Postcard #50

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Dear Hana,

Thank you for the book of spells you sent me last week. I have so far cast two of them – A Ward Against Evil and A Good Luck Charm, both seem to have work. I am still little nervous about trying something bigger – I guess all those movies were spells go wrong sticks in my head too much!

I would very much like to join your circle on Monday nights. Perhaps, seeing some real witches would improve my confidence? I hope it wouldn’t be too much of a bother. I shall keep practicing!

Best regards, Morgan.

 

Witchy

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When the witch left her house she only had one thing on her mind. Taking her broom up as high as she could, she flew by the full moon and the dark stormy clouds. Below her, everything looked tiny and unreal as if the trees and village were only models. However, she knew the people asleep in those houses and she hurried to land in the middle of the village square.

There beside the well, she cast the village under a curse for all time. Hating them for their cruelness against her and their unwelcome nature. She wove the spell into the water of the well, so that it would spread farther. Then taking to her broom once more, she dragged the spell through the midnight sky so that everything would be covered.

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)

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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 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…