Archive for witch

Pot Auntys

Posted in Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by javedbabar

Ali needed a new pot for her book club dinner. A plastic handle had come off the old one and she’d had a go but couldn’t fix it. The previous tenant’s cookware was junk. Its handle stayed wobbly whatever you did. It had caused her to spill a whole pot of stew. Thank God she was wearing shoes! It had taken her an hour to clean the mess, and wasted ten dollars of ingredients.

She went to the hardware store for new cookware. There were so many different metals – pans made of aluminium, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, and carbon steel, and those with non-stick coatings. There were composite materials like enamelled cast iron, enamel over steel, and clad copper, plus alternatives like ceramics, glass, glass-ceramic, and silicon. What was the difference between them all?

The cookware specialist – she had a badge saying so – said, “Choice of material has a significant effect on performance and cost. Key factors you should look for are thermal conductivity and how much food sticks. Pans should conduct heat, but be chemically unreactive. Some may require surface pre-preparation with…”

This was too much information right now. Ali said, “Which one would you recommend for me?” The cookware specialist picked one out.

“How much is it? Oh, two hundred and twenty dollars? That’s more than I can afford.”

The cookware specialist told her the benefits of buying a pot for life. It would prove cheaper in the long run. How old was Ali now – twenty five? If she lived to seventy-five, that was fifty years at less than five dollars a year.

Ali said, “Does it come with a guarantee?” The cookware specialist said there was a two year guarantee.

“But didn’t you say it was a pot for life?” The cookware specialist said who, these days, thinks beyond two years? If Ali didn’t wish to invest her money wisely, maybe she should go across the road to the thrift store instead. This was a ploy to shame her into reconsidering, but she really didn’t want to spend two hundred and twenty dollars. She preferred to take the shame.

The sign on the hut across the road said Eternal Antiques. Ali had visited many times but never seen anyone working there, just shadows moving among piles. She’d chosen her items, dropped her cash into the honesty box and left. They had a good selection of books, clothes, games, and sports equipment. She recalled seeing cookware downstairs at the back, and made her way down there. Ali admired a painting of a medieval kitchen. Servant women in black aprons and white bonnets attended to steaming cauldrons, boiling pans and blackened spits. A vast feast was being prepared for their masters, and if they were lucky, the servants would dine on leftover suckling pig, roast swan, herb-roasted roots, and gravied dumplings.

Ali rummaged through the pile of cookware, causing crashes and bangs as lids rolled around. She found a dark fat cauldron, similar to one in the medieval painting, priced at five bucks. Its handles were welded. That’s what she needed.

It didn’t seem like the pot had any special coating so Ali scrubbed it well, but it remained dull and refused to shine. The water was on full, rushing and gushing. At one point she heard laughing but it must have been water fizzing as it whirled around. It was a good sign though. This was a happy pot.

Her book club members were coming at six, so she had better get cooking. She felt a grumbling as she crumbled stock cubes, which settled down as the water reached a rolling boil. She chopped beef into cubes, and then felt drawn to certain ingredients. Voices in her head said “Add this,” and “Add that,” causing her to reach for parsley, sage, hyssop, and cloves. The voices told her to add mace and verjuice – which she found in the previous tenant’s spice drawer – and egg yolks, ginger, salt, and saffron. This wasn’t her usual recipe for stew. The taste was much stronger and spicier. What was she making? She had no idea.

Her book club members said it was the best stew they had ever tasted, and the sole male member stayed for “coffee”. Later in the bedroom she heard further voices in her head, saying “Do this,” and “Do that,” and laughing. The book club member said this was the best sex he’d ever had.

Next morning as Ali washed the pot, she heard laughing again, as if someone was being tickled. It matched her good mood. She decided to scrub the pot really hard to remove the char stains. As the pot became shinier she noticed shapes wobbling within it. There was a series of black blobs, all crushed together, with pale circles within them. As she looked closely, Ali saw the servant women from the painting.

The pot was made by an English blacksmith in 1666. Women burnt in the bishop’s kitchen during the Great Fire of London had given the pot their souls. Added to these were the souls of every woman who had ever used the pot. There’s a reason that witches use cauldrons. Ali’s soul would also inhabit this one.

Crazy Garden

Posted in Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Yvonne’s parents were really busy. They worked full-time and were only at home in the mornings and evenings, and at weekends just stayed in bed. They loved her of course but they never had time for her. They were always like this, having sort of given up in the world.

