The redolence of centuries old inks and dust rose to my face as I opened the aged, leather-covered grimoire that had been handed down by my ancestors for eternities. I took in the essence of all the women before me, as I turned the thick hand-made pages until I reached the first blank page. Flattening the book open with the pressure of my hands, I took in a deep breath and focused on Mother before inking the quill. The golden glow of the bricked firepit along with the candle nearby gave off enough light to begin my message.
I miss you. Today, of all days, I wish you were here.
It did not work. And so, today, I will be setting him free.
I placed my hand over the written message, cleared my mind, blocked the echo of the dripping water behind me, and allowed the written thoughts to go to Mother, wherever her spirit may have been at the moment. I hoped, sitting with me.
The scent of roses drifted up from the book. The message was received.
I softly closed the book, said thank you, and stood to tuck it into the cellar wall amongst the rest of the tools I use to practice my craft, hidden from view for reasons of forbidden witchery. I ran my finger down the empty bottle that just yesterday housed my newest possession, one very expensive cinnamon stick. My head lowered to mimic my heart, for I used it to create a potion yesterday to make myself beautiful for he who did not show.
Accepting my fate to never find love, I begrudgingly made my way up the cellar stairs and into my bedroom. I pulled the box from under my bed, sat on the floor and opened it for the first time in twenty-nine years. Inside it was a folded sheet of parchment paper that instantly brought me back to this very room where I sat with my mother on a smaller, child-sized bed…to write my very first ever spell.
Mother sat next to me holding the candle above the paper that sat upon my lap.
“What do you want your husband to be, dear?” she asked six-year-old me with an excited smile.
The embarrassment came up and out of me with an uncontrollable giggle.
“Handsome,” I said, which came out more like a growling troll saying “Hnsm”.
“Write it down, Dear.”
As I sat with my memory, next to my bed, I opened the paper to reveal the five words needed to complete the spell. All in red crayon:
It was the last one that tugged at my chest.
“Darling?” Mother asked with a sly smile. “You want someone to call you Darling?”
“Yeees,” I said looking at the paper so I wouldn’t have to look at her.
“Why would you want that?”
“Because your father calls you Darling?”
“Ye-heh-es,” I said, the word separated by uncomfortable giggles.
“Well, then, Margery, write that in there!” Her arm around my shoulders gripped tighter for a moment. “Now,” she said, “repeat after me.” She paused until I looked at her. “And, so it is done.”
“And, so it is done.”
“Fold it up, put it in this box that has been handed down from my mother and her mother and so on. You will meet your husband on your thirty-fifth birthday.”
The name Darling always brings the memory of my father forward in my heart.
I stood, looking over the bridge to the calm water below. It was my duty to release this man to whomever he had chosen over me. Life had intervened and given him to someone else, and in order for them to be happy, I had to release the spell to the river. This act would break the energy chord that had quietly connected us for twenty-nine years. My heart hurt as I released the paper and turned to walk away.
Despite the reason I was there, Heritage Park was quite beautiful that day. As I walked the trail, the breeze gently cleared the saddened energy I had carried with me since midnight, sixteen hours ago. Birds sang their own love songs. A song that I had accepted would not be mine. I looked up at the full trees as their leaves danced back and forth. The wind picked up with a large gust going one way and then another and then yet another, causing something to float past my face and to the ground. I lowered myself, adjusting my long skirt, to pick it up. It was a folded sheet of parchment paper. I began to open it and saw five childish words in red crayon, but they weren’t mine. Then a set of black boots and tanned breeches stood before me.
“I apologize, Darling, but the wind seems to have taken my note and passed it to you.”
My heart skipped. Could it be? I thought to myself. I slowly lifted my face to look to his. The arch in my neck confirmed that he was certainly tall.
“My goodness. You are quite lovely, aren’t you?” He said as he offered his hand. Once I stood, the most handsome man I had ever seen handed me a note. “I believe I got your note as well.”
“Thank you,” I said, feeling the heat fill my cheeks.
“Cheeks like roses and eyes as blue as the ocean,” he said, gently touching my face.
I shied my head down. Realizing I still held his note, I offered it to him.
“Please, read it,” he insisted.
I looked at the words written by a child that read:
“It would seem, Darling, that our love spells have crossed paths,” he said with a smile. “Is today your birthday, Lovely?”
“It was yesterday,” I said as I swam in his deep brown eyes.
“Happy belated birthday, Darling. My birthday is today,” he said with a smile as he took my hand and we continued our walk together for the rest of our years.
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