Tables Turning

SELIAH’S NOTE:

 

I found this letter to mom when I was helping her pack her things to leave Dad’s house. I had no idea why this woman would write something like this – it didn’t make a lot of sense. Like she and Mom were friends passing a baton or something. It made me really nervous about when mom left. I guessed she didn’t really know where she was going. Looking back, I suppose that’s how it is for all of us. Do any of us ever know exactly where we’re going?

 

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TONI:

 

My first reaction was non-belief. I folded up the letter and stuck it back in its envelope. It was meaningless and held no power over me. Besides, I’d had a love spell done up, and I trusted that there absolutely would be a way for things to work out.

 

The thing about initial reactions is that they’re usually for self protection. I was no different. I wasn’t going to admit to myself that I might be wrong about the plan. There was no way some girl named Maggie could interfere with the connection between me and Harold.

 

So I ignored it. I tucked the letter away and continued with my plans. I focused on being a good mom and wife. If the Universe was going to set this up to test me, then so be it.

+++

 

And then there were the days it crushed me. I spent those days in bed or in a hot bathtub. I lit candles and said prayers to my guardian angels, asking that they watch over me while I put one foot in front of the other. The sound of the clock ticking away in the background unnerved me and it usually ended up unplugged or in pieces in the trash bin.

 

But every morning on the following day, I felt that flower of hope pressing against my ribs. I would find a way to make it happen. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not even next month. I was convinced I was favored by the gods. I could do this.

 

+++

 

The secret to getting through all of it was creation. Now, don’t go calling it a hokey mess, okay? I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or how it would work out, but something deep inside of me convinced me that it would turn up alright for me. I wasn’t the kind of person destined for misery her whole life. That was impossible.

 

+++

 

ROY

 

Eventually I came to terms with the idea that my wife was a handful. She was both a hard worker and a passionate artist. She’d given our kids good genes, though, and she really put a lot of effort into being a good mom and wife for a lot of those last years we were together. And boy was she determined.

 

I think that’s where you got that part of your character, Seliah.

 

There wasn’t anything to complain about, really. ‘Course there wasn’t a whole lot of consistency from her, either. I never really knew which person I’d be coming home to: the wife who was totally together and putting forth huge amounts of effort, or the one who didn’t get out of bed that day. Most of the days were pretty good. Sometimes she’d make a killer meal and she loved hearing all of us ooh and ah over it. Some nights she’d show of an amazing pencil drawing or a painted canvas she had put together. It was spectacular – those times. Other times it seemed like everything I said or did was this close to pushing her over the edge into tears. I had no idea what was wrong with her, and I was pretty alright with that. I’d given up trying to figure that woman out years before. She was who she was, and we just made our terms together.

 

+++

 

WAITRESS AT THE BREAKFAST DINER

 

Roy? Yeah, I knew him. He came in for breakfast a lot over the years. He was a very decent man and a nice tipper, by golly. He made sure I got a good tip, “To help take care of the boys,” especially around the holidays. What a sweet fella he was to me all those times!

 

He always asked about my kids as they were growin’ up. “Say, how’s that Bobby of yours,” he’d say, or, “Did Petey ever take up baseball like I recommended?” He’d tell me about his two kids, too. Boy, those kids must be all grown up by now.

 

Yeah, it was always Roy there in that booth over on the left wall, see? He had his spot and I made sure to save it for him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He came in, lookin’ real nice in his jacket and tie. Handsome fella. I’m not sure why he didn’t ever bring the wife and kids in. Prob’ly he just liked a little quiet time before headin’ in to the office, I reckon.

 

Oooh, girl, but he did come in with a lady once. Not sure who it was, but I wasn’t thinkin’ she looked like she’d had any babies. Didn’t introduce myself to her. She was pretty, but her nose was pretty big. Long dark hair. Very polite. Didn’t talk a whole lot. When was that? I’d have to thinka ‘bout it.

 

Must’ve been 1961, I guess. Bobby’d just tried out for varsity baseball, and he did that his sophomore year. I remember because I was so excited to tell him and then there she was, and I didn’t want to interrupt anythin’. I’d say it must’ve been 1961. Yeah, ‘cause Bobby graduated in ’63 so there ya go. Why? You lookin’ in on Roy for some reason? He was just the nicest man! Here, ya want some more coffee?

