“You sure about this? Because once you do this there’s no turning back.”
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding, Senorita. You’ll look fabulous.” The hairdresser used a comb to tangle out her client’s split ends. “Tell me again what your name is.”
“Well, it’s Ivy. Ivy Meadows.” The hairdresser started mixing hair dye into a plastic dish.
“And just to confirm. You want black hair with just a tint of green?”
“Perfecto. I will make it black enough that just enough green can be seen in the radiant sunlight. It will be fabuloso.” The hairdresser studied Ivy through the mirror. “Have I seen you before, Senorita? You seem familiar.” Ivy twisted her Elven ring nervously on her finger.
“Just wait and you’ll see the real me.”
Ivy shut her eyes tightly rethinking this whole ordeal. Why she didn’t think in the hours in the hairdresser's chair she didn’t know why.
“Okay beautiful, open your eyes.” Ivy opened them to see long flowing black locks cascading over her shoulders. Her emerald green nose ring had never been complemented this well against her snow white skin. She felt like Ivy Meadows, not Bethany Hofferman.
Down the winding road in the countryside, Ivy held her leather satchel close to her. It held all her belongings. She’d sold and donated everything else she’d ever owned giving up her old life completely. The contracts had been signed and the deposit was paid. Once she was at the house there was no turning back.
The trees on the road cascaded over the bus making the day seem like twilight before they approached the destination. It was like sitting in the dark waiting to pull the curtains back to reveal a new life. And that’s exactly what it was once the shade from the trees descended. The bus hissed behind Ivy as it drove away. She was alone standing in front of a grand two story cottage. It looked just like it jumped out of the page of a storybook. This was her new life and the journey would be life-changing.
“She’s here!” Fluttered a voice from the open hexagon-shaped window. Ivy waited with the sounds of the hanging windchimes while a middle aged woman exited the front door onto the wrap around porch. She sported an overall dress topped with a daisy flower crown nesting in her braided hair.
“That’s me, ma’am.” The woman laughed melodiously.
You don’t need to call me that. I’m Lily Rain, the owner of this home and the founder of Cottagecore Sisters. This is your new home. Think of it like a boarding school but for the influencers of Cottagecore Sisters. Beginning today, you’ll get to decorate your entire room the way Ivy Meadows would. Complete it in your entirety to the theme of Goblincore. Once you’re prepared, that’s where the magic begins. Each of my students will get to film themselves for TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, you name it. I figure if the Cottagecore Sisters are living and learning together then we’ll become immensely popular. And speaking of learning,” Lily handed her a leatherbound notebook with a monogrammed G. “The G stands for Golbincore. It’s your itinerary for every week. Monday morning is the social media marketing workshop, Tuesdays are how to properly respond to fanbase with additional lessons on sponsors and competitive channels, Wednesdays are video brainstorming ideas, and Thursdays are editing hours. Fridays of course are off since we all deserve three day weekends. We are nothing like the typical 9-5 work human. “We are certainly not” thought Ivy following her up the porch steps.
“So, Lily, let me straighten this out. We’re all called the Cottagecore Sisters, but we each represent our own core?”
“Precisely. Let me give you the rundown. Cottagecore is the basis of other cores. It sits at the top of the so called tree. There are many branches off of Cottagecore. Ivy Meadows, that’s you. You’ll be representing Golbincore, your housemates Echo Mist will be representing Fairycore, Holly Branch will be representing Elfcore, Luna Night will be representing Witchcore, and your host-to-be, me, will be representing Cottagecore itself.”
“Sort of like, each of our characters would technically live in a cottage. That’s why we’re called Cottagecore Sisters?” Lily’s face looked betrayed.
“Ivy, you are not a character. This is who you really are. You are Ivy Meadows. The old you is dead.” Her stare lingered without another word. Ivy twisted the ring on her finger. A soft smile transcended from Lily.
“I was positively inspired by your potential on TikTok. I couldn’t have been more blessed to elect you as a sister. Now come with me. Let’s get you settled in.”
Ivy walked through the open doors to a charismatic home. It was an old country house with English charm. A gramophone was playing piano music and bundles of sunflowers were displayed in vases on the wood furnishings. The glass French doors off the living room led to a kitchen carrying the scent of sourdough bread freshly baked from the oven. Through the lace curtains was the spectacular view of the mountainside and its neighboring flower meadow.
