by Storm Grey
|I walked Hattie home after the coffee shop snow-in.
It took another hour after that for the snow to cease and the local fire department to shovel us out. By that time, the snow had almost reached the middle of the door.
Whilst we walked, we talked about menial things, keeping our hands in our pockets and noses stuffed in our scarves. I was extremely thankful that I had my black beanie; my ears would have been icicles if I had not brought it. Hattie seemed more open to me, so I decided to give her my notebook. The end was written in a secret code, and I did not want her to read it just yet. It felt weird not to have my notebook, like a little piece of me was gone.
We finally got to her house. She lived in a shabby apartment, close to the coffee shop. I really did not expect a girl like Hattie to live there.
“Ok, well… thanks for walking me home,” she said, rubbing the back of her neck.
I gave her an awkward thumbs up and then headed for home.
My house was a bit farther away, so I ducked into the nearest shop to call my parents. One was sure to pick up.
When I opened the door, what stood in front of me left my mouth agape.
The squished room was dimly lit, the candlelit lanterns flickering. Various silks and fabrics were hung across the ceiling, looking like waves of multicolored textiles. The room was filled to the brim with shelves and shelves of bottled liquids, dried herbs, and bits of various animals. My nose scrunched up when I saw a finger sitting in a glass jar. Hopefully that was fake.
I brushed aside the beaded curtains and stepped on the rug. I looked down and realized I had stepped on the head of an albino tiger. I yelped and jumped away, knocking over a display of broomsticks.
“Deary me! What’s with all the racket?” a voice said. I was hastily trying to return the broomsticks to their upright position.
That’s when I realized that this was one of those phony witch shops. Salem was known for them.
I immediately relaxed and looked up to see an old lady. Her bright white hair was piled on her head and she wore layers of dark cloth that swathed her body. She grabbed a pointy and patched witches’ hat from a rack and placed it on her head. She climbed into a stool behind the counter and looked at me curiously.
“Well hello there, darling. What can I do for you?” she asked me.
“Oh, I’m just here to get a signal so I can call my parents,” I answered.
“Don’t be daft,” she responded simply. Daft? “You aren’t here for no signal. You are here for a reason. Everyone comes to Madame Esmerelda’s shop for a reason.”
I watched as the stout woman hopped down from her velvet stool and waddled over to me.
“Ah, yes! Emme Brooks, Is it not?”
“How do you know me? I’ve never met you before.” However, somewhere inside my mind was a feeling that I had met her before.
“Darling, I know everybody in Salem.”
“That’s kind of a lot of people to know.”
“Yes, and I know your parents are looking for you.”
“That's why I came in here! I need to get reception.” I walked around the shop, holding my phone up in the air, trying to get even a sliver of a bar.
“Dearie me, your aura hasn’t been very bright for a while. Is there something troubling you?”
“My…aura?” I was confused.
“The field of unique color that surrounds an individual. Yours is usually a mix of sky and periwinkle blue, but Esmerelda always knows when something is off with someone’s aura. Your psyche has been thrown out of whack, as you millenials would say. “
“This is nothing to laugh about, dear child! You need some help… and maybe I have just the thing. The High Witches themselves are telling me that you need help!”
She motioned for me to follow her. She led me past the counter and into a back room, grabbing various vials and dodads from the shelves without stopping to read the labels. The room had the same atmosphere as the front shoppe, with a low rise table and two cushions on either side. She told me to sit on one and I obliged, watching her set all of the “ingredients” on the table. Next, she took off the witch hat that she was wearing and poured the materials into the hat, vial by vial, indescribable thing by indescribable thing. I listened to her say words and saw her wave her hand across the top of the hat. She shoved her hand inside and pulled out a bright red crystal. How did she get a crystal from all of those unidentifiable ingredients?
“Ahhhh, here we go! A Morrocan ruby, sent from the High Witches themselves, all the way from…”
“Morocco?” I finished.
“No silly, the Witches Coven! Only the best crystals and gems are magicked there.”
I couldn’t have been more confused in my life than I had been in that moment.
“Well, there is no time to dilly dally, you need to get your aura bright again! Hold the crystal while Madame Esmerelda gets a chain.”
She handed me the gem and waddled off to another room. I could feel some kind of energy source radiating off of the hunk of rock, and I thought that this could really make my aura bright again. Why had it darkened in the first place? Everything was good at home, at school- I could not think of anything that would have extinguished the flame that is my aura.
Esmerelda came back a minute later with a delicate chain and a stick of reddish wood. She took the crystal from my hands, waved the wood over the chain and rock, and it merged together. I was astounded and excited at the same time.
“Madame Esmerelda, you did magic!”
“No I didn’t.” she dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand and led me back to the checkout counter.
“That’ll be ten dollars.”
Wait what? I thought that this was one of those times where a wise old lady gave you advice and a seemingly magical object and then insisted you take it for free so you could continue on your quest.
I handed her a 10 from my purse and she handed me the necklace. I gave her a smile and clasped the necklace around my neck. I buttoned up my trench coat and was almost out the door when Madame Esmerelda spoke again:
“What?” I turned back to find her gone. I could still hear what she said, and as I walked out the door, I took out my phone to call my parents. I had full reception.
It was dark by the time I actually reached home. My hands were freezing off my wrists, and I’m pretty sure that my eyelashes had icicles dangling from them. I should’ve driven to the coffee shop that morning, but I guess I had no idea what today would’ve been like. The snow was a flurry now, little bunches of unique snowflakes drifting down from the clouds. Wait… love is like that too! I’m always so excited to discover something more about love. I mean, who isn't? I reached out to grab my notebook, only to realize that I had given it to Hattie. I sighed and went inside, fumbling for the light switch, finally warm for the first time in an hour. Neither my dad or my mom had answered my calls, I had hoped that they'd be home. They must be out to dinner or something like that.
