Beware the half-light, was what her grandma used to say. ‘Tis the time of mystery and nefarious shenanigans.
Beware the broken mirror, her grandma also used to say. ‘Tis only the five minutes you have to make good.
And yet here she was, in the garden in the half-light, hacking at the hard, frozen ground with Grandma’s old trowel. Five minutes to bury the broken shards of the mirror.
Not even a crumb of earth could she dislodge.
Five minutes. More like four minutes. She must have used up at least a minute throwing salt over her left shoulder, turning around three times widdershins, and grabbing – carefully – shards of the broken mirror and running to the potting shed for Grandma’s trowel.
The wind sighed in the dark bushes at the edge of the garden.
Three and three-quarter minutes.
A wizened man stepped out of the dark bushes. “Digging a hole, lovey?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. “But the ground is too hard.”
“What’ll you give me if I dig it for you?”
She looked at him, long and hard, at his warty nose, at his over-large ears, his pointy chin. She tried to see the expression in his eyes but the brim of his hat was too wide and his eyes were shadowed.
“Nothing,” she said.
“Looks like seven years of bad luck for you then, my ducky,” he said.
“Be off,” she said. “I’ve digging to do.”
In a puff of rank, malodorous smoke, he was gone.
Sweat burst from her forehead in beads the size of grapefruit. The tip of the trowel dented. She scraped and gouged at the earth with her fingers. She could not allow seven years bad luck to come down on her. Not another seven years.
A burst of light in the dark bushes, and there beside her stood a lady in a wondrous robe, all a-glitter.
“Need some help?” asked the wondrous lady.
“Yes,” she gasped. “Please.”
“What’ll you give me if I dig that hole for you?”
She looked at the wondrous lady, at the glitter, the sparkle. Was that the way it was supposed to work? “But are you not my fairy godmother? Are you not supposed to give me my heart’s desire, no questions asked?”
Oh the evil laugh that burst from the wondrous lady! How you would have shuddered to the very cockles of your being, how your heart would have trembled, how you would have held your dear ones close, had you heard it.
Heart all jittery, she examined the wondrous lady more carefully in the half light – nose: warty, ears: over-large, chin: pointy.
A moment of temptation: seven years bad luck vs ??
“Be gone,” she said to the wondrous lady.
In a puff of rank, malodorous smoke, the wondrous lady was gone.
A black dog trotted out of the dark bushes. It sniffed around, lifted a leg. By now she knew what to look for – yes, the dog’s nose was warty, his ears far too long.
She threw Grandma’s trowel at the black dog. It yelped and skidded back into the bushes.
The trees moaned and sang a mournful dirge to the hidden moon. Shadows crept closer.
The dark closed in.
The time of the half-light was over.
She had endured and conquered. She sprang to her feet, heart light and airy as a cobweb. She still had a minute and a half. There was only one thing for it. The last resort. One she would never have dared try in the half-light. She would go down to the graveyard and touch a broken shard of mirror to a tombstone.
She picked up a shard, and took off for the graveyard at full speed.
Now it was dark, fearsomely dark. She would be safe in the graveyard in the dark.
2016 is my Year of the Blurt: each week I’ll take advantage of an odd spare moment or two to write something very quickly. Probably the Blurts will mostly be fiction, but who knows!
Thank you for dropping by to read this week’s Blurt. It was inspired by the Daily Prompt’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light. This is my thirteenth Blurt – does this explain the superstitious content?
Please note: all material on this website, except for comments by others, is © Susi Lovell.