Vivienne drove them to town in the compact Hyundai because it was the most inconspicuous and because Shay had never gotten her license.
The town was quaint and small, a place Shay would have always loved to live. Most of the buildings dated back to the 1800’s and had been restored a few years earlier. The town square was a giant open space in the center of town with flowers, trees, and a water fountain almost four times the size of Shay. The streets were lined with old-fashioned lampposts and the people were friendly.
Vivienne pulled up in front of the antique store, and Shay hopped up. She slammed the car door behind her, and then Vivienne rolled down the window.
“I’ll be back in about twenty minutes after I get the groceries.”
Shay gave her a thumbs up. “Sounds good.”
A bell chimed as Shay pushed open the glass door on the store. It had a faint, musty smell and things were piled up high on shelves throughout the dimly-lit front room. There was a cute little porcelain doll, but Shay didn’t know what she’d do with it if she bought it. She browsed the aisles for a few minutes, and then headed towards the back of the store.
There was a thick beaded curtain hanging across a doorway, and Shay brushed it aside carefully as it usually tended to get caught in her thick wavy hair.
The room was bare except for a counter on the side wall where a girl sat, and her curly red head lifted when Shay entered the room. Her heart-shaped face broke out into a smile. “Shay! Merry meet. You haven’t been here in a while.”
“Merry meet, Hanna,” Shay replied. “I know. How’s your coven doing?”
Hanna folded her arms on the wooden top of the counter. “Oh, they’re all well. I think we’re casting a circle this Friday. You’re always welcome to join us.”
“I might be able to stop by.”
“So what can I help you with?”
“I need a bundle of orris root for Sienna and some mullein,” Shay told her. “And some calendula flowers if you have them.”
“It sounds like you’re having nightmares,” Hanna guessed. Shay blushed, but Hanna wasn’t trying to embarrass her. “If I were you, I would still stick with the mullein under your pillow, but burn some frankincense right before you go to bed. That helps.”
“Alright. I’ll take that instead of the calendula.”
“I’ll be right back.”
Hanna went through another curtained door and Shay was left alone. She glanced around the bare room curiously. The walls were burnt umber and the floors were finished with hardwood. Candle holders of colored glass were strung from the ceiling and the white candles in them illuminated the room with a peaceful glow.
Hanna returned a few minutes later with three bundles of black cloth in her hand. She reached under the counter for a small paper bag and slid the bundles inside. She folded down the top and handed it to Shay.
Shay paid and tucked the bag away in the purse strung across her shoulder.
“Blessed be and merry part,” Hanna said.
“You!” a sudden rasping voice shouted from the door to the front of the shop.
Both girls looked up to see an old woman with a shaky finger extended, pointing at Shay. A blanket was draped around her frail shoulders and she was leaning on a cane for support. Beady eyes peered out at them from a wrinkled, round face that reminded Shay of an apple head doll.
“Grandma,” Hanna chastised. “What are you doing out of bed?”
“You,” Hanna’s grandmother said again. “I’ve seen you before.”
Hanna sighed. “Grandma, she’s been in the store at least a dozen times. She lives with Grandmother Clarissa.”
“No, that’s not it,” her grandmother snapped. She turned back to Shay. “My granddaughter doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Come closer, my dear. Let me see your face.”
Shay approached the woman, secretly smug that she was finally taller than someone who wasn’t below the age of ten. The older woman reached out a gentle hand to touch Shay’s cheek, and then she frowned.
“Oh. So that’s it,” she said. “I saw you in my dream last night.”
“Grandma, you haven’t had a true vision in years—”
“Hush. I may be old, but I haven’t lost my senses yet.”
Hanna rolled her eyes and sat back down in the chair behind the desk. “Whatever you say.”
“Did you give the girl any alfalfa for good luck?” Hanna shook her head and her grandmother clucked her tongue. “Well . . . She’s gonna need it.”
Her grandmother hobbled back through the curtain and out of sight before Shay had the chance to ask her to explain. As the beads clicked together as they fell back into place, Hanna smiled apologetically at Shay.
“I’m sorry. She usually stays in bed while the shop is open,” Hanna explained. “But like I said, she hadn’t had a true vision in years.”
Shay nodded and headed for the door. She pushed the curtain aside and then paused in consideration. She turned back to Hanna and said, “Merry part."
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