Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oktober the Eighth: A Spell of Nice Weather

I'm inhaling the green scent of cut lawns, here, in balmy breezes of a most lovely Oktober afternoon. That's the bud that grew into today's story. It's short, under five hundred words. I hope it gets across all those things I wanted from it. It's expandable, I'm sure.

 Peace, Mari

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Spell of Nice Weather

By Mari Kozlowski
10/8/2011



 Messy counters behind her, green light in front, streaming through the open French doors. Lucky to have a bite of Indian summer, Mrs. Cieslinski next door had said, in the garden yesterday. Carol had smiled and nodded to her while she patted in a small plot of dusty miller— it should just have time to establish itself before the frost came again. There was nourishing earth underneath, enriched with a compost.

 She needed these last few green and blue days before the iced white that was coming. She’d made her piece with the dark months ages ago and used the indoor time well. Autumn had long been her personal blooming time, but this week: this week had taken the color from her face and the strength from her arms. Her eyes looked grey instead brown, her hair was like straw.

 Luck, Carol knew, was what happened when you paid attention. Luck was what you got for judging your next move correctly, and making the move with confidence. It was a magic anyone could perform, like blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. You prep the spell, make the wish, release it into the air on the smoke of the candle… release the energy contained in the wish, buoyed by the elements. Simple and effective. 

 And there was bad luck, too: judging poorly or hesitating till the currents changed. Or letting someone you loved have more control of your essence, your power, than you kept for yourself. That made the worst kind of luck happen. The luck that takes your lover, your job, your house, your smile and leaves you scraped raw for months or years afterwards. Carol knew that kind of luck when it came to her. She heard when it talked to her in the uncomfortable voice of a friend.

 She’d felt the curse in her bones and seen it in the mirror before she’d been told.

 Told, when it should have been obvious. She’d paid attention to the wrong things, like smiles and touches that weren’t sincere. And presents given to assuage guilt, when she’d thought they were gifts of shared love and joy. Summer gifts, like the pale yellow roses that came back each year, or the tomatoes from a neighbor’s backyard bounty. Heartfelt and luminous.

 Then suddenly, a hot coffee and toasted Danish weren’t much of a lure to leave her bed. She found couldn’t take the chill of morning outside the blankets, the crisp evenings that used to thrill her as she jogged. Two weeks she stayed there, cold inside and out, till it was too much.

 She wanted the summer, warm and promising, needed to soak herself in sunlight and leaflight. She would have given anything to get it back, sacrificed anything. He hadn’t left much, though.

 Now late afternoon flickered in bright dots and waves over the round rug in front of the back doors, tempting her out, calling her. She threw the empty dog dish into the garbage under the sink and got a pitcher to water the new planting. It was a gorgeous October day.


2 comments:

JohnPainter said...

I'm very interested in the idea of a character struggling to resolve her conflicting beliefs regarding "luck" (i.e. her pragmatic reasoning versus her ritual behavior/wishful-thinking). I think, as this piece grows in length, it will benefit by fleshing out further illustrations of how her internal conflicts are externalized.

heavy hedonist said...

Interesting direction. I do think I can flesh this out sometime.