Outside of Greentown: Chapter 4

I watched Erlina disappear from the antique shop’s office and sit back in my chair. “What the hell is she doing here?” I thought to myself. I threw a cloth over my crystal and massaged my temples. It’s been 50 years since the last time I drove her out of my town. I picked up my now stone cold tea and finished it. I spun the cup in my hands and looked closely at the dregs. I had already known there were going to be visitors two weeks ago when a few leaves floated to the top of my cup. Four leaves. Four days away. I did the math in my head. She’s been here for ten days. Enough time for her to cause plenty of trouble. Why didn’t I see her before? I began to worry as I recognized the clear shapes in the leaves.

Old tea leaves surrounding a cup. Graphic by Amanda Gravely.
Old tea leaves surrounding a cup. Graphic by Amanda Gravely.

I saw lots of clumps of leaves away from the handle. In the near future there will be a lot of trouble that won’t be of my doing. Then I saw the arrow in the center of the cup, bad news is coming. I turned the cup a little and saw the bull, meaning quarrels and enmity. I stared some more and the claw appeared. A hidden enemy was close. Last, a sideways skull, a harsh conflict and then death. So this time it seems it’s going to be me or her.

I got up from my chair and walked into the kitchen. Luna sat on the counter, her big yellow eyes watching me pull roots and spices out of the cabinet over the sink. She meowed and walked over to the sink. I reached down and turned the faucet to a steady drip so she could drink from it. I stroked her soft black fur as I looked through my spellbook sitting in the window.

I could not let Erlina catch me at home, unprotected. I got down my blue cauldron, filled it with water and placed it on the stove. I pointed at the stovetop and a bright purple flame jumped up and started the water boiling. I added chopped acorns, alder, basil, black pepper and powdered brimstone. The water turned orange and thick as I added the ingredients. I waved my finger in a clockwise motion five times and the color changed to a forest green and thinned out. I smiled. “Like riding a bicycle, Luna.” She meowed back at me and stretched out on the dishtowel by the sink.

I snapped my fingers and the fire went out. I took a taste to make sure it was just right. Mint and evergreen. Absolutely perfect. I grabbed my container of salt and put it under my arm. As I walked by Luna to the back door, I smeared a little on her nose. She licked it off and went back to her nap. Just that little bit would protect my cat from Erlina or any of her faeries. She’s done much worse than kill innocent animals to get what she’s after.

I went in a wide circle around the house enchanting. I sprinkled the salt first and then slowly poured out the potion in the same pattern. Black smoke arose from the ground where salt and potion mixed. After I finished and the cauldron was empty, I put out a few hexes on the perimeter and headed inside. At least I could sleep in peace. She couldn’t break through a protection barrier like the kind I just spelled. I was safe at home, but I knew I would see her soon. It was only a matter of time.