“It’s like a dream.” Said Ivy.
“It was just a dream, but for you, it’s a reality. Come with me up to your room.” They ascended the upstairs hallway passing closed doors to a room at the end.
“This is yours.” Inside the room was a four poster bed and a window. Their footsteps echoed off the walls.
“Well, what did you expect? You’ll be the one to get to decorate it in Golbincore. There’s a flea market down the road open until 4:00 and plenty of tape and thumbtacks by request.
After Lily had left Ivy sat on her bed feeling overwhelmed. She hadn’t the slightest idea where to begin. The call of a faraway crow squawked from her open window. Before she could realize it, that very crow flew inside and flapped around hysterically.
“Soot, get in here!” Luna Night barged into the room trying to catch her bird. Her long bloodred skirt perfectly complimented her dark lipstick and nail polish. She nestled Soot into her arms after he settled down.
“Sorry about that. He gets real ancy during the new moon. You must be Ivy.”
“And you must be Luna.”
“Well if you aren’t too busy, do you want to come help me set up my next video?”
Ivy agreed and followed her to her room. The black walls cast shadows around the room against the array of wax candles. There were jars lined on bookshelves with liquids of browns and purples. A caldron set was displayed on the desk Luna sat at. She reapplied her lipstick and readjusted her camera tripod.
“You can sit in the corner and press the record button. I work better when I have a live audience. After the camera rolled Luna began.
“Hello my witches and warlocks, tonight marks the celebration of the new moon. To celebrate the new moon we are going to use the moon’s energy in our manifestations to bring them to fruition. Follow along to these steps and ignore Soot if he gets in front of the camera again.” In a snap, Luna lit a match to a small piece of lavender cone. “For this spell, let’s first cleanse the air with lavender cone. Then I want all of you to write down on a piece of paper your manifestations beginning with “I am.” For example, I am going to be true to myself. Once you’re done sprinkle it with peppermint oil, fold it up towards you, and in a clockwise direction turn it around. Last we’re going to put our affirmations under a glass jar of distilled water and leave it in the moonlight tonight. Happy new moon.” Ivy cut the recording.
“That was magical, Luna. I really enjoyed it.”
“Thanks. People think that witches are Satan worshipers when that’s far from the truth. The Wiccan rede is “Harm none do as ye will.”
“Are witches and Wiccans the same?”
“Depends on who you ask. I can go by either. I’ve been doing this 14 years now so titles don’t matter to me anymore.”
“Luna something’s gone horribly wrong.” Echo Mist popped her head inside the room. It was the same fluttery voice as before.
“Shouldn’t you be in the meadow for your video?” asked Luna concerned.
Echo looked effortless in her tulle mini skirt. Her hair was shimmering in her space buns and her eye makeup looked whimsical. Ivy could never wear false eyelashes but Echo’s looked like butterfly wings every time she blinked. She held out pair of fairy wings with a slight tear. “I can’t look like this. People are counting on me.” She said with a trembling voice.
“Don’t worry. I know how to sew.” Said Ivy saving the day. They followed Echo into her room. Fairylights hung over the walls and trinkets of gnomes and sketches of unicorns paraded the room like some sort of fantasy antique store.
“Here’s the sewing kit. I purchased one but never learned how to do it.” Ivy went to work on a toadstool chair while Luna reapplied Echo’s highlighter. In no time the three girls were outside in the flower meadow and Echo was tuning her harp in a fortress of poppies and tulips.
“She’s beautiful. Almost like a cartoon.” Said Ivy studying Echo.
“All that beauty doesn’t come without effort. Echo works harder than anyone here. She’s had over 470 videos uploaded.” Luna explained.
“470? How many ideas can one fairy have?” Ivy asked a bit envious.
“Echo does everything mystical, magical, whimsical, you name it. It would put Tinkerbell to shame. Want to learn the proper way to tend to your pet unicorn? There’s a video for that. Want the perfect makeup with each change of the season? With each kind of tree, you pass in nature? She even makes her own fairy breakfasts from the forest with pure maple syrup and berries from the bushes.” Ivy wouldn’t be surprised if Echo found a way to fly.
