Aurora walked straight from Freterers to the graveyard where her brother had been laid to rest last weekend. No one stopped her, but Aurora was certain she couldn’t return to the potion shop again without running into trouble. Oh well. She had what she needed.
Her brother’s marble grave, encircled by graves of their ancestors, shone in the afternoon sun. As she stepped closer, she felt his loneliness emanating up through the soil. She ran her hand over the smooth curve of the headstone. “Soon, Castor.”
Aurora read the instructions aloud to him, “On the full moon after your loved one’s death, pour half of this potion into the dirt above the body. Pour the rest into a silver offering bowl for the moon goddess. Do not wait for your loved one to rise. Return home and light a white candle in the front window. When your loved one returns, the flame will extinguish and they will be home.”
She turned the bottle around to make certain she’d read everything. “Seems simple.”
A breeze blew her hair back behind her shoulders. “Patience. We still have a few days to prepare. Then you can come home.”
On the night of the full moon, everything was set. Aurora had made up the guest bedroom in her small cottage, laid out his clothes, and set the candle. Castor would know where to find her. He used to visit often.
Vibrating with excitement, Aurora put on the dress she had worn to Castor’s funeral. It only seemed right, especially since he’d be in his death suit. This time though, she transfigured her hat into a wig of raven black waves. If he saw her without hair, he’d make fun of her as soon as he walked in the front door. She was still sore over the insults she’d received at Freterers. She couldn’t handle much more.
With potion in hand, Aurora lifted her long, black lace dress off the ground and made the one-person procession to her brother. She made it to the headstone just as the moon peaked overhead. The round orb cast a silver glow over the graveyard, eerie and beautiful.
Aurora placed the offering dish beside the grave. When she unstopped the potion a whiff of rotten flowers floated up. She poured part of the liquid in a pentagram over the dirt packed over her brother’s body. Then she filled the offering dish. Clutching the empty bottle, she gazed up at the moon. “Please bring my brother back. He doesn’t deserve this. He’s trapped between worlds. Please, bring him home.”
Following the potion instructions, Aurora didn’t wait.
Sunlight woke Aurora. She had fallen asleep on the couch by the front door, expecting to see her brother before the night’s end. But the candle in the window still burned. White wax had dripped onto the sill and the wooden floor. She went to the guest bedroom. Nothing had been touched. She checked every room in the house, but she was alone. Afraid to blow out the candle, she left it burning as she returned to the graveyard.
The offering had tipped over some time in the night. The pentagram had seeped into the soil. The dirt remained smooth and undisturbed.
Against her better judgement, Aurora went to see Ms. Freterer. The old woman was seated in the back office in a dirty arm chair surrounded by potion crates. She seemed unsurprised when Aurora burst in. “Didn’t work, did it?”
“You’re a fraud. You’re selling bottle of empty promises.”
“I’m selling real products. I give away nothing.” Ms. Freterer’s smile revealed black teeth.
“So it didn’t work because I took it?” Aurora’s indignation faded quickly.
“If you were to buy the product, I’m sure it would deliver.”
Aurora pulled a handful of bank notes out of her pocket.
“Because you stole it the first time, the price is double.”
Aurora gave Ms. Freterer the whole wad of cash. “Will I have to repeat the ritual?”
Ms. Freterer considered. “Usually yes, but because I like you, no. I’ll ensure that the moon goddess finds and accepts your offering. Castor will return to the land of the living by nightfall. You have my word.”
Her word didn’t mean much to Aurora.
To be continued…
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