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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2013225
Witches and tarot and spells, oh my!
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Willow, the Green Witch of Gloucester: New Beginnings
by Shannon Chapel

This remodeled closet really is perfect for readings, Willow thought as she slipped into the chair across from Mrs. Kate Ellison, a tourist from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Remove the door and voilĂ ! An extra room. The space was just large enough for one round coffee table and two cottage-style chairs. A single candle flickered at the center of the table, which was draped with Willow's most colorful scarf. She'd chosen dark plum for the walls, and white bookshelves--chock-full of tarot decks and reference books--lined the top third of all three with a single strand of twinkle lights around the perimeter of the ceiling for atmosphere.

"Do you have a specific question you'd like to have answered today?" Willow asked as Mrs. Ellison chose her deck from the center of the second shelf.

"No, I think I'd like an open reading," Kate replied, handing over the deck. Willow shuffled, dealing three cards face-down between them.

"The first card represents you," Willow said, flipping the card over. "The Owls. You're intuitive, open-minded. You have visions that don't always make sense to you, but your curiosity serves you well here. You're willing to put in the time and effort to get to the bottom of what things mean and their significance to you and your everyday life."

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"That's true." Kate winced, unprepared for how loud her voice sounded in the tiny, dimly-lit room. "I've had visions all my life. When I was a little girl I even had a couple dreams that came true. It scared the crap out of me. I've always been a little afraid of it."

"Afraid of what?" Willow asked, her hand hovering over the second down-turned card.

"The gift. I guess most people would call it a gift, anyway, but I'm not so sure."

"Mrs. Ellison, that depends on you. Things like this--visions, clairvoyance, runecasting, divination, necromancy, numerology, chiromancy, scrying, psionics, Reiki, theurgy, cartomancy--these things are not good or evil in and of themselves, but how the vessel, the human, chooses to use them, whether for good or evil, determines their essence. There's nothing to be afraid of."

Kate nodded, and Willow turned over the second card.

"This card represents what is influencing the first card, which represents you. The Bouquet represents a gift. Your gift of visions. Once you acknowledge your gift, you will find happiness. Only by embracing and being grateful for your gift can you truly experience inner peace."

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Willow paused, allowing Kate time to respond. Her impassive expression lingered and she remained silent.

"Shall I continue?"

Kate nodded, and Willow turned over the final card in her $20 "drop-ins only" three-card mini spread special.

"The third card represents action--an action the Significator, represented by card number one--you--takes. The Tree represents personal growth. Change. You must reflect on your life, perhaps reexamine your spiritual beliefs, and act on what you know in your heart to be true: you have been given a gift, Mrs. Ellison. A gift that's been begging to be set free, honed, appreciated and utilized all your life. Ignoring it won't make it go away. The visions will just become more insistent, demanding your attention."

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"I'll think about it," Kate said, standing and reaching for her purse. "God knows what a bitter pill that would be for Charlie to swallow. Things like this are from the devil, he says. No wife of his will dabble in witchcraft, he says. No siree. He wouldn't like this at all."

Willow sighed, and Mrs. Ellison dropped a twenty into the donations jar on her way out.

*Vignette3* *Vignette5* *Vignette2*

"I'm happy to see you too,Tarot," Willow said, scratching the little black cat behind the ears. "Now you go see Penney, baby girl. Let momma cook."

Willow flitted around the kitchen and Penney watched, amused. "You know, we've been friends since ... what, sixth grade? I never get tired of watching you work, though. It's like you're inspired. Bewitched." She smiled, pleased with herself.

"I love preparing magical meals, Pen. You know that. This blue candle is for peace," Willow said, lighting the votive atop the little kitchen altar. "I will set my intention by focusing my thoughts, which will invoke peace and happiness in you as you consume this delectable Autumn Pumpkin Pie Cake."

"That's very sweet, Will. Can I have more wine? That always invokes feelings of peace and happiness."

"Smartass." Willow smiled. "Help yourself."

Penney poured. "So, how do you like working out of your house? The reading room is gorgeous, by the way. Mr. James did a fantastic job."

"Yes, Roland does great work, doesn't he? I think it's going to be good, being here. I won't have to rent that shoebox in town anymore, so that'll save me money, and the cash people drop into the donation jar goes right into my pocket."

"Maybe this will even free up some time for you to have a social life. When was the last time you went on a date, anyway?"

"Date? What's that?" Willow winked, sliding the Autumn Pumpkin Pie Cake into the oven.

"Why don't you just conjure up Mr. Right, and if you're not into anything long-term, whip up Mr. Okay for Right Now and at least get laid."

"You're a delicate flower, Penney." Willow slid onto the stool next to her friend and poured herself a nip. "And you know it's unethical for me to interfere with anyone else's free will."

"It doesn't have to be anyone specific, just someone who's perfect for you. There must be a spell you can cast to draw love and romance to you, right?"


A knock on the front door made them both jump. "Bloody shit!" Penney screamed. "That scared the crap out of me!"

Willow chortled. "'Bloody shit? Really? What is that, exactly? Never mind! Oh God, don't answer that," she said, waving both hands in front of her face as if warding off the visual.

"I guess it's a cross between bloody hell and holy shit. I dunno, it just pooped out. Get it? Pooped out?"

