Mist. She can’t see through the mist. She walked along a line of trees, in the woods of her childhood, one hand gripping the collar of her faithful wolfhound.
Wait. Is this a dream? It must be a dream.
A loud growling gave her pause. She looked down. The large dog looked quizzically up at her.
“Okay, so that wasn’t you.” She said out loud. “Let’s keep going.”
As she took a step forward, a large shape stepped out of the mist in front of her. This time, her dog did growl at the black mass in front of them.
Wolf, she thought, watching the creature walk slowly toward them. Oddly pure black with red eyes and..what is that shape on its head? Looked like the sign on the chest she found last month in her mother’s storage.
She took a slow step back, pulling at her dog’s collar. The wolf stopped. Then leaped.
She slipped on the twigs and, as she fell, cried out when sharp claws dug on her shoulder and a heavy weight settled on her. She instinctively grabbed the wolf’s neck, trying desperately to get away from it’s snapping jaws. One hand flailed out looking for purchase and, more by luck than purpose, landed on a large rock. She gripped it but as she prepared to use it, she heard her dog snarl and the weight on top of her was gone.
Snarls and growls filled the air as wolf and hound attacked each other in the mist.
“No, no, no,” she muttered under her breath as she frantically crawled toward the fight to find an opportunity to use the rock without hitting her dog.
Then, suddenly, a bolt of fire came out from the sky. The wolf howled in pain and burst into mist.
She sat, dizzy with pain, on the ground and the last thing she remembered before everything turned black was her faithful dog whimpering beside her.
“Intense.” Samantha said as she watched her goddaughter fidget during breakfast. “You said that the mark on the wolf’s head looked like the mark on the chest your mother left you?”
“Really? That’s what you got? I dreamed I was being attacked by a wolf in the island woods and you focused on the mark on it’s head?”
“Well, Dracula saved you, didn’t he?”
Alyssa looked at the large wolfhound napping by her feet. “Yes, he did. He was so very brave.”
“Also, wolfhound. Wolf-hunting is what his ancestors are known for.” Samantha took a sip of coffee. “Your wounds?”
“That’s what scares me.” Alyssa pulled down the neck of her shirt and exposed the deep scratches on her shoulder.
“How long have you been having these kinds of dreams, Alyssa?”
“I never told you I’ve had these kinds of dreams before.”
“It would not have escalated like this if this is the first time. Your mother’s dreams never came to a point when she woke up injured.” Samantha set down her cup and reached into her purse. “It means that it’s time.”
“Samantha? What are you talking about?”
Samantha handed her an envelope and a key. “This is a letter from her and the key to the chest. Your mother made me promise to give this to you when the right time came. She said I would know when that is, so I guess this is it.”
“What is this about, Sam?”
“Read the letter. It explains everything. And everything it doesn’t, the journals inside the chest would.”
“Haven’t you ever wondered why your mother’s creams and oils and soups always cured whatever ails you?” Samantha asked. “Or why you pick through your garden for the ingredients to make them under the light of the full moon? Or why your mother always, always reminds you to be careful with your words?”
“Do you remember that time when you were a little kid and the kid next door pushed you off the swing?”
“What does that have to do with this, Sam?”
“You were so angry at him that you screamed out that you hope he gets measles . What happened to him, Alyssa.”
Alyssa blinked at Samantha. “He got the measles.”
She paused. “But, Sam. That was just a coincidence. Right?”
“Your mother had to undo it.”
Samantha chuckled. “Just read the letter, Alyssa. It will answer those questions.”
The water in the pond swirled. Slowly at first, then faster and faster as the center of whirl started to rise. Then a dog barked and the water became still.
Alyssa stroked Dracula’s head in thanks as a group of teenagers passed by behind them. She waited until they were alone before she started stirring up the water again.
Dracula barked again.
“Okay, okay. Let’s go home.” Alyssa looked wistfully back at the pond before reaching for Dracula’s leash and walking away.
Two weeks had passed since Samantha had given her the key and letter from her mother. A key and a letter that changed her life forever.
I’m so sorry I can’t be there to teach you this, my darling. But I have faith that you will do the right thing. It is your legacy. Your birthright. And while it may just be a speck in this great world that we live in, I trust that you will find beauty in the island I called home and endeavor to end the evil that has been bound to it.
Alyssa had forgotten the island of her childhood summers. She cannot say that she cared much for it. But doing as her mother had asked had lifted the heavy weight that had settled in her heart when her mother passed away. Besides, magic is so cool. She had been practicing everyday for two weeks and the fun of it, no matter how difficult the instructions in her mother’s books were, hadn’t worn off.
The dreams hadn’t either, she thought dryly, rubbing her right arm. Last night’s was a doozy. Still the same woods, still the same wolf, still the same outcome. But she worries about Dracula. She harbored hope that him being in her dreams was only because she’s used to having him by her side. That hope was shattered when she woke up this morning with Dracula sprawled at her feet, whimpering and licking the gash on his hind leg.
She reached down to rub the wolfhound’s head as she waited for the light to change. Dracula, while still playful, had developed a protective streak. And while she’s not sure if she’s taking him with her in the dreams or if he has the same dreams, she had to learn how to protect them both before he gets seriously hurt.
These daily practices at the park pond had helped her a lot; she can feel her power getting stronger. But she needed to find out more about what she was up against. She needed to figure out how she would approach this.
Her mother, in her journal, talked about defining moments.
There are times in my life that seem so mundane, so trivial, that I think of them as the bridges between my life’s milestones. But, looking back, I realized that these mundane things, these trivial things, holds the answers to my most important questions.
My daughter, the other day, chose to be a witch for All Hallows’ Eve instead of a princess. A mother cannot ask for anything more defining than that. Nor can a mother deny her daughter’s fate when she found a ragged wolfhound pup whimpering on her doorstep.
I hope Alyssa looks to her moments to help her define her path. Fate, after all, requires choices.
Alyssa had been thinking about it for days now. How can fate require choices? Isn’t that contradicting itself?
She paused for a bit in front of a salon. Up until a couple of years ago, it used to be her mother’s shop. She remembered her marvel at the rainbow colored glasses that carried her mother’s wares. She also remembered spending afternoons there as a teen, wanting to go out with her friends but needing to help out to earn. Alyssa sighed. She could have gone and worked at the mall like what her friends did but she rather enjoyed watching and occasionally helping her mother make and sell her potions.
It clicked in her brain.
She wasn’t sure what did it, but suddenly, everything became clear to her.
Little moments, her mother said. The mundane. The trivial. Her being the witch instead of the princess for Halloween. Her choosing to help her mother instead of working near her friends. Her spending her summers in the island instead of in the city. Her deciding to move back in when her mother got sick.
Dracula barked up at her.
She leaned down, rubbed his head. “And yes, me keeping you when your mom died giving birth to you and your brother.”
She jogged down her driveway and unlocked the front door. Dracula bounded straight to the living room, gave a huge sigh, and settled at the foot of the couch.
Alyssa turned to the table by the door and picked up her mail. Sorting through it, she came upon a plain white envelope with the addresses handwritten in an enviably beautiful cursive. She opened it and as she read, one of those defining moments is presented to her.
The letter is from someone named Anna. It ended the same way her mother’s letter to her ended.
Come home. Your sisters need you.