05 September 2012

LOOK Challenge

So. I promised yesterday that I would post the sneak peek of one of my long-standing, still working on, in process novels. This was part of the LOOK challenge, where my dear and beloved friend, Jen Wells, called me out.

I'm finally following through on my promise. It's not much, but a little snippet.

From an untitled work, about five sisters who are witches. It's from the perspective of one sister, Aradia, who used to work for the FBI as a profiler and left because her abilities and her work didn't mix. Aradia lives in a cottage in the woods with her dog, Branwen, and her cat, Samhain. This scene takes place the morning after one of her sisters called in the middle of the night. Maera, the oldest, asked to come crash with her after going through really bad breakup.

After placing fresh linens on the bed, I lit a lavender and sage candle, hoping that the lavender would help to soothe her frazzled nerves and the sage would cleanse any lingering negative energy that she might bring in with her.  The queen size bed looked cozy and inviting with its purple and blue comforter and its multitude of pillows. The oak furniture had been freshly cleaned and oiled, and the lace curtains in the window fluttered in the soft breeze. I purposefully chose a room that faced to the north, so the sun wouldn’t shine in and wake Maera. She is most assuredly not a morning person. I started to walk out and then stopped.  I crossed the room to a small, handcrafted table in the corner. Approximately 3 feet high, it was bare on top with a drawer and a cabinet in it. Checking the drawer, I found all the necessary elements for Maera to set up a temporary altar for her stay – several small altar cloths, candles and candleholders, a small sage bundle and a small seashell, and a box of matches. Closing the drawer, I double checked the cabinet, to find that it, too, was well stocked with altar supplies – several different God and Goddess representations, a small copper wand with a citrine gemstone atop it, and a small black-handled athame in a leather sheath. Smiling at both Branwen and Samhain, who were watching me, I took a final look around.  Satisfied that I would not have to add anything, I left the room.
I brushed my teeth and dressed in jeans and a comfortable linen shirt. Braiding my long auburn hair into a single plait that fell down my back, I sighed. I stared at my reflection in the mirror.  My blue eyes stared back at me from my fair complexion.  My slightly round face was devoid of blemishes, except for a smattering of faint freckles across my nose and cheeks. I pulled myself to my full height of 5’4” and eyed myself in the mirror.  Noting that I was paler than usual, I briefly debated applying makeup, but decided against it. Nothing a little time getting sun in the garden won’t cure, I decided.  Walking back into my room, I sank down into my oversized armchair to pull on my socks and my work boots. I laced them tightly, then laughed as Branwen snuffled at my face. 
“Now, Bran….  It’s time to do some yard work. No playing yet,” I laughed again.  Branwen looked at me from her soulful brown eyes and placed a paw on my knee. Knowing I was being suckered, I decided to appease my loyal companion. Reaching under my chair for her rope toy, I dangled it above her head. 
“Ready?” I asked. She barked in response. I heaved it through my bedroom door and down the hall and she scrambled after it. Samhain watched her from the bed, then jumped down and padded down the hall after her.
I walked down the hall into my airy and bright kitchen. I loaded the dishwasher and got it running, then went into the little storeroom that functioned as a gateway between the kitchen and my backyard. Containing mostly shelving of glass jars storing dried herbs, as well as a long work bench with hanging space above it for the drying process, it also held some of my gardening equipment and, most importantly, some of Branwen’s outside toys. Getting my gloves, gardening tools, and my herb basket, I reached for her Frisbee, too.
“Oh, Branwen… Momma has your Frisbee!” I called into the house.
Frisbee is a very pleasing word to Branwen’s ears. She peeked around the corner into the storeroom and saw it in my hand before perking up. She trotted in after me, leaving Samhain bewildered in the doorway. I tossed a catnip mouse into the kitchen for Samhain, who chased after it gladly. Branwen followed me outside into the yard. I tossed the Frisbee for her some, before settling down to do some weeding, trimming, and harvesting. 
Humming to myself as I worked, I gathered some fresh lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and bay leaves. I was working on weeding around my comfrey when Branwen gave out a short bark. I looked up to see her standing alert, looking into the forest. Following her intent gaze, I peered into the trees, but saw nothing that would have gotten her attention. Picking up everything, I walked over to her and pulled off a glove. Placing a hand on the top of head, I looked again in the same direction, stroking the softness of her fur.
“What is it, girl? What do you see?” I murmured. 
Branwen barked once again and sat. She looked up at me, expectantly. I closed my eyes and searched again, this time with all my senses, to try to understand what she was telling me – and then I felt it. An energy trace, very faint, but off from everything else. I couldn’t place it; it was completely unfamiliar to me. I breathed deeply and grounded and centered, my hand still atop Branwen’s head. Going very still, I reached out to the edges of my property, to the wards and protections I’d set in place the day I’d moved to this idyllic property, wards and protections I worked on routinely to keep them strong and in place. None of them were disturbed, so no one had trespassed. And yet, that faint dissonance was still present, just beyond the boundaries of my property, going into the forest. 
“Well, Bran,” I began, “I guess you’re just going to have to keep a look out. It’s not coming to us, but we should be prepared, just in case.” I gathered everything, including her Frisbee, and started towards the house. Branwen looked into the forest again, then followed after me.

Well, I hope you enjoyed it!

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