|Note: This story is a part of a larger series of short stories and flash fiction. You can find these stories on the Oubliette home page.|
It was very late and Grace knew she should have gone to bed long before now. Still, she had to finish what she started. It took her longer than she expected to finish her homework and she worked frantically in the living room of her home. She cursed herself for not making a second spirit bag for Chris earlier as she originally planned. She just finished sewing the leather pouch that will hold the important components. Her bloodied fingers trembled as she ran the drawstring through the holes in the pouch. With a quick tie of the drawstring ends, she finished the pouch.
“Bae? Why are you still up?”
Chris walked down the stairs and stood behind her. He watched her as she took dried herbs and gemstones and placed them in the pouch. She did not look at him and focused intently on her task.
“What are you doing?”
“Making you a spirit bag.”
She pulled the drawstring, wrapped it around the opening and tied it. She turned around in her chair and pressed the pouch into his hand.
“Please, carry this with you.”
Chris leaned his head sideways and looked at Grace and then at the herbs on the table.
“Bae, I know you mean well but I can’t carry this.”
Grace eyes widened, “Why not?”
“If I get pulled over or something, I’m going to get arrested for possession.”
“But there is no…”
“It won’t matter.”
Grace gazed into Chris’ eyes that stared into hers without interruption. She knew this look; he was being serious.
Chris gently placed his hand on Grace’s cheek and smiled at her, “What going on? I know something is bothering you.”
“Grace,” he said a strong tone of voice. Grace shifted in her seat. He always knew when something was wrong. She could never hide her feelings from him. When he talked to her with that voice, it meant that he was not going to stop until they resolved the problem. He continued speaking.
“You’ve been distracted all day and hardly ate anything. You barely said anything on the way back home. Now, you are up at 1:00 in the morning making spirit pouches. If there is something you need to talk about, I’m here for you.”
Grace slouched back in her chair and broke eye contact with him. She did not know what to tell him. Her mind raced for a solution to the situation. Should she lie? No. Why did she even consider that? On the other hand, there were parts of the truth that she could not tell him (at least, not yet). She knew she had to tell him something until she was ready to give him the full truth.
She heard herself mumble, “I’m afraid.”
She looked up and met his eyes again; he embraced her and gave her a reassuring hug, “I’m sorry about that… that thing scared me too and I forgot about you.”
Grace felt safe in his arms. He always knew how to make her feel safe when she was anxious. She pulled back from him slightly to continue speaking.
“It’s not just that… it’s… It’s Griswold.”
Chris nodded and looked down, “We did fail him and should have turned around when we realized he was missing. I should have done more. I should have spoken up.”
Grace hugged him and fought tears that welled up. He began caressing her back which helped her relax and allowed her to think clearly for the first time since the house. She did not know how long they held each other but when she stood up, Chris rolled the spirit bag in his fingers and studied it.
“If you think I need one of these, I will wear it for you but can it be done without adding something that looks like Mary Jane?”
Grace smiled as she wiped her eyes, “Sure, I’ll see what I can do.”
She reached out for her laptop on the desk, his hands stopped hers. He took her hands into his and gently caressed them. He spoke softly, “I know you have practice tomorrow. This can wait. You need your rest.”
She trembled, “What if it comes for us?”
“What if the world ends? We’ll worry about that when it happens. Being exhausted is not going to help any.”
Chris subtly and gently led her up the stairs and led her to the bed into which she collapsed. Sleep came quickly.
(End: Scare at Wellington Farm)