I’m writing a paranormal women’s fiction, or suburban fantasy called, Eastside Hedgewitch. The project idea came to me when I was blue over my decision to shelve Scavengers of the Starsea. I dropped the latter project because the POV characters were all of Afro-Latinx descent. I love the story and started writing it because my daughter said there was no one who looked like her in Science Fiction. I started with the idea of the Dominican diaspora in space instead of New York and ran with it. However, I decided until systemic racism isn’t a thing, and black and brown people are able to get published as easily as their white peers, it wasn’t my place to write that story.
Eastside Hedge Witch is the story of a widow in her forties raising her demigoddess daughter in the suburbs of Seattle. She’s left the supernatural community behind, but the devil is knocking at the door, asking her to come out and play. She answers his first call something like this:
I retrieve the container of Morton salt from my backpack and flick the spout with my thumb. I cringe when the friction causes the metal spout to squeak against the cardboard of the container. Fortunately, the beastie is still tearing up my neighbor’s garden looking for the bunny. I pour the salt in a circle, whispering the words my mother taught me that her mother taught her, and so on. I say it in English because the words are only a focus. The power comes from me. A metaphorical light inside that can blaze with the brilliance of a thousand suns, or so my mother said.
Mom was more poetic than I could ever be. She read Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and other greats of the twentieth century. I read comics and listened to Biggie and Wu-Tang Clan. She belonged to a coven. I was a lone-witch, living a continent away from the women who raised me. Generational disconnect happens to the supernatural too, I suppose.
When I’m done with the setup, I return the salt to my backpack and steel myself before whistling.
The hound pauses the search for the rabbit. Red glowing eyes swerve away from the flower bed and lock onto me. It sniffs the air. A low growl emits from the beast’s throat. Claws as long as my fingers click on the sidewalk as the hound stalks forward.
“Go home and tell your master that Miriam’s answer is still no.” I pointed as I spoke, not intending a literal destination but a general begone direction.
The idiot looks where I pointed. I roll my eyes. They’re not like earth dogs, they have no instinct to protect, but they have the same instinct to hunt and follow signals. When the hellhound realizes there isn’t a literal door behind it leading home, it narrows its predatory red gaze on me, but it doesn’t move.
Panic fills me. This might be a seek and hold mission. Like a pointer dog finding the prey but not touching it. I’d rather the thing take me than its master anywhere in the vicinity of my kid, who was hopefully still fast asleep.
I clear my throat. “Also, tell him it’s a little gross and a lot creepy that he’s still got a thing for a mortal who dumped him over twenty years ago.” I throw up a hand and shake my head. “Wait. Why am I telling you? You’re too stupid to deliver a message.” I make like I’m going to walk away.
That does it. The beast snarls and lunges.
My heart leaps into my throat. The creature is doing exactly what I want it to do. However, a massive hellhound launching in my direction accompanied by swirling magic that promises to rip me from everything I love to carry me to my least favorite ex scares the bejesus out of me. My brain kicks into gear. I murmur the words of an incantation, stuttering with fear.
The ground quivers beneath my feet. Within the circle I’ve created on the ground, a swirling vortex appears. Fire erupts from the center, but I don’t feel the heat. It’s all contained by the salt I bought in a three-pack from Costco. The flames consume the hellhound.
The beast snarls and whines but cannot leave the trap.
Oopsy. I opened a portal to a less hospitable part of its world. If the thing didn’t tear people to shreds at the bidding of its master, I’d feel sorry for the thing. Guess this hellhound won’t be delivering my message.
I murmur another incantation, this time with confidence. The swirling vortex sucks the hellfire and burning beast down like a turd in a flushing toilet. As I’ve said, I’m no poet. Once more I chant, and the portal between worlds vanishes, leaving behind only my salt art.
Written material ©Tammy Deschamps
Image courtesy unsplash.com