The Monthly Chapter: November – Chapter 10

On the first of the month a new chapter is posted from an as yet to be released book. The current book is Tansy Moves In. This is the first book of the upcoming Oak Hill Series. Currently all of the chapters in this book posted previously are still posted for those wanting to catch up on the story thus far. They are all tagged and categorized under Chapter. if you want to search in the previous posts section , or you can just scroll back through the posts. Your choice. Happy reading.

Chapter 10

Tansy hefted the broom stick over her shoulder as though she was carrying a rifle and marched back to the kitchen. “I should have just brought a cell phone,” Tansy said as she inserted the handle into the discarded broom brush.  She twisted it back into place, the squeaks of each twist loud in the darkened kitchen.

“If I’d used the cell phone then I could have just called the police,” Tansy continued.  Once the handle was back in place she moved the now intact push broom back to the broom closet. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said as she closed the broom closet door.  “Oh yes I do,” she corrected as she walked back to the light switch.  She flipped on the light switch flooding the darkened kitchen with light.

“I was thinking it would be stupid for Eunice’s lawyer and his wife to try to break in. After all if they wanted to they could have broken in before passing off the keys to me as he had the keys in his office.”

Tansy’s stomach rumbled and she realized she was hungry now that the excitement passed.  She also realized that she wasn’t in the mood to cook.  She went to the freezer and took out another container of Eunice’s frozen soup and put it in the microwave to defrost. As the microwave went to work, Tansy leaned on the counter and thought.

It made no sense for Roderick and Margaret to try to break in. The keys were handed to Roderick’s care while probate was settled and all of the information about Eunice’s will dealt with.  Tansy was short on details there as all she really knew about that sort of thing came from movies and books. “But as he gave me the keys when I arrived he clearly had them before I did and could have come over for a snoop or a burgle to get whatever he wanted before passing them over. Why wait?” She asked.

The microwaved dinged, but it wasn’t the informative answer she hoped for.  It wasn’t even the hot soup she hoped for. Tansy stirred the soup and noticed there were still ice chunks in the center.  She added more time to defrost and sunk back into her thoughts.

Then there was the attempted break in itself.  Tansy shook the image of Margaret and her cat burglar suit topped with the Hermes scarf and thought about everything else. In her world concrete steps did not spark and throw people about.

“But then lawyers don’t toss around green balls of light like…like…wizards …or something,” Tansy added.  The microwave dinged again and Tansy stirred the soup.  It was all liquid now, but still stone cold.  She turned it from defrost to high and let the soup warm.

Wizards were myths, stories told in books like fairies and goblins. They weren’t real.  “And if they are, they are people in costume, not lawyers who throw fire at my Aunt’s house.”

The microwave dinged again and Tansy took the now hot soup out, carefully handling the hot bowl.  She placed it on the table and then took a spoon from the drawer.  She sat down and ate her soup.  Fairy story or not, Roderick Weathersby tried to throw green fire at the house and the house threw it right back at him. 

‘It could have been part of a show,’ she thought. She took another spoonful of soup.

‘But then he didn’t know I was here so unless he was trying to impress Margaret, the show would be pointless.’

She thought of his burned suit.  It didn’t look faked. ‘And his anger looked real enough too,’ She thought.

Eunice was always telling her to keep an open mind.  To entertain all possibilities instead of being limited by what she thought should happen.  Eunice wanted her to see what was there as it was before deciding what it should be. Usually she was talking about food and bending a recipe she found from someone’s cookbook.  Tansy wasn’t stupid though, she knew most of Eunice’s lessons were designed to act as a counter balance to her mother’s way of thinking. 

Catherine Alexandria MacDougal Sanderson Barrett Linden Warren Jeffries nee Watson was not the sort to bend her way of thinking. Once she decided on the way things were then that is the way things should be.  It did not always make her the easiest person to live with. While Tansy’s father was Catherine’s first husband, husband number two. Kevin Sanderson, was already served with divorce papers by the time Tansy’s father died. Ian Barrett lasted two years before he became tired of being the only one to compromise. Jeremy Linden actually collapsed and died with a heart attack while threatening divorce after only eight months. Isaack Warren lasted nearly three years before throwing in the towel.  Surprisingly, her mother’s latest sixth husband Frank Jeffries was going on his fifth year as her mother’s mate and no mention of a potential divorce on the horizon had been wafted in her direction.

