Fantasy Mystery Thriller

Nothing is more satisfying than rekindling an old craft that was once your calling years ago. In my case, decades ago. There’s no single reason as to why I fell off the bandwagon with my most beloved hobby. It happens to the best of us, I suppose. Famous writers, for example, many times become plagued with the notorious “writers block”, which forces them out of their passion until it is reignited by some form of inspiration once again. That is the best analogy for me to describe how I felt about my hobby. I was in a funk, if you may. Simply didn’t feel that burning energy luring me into my art. I refuse to do my craft for no purpose. There is always a meaning behind my art. Inspiration needs to be screaming at me and then intuition must takeover. Once I am struck with good vibrations, I take off like a madwoman, and wont stop until my project has been complete. I never leave a project unfinished. My soul must be revitalized as the collateral result.

           Sure, throughout the years between, I’ve picked up other hobbies, or rather, side hustles. None of these mundane activities had entirely fulfilled me though. I bet by now you’re probably guessing which craft am I the master of? No, I don’t live in a small hut, deep in the woods, boiling up potions in cauldrons. My kind is nothing like from what you’ve read in a fairy tale. I run a quaint little shop in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s one of the few places in the United States that attract my clientele. My relatives also have a long history with the town. Naturally, I was expected to follow the footsteps of my forefathers and reside within our hometown’s boundaries. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t find another life outside of Salem, but it was more so to keep our history present.

Folks come to me for all sorts of medicines. One woman may ask for me to whip her up a concoction for her chronic stomach aches. So, I’ll fumble through my vials, find some slippery elm, wormwood, willow bark, and just a touch of goat’s milk, then boil it up in the slow-cooker and sell it to her as a stew. Another may come in for a palm or crystal ball reading. To an outsider, this may sound so mystical and interesting. But I can’t begin to tell you how mundane it becomes when one person after another begs to know what their love life holds for the future and whether or not they will be blessed with riches soon. Boring. I find it a little more intriguing when they wish to speak with their dead relatives. Many times, though, it’s the same old stories. The dead tell them to keep living their best lives and that they’ll be waiting for them in the next world. Then they’ll go on about how it didn’t hurt when they died and that they miss them, while I’m sitting on the sidelines, translating all that crap.

           I charge extra fees if someone wants to dig up some dirt on an acquaintance of theirs. These types of requests add a little more spunk into my day, though, it’s not truly what I crave. Usually, they ask me to peer into the crystal ball so that they can catch a glimpse of their partner cheating on them. Another popular request is when they ask me to spy on their coworkers, so that they have this single piece of blackmail saved up for the time of the next biggest promotion. It’s ironic, really, how humans seem to be the real evil villains rather than us witches. They’re always looking for some type of revenge or hold onto grudges about mundane things for far too long. Now me, when I hold onto a grudge, it’s for good reason. I always gain some sort of energy or life out of it. Every once and awhile I’ll strike a deal with one of these humans. Then, surely enough, twenty years down the line they don’t hold up their end of the bargain and I’ll just collect my earnings anyways. If they’re lucky, I might not take anything at all. I’ll just curse them. That’s how a gain my energy, after all. But if someone holds a grudge against me …well…let’s just say it’s more serious than causing a divorce. It could mean the difference between life and death; for me to be banished or to continue existing in this reality.

For the most part though, none of this mortal drama excites me. I’m simply the messenger. Potions, fortune telling, crystal balls, communication with the dead, the occasional curses…none of these so-called crafts are what really fuel my soul. After nearly fifty years, however, my genuine calling finally hit me once again.

           I’d say my long-time hobby was reborn over the past couple weeks. It was a typical afternoon, just doing my walk around the neighborhoods, people watching…or shall I say, people choosing. I watch all sorts of individuals, but most of all, I love watching the children. So innocent and so malleable. They’re life is fresh, and when you taint their thoughts, it is the most delicate taste of energy. Their youth fuels my own. And what better place to find the inspiration I need for my craft than observing the playground?

           The school was Chariot Elementary, and the girl’s name was Chloe. She caught my interest because she wasn’t the stereotypical girl. She was strange. An outcast. Around the age of ten, I presumed. She didn’t wear her hair long like all the other girls in her grade. Instead, she sported a short bob cut. No berets, no jewelry of any sort. Yet, she set a distinct style, awkwardly modeling a pair of unisex overalls every single day combined with a different striped tee. Every day at recess, I watched her as she attempted to assimilate. Wandering over to the basketball courts, hoping she would be picked for a team She would try to fit in with the boys that way, but no one wanted her. Another day she would attempt to play with the other girls, but she didn’t quite fit in with that crowd either. Chloe neglected to own any of the latest gadgets and had no interest in making friendship bracelets. She blatantly just didn’t belong.

