Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fiction: The Morning After

Delores collapsed into a chair, her hat falling from her head to land in an untidy heap. Whether she liked it or not, the Sabbat was over. Dawn was less than an hour away.

It had been an excellent event, all things considered. Miranda and Jacinda's impromptu seminar on charms and talismans had turned out far more interesting than anyone had anticipated. The Western Lunar Coven had reported significant progress for their research into modern curse analogies. And the servings of poached newt salad and stuffed toadstools had been delicious, despite the fact that Delores could never stand the aftertaste of amphibian. She was almost certain that she would never see another one like it in the next few decades.

She opened her eyes, stared at the ceiling for a moment, and stretched out one arm in a vague direction. "Broom," she said.

Something long and splintery tucked itself in between her fingers. It was getting old, she knew. She had to have it sanded and varnished one day.

She groaned, eventually mustering enough strength to stand up and walk in the direction of the closet. She turned her broom this way and that, trying to get a feel for the weight; after playing with it for a few minutes, she finally opened the closet door and leaned it against the back corner, picking up a pair of black shoes on her way out.

Delores crossed to the other side of the apartment and neatly deposited the shoes near the bathroom door. They needed a little polishing after the long weekend, but she figured that they could last a couple more days. She had laid out her clothes in a neat pile on top of the laundry hamper just before she had left for the gathering, and now she could see them waiting for her.

It was too late for a bath, she decided. Instead, she placed a single facetowel underneath the cold-water faucet and wiped the sleep away from her eyes. Then she unzipped the back of her black robes, shimmied out of them, and kicked the heavy mound of cloth away. She would dump it in the wash later.

She squeezed a bit of Amanita's special flouride-frogskin concoction onto a brush and began cleaning her teeth. Then, impatient with her morning rituals, she crossed over to the pile of clothes, yanked out her underwear, and pulled it on before rinsing with mouthwash.

Ten minutes later she was fastening her skirt. Delores felt that it was a bit of a squeeze this morning -- perhaps the diet wasn't working at all. That would teach her to pick up cheap books from the Sisters of the Glowing Embers' monthly rummage sales. Maybe she should have followed Jacinda's advice about the salmon entrails instead.

Now she reached under her bed, reached past the garlic and the charms and the discarded bangles, and pulled out her laptop. She fished around a little more, looking for the WiFi installer she had meant to use the previous week, and tucked it all inside a black knapsack with an inverted five-pointed star artfully drawn on the bottom in red marker.

Delores pulled the bag over both shoulders, looking over the room one more time to see if she had missed anything. Satisfied at first, she began putting on the shoes that she had originally deposited near the front door. Then she realized something, almost slapped her forehead in self-frustration, and reached into the bathroom for her discarded black robes.

It took her a few minutes to find her keys. The thing about black robes, Delores mused, was that you could never tell which side was inside and which was outside. After that embarrassing moment last year when she had told her landlord that the ensemble was all merely for a costume party, she wasn't about to lock herself out of her own apartment again.

She dropped her keys into a pocket of her knapsack and turned out the lights. Then she stepped out of the apartment, waited until the door had closed behind her, and finally walked towards the bank of elevators in the middle of her floor.

She was going to have to do something for next year, Delores mused. But in the meantime the night had already ended, and it was now time for her morning commute.

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