Tansy wasn’t certain if her mother finally learned to compromise, if Frank agreed with Catherine so there was no dispute or if he was the sort to cave automatically.  She only met him a few times and that usually in passing.  They met and married when Tansy was spending the summer before her senior year living with Eunice.  As their extended honeymoon took them out of the country until well after the school year started, Tansy moved in with Eunice and finished high school in Oak Hill before going off to college. The two of them hadn’t really stopped traveling since their honeymoon and Tansy saw them only when they passed by on their way to do laundry before heading out again.  If it came down to it, she wasn’t entirely certain she could pick her current stepfather out of a line up.

Tansy shook the thought of her mother and Frank away. Her mother sounded happy so it wasn’t something she needed to think about.  Watching her mother’s inability to compromise, to be flexible and the resulting arguments and divorces was incentive enough to learn to bend.  She didn’t need Eunice’s lessons as a reminder.

“But maybe Aunt Eunice wasn’t talking about Mom,” Tansy said as she finished her soup.  She took the empty bowl to the sink and rinsed it out. “I mean Mr. Weathersby was her lawyer, maybe she knew he liked to throw fire.”

Tansy rolled her eyes as she mentally pictured the lawyer juggling flaming bean bags like a demented clown.  Despite the strange image it sounded better than actually saying the word magic aloud.

“Still if Eunice hired him, maybe she knew about him.  And if she knew about him, maybe she knew about …others.” Even in her own head Tansy couldn’t connect the word magic to her Great Aunt.  It just wouldn’t fit. Eunice always had books about magic around the house, story books and books of herb lore, tales of mystical magic creatures who lived in the woods.  Tansy read them all when she was younger.  While she was never very good at identifying mushrooms, she was once pretty good with identifying the various herbs in the woods and around the property. Tansy wasn’t sure how much of it stuck in brain as she hadn’t used it in a while, but she was sure some of it was there.

“But Aunt Eunice wasn’t as good with herbs, she was better with mushrooms. Surely if she was some sort of…,” Tansy found herself unwilling to say the word witch in conjunction with her Aunt. 

“I’m sure there is some explanation,” Tansy said.  Magic wasn’t real.  She knew magic wasn’t any more real than the creatures the books claimed lived in the wild woods.  They were stories nothing more.

‘And maybe Mr. Weathersby knew I was here…somehow… and was trying to trick me.’ 

Still stymied as to why he and his wife would break in in the first place, Tansy set her cleaned bowl and spoon in the drying rack.  She dried her hands on the towel and went into the hallway.  She turned off the kitchen light.  While she knew some of the kitchen equipment was professional grade and therefore probably quite expensive, she couldn’t see Roderick breaking in to steal it. She reached for the hallway light and as she turned she thought she saw movement through one of the windows.

Thinking of the previous attempt at breaking in, Tansy let her hand fall away from the light. The kitchen windows faced the back garden, which at the moment was more or less buried for winter under mulch and fertilizer awaiting the onset of spring.  The fertilizer gave off a few drifts of steam in the half light of swiftly fading evening. 

While she needed the light on in the kitchen it wasn’t yet full dark outside.  Running behind the gardens was a pathway.  It ran through everyone’s property on this side of the road and in fact if taken one could walk straight into town on it without even needing the road.  The town terminus ended just outside the courthouse. The path could also be taken further out of town and ended somewhere near the county line. While few people walked the length of it, the path was used often enough that it was referred to as the pedestrian highway and often used by Eunice and her friends to go visiting each other. 

‘The Weatherbys are an old family,’ Tansy reminded herself.  She didn’t know which side of the road their house was on, but if it was this side then they could easily have decided to walk over and try to break in the back door. Tansy ducked low to keep out of the sight of the window and crossed the darkened kitchen.