           Eventually, she became accustomed to sitting under a large willow tree by herself. She wasn’t lonely, though. Actually, she seemed peaceful, reading most of the time. Sometimes she would switch it up by writing or drawing. But she would just sit there, unwanted and forgotten. The one trait that made her unique, however, the one trait which I knew would not disappoint my intentions, was her creativity. Her youthful energy, her spark, was the key element that ignited my lost passion once more. It was inspiration I so desperately needed and refused to turn down. So deliciously unique.

           Even more interesting than her creativity and awkwardness was how her classmates simply…neglected her. Nobody teased her, as would be expected at that age. It was almost as if they were wary of tearing her down. Every now and then I caught an account of Chloe trying to rekindle some form of what appeared to be a lost friendship she once had with a red-haired girl, Lindsay. Vibrations lead me to believe that the two had a long history together, or at least, as long as a fourth-grader’s history would stretch back to. Once I returned to the shop, I immediately proceeded over to crystal ball, eagerly wishing to gain further insight into this tale. I discovered that they had been best friends since kindergarten. Yet, the globe sometimes will become hazy when glancing at pasts which are not meant to be mingled with. Naturally, the vision wasn’t as clear as I had hoped it to be. I was unable to grasp the full picture of the major event that had catastrophized their friendship.

           The translucent ball flashed images of Chloe’s past, portraying a different version of herself. When she wore her auburn hair out long, down to her shoulders. Where she wore standard blue jeans and tank tops, just as the other girls. Her small, mouse-like face, however, still did not fit in with the formulaic girl crowd. It was like she were her own species. Lindsay had exhibited the same, basic, shoulder-length hair style. Her bright red locks like fire, always pulled into a sleek pony tail. Freckles were like invasive flies stuck upon a sticky wax, wriggling towards freedom. She towered over Chloe by a good couple inches and maintained that height difference throughout the years. I watched as Chloe reluctantly went over to Lindsay’s house for the first time, when the girls had their first sleepover, watching scary movies and staying up late, just as any kid would.

           I was hoping I would be able to continue viewing her life like a movie, but then the ball did what I dreaded it would do; it grew cloudy. Fog encircled within the glass like vines, obstructing my view of the proceeding events. When the muck finally cleared from my vision, the time had lapsed to a moment which was not too far back from what it was presently. Chloe had recently attended Lindsay’s tenth birthday party. Only, Chloe was by herself outside on the pool deck. With no surprise, the other girls had abandoned and gone inside to dry off.

           Chloe dried off as quickly as she could, so that she could catch up with her peers. Carefully guiding herself anxiously inside, as she opened the sliding glass door silently, she heard an echo of evil snickering radiating down the hallway. “Does anybody actually want Chloe here?” snuffed one of the girls.

           “Not me. She’s so weird. I can’t wait until her Mom comes to pick her up,” chimed in another with no remorse.

           “Mom says I have to invite her. It’s all because she lives down the street. If I don’t invite her, then my Mom can’t be friends with her Mom. Trust me, if it were up to me, I’d lock her out of the house,” responded Lindsay as the rest of the girls giggled cruelly.

           “Hey,” Chloe hesitantly cut in, her towel wrapped around her petite frame tightly as if it were a safety blanket. “What are you talking about?” I knew Chloe had heard every single word from these maggots.

           “Nothing,” Lindsay shot back defensively. “Let’s get you ready to go. Your Mom should be here any minute.” That was the last of what the crystal ball would portray. I tried to rewind to the portions of her past where the memories had grown hazy, but it was useless. With every attempt, the crystal would cancel my attempt and fill instantly with a deep red blood. A very weak insight into her life, but I had enough information to propel me towards the completion of my project. After all, the sign of blood, rather than disguising her past, gave me confirmation that this was the right child for my project. Whenever the ball filled up with blood, it was a symbol for revenge. Vengeance was pulsing deep through her young veins and the vibrations sent a tingle of excitement down my spine.