“There’s something about Echo where butterflies and dragonflies attract to her. She’s brought so many into the house without meaning to. And yes, she has a video on every name she’s ever given them.”
“I’m ready.” fluttered Echo assuming position with her harp.
The angelic music wouldn’t stop in Ivy’s head even during dinnertime. With all the cosplay conventions and Halloween parties, it wasn’t too odd to be sitting at the kitchen table looking at the Cottagecore Sisters in their complete attire. Luna, Echo, and Lily were deep in conversation over their meals. Holly Branch, the Elfcore sister sat quietly sipping from her goblet. Ivy noticed her Elven ring which was almost identical to hers.
“I like your ring, Holly.” She said pointing at it. Holly nodded in appreciation. “When did you move in?”
“Oh no, Ivy. Holly doesn’t speak English.” Lily interrupted overhearing. “Holly Branch only speaks in Sindarin the Tolkien Elfish mother tongue.”
“She can’t have many followers then.” Ivy said without thinking.
“She has more than all of us combined. With the rise of the new Tolkien series, she’s risen exponentially. She reads all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books in Sindarin and even commentates on all the movies. She also does walkthroughs of every elf themed video game on the planet including the game based off the 2003 Will Ferrel film.
“Cin're making nin blush.” Holly said as her cheeks turned red.
Lily raised her mason jar of peach tea. “I wanted to thank everyone for welcoming Ivy to our Cottagecore house. I know you will all make her feel very welcome. But use some of that welcoming for another new person. Beginning next month after the construction of the guesthouse grotto, we’ll have another new member arriving. Pearl Sands is joining us to make the house of Mermaidcore.” The entire table applauded. “With the rise of success in the remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I’m thinking her views will be a splash.”
“Excuse me.” Ivy muttered getting up from the table. Her hands were sweaty and she was in desperate need of the bathroom. She saw a door in the hall with a sketch similar to an outhouse and took her chance. Inside the bathroom, she tried not to smell the cinnamon potpourri burning into her lungs. She splashed cold water on her face and looked in the full-length mirror at herself. Although her hair still looked great, she wasn’t sure how she felt in her forest green cardigan and corduroy skirt. Her fishnets did compliment her Doc Marten but she felt off. She’d left everything she’d ever known for this new life. She quit her job as a dental hygienist. She even had a 401k. Was this going to be her new life journey?
By the time she left the bathroom, the group was outside around a bonfire. Luna and Echo were twirling each other while Holly played the mandolin. Lily was filming them on Instagram live with over 3 million views.
“Here she is, just like a goblin would be, ascending from her cave.” Joked Lily panning the camera onto her. Ivy went along with it.
“It gets sort of dark in there. I thought maybe the night sky would give me a little melatonin.” The group laughed.
“We’re a hit.” Lily mouthed over the video.
Over the next few weeks, Ivy prepared more and more for her first Golbincore video. The room was coming to life like an actual grimy cave. It was exactly what she’d hoped for. Real moss from the backyard pond garnished her four poster bed curtains and acted as her bedrug. The windowpane had mushrooms of all shapes from her midnight shroom hunts along with real animal skulls from roadkill found on the country lane. She even got a deal on wooden furniture from an amateur lumberjack from the flea market.
“Hi, humans. No, again. Hi, goblins and ghouls. No, no, too Halloween. Hi freaks, it’s Ivy.” She rehearsed into her camera head. She took a deep breath and hit record with her thumb.
“Hey everyone, it’s me. Not who you’ve previously seen but the real me. The goblin me. For the first time ever I am introducing myself to you all. This is my Golbincore channel. My name is Ivy Meadows and this is The House of Goblincore. We’re going to have a lot of fun here. Watch me paint my nails from the juice from the rotten apple tree outside. Follow me on the midnight shroom hunts. I’ll even tell you how to create your own Goblincore fashion from a few staples in your closet. I’ll give you a hint, doc martins and fishnets go a long way. Oh, and this channel doesn’t do any makeup from the drugstore. Everything on my eyelids and lips are from the natural earth. Mud and ash included. We Golins are hardcore. Maybe that’s why we’re called Goblincore. Make sure to like and subscribe to the channel and for more fun check out my sisters. We’re called the Cottagecore Sisters and yes we all live in a real life cottage. This is no joke. It’s our life now and there’s no going back and you get to see it all.