‘At least I got to eat first,’ she thought.  Tansy peered out of the side of the window and saw two figures on the footpath.  Neither looked like Margaret or Roderick.  These two looked as though they were wearing hooded sweatshirts and long skirts.  They were moving along the foot path but then stepped off of it, walking directly towards the house.  Tansy had sudden visions of the back door being unlocked and hurriedly crab walked to the mudroom at the back of the house.  She slipped inside and made her way to the door.  Both of the locks, the one on the door knob and the deadbolt attached to the back door were locked.  Tansy sighed but then outside she heard the crunch of footsteps. She sat down in front of the door so she was hidden from the back window.

Thinking that if she could hear them through the thin back door then they could hear her, Tansy remained motionless. The footsteps stopped.

“The protections are intact,” Tansy heard someone say.  The voice was clear, the woman speaking making no attempt to conceal her voice.

“They are,” a second woman’s voice replied.  There was something strange about the voice, but Tansy couldn’t put her finger on what was strange about it.  The only thing she knew for certain was that this was not Margaret and Roderick Weathersby. 

‘It also doesn’t sound like any of Eunice’s friends,’ she thought.

“I thought the old witch was dead,” the first woman said.

“She is,” the second one replied. There was a pause.

“Maybe they lied about her being dead,” The first voice said.

“No,” the second woman said.  “I tasted her ashes on the wind.  She is dead, her remains scattered.”

“But the protections remain.”

“They have transferred to the new witch.”

There was silence and Tansy fought not to hold her breath, but to breath in and out as quietly as she could.

“The new witch is …different from the old one,” the first woman said. “There is something about her that is …unlike the old one.” She sounded hesitant as though uncertain of her words.  Tansy wondered if English was not her first language.  There was no noticeable accent, but she chose her words as though she had to think about them and was not entirely confident in her selection.

“She is stronger than the older one,” the second woman said.

“She will need to be,” the first woman replied. “Or we will soon taste her ashes upon the wind.”

“Come,” the second woman said.  “The house is sealed against us.  We cannot bypass the protections and will need to wait and deal with the new witch at the appropriate time.”

“How long do you think the wait will be?” The first one asked.

Tansy heard the crunch of their feet as they turned and began walking away.

“That is not up to us,” she was told.  “We will have to wait and watch.”

There was a sigh that could have been the wind.  No further words were spoken as the two outside the door crunched their way over the still winter dry grass back to the path. When Tansy could hear no more footsteps, she risked getting to her feet and slowly rising to peer out of the bottom edge of the window.  In the distance she could see the two women.  Their backs were to her.  Their skirts swooshed around their ankles obscuring their feet and the hoods covered their heads providing no insight into who they were. 

There were no markings on the clothing that would identify them.  In the darkening yard the cloth just looked black and nondescript. The two women reached the path and turned.  Tansy was surprised to see them continue on the path leading out of town. There were houses located further past Eunice’s, but Tansy knew those owners and couldn’t think of any two women like these who lived in them. As they disappeared from sight, Tansy stood, looked down at the lock to make certain it was still fastened and then walked back into the house. 

‘Witch,’ she thought when she was standing in the dark kitchen. Tansy shook her head.  ‘It doesn’t have to mean magic, it could just be an insult.’ At the moment she found it more concerning that four people wanted to get inside her aunt’s house now that she was gone.

“What could they be looking for?” Tansy asked.  She thought of the files and thought that it was a possibility.  She also decided that perhaps taking a walk through the house to see if Eunice added some strange new object since her last visit might not be a bad idea. Surely anything worth breaking in to retrieve would stand out as strange, new and possibly valuable. She couldn’t think of any other reason a lawyer would risk turning burglar.

“I’ll start at the front of the house so the lights won’t show on the pedestrian highway before the women are gone. Who knows, maybe Aunt Eunice has the Hope Diamond stashed in the front parlor somewhere. Stranger things have happened, most of them here.” With that thought, Tansy left the kitchen and headed down the hallway prepared to find whatever it was everyone else seemed to be looking for.

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