Jacy woke to Abra to jumping onto her bed.
“Happy Birthday!” Abra screamed and began jumping up and down next to her. Jacy sat up and pulled on Abra’s pajama pants to get her to sit down. Abra sat on her feet and reached over to embrace her in a big hug.
“Thank you. You’re up early.” She said glancing at the time on her phone.
“Well, I have a lot planned today, come on, up time!” She pulled on Jacy’s arm, pretending to drag her out of bed.
“I’m too old for this now!” Jacy laughed hopping out of bed. Abra hugged her again, and then left the room. Jacy went into the bathroom and brushed her teeth while she waited for the shower water to warm up. If only the hex removal fixed the old pipes too, she thought to herself. She made a mental note to call a plumber to come look at them. She showered quickly and got dressed. Abra was waiting for her in the kitchen.
“What did you do?” She smiled at Abra, looking around the kitchen, the room was filled with flowers and balloons.
“Nothing is too good for my favorite witch.” Abra smiled and grabbed her hands leading Jacy to the breakfast nook. The little table was set, flowers in the middle, two plates stacked with blueberries pancakes and a French press of fresh coffee. Incense in the window sill, filled the room with jasmine.
“I love blueberry pancakes!” Jacy said as she sat down. Abra sat across from her and handed her the coffee. Jacy poured the coffee into the cups that Abra had placed out.
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked handing the cup to Abra.
“Anything.” Abra looked up at her while blowing on the hot coffee.
“I don’t want this to sound the wrong way, but how could you afford the lease for the shop?”
Abra swallowed her coffee and put the cup to the side. She folded her hands on the table and pursed her lips a little.
“Well, you know, Trevor moved across the country. He put all his stuff in my name before he left. His condo, his car. Said he wanted to completely start over with this other girl.” She leaned in over the table and whispered.
“I sold everything. Even the ring” They both laughed. Jacy raised her coffee cup, shaking her head to stop the laughter.
“To Trevor, a generous fool.” They clinked their coffee cups and continued to laugh while they ate the breakfast Abra had made.
They spent the rest morning decorating the outside of the house for Halloween. Jacy stood back and looked at the old house with spider webs, purple lights and lanterns with flying witch silhouettes.
“We need pumpkins.” Abra said as she walked over to look at the house. Jacy nodded in agreement. Jacy went around the back of the house and pulled a little wagon from the gardening shed. They walked into town with the wagon squeaking behind them. The farmer’s market spread down main street, signs declaring it the last market until next season. Walking through the crowd they spotted a booth with a large display of vegetables and pumpkins. Abra picked three big pumpkins for the front porch. Jacy picked some vegetables and a small pumpkin for her altar. Jacy put a dollar in an open guitar case sitting in front of a teenage boy, gentle strumming his guitar. With the wagon full they headed to Pete’s Bistro for lunch. Liz hugged Jacy and sat them next to the window.
“So what do you have planned?” Jacy asked while sipping her water.
“It’s a surprise.” Abra said looking up from the menu and smiling. Jacy rolled her eyes and took another sip of water.
They walked home after finishing their meals. Jacy pulled the wagon around the house to the backdoor. Abra helped her lift the pumpkins onto the kitchen island.
“I can’t wait to carve these.” Abra said as she turned one of the pumpkins examining all its sides. Jacy smiled to herself, remembering when they were roommates in college, they would carve the pumpkins the night before Halloween. Inscribing them with sigils to ward off evil spirits that might come by when the veil dropped. Jacy’s phone lit up with a text from Aria, she glanced at it. “Happy Birthday! Can’t wait to see you tonight!”. Jacy grinned and pursed her lips.
“When is the party?” Leaning on the counter with arms crossed, she raised her eyebrows waiting for Abra to answer.
“What party?” Abra tried to brush off the question. Jacy let out a snorting laugh and held her phone up for Abra to see the text. Abra sighed and laughed.
“I told everyone to be here around eight.” She said handing the phone back to Jacy.
“Well it’s only three, what should we do until then?”
“I was thinking an autumn hike, what do you think?” Abra asked.
