The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 16

It was finally Friday, the twenty-ninth of October, and the night had been rather boring and uneventful following the last minute drop offs of her mother’s friends at Logan Airport. Traffic had been very slow and the airport was very crowded. Home for hours now, Thankful still could not get to sleep. And once the little girl had skillfully given her Mom the impression she had, KC quietly closed the storybook and tip-toed out of her daughter’s room.

An hour later, Thankful finally heard the door to her mother’s bedroom close. Thankful waited patiently for another whole hour before she rose to her feet and left her room. She prowled around the house, and made sure her brothers and mother were sound asleep, before she noiselessly descended into the basement. Stinkly generally slept inside one of the kids’ rooms and, fortunately for Thankful, this night seemed to be no exception.

Oona was somewhere in Boston again, and with what Thankful knew about Oona’s social habits, she would not be coming home anytime soon. Still the young girl recalled yesterday’s conversation with her nanny, when she warned her of grave consequences for bad behavior. But something else guided the girl now, something that nourished her curiosity and excitement, and which in turn gave her strength and courage. Thankful felt an invisible hand which rested gently, though firmly, on her shoulder. Interiorly, a voice spoke to her from the darkness and egged her forward. I need to move on.

Oona’s cautions went by the wayside and the five year old pressed ahead with her big adventure.

A soft light showed the way to the family room – now the séance room – on one side of the hallway, and Oona’s office and bedroom on the other. Unfortunately both those rooms were locked. Calmly the girl returned to the stairs and very quietly left the house through the kitchen door. In darkness the young girl went onto the breezeway where she borrowed the house key which was hidden there for family emergencies. Once outside in the cold autumn air, the five year old reentered the house through the ground-level. “Does Oona know about this key?” she whispered to herself, and unlocked the door which led into Oona’s office.

The office as well as the family room was undisturbed. Everything’s quiet and peaceful. Thankful approached the open doorway which separated Oona’s room from the office. Once again she was easily drawn into Oona’s bed chamber and to the large cedar chest. Now a glowing red light drenched the area around the large cedar chest, and the girl noticed it was the same kind of reddish light which had caused that wrapped up box to glow. Young Thankful divined something strange and beautiful. She approached the coffer and reached with both hands to open its lid. It was locked. Locked. The chest was nothing compared to that which lived inside it. And while still unseen, concealed and obviously protected, the child-witch had no doubt it was something very, very important. And whatever it was, or whoever it was, the girl was certain it was as she stood before the chest. I’m not afraid. She pondered whether to concentrate on locating a key for the chest, or to try to unlock it by some other means. Thankful soon realized she needed the key. Her mind was not yet trained to cause physical objects, such as a lock, to move. And while the room was quiet and therefore conducive to a thorough search, the key seemed to be disguised too well. While her mind pondered her options, Thankful sensed for the first time, a beautiful, though weird-looking book of great size and ornate covering. Pi Gran Liv Maji it said in artistic lettering, and it was tucked away near the bottom of the chest. Thankful could see it quite clearly now, and it glowed in a pulsing sort of way. How she wished she could set her hands on it! The girl pressed on in all directions and with increasingly futile attempts to locate a key, and then tried very hard to move the lock to open. “Please let me borrow you,” she implored.

No, not yet.

Pi Gran Liv was in a safe place, yet its most enduring protection was the old voodoo magick and Black Arts that surrounded it. To a lesser extent, the blessings of Oona’s Mamie and those who served it before her could add extra protections and concealment. Gran Liv had roots back five hundred years, to the Black Traffic of the slave ships, and the earliest arrival of those hopeless lost souls from West Africa. Now this vintage book took notice of her and was drawn to the young witch, just as Thankful was drawn to it. And at the same time Thankful stood motionless against the casket that contained the weird book, a black witch collected herself in that chest.

The five year old recalled something she had read on line, and a great book of spells and magic could never be concealed from a powerful witch. There was a spell for raising the dead. And Thankful knew that spell was in that book inside the chest. She was positive it was there, and she wasn’t afraid…of anything. Then images of people in old Pilgrim style clothes paraded through her mind, all in a reddish hue. Then one man in particular came into view. Thankful knew the man was named John Proctor. She didn’t know why she knew that, but she did. He was a relative of sorts, from Salem, and she knew that tidbit from her mother whose family’s connections to Salem were strong and deep. Thankful was sure he was somebody’s husband in the 1600s. The young girl’s mind had no clue why she conjured a memory of this man, but she did. And other Pilgrims also came into view. There were all the Bishops: Bridget, Edward, and Sarah. She didn’t know what émigrés were but that’s what these people were in someplace called Rehoboth. Bridget didn’t make it to Rehoboth though. She was hanged as a witch. Thankful never minded the stories, and all the history flowed freely now. Sometimes she didn’t know how she knew some things. She sometimes didn’t know who was saying things to her; sometimes she didn’t even know from where the words came. But it never really mattered who told the stories. She knew all about arrests and hangings, and witches, and regular stuff like drownings, and deaths, and kids. “Well, those were kind of regular stories,” Thankful assured herself. Just stories. “There was an old cousin, a kid who drowned off Gloucester once. His father had another kid, named him the same name, Nehemiah, and he drowned too, not far from the place where his brother died.”

“Maybe I’ll call up a cousin and speak with him,” Thankful said seriously. And maybe I won’t.

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