Helene seemed to remember her new charge around two p.m and she killed the television with a click. After feeding the children several cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches and doling out Juicy Juice from the already opened can underneath the kiln, Helene brought the girls into the living room and seated them in front of the altar.
"Okay guys" she said. "So, we're going to talk about the Craft because it isn't something that Rachel knows very much about."
Nita interjected then.
"Mom, I already taught her some stuff while you were talking to our grandma yesterday."
Rachel stirred feverishly and flung her face in Nita's direction. Nita stared at her mother, cross-legged on the rough carpet. She appeared more focused than Rachel had ever seen her since first meeting on the previous day. She chewed her bottom lip and did not notice as a fat drop of spit began to form at her mouth.
Helene grinned at them and continued.
"This is the altar. It faces north for the rising of the sun. At the very top....there, that's Isis. Isis is the mother goddess in Ancient Egyptian Mythology. When practicing Magic, you get to choose your own goddess. It's really just a symbol, so we can connect to the goddess easier. We're really trying to connect to the female energy of nature. Because nature has both male and female energy."
Rachel looked at the large statue on the very top shelf. It was a golden woman on bent knee, with wings protruding from her back and an orange circle upon her head, encompassed by a U-like shape that curled at the ends.
"Now" Helene continued. "This is for crushing herbs"
She picked up a small stone bowl with a cylinder-shaped stone utensil.
"And this" She picked up a small glass vile. "This is crushed sage. It's for cleansing the altar between uses."
"Wait. I have a question" Rachel said. "Do you guys really do spells? Do they work?"
"That's like asking if Christian prayers work."
Rachel didn't say anything. She was unsure what her mother meant by her answer.
Helene again picked up her thread of explanation.
"We do spells to connect with nature and with the mother goddess. We believe in the rule of seven. Whatever you do comes back to you seven times. So if you do something good, then good things will come back to you times seven. But then if you do something evil, then evil will come back to you times seven. That's why we only do white magic. You won't see any books of black magic on my shelves."
"If black magic can hurt you, then why does anyone ever do it?" Rachel asked.
"It's a lot like any kind of revenge. The person wants to hurt someone else so much that they don't care if they hurt themselves too."
"Oh" Rachel mumbled.
"So me and your sisters do spells sometimes. Mostly, I have to work with my coven because they're older and know more about what they're doing. Nita and Amorey aren't full witches yet, so anytime we do spells it's more of a teaching moment."
Rachel felt a hot searing jealousy rip through her. It wasn't fair that Nita and Amorey should be so bonded to their mother, and here Rachel was only now beginning a relationship. She felt like the two of them had a headstart on her that she'd never be able to gain back.
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***Long-listed for the Watty's 2018***Rachel lives in constant fear that she will burst into flames. She can feel the heat building in her gut. She keeps buckets of water under the bed. She keeps them to fend off the flames that her body may create...