“Yes!” Jacy said jumping up and down. They both went upstairs to change and packed their backpacks. They packed up Jacy’s car and headed out of town. Jacy pulled the car down a narrow dirt road and followed the small wooden signs that indicated hiking trails. She turned in a small area that had been cleared for parking. She turned the engine off and they sat for a moment looking at the tall trees that surrounded them. Jacy got out of the car and took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the pine trees around her. Abra swung her backpack on and handed Jacy hers. Abra walked over and looked at the large sign with the trail maps. Examining each trail and trying to decide which one to take.
“I think this one, it doesn’t look too hard.” She said with her hand on one hip and pointing with the other.
“Looks good to me.” Jacy replied, looking over Abra’s shoulder to get a look at the trail. Abra snapped a picture of the trail map so they could use it on the hike, and then took a selfie of the two of them.
They started up the trail, it wasn’t long before they could no longer see the car. Jacy stopped and turned to look back, the trees consumed them, if it wasn’t for the thin trail Jacy would have worried they were lost. Abra was a few yards ahead of her, she slowed a bit, but made sure to keep Abra in her sights. She caught up with Abra, there was a fork in the trail, and she was consulting the picture on her phone with her brows furrowed. Jacy walked next to her and looked at the picture. Abra handed her the phone.
“There shouldn’t be a fork here.” She said shaking her head and looking at the trails. She handed the phone back to Abra. They stood looking at the trails. The map said their trail should go straight up. Jacy took a deep breath, smells the pine and dirt. Abra was about to say something and she hushed her. Closing her eyes, she put her hands out, palms up and listened. Abra silently watched her. She could hear birds, and small rustles of animals around them. She heard a faint humming, someone humming. She opened her eyes and looked down the trails.
“Left, we should go left.” She said without looking at Abra, just staring down the trail.
“You’re the divination witch, I’ll trust your instinct. Lead the way!” Abra shouted giving a cross chest rah. Jacy started on the trail with Abra following closely behind her. They kept quiet, Jacy stopping every few yards to listen for the humming but hearing nothing but birds. The trees around them became dense, and blocked the sky above them, allowing just enough light through so that they could see the trail in front of them. The humming returned, a whisper in Jacy’s ears.
“Do you hear that?” She asked, Abra just shaking her head no. They continued walking, the humming got louder until it felt like whoever was doing it was standing right next to her. She stopped and covered her ears, Abra putting a hand on her back. She straightened and turned to face Abra.
“You can’t hear the humming.” It wasn’t a question, a realization that the humming was only directed at her.
“Maybe we should go back?” Abra shyly asked her with wide eyes. Jacy just stared at her and then turned back forward on the trail.
“We’re almost there.” She finally said. They walked for another twenty minutes, and then came out of the trees into a clearing. The humming stopped. Abra pulled her phone out, looking at the map trying to determine where they were.
“This isn’t on the map.” Abra said not looking up from her phone. Jacy just stood looking at the surrounding trees. She squinted toward the tree line, seeing small lights deep in the woods, like the ones she saw in the woods by her grandmother’s house.
“Do you see that?” She asked pointed forward.
“Uh, yeah.” Abra said, letting her hands drop to her sides. The humming started again and Jacy felt a pull toward the far tree line. She took a step forward and then felt Abra’s hand on her shoulder, Abra’s eyes were wide and she was just shaking her head. Jacy took her hand and gave her a reassuring squeeze, leading them toward the edge of the tall pines. There was small trail leading into the woods, the walked hand in hand, with Abra behind her, Jacy leading the way. The humming was faint again, she watched ahead of her seeing the small lights bounce up and down. They entered a small clearing on the trail. Jacy looked up, a narrow opening at the top of the trees let sunlight beam down on them. She looked around and saw the little lights all around them, fluttering around the trees. Jacy laughed, Abra looked around let her jaw drop.
“Fireflies!” Jacy excitedly whispered to Abra. They stood in awe and watched the fireflies dance around the tree trunks.
They got back to the house at 6:30. Enough time for them to each shower and get dressed for Jacy’s not so surprise party. Ezra and Liam arrived early to help Abra decorate and prepare food.
“Jacy! Can we use these?” Liam called from the dining room. She went to find, found him holding two large silver candelabras.
“Where did you find those?”
“They were on the bottom shelf of the China cabinet, tucked behind the table cloths.” He shrugged holding them out to her.