 

+++

 

TONI

 

As things, go life moves forward bit by bit. Every week that passed led me farther away from that letter and instead of feeling unsure about what the future held, I started thinking maybe things would turn out as a special surprise for me. I didn’t really have to know what the future held. Life has a way of turning all your expectations right upside down, and that was no different for me.

 

+++

 

Of course, there were ways you could make things work out in your favor. I hadn’t spent all those last handful of years learning the craft for no reason. In fact, I kept finding every opportunity to get clear on exactly what made me happy, what made me tick, and trying to open up my mind to whatever I could take for the pickings.

If it wasn’t the pendulum helping me determine the best decisions to make, or the runes to give me insight on what my kids were up to, it was a spell or reading that helped me get in tough with the highest power within me to point me in the right direction.

 

This sort of guidance really seemed to calm my spirit and teach me patience – one thing I’d never been good at before. And in being patient, I think life had its biggest lessons for me.

 

+++

 

When you come from a place of an open mind, it seems like a whole slew of opportunities make themselves available to you. Ones you really never expected and surely had no idea what to do with them. For one thing, my days with Roy were becoming a lot more… enjoyable.

 

And I had regular epiphanies about how the kids were growing into actual little friends to me. Lamar Kevin was growing up into such a neat kid and Seliah kept knocking everything she did out of the park. I was learning so many new things in the coven, and it seemed like it was so easy to fall asleep in those days. Unlike the angsty chaos that my life had always been before, I was moving through the day with an unprecedented confidence. It was like I was growing up or something.

 

I truly felt I was finding my way in life.

 

+++

 

To add to it, I was communicating with my family back home, more. I started responding to letters as quickly as they arrived and between my sister and mother, I was receiving a new letter every week. Even better, I was excited when my mom and sister agreed to come visit us in Florida! Unheard of! I skipped through my day finding happy coincidences and making an effort to really show Roy and the kids just how grateful I was for their presence in my world.

 

+++

 

I’d become quite good at reading my own tarot cards, and for every bit I learned, I taught it to Seliah. My then fourteen-year-old daughter was an extraordinary running partner in the craft and proved herself a fantastic way to keep me in check when I needed a reminder to stay the path.

 

+++

 

Although it didn’t happen often, sometimes she’d find herself home for the day, while Lamar Kevin was still at school and their dad at work. She and I took advantage of those rare alone times to read. We were growing really close in those days, and I remember she had the day off from school early on in her freshman year of high school. We were so excited!

 

We’d done this ritual so often before that lighting the candles, laying out the cloth, and blessing the cards were basically by rote. Seliah, being the diligent one of us, had been writing our readings down in a journal that she took great lengths to hide away so that no one would uncover it.

 

I’d catch myself thinking, “Like mother, like daughter” when she first recommended doing that sort of thing.

 

She readied the pencil over the paper, waiting for me to breath in, exhale, and begin.

 

The first card was a Seven of Swords. It represented someone who is doing something under the cover of darkness. My daughter jotted down after the description, “Pay attention to dodgy behaviors.”

 

The second card was a Three of Cups, reversed. My eyes popped at that because the card usually indicated that there’s a third person in the relationship. I heard Seliah take in a sharp breath.

 

And the last card was Moon, reversed. It meant that something below the surface is about to surface. She wrote it down, and slapped her pencil on the table.

 

“Mom.” I hadn’t heard that level of force from her in a long time. How many years had it been? Two? She glared at me and stared right into my eyes. “You sure as hell better not be thinking of leaving us again.”

 

+++

 

The crazy thing about it was that I hadn’t been thinking about that. In fact, it had been a very long time since I’d put any effort into thoughts of the plan.

 

After all those years of trying so hard to be the perfect mother and perfect wife, all those days after days after days of doing my penance and searching for the things that gave me joy, I’d really found myself in a happy place. Harold had moved on without me, raising a child who had to be five or six by now – I couldn’t remember because by then it had lost any value to me.

 

I realized at that very moment that I absolutely and utterly had stopped wanting to leave Roy a long time before that. That I had truly fallen in love with him, with our life together, and with these kids we were raising together, and that it had been a long damn time since I’d done anything to ready myself for leaving.

 

Did I still love Harold?

 

I absolutely did. And if things could work out so that I could be with him again without breaking my husband and children’s hearts again, I’d find a way to make that happen. But since that was extremely unlikely, I’d resigned to love what I had instead of trying for something that could never be again.

 

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