Prologue for The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish

pexels-lantern-love spell-flame-candle-burning

Cast a spell for love.

The orange head of the match ignited with a flash. Slender fingers held it under the dried kindling. Within seconds, the splintered wood was ablaze, licking up the sides of an oak log, triggering the release of rose-scented oil. Except for the glow cast by the blaze, darkness shrouded the night. Brown eyes peered out from beneath long black bangs. Dressed in white with a pale shawl wrapped around her shoulders, Annah resembled a specter—one who had traveled from outside the realm of the living to watch the dance of the flames. She held a single red rose—an offering for Aphrodite, the Goddess of love.

When the fire reached its fevered peak, she dropped the rose into the inferno and murmured, “Aphrodite, accept my gift as I cast my wish on this Midsummer’s Eve.” The rose stem coiled, and the petals withered under the heat of the hungry flames.

Annah slid her hand into the pocket of her pants and removed a piece of green paper, two cones of sandalwood incense, and five apple seeds. On the paper, in scarlet ink, were written the words to a love spell. “The true love I desire shall come to me. I am the lock he is the key. As mine to him, his soul shall speak to me. This I seek, so mote it be.”

To reinforce the spell two additional recitations were required. During the second reading, she allowed the paper to float onto the engulfed log. The incense cones and seeds followed as she recited the spell a final time. When Annah ended with ‘so mote it be’ a breeze swept through the fire pit and the flames extended scorching fingers toward the heavens. Her canine companion released a soft whimper. “Shh,” she whispered. “It’s okay, Lexy.”

Annah stared into the blaze. “Druids believe it’s possible to see the faces of loves and enemies in an enchanted fire. I wonder.” At first she saw just the ravenous flames but soon an image took shape. A smile emerged. Loving eyes peered back at her as one of the incense cones exploded, sending hot sparks into the perfumed air. The smile turned into a sneer as the wail of a lone coyote pierced the night, bristling her fifty-pound Australian Shepherd’s composure. A series of responding growls emanated from Lexy, but they did little to assuage the sense of unease that passed through Annah. She backed away from the chimenea and sat on the nearby stone bench. “Probably best to leave the fire reading to the   Druids.”

Next to the bench rested a small wicker basket. Its contents, in addition to the bottle of rose oil, included a thermos, teacup, and her cell phone. Annah dropped the box of matches into the basket and withdrew her phone. With a swipe of the screen, she found the song she wanted to play. While the voice of Etta James accom-panied her Annah opened the thermos and poured amber-colored liquid, still steamy and hot, into the cup. Before taking a sip, she raised it high, toasted the Goddess, and then bid the ashes that ascended into the starlit sky success as they delivered her wish. The current returned and spiraled within the fire. It carried the scented heat toward her, enveloping her in its warm embrace.

It was past one when Annah switched off the bedside lamp and lay in the darkened bedroom. Behind her bed, an open window granted access to the night air. A quiet breeze breathed life into the backyard’s wind chimes. Entering the room, it carried a subtle hint of sandalwood on its gentle waves. Circling Annah, it stroked her cheeks, softly caressing her lips. Entering that hazy place between dreams and reality, her mind gave shape to her last thought of the day. This will be my summer, a summer for true love.

The Summer of Annah

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