“I don’t see why not.” She said handing them back to him, he arranged them on the table and Jacy handed him a box of white tapered candles. She went into the kitchen to see if she could help Abra with the anything.
“Where’s Ezra?” She looked around the kitchen not seeing him.
“He ran to the store for me, I forgot something.” She trailed off, sliding pasta into a boiling pot of water. Jacy gave her a suspicious look, not buying the idea that she could forget anything. Abra took a towel and flicked it at her, shooing her out of the kitchen. She grabbed a bottle of wine off the counter and opened it, pouring a glass for Liam and herself.
“I have been sent out of the kitchen, have a drink with me?” She smiled and held out a glass for Liam.
“My pleasure.” He said taking the glass from her. They sat at the dining table, and both took a gulp of the merlot. She looked into the deep red liquid and swirled it in her glass. Liam looked at her over his glass, not waiting for her to talk.
“What’s on your mind?” He asked, looking at her with raised eyebrows. Jacy let out a sigh.
“We went on a hike today, and I kept hearing someone humming. At one point it sounded like they were humming right in my ear.” She said and took another sip of her wine.
“The woods around here can do funny things to your mind.” He told her, setting his glass on the table, locking his hands around one knee after crossing his legs.
“My grandma always told me not to go into the woods. I was so scared of them when I was little.” She said finishing off her glass and pouring another.
“These woods, this big forest surrounding us, holds a lot of power, and a lot of secrets.” He said picking his glass up and taking a gulp. The front door opened, and they heard Ezra’s voice in the foyer. Ezra walked into the dining room carrying a tote bag full of produce, Morgan following behind him.
“Look who I found at the store!” Ezra said and went over to kiss Jacy on her cheek.
“Happy birthday Miss Jacy.” He said as he walked out of the room and into the kitchen.
“I’m going to see if they need any help.” Liam winked at her and followed Ezra into the kitchen.
“Happy birthday” Morgan said as he sat down where Liam had been sitting.
“Thank you. Wine?”
“Please.” Jacy pulled another glass from the China cabinet and topped her glass off after pouring one for Morgan. They clinked glasses and drank. For a moment they just looked at each other.
“How has your day been so far?” Morgan finally asked her.
“Really good, Abra made breakfast, we went to the farmer’s market, had lunch and went for a hike.” She replied, smiling and remembering the day’s activities. He nodded his head and smiled, taking a sip from his glass.
“Hello?” They heard from the front door. Jacy got up and found Aria and Chase in the foyer, she stretched her arms out and hugged them both.
“Elsie and Lily aren’t going to make it, Lily isn’t feeling well, and Elsie doesn’t want to leave her alone.” Aria said holding a bottle of wine out for Jacy to take.
“I totally understand, I hope she feels better soon. Come in Come in!” She directed them to the dining room where Morgan was still sitting. She put the wine on the table and went to get the opener and more glasses. In the kitchen, Abra and Liam were fussing over something in the corner and Ezra was sitting at the breakfast nook watching them and laughing.
“What’s going on?” She asked smiling at the scene.
“They are having, frosting troubles.” Ezra smiled and raised his glass of chardonnay.
“Frosting?” Jacy put her hands on her hips and clicked her tongue.
“Don’t listen to him!” Liam called out without looking up from his task. She shook her head and grabbed a two more wine glasses and the bottle opener. Ezra got up and followed her into the dining room.
“There’s my girl!” Ezra said and gave Aria a big hug, they air kissed each other’s cheeks. Suddenly the lights turned off and Jacy ran over to try the switch, and then she heard Abra’s voice singing happy birthday. She stopped and looked toward the doorway, Liam and Abra came into the dining room holding a cake, candles a top of it and everyone else joined in singing. Jacy blew out the candles, Liam topped off everyone’s wine. Chase lit the candles in the candelabras, and they gave the room a soft glow, their shadows bouncing off the walls. Abra raised her glass and started to talk. Jacy stopped her and stood up.
“I love you, but I will be giving the toast tonight.” She said to Abra and nudged her with her hip. Abra laughed and sat down next to Chase.
