Chapter LIV

Mr. Stokes pulled his vehicle up to the curb directly in front of the familiar shop on East Main Street in Bridgeboro only a short distance from my aunt and uncle’s historical home. It was nestled between two other local businesses; Bay Coast Auto Insurance and Yang’s Martial Arts. As I read the sign above the door and painted gold script on the large glass window, I felt a rush of warmth spread within me. It was if the name of the shop; Luminosity was reflecting the suffused glow of my being. I recalled my previous autumn encounter with the owner, the time when Mother, Dad, and I stopped by to see my Aunt Brenda and Uncle Stephen on our way home from Cape Cod. It was the same visit I purchased the sphere that enabled me to free Aunt Rachel from the vortex that had appeared in the foyer of our home in Rhode Island.

Daniel and I exited the car and followed Mr. Stokes to the door. The emerald green curtains and small white Christmas lights remained the same since my last visit, but the items featured on the display shelves had been altered; the herbal books, Tarot decks, crystal towers, and Egyptian statues were replaced by a large ceramic bowl filled with peculiar looking stones each bearing a naturally formed hole, wooden boxes engraved with occult symbols not only on the lids but also surrounding the sides, amber colored bottles of various shapes and sizes filled with an undistinguishable liquid, and statues of gargoyles and other mythical creatures. Bundles of dried herbs and flowers hung by twine from above the window frame. I was excited to be here again, but restrained myself from pushing aside Mr. Stokes and my brother to be the first of our trio to enter the shop.

The swinging motion of the wooden door awoke the string of small bells that hung from the ceiling and announced our arrival to anyone inside the building. The aroma of spiced incense and sound of flowing water welcomed us. It appeared as if the shop was vacant though I detected the hushed murmur of voices and attempted to distinguish where they originated. It sounded as if there were at least two people engaged in conversation behind the shelf displaying a variety of mortar and pestles, but their volume kept me from understanding the words being said.

Daniel and I followed my tutor and approached the counter where the cash register was located as the familiar middle aged woman with long, curly, black hair appeared from behind the several tall wooden bookcases at the back of the shop, her friendly Siamese cat trailed behind her. As she approached I became aware of the heady scent of roses mixed with a sweet spicy scent of earth, which reminded me of Grandmother Williams’ garden.

“Gerald!” she smiled, embracing Mr. Stokes and placing a kiss on each cheek, “Merry meet and good morning.”

“Elizabeth,” he responded, mirroring her greeting.

“I see you’ve brought friends with you today,” she smiled as she turned her attention to my brother and me and as our eyes met the feeling of kinship washed over me as it did when I first saw her months prior. I found it strange yet somehow comforting. It felt as if we shared an intimate bond; that we were best-friends reconnecting after being apart for years. I wondered if she felt the same way.

“I’m going to assume that since I don’t see a package in your hand that you’re not here to return the sphere,” she winked … or had I imagined that wink?

“I’m not returning it,” I shook my head. “I love it. It’s… well … rather special and unique.”

“Indeed it is,” she nodded. “I think that perhaps it has found its rightful owner. Wouldn’t you?”

I wondered if she knew the power that the sphere held, if perhaps she might be able to access it and use it in the same way I had, or if perhaps she just understood that it held a power that was inaccessible to her. Clearly she held some knowledge that it was more than a mere curiosity.

“We’re here for –” began Mr. Stokes, but Elizabeth finished his sentence for him.

“The diaries,” she said as she walked over to the counter; the three of us following.

Daniel leaned his back against the counter and looked around the shop though I was unsure if he was disinterested or distracted. He seemed to be preoccupied with his own thoughts during the entire car ride and had ignored my numerous attempts at conversation. I hoped that his distraction was due to a girl, but my own insecurities caused me to worry that he was focused on something else, something that would cause him to withdraw from me again. I was pleased with the recent shift in our relationship and wanted to continue to nurture it so that we would become as close as we once were when we were children. I disliked discord in my life especially when it was between Dan and me and I didn’t want anything to threaten our relationship again.

“I have them here,” Elizabeth explained, retrieving the worn leather bound journals from beneath the counter. “I wasn’t sure you were coming today, but I knew you’d be here soon. The portents were undeniable.”

“Portents?” asked Daniel, turning around.

So my brother was paying attention and wasn’t as unfocused as I thought him to be.

“Yes, indications or signs of something,” explained Elizabeth, “Things that foreshadow a coming event.”

“Like an omen?” he asked. His curiosity had been piqued.

“Precisely,” she nodded placing the three leather bound journals on the counter.

I wondered what sort of portents she experienced and whether they were general indications that Mr. Stokes would come to see her or if they indicated that it would be me specifically. It felt as if there was something between us and I didn’t understand it, but knew that if it was an actuality and not something I was fabricating then she would understand it.

“Have you had experiences with omens?” Elizabeth asked.

I watched Dan’s cheeks flush as he took a step back. “Me? No, no,” he shook his head vigorously. “I just watch a lot of movies.”

The shop owner chuckled. “I understand.”

“Why do you have the diaries?” I inquired.

There was a subtle exchange between my tutor and the store owner before she responded.

“Well,” she began, “as you already know, people tend to donate items to me when they find items or books that are occult in nature. These diaries, since they deal with the Salem Witch Trials, fall into that category. But honestly that isn’t the only reason I still have the books in my possession.”

I knew what she was about to say before she spoke the words. I felt it within me;  a stirring, a knowing; the explanation about the bond I felt between us.

“These diaries not only hold information about your descendants, they hold information about mine as well.”