Barefoot and dressed in a simple cotton gown, Ellie stood at the window on Friday evening, watching as the sun slowly slipped below the horizon. She had no idea, actually, what she should wear for spell-casting, so she’d chosen something simple, something natural, something comfortable. It felt right.
The time had come to begin. Earlier, she’d prepared a small altar, her own magical place where she would perform the ritual each night. She’d used a brilliantly-colored green and gold silk scarf for an altar cloth and had placed a small vase of fresh flowers at the edge.
According to the grimoire, spell-casting required careful thought and keen attention to detail. Each of the four natural elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- must be represented.
The scarf, Ellie figured, could symbolize the earth and its beauty. The flowers drew life from water and released their sweet fragrance into the air. Fire, of course, would come from the candle she would light.
As she turned from the window, she caught sight of herself in a small mirror. A pair of dull brown eyes stared back at her. Ellie frowned. She felt different, but she still looked the same. It would never do. An ordinary woman like Ellie Crawford could never work magic. If she meant to change her life, she must first transform herself.
She grabbed the phone. “Miranda, I need your help,” she said as soon as her friend answered.
“Is this about David?”
“No, it’s about me.”
“What’s wrong?” The concern in Miranda’s voice was genuine. “What can I do?”
“I’m tired of being plain and ordinary, always fading into the background. I want to be the sort of woman who commands attention. I want to be more like you. Will you help me?”
“What brought this on?”
Ellie suspected the truth would not help her cause. She hedged. “I was just looking at myself in the mirror. I don’t like what I see.”
“I’ll come by tomorrow morning,” Miranda said. “We’ll go through your closets, get rid of all those dowdy dresses and those awful shoes you’ve got. Then we’ll go on a little shopping spree. We’ll schedule an appointment for you at the salon, and then we’ll...”
Fifteen minutes later, Ellie hung up the phone with a smile. Already she felt better, more powerful, more in control of her own destiny. She liked the feeling.
Night had settled in now and darkness shrouded Ellie’s tiny apartment. She moved slowly through the shadows toward her make-shift altar, ready to perform her first ritual. It might have little power behind it now, but with each passing day -- and with each change she made within herself -- the power behind her magic would grow.
Seated cross-legged before her altar, Ellie struck a match. The first tiny spark burst into brilliant flame, and a sudden warmth filled her heart.
Your life is about to change. You’re lighting a candle within yourself, illuminating the shadows and revealing truth. Are you prepared?
The voice came from within and from without, from above and below.
The match had nearly burned down to her fingers. She shook it out and dropped the charred matchstick. Her hand trembled as she struck a second match and held it to the candle’s wick. It caught and began to burn. The thin, pink taper glowed brightly, steadily.
Following the instructions she’d been given -- to the letter -- Ellie wrote David’s name upon a sheet of white paper. She wrote her name beneath it, then drew a heart around both, joining them together in a sign of love.
“Our fate is sealed and we are one. My heart has power. It is now done.”
As she watched the flame, she thought about David, about the love they’d shared in the past...and the love they would soon share again.
Finally, when the candle had burned down, and the flame had flickered and died, Ellie closed her eyes. A profound stillness surrounded her. She could not recall ever feeling so much at peace.
Moments later, the noisy jangling of the phone shattered the silence. Startled, Ellie jumped, knocking the vase of flowers from her magical altar. With one hand, she grabbed the vase; with the other she reached for the phone.
David’s voice crackled through the night.
Her pulse raced. “Yes, David.” Giddiness swept over her, and for a moment she couldn’t think, couldn’t speak.
But she felt something stirring deep inside.
For a moment, David remained silent. Ellie could hear his breath, could close her eyes and picture him holding the phone close. She exulted in this strange, new-found power she possessed.
“Was there something you wanted?” she asked. “Something you needed?”
“ No, not at all. I’m sorry about this. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“It’s no bother.” The words came out as a raspy whisper. “I was hoping to hear from you.”
“Yeah, well, I wasn’t calling you, Ellie. I don’t know what happened. Guess I hit the wrong button on this damned phone. You know how that goes.”
“Right.” The vase of flowers slipped from her grasp. Cool water spilled over the hardwood floor and trickled across her bare toes. Ellie hung up the phone, hugged her knees, and let the tears come.
Hearing David’s voice had opened all the wounds again, had brought back all the bittersweet memories of their love. His betrayal cut her to the quick. It hurt as much now as on the day when he’d broken off their engagement.
But now, she had a glimmer of hope. She brushed away the tears and turned to gaze upon her altar. Already her feeble spell had begun to work.
David had called her. He had spoken to her.
Had it merely been a mistake?
Or had it been magic?
- To Be Continued -