“First, I would like to thank you all for coming tonight. Second, I am so grateful that I have met all of you. This group of friends, this coven, has been a life saver for me. I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to pack up everything and move into my grandmother’s house. But after meeting you all, I think it may have been one of the best decisions of my life.” She raised her glass.
“Here is to you my amazing old, and new friends.” They all shouted cheers and took drinks from their glasses. The cake was cut, and dinner was served. Abra and Liam had made linguine with a vodka sauce, buttered lemon salmon and salad. They all ate and drank wine, talking and laughing.
Chase helped Abra clear the plates, Abra insisting that Jacy not move from her seat. They returned and everyone moved into the living room. Ezra fiddled with the old turn table, going through the records that were stored under it. He smiled holding up a record, and delicately put it on the turntable. Billie Holiday began to croon from the speakers. Ezra swayed with his glass of wine and then sat on the arm of the chair Liam was sitting in. Jacy was standing in the doorway watching her friends laugh and talk. She excused herself for and went upstairs getting a shawl. She wrapped the shawl around her shoulders and headed out the backdoor out into the yard. It was a warmer than usual for early October, but she could feel the chill in the air coming. She slipped her shoes off at the edge of the patio and walked into the still soft grass of the backyard. She took a deep breath of the air and closed her eyes enjoying the silence of the night. Looking down she picked a lone dandelion.
“Nice night.” A voice said behind her. She turned to see Morgan, he walked up and stood next to her.
“It is.” She smiled agreeing with him. She enclosed her hand around the dandelion, pulling the seeds into her palm. Laying her hand flat, just as she blew on the seeds a soft breeze came and carried them into the sky. They both watched the seeds dance away. She dropped her hand next to her side and felt Morgan’s hand entwine her fingers with his.
Tomorrow was Halloween, and the grand opening of the shop that Abra and Jacy had been working so hard on. Jacy was in the back room going through some boxes that were delivered earlier that morning. Abra was in the front making sure that everything was in its place. They had some old bookshelves that lined the walls, crystals, herbs and books displayed on each shelf. Small trinkets and statues sat in the window looking out onto the street.
The house had been quiet, Abra’s hex reversal seemed to have worked and Jacy was full of energy from the couple weeks of restful sleep. She brought out the shipment of candles and herb jars that were delivered from one of Abra’s friends. Abra’s friends were more than willing to send them their handmade goods to sell in the shop. They arranged everything twice more before standing in the front looking in. They went out to the front of the shop, looking from the outside. Jacy looked up above the door at the shop sign, cursive letters declaring The Merry Broom. Jacy remembered the day they thought up the idea for the store. They were both exhausted from finals but still went on a hike to celebrate the end of the semester. They found a large oak tree on the trail, slumping under the tree they sat. Pulling out a flask, they drank from, saluting the large tree. At the same time, they blurted out the idea for the store.
Jacy stood in awe looking at the shop front, admiring how they had finally brought the idea to fruition. Both let out a big sigh of happiness. They were finished and ready to open their doors tomorrow. Abra snapped a quick picture of them on her phone. They grabbed their purses and went to go get coffee. They met Aria and Elsie at the coffee shop. Jacy ordered her soy latte and Abra just a black coffee. They joined Aria and Elsie at the table they were occupying. The four of them sat and chatted and drank their coffee. The conversation turned to the house and what had been happening there.
“There isn’t anyone named Ellie Meadows in town.” Elsie said.
“I think Elenore sometimes goes by Ellie.” Aria interjected.
“Elenore?” Jacy asked looking at them with curiosity.
“Yeah, Elenore Moore.”
“That’s Rose’s last name.” Jacy said with shock in her voice.
“You didn’t know? They’re sisters. Twins I think.” Aria said as she took a drink of her coffee.
“Rose has an evil twin” Abra snorted, and Jacy rolled her eyes at her.
“What? She’s obviously been trying to scare you out of the house for some reason.” Abra retorted. Jacy thoughts suddenly went to the diamond sphere. Elenore had told her that she needed to find it. She knew now that it wasn’t protecting the house like Elenore had said. And she had scared Jacy into finding it. She wondered why her grandma would have thrown it into the creek to begin with. If it really was a diamond, then it had to be worth a lot of money. Jacy had a sudden realization.
“The veil drops tomorrow I think we need to try to talk to my grandma again.” She said to Abra.
