Hecate made my grilled chicken Caesar salad, and it’s yummy. Not sure if Hecate is her real name, but that’s what her name tag says. She told me she has a special way she grills the chicken, and her Caesar dressing recipe is a secret. All I know is that it’s delicious and super garlicky. And I can tell she’s really enjoying watching me eat it. It’s a little strange. Hecate seems to be fascinated by my alexandrite pendant.. mesmerized by its sparkle. She walks over and introduces herself.. hello, I’m Hecate Prynne, and you are? .. Hi, I’m Norah Rowan. She says, you look very familiar to me, Norah. It’s your eyes. Are you any relation to Gilda St. James?.. Wow, yes, she was my maternal grandmother! You can tell just by looking at my eyes? … By looking into them, yes.
Again, a little strange. I’m the only person eating lunch in this deli, and it’s 12:30 on the dot. I expected this place to be crowded. There are only four small tables, but no one is ordering food to go either. I’m here for a reason. Though I’ve heard the food is excellent, I’m really here to ask about my friend Jeannette. She said she was coming here for lunch last Friday. She never came back to work that afternoon. This is Tuesday, and no one has heard from her. A missing persons report has been filed, and a lot of people are looking for her, but I’m doing some scouting around on my own. So I ask Hecate. I pull out a photo of Jeannette and I and two girlfriends taken at the beach last summer… Have you seen this woman? I point to Jeannette on the far left in the photo… No, haven’t seen her. She changes the subject right away. She asks.. tell me, Norah.. do you believe one has past lives? I think, what a bizarre question, but this subject has always interested me. So I say yes. Yes Hecate, I do. Her eyes sparkle and dance like she’s a little girl on Christmas morning. All of a sudden Hecate looks twenty years younger. Like she’s forty, not sixty. Well, i’ve made her smile, so that puts me in a better mood, and I feel more comfortable. But I want to ask a few more questions about Jeannette. It appears that my new friend has other things on her mind, though, and really, I should be getting back to work. I say, lunch was perfect, but I really should be going. Could I use the restroom? … Why yes of course. It’s out back. There are two doors. The restroom is the door on the right. .. There go the sparkling eyes again. She’s certainly an odd one.
So I head out back and am startled by a raven perched on a coat rack between the doors. A raven? He’s a big one, and I can tell he’s well cared for. And he talks. He says, right before I open the door.. Don’t go, Norah. Don’t go! I thought only parrots can speak. Well, parrots and mocking birds. I open the door and go in. But I’ve come in the wrong place. She said the door on the right… right? It’s not a restroom. It’s a small room, only about twelve feet square. And It’s wall to wall books. There’s only one piece of furniture. It’s a plush purple velvet winged chair. I could sit in it and read for hours. But what I really want right now is a bathroom. I drank too much Pepsi with my salad. All of a sudden, I feel dizzy and a little queasy. Like I might fall over. Yay for big comfy chairs! I plunk myself down in big purple, and I’m out like a light.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been out, but I wake up, and I’m sitting in what looks like an old, very plain church. People are wearing black. I’m wearing black? And they’re all shouting what sounds like monstrous gossip about their neighbors. In my mind’s eye, I can see Hecate grinning at me, and she whispers. witch.. witch. I’m horrified. I instinctively reach to my neck for my pendant, and it’s still there. But it’s hidden under a long black cape I’m wearing. I feel a tap on my shoulder, and a man’s voice whispers in my right ear.. Come, Norah. Leave with me now, and you’ll be safe. So what do I do? I leave with him of course….
By M. Raynes