thanks.’

‘Don’t be shy,’ Gwen giggled and drew a sheet of paper out, ‘the palm reading one is the cheapest. I also do reiki and chakra healings.’

Imogen looked down the list to be polite, yet her eyes were still drawn to the pendant. There was just something about it and the idea of having it seemed to be growing on her. She felt Gwen watching her, so she stared back.

‘How about a deal?’ Gwen said, ‘Buy the locket and I’ll read your palm for free and give you some dried lavender.’

Imogen bit her lip and wanted to ask if business was that bad, but she held back her words and said instead, ‘do you take card?’

‘Yes,’ Gwen replied and took the locket out again alongside a box.

Whilst, Imogen dug up her purse, Gwen placed the locket in its box, wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it inside a paper bag. She also dropped in a small pouch of dried lavender. She tilled up the item and slid the card machine over. Imogen, still feeling unsure, placed her card in and paid.

‘Here you go. Now please follow me.’

Nodded and taking the bag, Imogen trailed behind her and through the curtained doorway of the fortune telling room. A small round, purple cloth covered table sat in the middle with two chairs opposite each other. A chest of drawers was against the back wall and on the floor next to it was a camping stove and a tea pot. It was what she had and had not been expecting at the same time.

Gwen took the chair against the wall forcing Imogen to take the other one. Gwen then held out her right hand and Imogen having read somewhere that the left palm was better, give that hand to Gwen. Then she shut her eyes and tried to stay relaxed. Gwen’s fingers tickled her palm for a few moments and then in a soft voice Gwen began to speak, ‘You’re intelligent and loyal. You could go much further in your education, yet it seems that your heart might lead you away from that…Did you recently break up with someone?’

Imogen opened her eyes and nodded.

‘That’ll turn out to be a good thing. You’re due to meet someone much better around New Year’s Eve. You’ll get far in your career, though it’ll take you awhile to find the right path. Those trials will only make you stronger and more prepared. You good friends will support you. Your fiery temper makes you a little headstrong and though that seems a bad thing, it’ll actually help you. Lastly, it seems you’ll live long.’

Gwen removed her fingers and Imogen pulled back her hand. It felt oddly hot and tingly.

‘See, that wasn’t so bad. Maybe you’ll be brave enough to come back again?’

‘Maybe…thanks,’ Imogen said and collected her things from the floor. She stood up and left the room. Gwen didn’t follow her out. She said goodbye and patted Ichabod, who was still on the counter and then with a last look around, she left the shop.

Cold, clean air embraced her like a friendly hug. She took a few moments to breathe it in and then stepped on to the street. Her head and nose with becoming less stuffy and she felt her shoulders were lighter. Voices called to her and she turned to see her friends waving.