Moon Dance

Mika woke up to her cat, Moos, pawing at her face to shut off the alarm that had been screaming at her for an hour. It was 10 o’clock, three hours past the end of her ritual. Embers were still lit in the backyard, thin smoke traveling with the wind outside her window. This time of the month is the busiest for Mika, preparing for the Moon Dance and having to gather fresh spring water. She had a long journey ahead of her to the mountains, usually lasting her an entire day.

Mika’s house remained dim, the only light emitting from the grow lamps in her apothecary across from her bedroom and the various oil lamps around the house. She noticed her plants and herbs seemed exceptionally droopy today, walking to meet the foliage.

“I know, I know,” Mika reassured the room motherly, “I’ll get you some fresh water today, I promise.”

Mika headed downstairs to open her back drapes, Moos eagerly following her. As she opened the curtains, nothing but nature and a cobblestone smokepit wrapped in a tall wooden fence was captured through the window. The grey sky made the whole house look like a black-and-white movie. She walked to the front of the house, glancing at the oil lamp illuminating her opened scrapbook of newspaper scattered on the dining table. She swiped the drapes on the front picture window enough to check for pedestrians. When a car drove by, Mika quickly pranced outside to grab the newspaper when her neighbor spotted her.

“Oh, Mika!” Her neighbor exclaimed hushedly, starting to jog discreetly toward Mika like she was an amateur spy.

“Hey, Cornelia,” Mika breathed. She thought there was no one out there, bracing herself anyway for a 30-minute gossip session.

“You wouldn’t believe who I saw Brandy with yesterday,” Cornelia leaned in so close Mika could feel the heat from her huffing as if she had run a marathon.

“Who?” Mika stepped back, Cornelia following as she sniffed the air around her.

“That’s a nice scent you’re wearing! When I was your age, I wore something similar. I think it was called a Sh-”

“Shasta Daisy,” Slightly squinting, Mika’s brows pinched. Is she-

“Yes, that’s it!” Cornelia gestured at Mika, waving her hand like she was swatting nats away, “I tried the weirdest things to get rid of men,” she chuckled, blabbing about the reminisce of her young adulthood when she broke men’s hearts and spent time French kissing girls at the bar. It was odd to Mika. She likes the smell? No one likes the smell–that’s the point. However, Cornelia seemed just to get closer despite Mika inching backward.

“Are you a witch?” There was a pause. Then, Cornelia started to laugh–no–cackle.

“A witch? A ‘Salem Witch Trial’ witch? Those don’t exist anymore,” Cornelia scoffed.

Mika stared dead into her eyes as if possessing her soul, “No one has ever liked the smell of a Shasta Daisy, yet you, a woman who can’t seem to stop talking for one second, used it to repel men in her youth? You must be a witch.”

“Mika?” Mika blinked, snapping herself out of her internal argument. “Meisje, are you listening?” When her vision refocused, she noticed Cornelia waving her hand in her face.

“Not really,” She responded, turning her head slightly to hint Cornelia to stop.

Cornelia sighed, shaking her head, “You young people space out so much,” Mika’s face turned sour as if saying, ‘I’m older than you.’ Cornelia continued, “I said, ‘You should come to the American party tomorrow night at the Claasen’s.’”

“American party? With the Protestants?” Mika instinctively said, uncaring that Cornelia might’ve heard her and put two and two together. She seemed to ignore this, though.

“Nora’s nephew, Pieter, is visiting from Amsterdam. He’s around your age, you know.” This wasn’t the first time Cornelia had tried to set Mika up on dates. Though, she didn’t care. Dating gets in her way. However, it could be a chance for her to find a suiter for her ritual. The magic is more potent, then. “Will you come?”

Mika grew irritated with every minute of the seemingly endless conversation, anticipating hiking up the mountain. “It’s a full moon tomorrow. As a witch, you should know that,” Mika wanted to say. But she couldn’t. Exhaustion weighed down on her heavy eyes and meeting brows. She contemplated whether her suspicions were significant enough to skip preparations for the full moon. She was running out of Moon Water, the only thing keeping her complexion youthful enough to roam about the decades. But she had to know. She had to know why Cornelia was different than everyone else. She was a middle-aged gossip, living off her husband. But it was strange. Why wouldn’t she use the Moon Water to her advantage? Why did she choose to look like that–a wrinkle-infested mortal? She stood so close to the smell of a gross, pungent flower, too–a flower I used an enhancement charm on, she thought. Cornelia inched away from Mika, probably from the intense glare she gave. Mika preferred this.

“I’ll go,” Mika concluded, squeezing her eyes shut.

“Wonderful! Remember to bring a dish,” Cornelia said, strolling back to her house. She never did complete her original topic, something she did often.

“I’ll bring a dish, alright,” Mika murmured. She turned her wrist to check the time. Ten minutes–that’s her personal best.

~End of Part 1~

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