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.