Prompt: They say I’m a traitor. Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.
“Hi, I’m Roxanne,” I said when she answered the door. “We spoke on the phone earlier.”
“I’m Alicia.” We shook hands, and warily, she invited me inside, leading me to her dining room table. I carefully moved some macaroni artwork off the chair before I sat.
She smiled, but she kept shifting in her chair as if she were considering running away. “I’m a little nervous. Can you tell me a little more about how this works? I mean how did you even get into this…business?”
I studied the woman across from me. Her hair was falling out of her messy bun. It wasn’t a cute Instagram messy bun. It was a straight up mess, complete with what looked like crusted baby food in there. Squash, if I remembered my pureed vegetables correctly.
I looked like her not too many years ago. Exhausted, frantic, inside out shirt, and a leaking nursing bra. Though, my kids prefered to slime me with peas.
“To be honest, I didn’t even intend to make it a business, but my brother-in-law left me no choice.” I sighed. “I don’t want to sound cold. I’m actually pretty fond of him, but when his kids were little and his wife was out of town, he’d drive for five hours, show up on our doorstep with his infant and toddler, and basically move in until his wife was back from her business trips.”
“He did not.” She looked furious on my behalf. I liked her already.
“Oh, he did. And he and my husband would sit around and play video games and I was stuck with five kids under the age of four. But my favorite was when my husband was at work, and my brother-in-law decided that that meant it was naptime for him.”
She leaned forward. “I have to know. Did you kill them? I think I would have killed them.”
“Honestly? I came far closer than I’m comfortable with. That’s when I started studying the occult.”
Alicia got up. “Keep talking, I’m going to get us some coffee. You want creamer?”
“And sugar, please.”
“Okay, so tell me more about how the occult figures into all this.”
I shifted in my seat. I was pretty sure I was going to stick to it when I stood up. “Well, I didn’t go full bore. I started out looking for protection spells and binding rituals. And while I was researching, I discovered sigils.”
Alicia placed a huge cup of steaming coffee in front of me. “I wanted to make a mocha, but all I had was Hershey’s syrup.”
I took a sip. “You know what? This is great. Trust me, I’ve made much worse. And I drank it anyway. Because caffeine.” I took another sip then shook off the memory. “Where was I?”
“Right, sigils. These things are so incredibly versatile. You can use them for protection, hexing, attraction, but as far as I’m concerned, their best use is warding. It was getting so bad, that my brother-in-law was coming up two or three times a month and staying for three to five days at a time. I snapped. I couldn’t take it any more.”
“What did you do?”
“Dude is a pig. Seriously, doesn’t pick up after himself at all. So, I took a pair of his dirty underwear he’d left wadded behind the door and hair from the shower,” I shuddered, “various herbs and oils, and boiled it together under the light of a full moon. Then, the next time he called to tell use he was coming, I took a small brush and painted warding sigils on every side of the house, the garage and the cars. And I waited.”
Alicia had slid forward in her chair, her eyes wide. “What happened?”
I tried not to smile, but it was almost impossible. “He called a few times. Said he was lost. My husband thought he was pranking us, but nope. He turned around and drove the five hours back home.”
I nodded. “Couldn’t find the place at all.”
“When my husband pisses me off, I do it to him, too.”
She laughed and clapped her hands.
“These days, I let my brother-in-law visit every two to three months. And now that I’m not stuck at home with nursing babies, I leave, and let my husband and his brother parent all the kids.”
Alicia shook her head. “I’m impressed. Seriously impressed.”
I shrugged. Some people would say I’m a traitor to family togetherness.” I shrugged. “Maybe I am. All I know is that I did what I had to do.”
“You absolutely did. And,” she added, “you didn’t go to jail for murder.”
I pulled my spellbook out of my purse. Technically, it was one of those planners with all the stickers for things like doctor’s appointments and soccer practice, but it doubled and a mighty fine spellbook. And hey, I’m a busy mom, makes sense to combine the weekly menu with my side gig.
“Now,” I said, clicking my pen. “Who are we warding against? Tell me everything.”
That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories, too.