One hundred years had come and gone since Pandora’s banishment and only one witch knew the secret story passed down through the generations of her family within her coven home.
Located down the end of a lengthy dirt drive, the house exuded a mystery and an ominous appearance for the onlookers of Salem, Massachusetts. The light breeze nudged the wind chimes that adorned the coven house. Warm air carried giggles from the window of the second floor, coupled with sounds of birds chirping from within the backyard.
As the gray-headed postal worker walked up the creaky stairs to the porch, the sudden opening of the old wooden door startled him. “Oh!” He said and grasped his chest as he held a few letters in his hand intended for the old and tarnished mailbox. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer the door.”
The lady stared at him with a modest smile and then reached her arm outward to take the mail from his grip. “Here, Clyde, let me take those for you,” she said with a smile and a gentle tug at the letters.
Clyde’s eyes glistened. He paused as he stared at the woman’s light gray but piercing eyes that seemed to look through him. “Oh, yes. I am sorry, Esmra, it is sometimes I just...”
Esmra chuckled under her breath. “I know, get lost in a moment? It is fine, I understand.”
She pulled the letters from his death grip and Clyde backed down the steps without turning around until she was back in her house with the door closed. He shot off the porch down to the end of the lengthy dirt drive, where he jumped into his mail route car and kicked it into motion. He expelled several rocks outward from the back tires as he sped away.
Esmra looked out of the window and mumbled, “He will never get used to delivering mail here, I wonder if I gave him a cookie if he would realize I am not some horrible witch.”
A teapot whistled from the kitchen, and she could make her tea with a blindfold on. Not taking her eyes off the return address of one letter the nervous mail carrier delivered, she found her oven mitt and poured the steaming water into a bright orange coffee mug with a few chips on the handle.
One letter caught her attention, and she pulled out a small piece of light pink paper with beautiful penmanship. She covered her mouth and hid a bright smile.
She ran upstairs to her closet to add the letter to her collection. When she pulled her letterbox down from the top shelf, another box fell at her feet. She took a deep breath and the excitement left her face.
Decorations and symbols from ancient Egypt covered the box. Memories from just a year prior were still as strong as the day she lost Raina. Pain brought a tear to her eye when she recalled the time when Pandora’s box turned an innocent, youthful woman into power-hungry desperation. The young woman, Raina, she wished to save from her past, and protect from a 100-year-old curse. As she sunk down in her closet, Esmra brushed her fingers over the box and went back to the time when things seemed to be on the right track. But in reality, Raina was on the path to destruction.
“Girls, what have I told you? Now I know that it is exciting to go out on a date, but please settle down.”
One girl, who stood taller than the other, with long luxurious black hair and perfect skin, chuckled, “Sure, Esmra, sorry. It is just that Raina and I struggle to get dates, you know. We are just thrilled that two best friends want to take us out, ya know? Two best friends!”
The more serious of the two girls shared some prevalent physical traits. Black hair, dark eyes, and white skin, but quieter than her best friend.
Esmra cut her eyes up at both and left the letter on the table to get another cup of tea.
“I understand, just be careful. You know, the two of you are the youngest in my coven. I know your circumstances are a little different, but remember, it isn’t a clever idea to share too much about us, you know.” Esmra resumed sorting her mail.
The two girls dashed through the kitchen and out the back door into the wondrous garden that Esmra kept. With spring in bloom, many of the plants were tiny, but no matter the time of year, it was a sanctuary to those who lived there.
The girls went to the furthest place in the garden where many steppingstones were stacked, all unpainted or decorated.
Raina picked up two-stepping stones and set them on the table, while Amelia went into the nearby shed and brought out various paints and brushes.
Together the pair stood within the witch’s garden and painted their steppingstones to add to the garden.
Raina’s eyes surveyed the area as she opted for another color. “How many witches have come and gone here?”
Amelia shrugged. “I don’t know. I know all witches paint their initials on their steppingstones and leave them behind. Esmra isn’t a spring chicken, and I know that this house has been in her family for many generations. I believe since the town of Salem was settled a long time ago. Her family underwent much of the trials when they hunted witches.”
Amelia continued to paint her stone, and her smile was bright, and her beaming white teeth popped against her dark red lips.
“Why do you think she let us come?” Raina asked.
“Well, you and I both were taken from our parents, stuck in foster care, and now that we are adults, we can do as we please. Esmra cares about the underprivileged and I know she loves us. I am just thrilled we ran into her during Halloween last year when she had her booth set up selling her oils. I struggled to pay the bills, and she was a lifesaver. Not to mention like a mother to us both. I have loved being here even if it has only been a few short months, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do too. Better than where we could have ended up, I guess. I feel a lot better than I used to. And our dates! Look at the time, let’s finish these stones later and get ready for our date night.” Raina put away her paintbrush.
The best friends ran into the house and passed Esmra, who sat reading in her living room with the television volume low.