So for the last however-many years, I’ve been doing an October series called Witchy Weekends. Some years I reviewed books or movies, presented songs, that sort of thing. Then in 2019 I began posting consecutive scenes from a story I was writing; one of the characters is a witch. It seemed like a fun experiment, and…well…the story got some really good attention!
But I was also in the middle of finishing up my (at the time) next book — which is out now, by the way. It’s called Homecoming, Book 2 in the Animal Affinities Series. (Click on this link to find out information about the online launch event in a few weeks!) So I put this new story aside.
Well, some of my blog readers have been asking me about that story and have encouraged me to resume it. (Thank you!) So I have agreed! Today’s post is a slightly edited version of the scenes I posted last year, so you don’t have to go look them up. As for the story’s progress, I do have a rough outline of what’s coming next, but also, I am writing this story as we go along. So if you want to leave feedback or speculate on what’s coming next in the comments of each post, feel free. I make no promises about whether your ideas will make it into the future scenes — as I said, I’ve already kind of figured some of that out — but this story is also a fun exercise in plontsing, so.
That said, let us commence with…
THE FROG WISH
Eleanor couldn’t stop staring at the frog. A large creature, larger than the palm of her hand, it watched her as she circled the table, following her with its eyes and even turning a little to keep her in its line of sight. Maybe it was aware she was wondering about it? The thought made her a little uncomfortable. In her world, frogs were supposed to be garden animals. They did not possess the intelligence to be inquisitive about people. This one almost reminded her of Lucas, the way he had watched her sometimes from across the room, cocking his head slightly when she did something a little bit interesting. She circled around the table, and the frog’s eyes moved with her in an articulated curve, watching her until she stood behind him.
The frog lifted itself off its haunches and turned around, squatting once more, looking at Eleanor again. It made a little croak.
All the old stories of princes being turned into frogs by witches flooded her imagination. What would it feel like to kiss one? Slimy, no doubt… What would ever possess someone to try it? She looked over at Moira, measuring dried lavender buds carefully into a plastic bag for a customer.
“Now be sure to sprinkle those in the bath while the warm water is running,” she was saying. “And say the charm I gave you at the same time.”
The customer nodded her head. “Right. And I have to focus on myself only, not on anyone else.”
“You wouldn’t want to be unethical,” Moira smiled. She tossed a long braid over her shoulder. “Bad for your karma that way.”
“Got it. Thank you so much!” the customer called as she left the shop.
Moira looked back at Eleanor and grinned. “Some of them are so easy to please,” she said. “Just a few herbs and a decent meditation, and they think I’ve changed their lives.”
Eleanor looked at her friend more carefully, then glanced down at the frog, who’d just let loose a croak worthy of a blue ribbon. It blinked its moist eyes at her then looked away.
“This one of yours?” Eleanor asked, pointing to it.
“Who, Reginald?” Moira laughed. “He’s like a pet.”
Eleanor couldn’t believe she was about to ask it, but–– “Did you make him…?”
“Did I turn him into a frog, you mean?” The amused grin on her face tried hard not to look condescending.
Eleanor felt stupid now even for thinking something like that.
“No,” Moira laughed. “I found him that way. The Goddess has to take credit for that one.”
Eleanor sheepishly turned away from the frog, who croaked again, and followed Moira into the book room for tea and a cozy seat on the sofa.
The book room was Eleanor’s favorite spot in the entire shop. Oh, she liked the garden well enough, and the alcove filled with crystals and jewelry; the shelves lined with large glass jars full of powders and dried herbs fascinated her. But the book room, with its floor-to-ceiling rows of spellbooks, memoirs, meditation primers, and tarot decks, was absolutely the spot to be. Moira had set up a couple of Queen Anne wingback chairs (that might have been worth some real money if she’d reupholstered them) in the corners and a velvet divan under the window, and Eleanor often came in here to read or admire the art on the tarot cards. When things were slow, she and Moira would sit together for a cup of oolong or chai and pretend the world wasn’t a madly spinning maelstrom of nonsense.
Moira pointed to a small wooden box inlaid with mother-of-pearl on the coffee table. “A new deck arrived this week.” She crossed the room to pour the tea.
Eleanor lifted the lid and drew back a dark blue silk covering the cards. An intricate image stared up at her, a wildly overlapping pattern of jewel colors and shapes she couldn’t quite identify, and when she tried to impose some order onto it, the image seemed to shift back into chaos. An optical illusion, she thought. Clever. She flipped the first card over and saw The Fool, cheerfully traipsing down a haphazard path. Nothing she hadn’t seen before, even if the art was vibrant and appealing. She lifted the rest of the deck out of the box and sifted through it. The Major Arcana were gorgeous but easily recognizable, even without glancing at their titles or numbers.
Moira brought two teacups over and sat down. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla permeated the room.
“I still haven’t figured out how you manage such perfect foam without a latte machine,” Eleanor said. Continue reading “Witchy Weekends: “The Frog Wish” Returns”