Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Magic of Stories

Entry #3
The Magic of Stories
by Sharon Van Orman

People always complain about Thanksgiving being forgotten between Halloween and Christmas. They grumble and post silly memes on social media for a bit but they always move on. They don’t remember, we made sure of that. It was the only way to keep everyone from going mad. But there are only seven of us left and the spell is weakening. If this continues they will remember soon, God help us.

23 November 1823
Boston Massachusetts, USA

“Moore!,” the man yelled, shaking his friend. “You’ve got to pull it together! This will take all of our strength.”

“How are we do to do this, Livingston?’ Moore asked, taking his wire rimmed glasses from his face. He wiped them on his shirt front without thinking. The moment he popped them back on his face the scarlet smear of blood on the white linen was so shocking that once again, all he could do was stand there and blink in confusion.

“I thought you said your friend was powerful, Livingston,” Martha said, as she entered the room with candles .

“He is,” Henry Livingston Jr, lately of Poughkeepsie New York, insisted. Though he had to admit that after the events of the day, he couldn’t attest to being certain about anything. Livingston reached out to pat his friend Clement Clark Moore on the shoulder. He noticed absently that his hand trembled like dry leaves in the wind. He had wiped the blood away, but it was still there. It would always be there.

“The other’s will be here soon.” A large women known as Ramona walked though the front door. She had a bag thrown over her shoulder which was filled to the brim. There was a pitiful cry when she dropped the sack to the ground.

Livingston took a step back from her out of instinct. She was smiling around the pipe clutched between her teeth, but it wasn’t a pleasant smile. Within her dark eyes a deep malevolence swirled. She knew he was afraid and it pleased her.

“Time has been stopped but that won’t last long;” She loosened the rope from around the sack and quickly set about her work. A bundle of dry herbs went into the fire. The flames erupted, not red like normal, or even blue like fire’s heart. But white and then a sickly green. Eventually the fire settled down into a deep black.

“Black,” Moore whispered. “How can that be?”

“The half hour before midnight is the time of good magic, Ramona said, the pipe bobbing as she spoke. “But the half hour after, well that’s another thing entirely.”

“We are not meant to do black magic,” Livingston protested. “We just banished…”

“Do not say their names!” Martha shouted quickly slapping her hand over his mouth. “The portal is only newly closed. If you speak their names it will give them strength and all our work will have been for naught. Too many have died this night. I’ll not have it undone by your foolishness.  

He nodded and sat down on a nearby barrel. Moore continued to stare into the flames as the rest of the coven filtered into the room.

“We have enough strength in this room alone to twist the spell,” said one of the women. She was so old that her face was lined with wrinkles. All the smiles and heartbreaks were laid bare on her face. Once upon a time her hair would have been a vibrant red. Now it had faded to a buttery yellow though no hint of silver touched it. “If the spell is to last, it has to be given a life of its own. Under no circumstances can the events of this night be allowed to be revealed. That will give the things on the other side of the portal strength. The most powerful among us have died in the effort to close the portal. You’ve seen evil take form and walk the earth and yet you live. We’ll not get a second chance.”

She moved before the window, the moonlight shone in, glinting of the silver buckle of her shoe and giving it back a thousand times. The fresh snow reflected the same light. It seemed as though the darkest hour was given the luster of midday. A herd of deer paused at the edge of the woods, frozen mid-step. Time had indeed stopped, even the snow was suspended mid fall, twinkling like tiny diamonds.

“I don’t understand my role in this,” Livingston asked. “My friend Moore is a biblical scholar and I but a poet. What would you have from us?”

“There is much strength in you,” the old woman replied. “I felt it while were fighting…” she paused unwilling to name their opponent. “But this night your skill with words will serve us well.”

“I write poetry, not spells.” He stuttered. “I have no magic.”

“That is not true at all,” she said, her eyes crinkling at the corners. “All stories are magic. When they are read, be that aloud or silently, they take on life. That is truly the strongest magic of all.”

Livingston had no words to argue and clearly the old woman felt that she made her point. They set to work, building the fire, setting oils to boil until the room was heavily steeped in the dueling aromas of incense and myrrh. He made himself comfortable on the barrel and began to write. They needed to make sure that the time between Samham and the Winter Solstice were cloaked in forgetfulness. Yet the spell needed to be something that would be repeated year after year. As the woman said, the more it was believed the stronger it would be.

You’re done then,” the old woman asked as she took the parchment from him. “Oh this will do just fine.” She said, smiling as she read “Twas the Night before Christmas…”

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