Monthly Chapter: May 2021 – Chapter 16

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.

Chapter 16

The lessons weren’t that difficult and relied mostly on Tansy’s ability to focus.  By the time she made it through the lessons in controlling her sight, Tansy felt her belly begin to rumble.  Thoughts of lunch intruded on the lessons and she decided that her focus would be better served by being directed towards a sandwich. 

“Besides,” she told herself.  “I can learn all of the lessons but unless I test them on something, I won’t know if they work.”

That was the big drawback.  Tansy could study the book, but she needed something to test herself on.  In addition to blocking the sight of a magically moving painting, the lessons allowed her to tell which paintings were made by those with magic.  Once she identified one, she could practice letting it move and refusing to let it move. 

“I just need to identify one to practice on.”

Tansy looked around, but there was nothing that looked like it could serve as a test.  There were no pictures, no posters.  Even the articles pinned to the corkboard wall were shorn of images and contained only words. 

‘I guess f Aunt Eunice had the same issue she might not want them here in her workspace where they could distract her.’

Tansy’s belly rumbled again and she closed the book.  Deciding that it might be better to leave it here rather than take it upstairs, Tansy slid it back on the shelf.  She then stood up and looked around.  Everything was as Eunice left it.  While a part of Tansy wanted to poke around, she knew that doing so now might not be the best plan.  Once she read Eunice’s letter all the books became sealed against her except for the small section in control located at the front of the first lesson book.  She didn’t know what that meant for the various jars and cupboards.  They too might remain sealed until she made a decision.

“And at the moment I can’t even read the words that constitute acceptance.  They are too blurred out.” She sighed.  “Control before acceptance.”

She suspected that in addition to teaching her to control herself, the lessons were designed to give her a little taste of what things were like so she could make a better decision when it came time to accept or reject.

While the concept of magic was an interesting one, the thought of her possessing it was strange. ‘No stranger than the lawyer throwing green fire at the house, I suppose,’ She thought.

  Tansy turned towards the stairs and climbed them back up to the main floor of the house, leaving Eunice’s workroom behind.  The lights clicked off behind her but continued to illuminate her path back to the pantry.  Tansy stepped through the secret door and closed and locked it behind her.  She did the same for everything else.  When everything looked as it always had, Tansy moved to the kitchen.  She walked directly to the refrigerator and opened the door.  Items to make her sandwich were soon laid out on the kitchen island and she began assembling her lunch.  As she did so Tansy let her thoughts wander.

Magic could be nice and it could bring all sorts of fun and exciting things to her door.  ‘It could also bring poisoned casseroles and fire throwing lawyers.’ After the would-be burglars left, Tansy did a search of the house.  While there were many items of value in the house there was nothing that looked as though it would be the target of a break in.  Most items of value were antique furniture bits.  She couldn’t see anyone breaking in and hoping to run off in the night carrying a 200 lbs. armoire.

“I could see Mrs. Weathersby arguing with someone over antiques at an auction house but not breaking in to steal them,” Tansy said as she layered the turkey slices onto the bread.

If the something they were trying to break in to steal wasn’t an average item, then it might be a magical one.  Agreeing to learn magic wouldn’t just teach her magic and cause Eunice’s friends to stop by, it would cause people like the Weathersby’s to drop by.  ‘If they have magic they would be part of the community.’

Thinking of the casserole, Tansy knew she wouldn’t be inviting Margaret Weathersby in for tea.  If the house was protecting her from people like that, she wasn’t going to bring them past the houses defenses.

“But I can’t stay in the house forever,” she realized.  She was certain the lawyer and his wife would be polite in public, so her thoughts turned back towards moving artwork.  Tansy looked around the kitchen.  While the large back window let in a lot of light and had a spectacular view of the back garden, there was no artwork of any kind on the walls.

No paintings. No posters. No photographs.

Tansy finished assembling her sandwich and moved to the kitchen table.  She returned to the fridge and added a bottle of water to her lunch.  She sat down and began to eat.  As she did, Tansy mentally walked through the house looking for items of an artistic nature and that could, in theory, help her practice. She frowned as she realized there wasn’t a lot of art in the house. 

‘Maybe if Aunt Eunice had the same problem, she didn’t want to have them around,’ Tansy reasoned.  She finished her lunch and wiped up the crumbs.  She took the plate to the sink, rinsed it off and set it in the drying rack.  She returned all of the ingredients to the fridge and made sure the kitchen was in order.  With everything ready, Tansy decided to take a stroll through the house. 

While there were many small objects scattered about, there were no paintings on the first floor.  She circled through the rooms and came up empty.  Tansy went upstairs and peeped into each of the spare rooms.  Not even a landscape graced the walls.  She went into Eunice’s room. 

The only images present there were from the newspaper clippings Eunice had pinned to the wall.  Tansy moved to study them, but no matter how much she poked and prodded them, none of them moved.  She couldn’t even get a wiggle out of them.  Considering most of them were people, she was secretly grateful for their motionlessness.

Tansy left Eunice’s room and took a quick tour of her own, even though she suspected it wasn’t going to do much good.  It didn’t. There were a few photographs she had of friends and family, taken at long ago events, but none of them so much as wiggled.

“I suppose that leaves the upper floor storage,” Tansy said.

She left her room and climbed the short staircase to the upper floor.  When she was little she remembered playing around on the upper floor, poking into old trunks to find clothing from long ago to use for dress up. Knowing that the trunks of old clothing were towards the back, Tansy always raced through the front rooms.  Now she took her time.  The first few rooms contained mostly furniture items.  Bedframes had been taken apart and leaned up against one another across the back wall.  Chairs formed geometric piles and were covered over with a dusty sheet.  Marble topped tables vied for space with desks and floor lamps.