Yvonne did her share of washing, cooking, and cleaning, and the garden was completely her domain. Mum and dad wanted to pave it over. “Honey, it’s too much to manage,” they’d said. “Imagine how much time we’d save if it was maintenance-free?” She recalled pulling the worst face ever. “We could have some flowerpots if you like. And think about your own sports yard – to play whatever you want.”

“What would I play by myself?” she’d said.

Her mum had turned away, about to cry. He dad had flashed anger but quickly controlled it. He’d said, “Whatever you want, honey. Play whatever you want.”

The truth was that she didn’t want to play anything by herself. She wanted another sister. One that didn’t disappear.

Yvonne went into the garden daily. It was only a patch of lawn edged with some rosebushes, daffodils, and tulips, but she’d done a nice job of planting. She loved being involved with nature. It seemed magical that things just grew out of the ground. Mrs. Murdoch called over the fence, “How is Lucerne’s most promising young gardener?”

“Very well thank you. How is Lucerne’s hardest working gardener?”

Mrs. Murdoch lived by herself and didn’t go to work. How she paid her bills no one knew. She had made an amazing little world in her garden, and devoted her time to tending it. It wasn’t a big space – the same as Yvonne’s, about thirty feet square – but she had transformed it into something extraordinary. She was always out in her garden, come rain or shine, cutting, pruning, planting, and singing. There was a tall fence right around it, so Yvonne couldn’t see her when they chatted outdoors. She only ever saw her from above, peering down from her sister’s room. It made her sad to go there, but it was worth it to see her neighbour’s garden.

At its centre was a rough brick well with a pointy slate roof, reached by walking around a circular labyrinth made of stones. There were two prominent fruit trees, one with golden shining apples, and the other with what appeared to be black and white blossoms. There was a wall of metal mirrors on one side – had she had a TV makeover? – and a tiny bog on the other, always enveloped in mist. One corner held a rockery with many fluffy mosses, and the other was filled with spiders’ webs. A glass globe dangled from one corner of the house, with a luminous surface like oil spilled on the road, and on the other corner was a spiral metal drill spinning with the wind. There were bird, squirrel, and hummingbird feeders. A red-roofed, white shed seemed like home to the white statues placed around the garden. It was hard for Yvonne to note their features from high up, but she could see they were wearing angelic robes. A nice change from gnomes.

Her dad said, “Why would someone go to all that trouble to make something just for themselves? Something they never shared. It seems selfish to me.”

Her mum said, “She’s a good gardener, she’s probably had horticultural training, or landscape design. But she just does it for her own pleasure.”

“What’s wrong with that?” said Yvonne. “Shouldn’t we make ourselves happy?”

“That would be a fine thing,” said her mum. As soon as I’m back from work, and have cooked dinner, done the laundry, changed the sheets, and washed up, I’ll get right on it. I’ll make myself happy.”

Yvonne saw she was raw, and said, “Sorry mum.” Her mum turned away, and Yvonne knew she was crying again. Her dad hugged her mum, and then hugged Yvonne.

There was a huge storm that night – thunder, lightning, and drumming rain so loud that Yvonne woke up. From her room she saw her own modest garden – the rosebushes were bending, and tulip and daffodil stems had snapped. How sad. She wondered about the garden next door. She crept into her sister’s bedroom to see.

Mrs. Murdoch’s garden was going crazy. The golden apples were shaking and flying off; black and white blossoms floated into the sky; the rough stone well cranked, and the labyrinth’s stones rearranged themselves; mirrors flashed back bolts of lightning, which lit up mists arising from the bog; the mossy rockery had become a little Niagara; the spidery corner held raindrops like jewellery; the glass globe reflected all of this; the spiral drill spun furiously; bird, squirrel, and hummingbird feeders swung violently, dispensing seeds, nuts, and sweet squirts; red tiles flew off the shed roof.

Suddenly the storm stopped. The house door opened and Mrs. Murdoch walked out. She smiled up at Yvonne and waved. She had a beautiful face. Yvonne waved back. Mrs. Murdoch beckoned her down. Yvonne felt compelled to go. Mrs. Murdoch opened a small gate and let her into the garden. Despite its disorder, it seemed beautiful and wonderful. Too late Yvonne realized that the statue next to her was familiar. Mrs. Murdoch touched Yvonne on the head and she joined her sister, asleep in a witch’s garden. Mrs. Murdoch was pleased with her dozen adopted children. They were better off here than with parents too busy to care for them. She would tend them instead.