What was it that Madame Esmerelda said about Hattie? That she knows. Knows what? Knows who I am? Know what I wrote in the back of my notebook? She was looking at me weird the whole time we were walking to her place. How would she be able to read that anyway? It’s just a combination of symbols and weird shapes. Unless I left the decoder in there…... is she a witch?
Contemplating life, I took a mug and hot cocoa and fixed myself a tasty winter drink. Heart shaped marshmallows and whipped cream to top it off, and there you have it! The warm mug felt nice against my hands, and I headed to the living room with my shoes and jacket off. I was just about to read a book when I heard a noise from upstairs. Confused, I set down my mug and headed up the stairs cautiously.
“Hello?” I said.
I grabbed a candelabra from a side table and held it in front of me. The sounds were getting louder. It sounded like voices. One was definitely my Mom’s, but I couldn’t quite figure out the other voice.
I opened my parents bedroom door and saw my mom… making out with some guy?
“Mom! What’s happening?” I yelled at her, dropping the candelabra and startling her assaulter.
“Oh, honey! I didn’t know you’d be home....” she let go of the guy's hair.
“Well, ya. I can see that now.” I said. I ran out of her room, grabbing my stuff from the living room and hastily trying to lace up my boots as fast as I possibly could.
“Wait, Emme! You don’t understand! I love your dad, but I love Dan too!” My mother called, rushing down the stairs, trying to explain to me -of to all people- what love is.
“You're seriously telling me that I don’t understand love? Your Crazy. I hope you have a good time with Dan.” I shoved my arms through my jacket sleeves and grabbed my keys, hurring out the door.
I shut the front door in my mom’s face, getting in my car and driving away. My hands were shaking when I pulled up at Hattie’s apartment.
“Emme? What are you doing here-”
“Oh, thank gosh! You have no idea how many doorbells I had to ring…”
Hattie stood outside her door, wearing sweats and a tank top. She seemed very surprised to see me, and awkwardly had something held behind her back. Wait. WAIT.
“OH MY GUMDROPS are you reading my notebook??” I squealed, forgetting about my mother for a split second.
“Did you seriously just say OH MY GUMDROPS?” she asked.
“Yes, I did. And that’s not why I am here. Something happened at my house and I didn’t know where else to go. I need to talk to someone and write in my notebook and try to figure out why the hell my mother was lip touching with a random man!” I put my hands to my mouth in surprise. I haven’t sworn since eighth grade. I felt so overwhelmed at this point, everything was just crashing down on me like an avalanche. Hattie ushered me inside, closing the door behind her. I followed her to the kitchen, where she embarrassedly put down my notebook on the counter. Her house looked barren, like no one even lived here. Like a one-star hotel.
“Your mom… was cheating? Wait, how did you even remember my address?” she seemed confused.
“I have a good memory, but that’s not the point! And yes- my mom was canoodling with some guy. DAN. She’s a canoodler!” I put my face in my hands, tears erupting from my eyes. I felt so helpless. Hattie looked very out of her element.
“ Love has failed me! I thought I knew everything about love, but can you really love two men or two women or a man and a woman or two people at that level at the same time? I could never do that. Wouldn’t that slowly rip you apart piece by piece until the lies are the only thing that holds you together? Who does she love more? She can’t love my dad and DAN at the same time, that’s such bullshit.” What was happening to me? I was swearing, showing up at strangers houses (though Hattie didn’t feel like a stranger). I paced around Hattie’s tiny kitchen, tears streaming down my face, trying to make sense of what I saw and what my mom said. I took a deep breath.
“Do you have hot chocolate?”
Hattie made hot chocolate for both of us. I missed my rainbow mug and heart-shaped marshmallows.
“Are you going to tell your sister?” Hattie asked. Right to the point.
“I guess I’m going to have to, before she walks in on the canoodler.” I respond.
Hattie laughs at me, before seeing my face and stopping.
“I’m serious! I don’t have any idea what to do. I’ve never even had to deal with this before, and needed someone who understands what’s happening to my family!”
“Actually, I don’t know what’s happening to you. My mom and dad never cheated on each other, they just despised each other with all of their hearts.” Hattie responded. She seemed on edge while she talked, like talking about this subject was hard for her.
What she had said reminded me of the fact that you can’t love someone with all of your heart. Was hating someone the same way?
“Everything I did was to try and keep them together. I tried so hard to make them keep being people they didn’t, and I just made it worse. Love makes people fake being in love to make other people they love happy. My parents were faking for too long and it tore them apart.” Hattie ran her hands through her short hair and took a deep breath.
“Hattie, I’m sorry that happened to you, I didn’t know…”
“Nobody ever knows the whole story. Now my dad is never home and he won’t let me see my mom. He thinks something awful is going to happen to me if I do.”
“Will something happen to you?” I asked. My heart ached for Hattie, and I wanted to understand what she was going through so I could help her.
“No! My mom loved me more than my dad ever did.” she looked heartbroken, like saying this truth was the worst thing she could possibly say.
“When did all of this happen?”
“Only 4 months ago. The fighting had been going on for a while but they officially left each other -me- 4 months ago to this day.”
We sat in silence for a minute, me absorbing everything that Hattie had just told me.
“You know what?” I said. She looked at me with uncertainty in her eyes. “We are going to make things better for ourselves. We dwelled on the bad, and know we need to figure out why it was bad in the first place and fix it.”
“And there’s the rainbows and sunshine.”
“Yes, rainbows make me happy. So what?”
“Do you want to stay here tonight?” Hattie blurted out suddenly. “I mean, it’s, like, almost 8 and I doubt you want to go home right now-”
“I would love to.” I felt my aura get a little bit brighter.
AHHHHH this was such a cute story i loved it!