           As if I had just stepped foot into Disney World for the first time, I whipped out my sewing kit fervently. I pulled my thick, twine-like dark hair back into a pony and slapped on my old black hat. The look facilitated concentration and drive into my conscious, which is just what I needed in order to succeed with my mission. A thick layer of dust coated the top of the heavy wooden sewing supply box. Spiders seeped out from beneath as I cracked the lid, searching for the proper tools. Twine, burlap, autumn leaves, buttons, and finally, a strand of that fiery, red hair. The sheers cut through the silence of the shop like swords as I navigated meticulously along the pattern I had inscribed on the burlap. I licked my lips eagerly as I threaded the twine in and out of the loose material, like a surgeon pulling together stitches on a patient that would be revived shortly. After the buttons, the final touch was the stuffing. I punched in the old, crunchy leaves from last year’s Samhain into the small crevasses of the sack. Just before I sewed the small package shut, most importantly, I added in the curly red strand of hair.

           Kneeling on the concrete floor, I etched out the voodoo markings as I had learned nearly one hundred years ago. A little rusty, I found myself having to look through previous chapters of the spell book once or twice. It didn’t take too long, however, for all my skillfulness to resurface. Placing the doll in the center of the chalked circles, I recited the spell I had missed using so badly. It felt like a weight was finally being lifted up from my chest. Like all the pressures from mundane life were sweetly pouring out of my skin, draining out of my blood. I felt fresh, renewed, and detoxed. With the last words of the spell, I sealed it off by kissing the rough burlap with my black lips, hay field smells wafting into my nostrils like cotton candy as I did so.

           The next day, Chloe was in her usual spot, under the large willow tree. What a fantastic tree, I thought to myself. It was one of the first types of trees in which I had gathered ingredients from for my potions. Securing my thick black coat tightly around my neck and burrowing my face into the collar, I proceeded into the schoolyard. “Hi there, darling,” I introduced myself, giving a wave. Chloe looked up, her blue eyes wide with shock. “Chloe is it?”

           “Yes. Yeah, that’s right, Ma’am,” she stuttered, crunching the edges of the composition book in her lap nervously.

           “Don’t be afraid. I was ten once too. Here’s something to make it better,” I egged, tossing the handmade doll onto her notebook casually.

           “What is this?” Chloe demanded in confusion, reluctant to pick it up.

           “A special doll,” I smiled warmly. “I see that you’re creative. Well…why don’t you put your creativity to good use on this doll? You can make this doll anyone who you would like it to be…and…you can do anything to this doll as you wish. Whatever you do to this doll, you do to that person. Let your imagination run wild.”

           “So, it’s like a magic doll?” she questioned, inspecting it closely, rotating it within her dirty fingertips.

           “Exactly,” I whispered enthusiastically, nearly drooling from anticipation for the life I would get out of this doll.

           Rushing back as fast as I could to the shop, I immediately put up the “closed” sign onto the windowed door. I tore off my heavy jacket and whipped it onto an old wooden chair. My heart was fluttering with excitement as I burst into the crystal ball room, taking a seat onto the cold leather. Snapping off the velvet cloak from the crystal, I placed my sweaty finger tips onto the cold glass, manifesting my thoughts into it. Warmth was rising up from my core and onto my skin in a series of quivers. I could already feel it happening. My wrinkles were disappearing. My joints were no longer aching. My vision was becoming clearer. I was getting younger. Every pore in my skin pulsed with liveliness. Despite the fact that the voodoo doll was already feeding into me, I had to see the repercussions it was setting in motion. That is, what type of havoc I had planted amongst the common world. I loved that satisfactory feeling. It was the driving force that kept on inspiring me to create such dolls.

           After a few moments, the globe became clear and I grinned with approval. Chloe had done just what I had anticipated. Exactly as planned. As she returned from recess, she had given the voodoo doll to Lindsay as the “ultimate gift” to rekindle their friendship. From that point forward, Lindsay had committed several acts of harm. Some on her parents, others on her peers, even her teacher…all hell was breaking loose…and I loved it. This was excellent. With every new suffering soul at the hands of Lindsay’s work, I gained another year on this Earth. It was like eating ice cream. But I haven’t told you the best part of all; that with every vengeful act which Lindsay performs on that doll, she will lose a year of living on this Earth. It is not I who will be punished, either. All fault will be her own. I was simply the igniter and now am the passenger. I sat back comfortably against the silk cloth, which draped over the back of the chair, and watched in enjoyment as I proceeded to munch on some chocolate covered crickets I had chilled for a perfect occasion.

June 20, 2020 01:44

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Kathleen `Woods
21:54 Jun 17, 2021

The angle you chose for your subject was interesting, and your style over top made the entire story feel akin to the last sentence of the piece. Thanks for writing


R. E. Dressler
19:37 Jun 18, 2021

Thanks for reading and your feedback, so glad you enjoyed this one. This was a fun one to write from a villain's standpoint.


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