Jacy headed home, and Abra went to met Chase for a lunch date. It made Jacy think about how she had been putting off an actual date with Morgan. With the shop opening and everything that had been going on in the house, she just didn’t want any other distractions. She hoped things would settle soon. She walked back to the house and found Rose out front weeding the flower beds. She thought that maybe she should ask Rose about Elenore but stopped herself. She wasn’t sure if Rose had any part of it and she didn’t want to spook her.
“The flowers still look so beautiful. You really have a green thumb.” She said to Rose.
“Just trying to keep them going until the frost comes.” She said without looking up at Jacy. Jacy left Rose to her work and went in the house to make herself some tea. She sat down waiting for the kettle to boil and pulled her tarot cards out. She did a quick spread to try and ease her nerves about the opening tomorrow. Fay came in and jumped up on her lap, purring and nuzzling her head under Jacy’s chin. She flipped four cards over. The Four of Wands, The King of Pentacles, Three of pentacles and The Tower. Jacy pet Fay’s back as she mulled over The Tower. She rarely got The Tower in her spreads. Seeing The Tower surprised her, she thought of what the card could be telling her, The Tower signaled disaster. The tapped the card with her index and sighed.
“What do you think Fay?” said looked down and the calico cat and stroked her head. The cat looked up at her nonchalantly and then closed its eyes and went back purring. Jacy glanced out the window and thought a nap would be nice until Abra got back. She headed upstairs, Fay following her up the steps. She laid down on her bed fully dressed and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Running through the woods.
My feet are bare. I run toward the singing.
I see her there.
She is standing by the water’s edge.
Grandma, I call out to her.
Reaching to her.
She turns to me and points behind me
I turn around.
Something comes crashing on my head
I fall into the water
The sphere is there shining at me
I try to reach for it
I cannot breathe
The water is filling my lungs as tumble down deeper into the darkness.
Jacy woke gulping for air. She sat up and held her throat, a dirt taste in her mouth. Fay was laying on the bed next to her purring and staring at her with sleepy eyes. She stroked Fay’s back and checked her phone. It was three in the afternoon, she got up and went downstairs to see if Abra was back. Abra was sitting in the living room reading her tarot cards, Jacy stood and watched her for a minute not wanting to interrupt her concentration. Abra sat back in the chair and with smile on her face.
“Whatcha doing?” Jacy smiled at her.
“Just a reading for myself.” Abra smiled back at her. Jacy went and down next to Abra on the couch and looked over the cards laid out.
“I take it the lunch date went well.” She stated looking at Abra from the corner of her eye.
“Yes, I think I really like him.” Jacy reached over and gave Abra’s hand a squeeze.
“Is Rose still around?”
“No, she left about twenty minutes ago.” Abra looked over at her and reached to smooth Jacy’s hair from her face.
“Are you ok?” Abra asked. Jacy sighed and leaned back pulling her legs under her.
“I’ve been having dreams again.” She replied, rubbing her forehead with her hand. Abra let out a big breath and patted her knee. She picked up her cards and began to shuffle them.
Jacy had been having dreams and visions since she was a child. While her parents never really took them seriously, she learned to trust them. After a year of friendship and practicing witchcraft with Abra in college, she had finally had the courage to tell Abra about them. As she got older the dreams were less frequent. It had been two years since she had had a dream or vision, but they returned with intensity after moving into her grandmother’s home.
She mulled over the return of her dreams while watching Abra shuffle the deck. Abra cut the deck and Jacy silently reached over and flipped the first card. She laid it flat and sighed as she sat back against the couch. They sat back and looked at The two of swords that Jacy had pulled. She nodded to Abra signaling her to continue. Abra pulled four more cards from the deck. She laid the cards down around the one Jacy had pulled. Abra examined the cards and Jacy moved closer to look at them.
“Oh course.” Jacy said leaning back again. The cards told her that her dreams were trying to send her a message.
“Just thought it might help.” Abra shrugged her shoulders and leaned back.
“I know, thank you.” She said as she got up and went to the kitchen. She pulled the left-over birthday cake from the fridge. She stood over the counter and picked at the few pieces left with a fork. Fay jumped onto the counter and brushed her tail in Jacy’s face.