"Okay, no more wine for you," Willow said, opening the door. She froze. In a quick head-to-toe assessment she took in the mousy blonde hair, the frumpy flannel coat, the too-long skirt, the tennis shoes, the two tattered suitcases. "Mrs. Ellison? What--"

"I told Charlie about my gift like you said. He kicked me out of the car. I need a place to stay."

"You aren't ... I can't...."

"You told me to tell him. You said I'll never find peace until I acknowledge my visions. Well, I did that, and because I did that Charlie wants a divorce. He dropped me off on the side of the road and is driving back to Idaho as we speak. You have to take me in. I'm here 'cause of you."

"Bloody shit," Penney whispered, up-ending the bottle and polishing off the wine.

*Vignette3* *Vignette5* *Vignette2*

After tucking Penney in where she'd fallen asleep on the couch and showing Kate to the guest bedroom, Willow padded to the kitchen, cut herself a generous piece of Autumn Pumpkin Pie Cake, and brewed a decoction of Relaxation Tea.

She sipped and contemplated the wisdom of working from home. She wondered where she was going to put her three-year-old goddaughter, Paisley, the following weekend when Paisley's parents, Roland and Stephanie James, dropped her off for a week so they could go on an anniversary vacation. Do I need a bigger house? she wondered. She wondered if she'd ever date again. She thought about Penney's "Mr. Okay for Right Now" comment and smiled. She thought about how long it had been since she'd touched a man, and the smile slowly faded.

"Oh, Tarot," Willow whispered, stroking the cat's ebony coat. "I've done it this time, haven't I? I could use a little help here."

Headlights shone though the drapes and traced a diagonal arch across the dining room wall. Willow glanced at the clock. 10:15. "Kinda late for company, isn't it, girl?" Willow asked the cat, who purred beneath her fingers. The yard's motion sensor light clicked on and Willow heard footfalls on the steps, then a soft succession of three rapid knocks.

Penney sat up, rubbing her eyes. "What's going on?"

"You got me," Willow said, making her way to the door and opening it.

"Pardon me, ma'am. I'm sorry to bother you so late, but I'm here for Kate Ellison."

He was ... well, Willow thought he was beautiful. Six foot two or three, she guessed, with dark hair and light-colored eyes. Blue, maybe? Green? It was hard to tell in this lighting. He had big calloused hands and muscular thighs beneath his snug Levis. It had been a day or two since he'd shaved, and dark hairs peeked out from beneath his shirt collar. Willow wasn't particularly attracted to hairy men, but on this one the hair appealed to her. It appealed to her a lot. She realized she was staring.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, blushing. "You must be Mr. Ellison?"

"God, no!" he said, amused. "Kate's my sister. She and Charlie showed up unexpectedly yesterday. They had a fight this afternoon. Charlie gets a little carried away sometimes. He can be a chowderhead, but he's not a bad guy. Anyway, he just called to tell me she's here and asked if I'd come get her. Name's Ryan, by the way. Ryan Wright," he said, extending a hand.

Penney leapt from the couch and rushed to Willow's side. "Shake Mr. Wright's hand, Willow," she said, nudging her with an elbow to the ribs.

"Mr. Wright," Willow repeated. "Such a pleasure to finally meet you. Please, come in."

"No need for that," Kate said, rushing past them with her suitcases in hand. "Thank you for your hospitality, but I best be going with my brother now."

"Maybe I'll see you around," Ryan said.

"Maybe," Willow said, closing the door against the brisk night air.

"Wait. There's a Samhain Spirit Gathering tomorrow night in Hidden Park. You going?"

Willow smiled. "Yes, I am."

"Good. I'll see you there."

"Alright. Good night."

Penney waited for Willow to close the door before squealing. "Oh. My. God. Mr. Wright? Mr. Freaking WRIGHT! Are you kidding me? He's hideous, of course, but we're not shallow creatures. We'll learn to love him for the beautiful human being he is on the inside."

Willow smiled and pulled a tiny pink drawstring bag from the pocket of her pajama bottoms. "I tried to tell you earlier, but we got interrupted by Kate's unexpected visit. I've been carrying this gris gris bag around since last Friday's full moon. It's to attract love into my life. I guess I'm finally ready," she shrugged, embarrassed. "A little valerian, some mandrake, black cohosh, rowan, a feather, a chunk of pink tourmaline, sew a heart-shaped charm to the outside of the bag and toss in a handwritten copy of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 and it's practically Love Potion Number Nine."

"Why didn't she just go to her brother's house when Charlie kicked her out of the car?"

"Magick," Willow said, shaking the gris gris bag. "If she'd just gone home to her brother we'd never have met."

"Well, good for you! I honestly didn't think you had it in ya, but with any luck you will soon enough, huh?" Penney winked.

Willow shook her head. "We'll see what happens."

"To be continued?"

"That's a good way to look at it," Willow nodded. "Yes, to be continued."

Third place winner in October 2014
Journey Through Genres: Official Contest  (E)
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Congratulations, you won  Third Place  in the  October 2014  round of  [Link To Item #journey] !

To read more about Willow, check out her first story here:
Willow, the Green Witch of Gloucester  (13+)
October 2010 Short Shots entry
#1717636 by Shannon
© Copyright 2014 Shannon (shannonchapel at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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