Tansy saw no sign of any paintings.  She found another room that looked as though it was the repository for all sorts of files and paperwork generated by the family.  There were stacks of leger books and two walls were completely covered with row of filing cabinets.  As she figured there was probably some order to the files, Tansy backed out so as not to disturb anything.  Finally, in one of the smaller rooms Tansy found what she was looking for. 

The room looked as though it was the repository for all of the art that wasn’t  displayed around the house.  Lined up like solders in a battalion were framed paintings, each covered with its own dust cloth.  The rows stopped about a foot from the door and the lines reached all the way to the back wall.

“I guess that explains where everything went,” Tansy said.  There was something odd and slightly off putting about seeing so many pieces of framed art work liked up and covered like that. She couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was, but the sight made her uncomfortable.

Tansy moved to the first painting and lifted the edge of the dust cover up.  The painting was about two feet wide by one foot high and featured a field of grazing sheep.  There was a windmill in the background but no shepherd nearby.  As Tansy looked at it, the windmill began to turn and the sheep bent their heads towards the grass to continue their grazing.

Tansy swallowed hard, her throat dry and hands suddenly sweaty.  She dropped the cloth over the painting and picked it up, eager to be away from the room and whatever lurked beneath the sheets.  She realized that was why this room felt off to her.  Each of those sheets covered a painting that wasn’t just paint.  It was paint infused with magic.  She could practically feel the images pulsing,.  They felt almost eager for her attention.  Eager to move.

Tansy swallowed hard. She picked up the painting showing the sheep, carefully leaving the dust cover in place.  She backed out of the room, somehow not wanting to turn her back on the room of paintings.  She closed the door and felt instantly better.

“Right,” she said.  Her voice coming out sounding a little shaky.  “Something to practice on.”

Deciding that was as much of an investigation of the storage spaces in the house that she needed to do, Tansy took the painting downstairs.  She felt better once on more familiar ground.  She looked at her room.  While it would seem natural to practice in her space, she found herself reluctant to take the moving painting to her bedroom.  Instead she continued downstairs to the kitchen. 

The space was as familiar to her as her own room and was one of the rooms she spent the most time in.  when living here with her Aunt, neither of them really used the living rooms.  They either spent time together in the kitchen, garden or woods or spent time alone in their own rooms.  

Tansy propped the painting up on the kitchen table.  She wiped her palms down on her pants and reached for the dust cover.  She tugged it from the painting and let it fall to the kitchen floor.  It whumphed to the tiles emitting a puff of dust.

In the painting the windmill slowly turned.  Tansy thought she heard the faint creak of wood and wind and hoped that sound wasn’t being added to the affected senses.  She wanted to be able to at least control one sense before another one kicked in.

She took a deep breath and tried to focus on the windmill and use her will to get it to stop moving.  Nothing happened.  The windmill still turned and the sheep still grazed. Tansy took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  She felt her heart racing.  What if she couldn’t control it?  Would the billboards come to life as she drove back to her apartment?  And was she the only one who could see them moving?  The books said nothing about that.  She remembered the water pouring out of the frame at the bank and forming a puddle on the floor.  Clearly someone would see that. Could they only see the effects and not the movement that created them?  Would the bank manager see the water but not connect it with the painting?

Tansy couldn’t remember seeing anything like that in the books.  Her heart raced and if anything the windmill began turning faster. “Not good. Maybe I better get the book.”

Tansy left the painting where it was and moved towards the secret workshop.  Now she was cerain she could hear the creaking of the wooden panels as they turned in the wind.  She even heard small bleats from the sheep and the occasional bell tinkling as the bells around their necks shifted with their movements.

She left them behind and returned to the workroom.  Tansy slid the book from the shelf turned and started to go up the stairs.  She was stopped at the base of the stairs.

“Oh come on,” she said.  She tried to take a step forward but her foot bounced off the invisible barrier.  It was like when she tried to turn the pages in the books.  There was no reason they wouldn’t turn, they just wouldn’t.  Tansy tried again with the same results. 

“Think,” she told herself as she started to panic.  She did not want to be trapped in a secret room somewhere in the middle of the house.  “The books were different after I read Eunice’s letter.  What is different now?”  Tansy looked around trying to find anything that looked different.  Nothing was out of place.

“Nothing has changed.”  Tansy tried for the door again but was bounced back out of the doorway hard enough to be knocked onto her rear end.  She dropped the book as she landed.

Tansy climbed to her feet, rubbing the sore spot on her backside where she landed.  She bent to retrieve the book but stopped as a thought hit her.

“I didn’t try to take the book out with me last time.” 

Tansy picked up the book and set it on the workbench.  She then tried to cautiously move through the door.  This time she was able to leave.  There was no barrier preventing it.  Tansy stepped back into the room.  She picked up the book and again tried to leave with it.  She was bounced back into the room.

“Right, the book stays here. Of course it does.”  Tansy opened the book and read through the lesson again.

“Total Concentration,” She read.  “I was concentrating.”  She read a bit more and had to admit that she might have let her fears seep into her thoughts.

“Okay,” she said closing the book and placing it on the workbench.  “No fear, total concentration. I can do this.”

Tansy left the book out in case she had to return to consult it again and went back up to the kitchen.  She closed and locked all of the doors behind her.  As she left the pantry, the sound of the sheep was louder and the bell sounded like it was in the room with her.  She could even smell something like damp wool. 

‘Great, I get smell too now,’ she thought as she turned the corner to enter the kitchen proper.  As she entered the kitchen she saw one of the sheep shake loose its fourth hoof as it stepped out of the painting and stood in the kitchen.  Tansy stopped moving.  The sheep looked over at her and bleated loudly.

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