“Get off the counter.” She said to the cat, shooing the tail from her. Fay jumped down and jumped into the window over the breakfast nook. Jacy looked over at Fay, and out the window. Dark clouds threatening rain hovered in the sky. Abra came into the kitchen and swiped some frosting with her finger. Raising her eyebrows at Jacy with her finger in her mouth. Abra pulled a fork from the drawer and they finished off the cake in silence.
“Should we wear pointy hats tomorrow?” Jacy asking jokingly, breaking the silence. Abra swallowed the piece of cake, exaggerating the swallow and smiling.
“Yes! I found some old dresses in the basement, probably your grandma’s. They would be perfect!” Jacy widened, and they rushed to the basement. They heaved the old steamer trunk to the living room and pulled the dresses out of it.
“Why was this in the basement?” Jacy asked herself out loud. Abra just shrugged and pulled out a dark brown dress and held it up in front of her. Jacy looked through the dresses, at the bottom of the trunk, a white dress was folded up. She stood and let the dress unfold.
“That’s beautiful.” Abra said as she grabbed at the bottom of the dress and ran the fabric between her fingers. Jacy held the dress out at arm’s length and examined it. It looked just like the dress she wore in her dreams.
“I think I have to wear this one.” She said to Abra without taking her eyes off the dress.
“I mean, I think it’s perfect.” She said not wanting Abra to worry about her wearing a dress that she dreamed of. She folded the dress up and set it down on the chair. Abra pulled the brown dress over her head to try it on. Jacy buttoned up the back for her.
“What do you think?” Abra asked doing a little twirl. Jacy smiled and clapped her hands.
“I love it!” Jacy knelt on the floor to see what else was in the trunk. She pulled out a few more dresses and some old shoes. A large blanket covered the bottom of the trunk, she pulled the blanket out. Under the blanket she could see that there were sigils carved into the bottom of the trunk. She ran her hand over the carvings and felt the bottom move.
“I think this has a false bottom.” She said looking up at Abra. Abra reached in on one side and Jacy pulled the other side, together they pulled the bottom out. Under the false bottom was a stack of letters and old papers. Jacy pulled the letters out and saw that they were addressed to her grandmother from a woman named Penny. Jacy pulled one of the letters out of the envelope. Her mouth dropped open as realized it was a love letter. The letter was dated June 5th 1949.
“Who is Penny?” Abra asked.
“R-r-rose’s mom”. Jacy stuttered in shock. She pulled out the other letters, each one Penny declaring her love for Mildred. Scanning the letters Jacy learned that Penny and her grandmother had been having a relationship before her grandmother married. Penny married, moved away and had twin girls, her husband left when they were little, and her grandmother had been sending money to her to help. She pulled the last letter out and read it to Abra.
April 17th 1961
I am so happy to hear that you and John are finally with child. I am sorry to hear about John’s health problems. In response to your inquiry to come and work for you, of course. I have purchased train tickets, we will be leaving April 30th.
All my love,
“That must be how Penny started working for my grandma.” Jacy sat back on her heels and thought to herself in silence.
“Do you think this has anything to do with why Elenore is doing what she’s doing?” Abra asked her, putting a hand on her back.
Jacy shrugged her shoulders and let out a deep sigh. She put the letters back in the envelopes and set them in the trunk.
“That explains for a lot about my grandma’s life that I didn’t understand before.” Jacy smiled and laid her head on Abra’s shoulder.
“The store opens tomorrow, we have our costumes and we know almost all your grandma’s secrets. I’ll go open the wine.” Jacy laughed and followed her to the kitchen. Jacy pulled down a couple glasses, her phone rang as she set them on the table.
“I was hoping it would be ok with you if I didn’t come to the house tomorrow.” Rose said on the other end.
“That’s fine of course.” Jacy said, eyebrows raised at Abra. She hung the phone and took a glass of wine from Abra.
“That was odd, Rose usually never asks my permission to not come over. She either shows up or doesn’t”
“Maybe since the shop is opening, she wanted to let you know?” Abra shrugged and too a sip of wine. They sat at the breakfast nook and drank the bottle of wine. They stumbled upstairs together laughing. In a drunken slumber they peacefully slept in Jacy’s bed.