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Jeannie
August 22nd, 2017 by Coral

(This is the introductory portion to a story of mine.)

 

Veronica Jewel ran a very successful business. Though what her business was in could vary, depending on what you wanted.  To generalize it, most people simply say she can make problems go away. Problems of any kind.

Her shop was always neat and tidy, a cottage at the edge of Soffrington near the woods. It was here the young woman made her way, late one October evening, to make her plight.  She had a problem she could not solve on her own.

“Come in, my dear,” Miss Jewel invited. “What can I do for you?”

The young woman entered the shop, it held a small counter in one corner with a stone pot and Witch’s book for spell working, Miss Jewel’s regular desk, and a table with three chairs around it.  The walls were lined with shelves of Genie bottles, Miss Jewel was known for having quite the collection. Genies were one of her more useful commodities, troublesome nature spirits that had been trapped and bound in bottles. Whoever held the bottle commanded the Genie and whatever powers the Genie possessed. But this customer, Miss Jewel suspected, was not here to borrow a Genie.

The young woman took a deep breath, then looked Miss Jewel in the eye.

“I need to speak to you in private,” she said. Miss Jewel nodded, and with a snap of her fingers the door closed as did the shutters on the windows. Candles around the room ignited to give them light.  Miss Jewel pulled up a chair and gestured for the woman to sit, which she did.

“So, you are having a problem,” Miss Jewel said, inviting the girl to explain.   The girl began recounting a series of events, beginning when a recent trading caravan had come through town. She put her hand on her stomach, and Miss Jewel knew what her problem was.  Yet unmarried, a child would ruin her prospects. She placed a pouch of coins on the table.

“Can you help me?” The young woman’s voice was nearly desperate as she looked up at Miss Jewel.  Miss Jewel smiled.

“Of course, my dear,” she said.   

The woman sighed in relief, and Miss Jewel swept over to her working counter.   She set out a small bowl and began mixing the ingredients for the spell she had in mind. A baby’s breath blossom, a pink rose petal, three different powders of transformation from her collection, and a drop of dew from a moonless night.  She cupped the bowl between her hands and it glowed as she began muttering the words to the spell.

The girl sat breathlessly by, watching with her hands clasped anxiously in front of her.  Soon Miss Jewel opened her eyes and the glowing subsided. She held out the bowl to the girl, and she took out what appeared to be a small glass disk, tinted purple.

“Take that and put it under your pillow tonight as you sleep,” Miss Jewel instructed. “By morning, it will be gone, and so will your problem.”

The girl thanked her, Miss Jewel counted out the money for payment of the spell, and the girl left.

Late that night, as the girl slept, the glass disk gradually vanished, a bottle spun itself into existence on the table in Miss Jewel’s shop.  Once the cap was sealed and fully formed, Miss Jewel picked it up and examined it.

It was a small bottle of purple glass, small vine etchings leading from it’s base to the mouth, and the stopper was in the shape of a rose blossom. Veronica tapped the bottle twice with her finer tip and it glowed slightly, pulsating with a tiny heartbeat. She smiled, placing the bottle on an empty space on the shelves that lined her shop, bottles of various sizes and colors decorating the walls. As she did, she hummed a familiar tune to herself.

One more treasure for the collection,
One more penny in my pocket,
One more gem for the jewelry box,
Turn the key and lock it
Polished until it shines so brightly,
Yes, my dear, you’ll do nicely.


***************

Jeannie loved to dance. Dance and sing, especially in the forest outside her home with Mother. She tucked her bottle into it’s pouch on her belt and happily skipped outside. With her morning chores done and the shop tidied, the rest of the day she could dedicate to being outside, collecting the ingredients Mother said needed refilling.

Jeannie had long black hair that fell in glossy ringlets, she kept it tied back with a bright red scarf. Her skin was the golden color of honey, and her eyes were as green as leaves in the spring. Her dress was purple, the sleeves flowing to her elbows, and the skirt to just below the knee. In Jeannie’s opinion it was the most beautiful dress in the world, though the only others she had seen were the one’s Mother wore. Mother’s dresses were always floor length in blues and greens, and they were pretty too, but Jeannie thought hers was better for running and dancing.

One of the items on her list to gather today were the colorful lizards that could be found in the treetops.  Spying some in the branches above her, Jeannie began climbing the tree, singing as she went.

Red, green, and blue,
Scurry to and fro,
Try to get away
But where you go, I know
Little treetop treasures
Basking in the sun
Counting by the hours
But when you see me, run!

The small lizards would try to scurry away as she approached, but Jeannie was practiced and would snatch them up before they got far.  Soon, she had her little pouch full of squirming lizards. She moved on to the other ingredients, swinging down from the trees as most of the others were plants she would find on the ground.

It was nearly dinner time when she returned home. Mother had returned by then as well, she stood by her counter, stirring something in the stone pot she used for potions and turning the pages of her Witch book. Jeannie entered quietly so as not to interrupt and began carefully sorting the ingredients into their respective bottles and boxes on the shelves. She placed her own bottle back in its place as well.

After a few minutes, Mother put down the spoon and left the spell.

“Did you find everything alright?” She asked, smiling.

“Yes, Mother,” Jeannie replied. “I even found the crystal flowers!”  Crystal flowers were small and their petals were as clear as glass, so they were sometimes hard to locate, but essential for certain spells.

“What a wonderful helper you are, Jeannie,” Mother said. Jeannie smiled.

A moment later, Mother turned her gaze towards the front window, looking out at the path that led to the nearby town of Soffrington. Mother could always see much farther away than Jeannie.

“Company, dear,” she said, and Jeannie nodded, disappearing into her bottle in a puff of purple smoke.

The inside of Jeannie’s bottle was a small, round room with purple glass walls, there was a small bed in the middle of the floor, and a little bookshelf with a few things on it beside the bed. She picked one of the books and began looking through it, enjoying the pictures of different flowers and leaves painted on the pages.

After a few minutes, Jeannie was surprised to hear voices drifting in from the shop. Looking up, she realized Mother had not put the top on her bottle like she usually did. Jeannie shrugged and ignored them for a moment, until they escalated to shouting.

“What have you done with Jessica!?” A mans voice shouted angrily. Mother laughed.

Startled, Jeannie scrambled to the side of her bottle, peering out through the clouded glass. A man stood glaring at Mother, his fingertips aglow with angry magic.

“Oh, you think I’ve done something, do you?” Mother said, her voice taunting. The man’s eyes glowed, and he held out his hand. Jeannie gasped as one of the bottles flew from its shelf to his hand, a delicate looking blue bottle from the collection that Jeannie had never been allowed to touch. The man tore out the stopper and a woman appeared in a puff of smoke.

“Christopher! You have to get out of here!” The woman cried. Mother snapped her fingers and the door and windows snapped shut, darkening the shop. The man lunged at Mother, but she pushed him back with a spell and he knocked into Jeannie’s shelf. She yelped as she fell and slid across her room, her bottle rocking dangerously.

By the time the shaking stopped and Jeannie got back up, the shouting had stopped. She looked out and saw the man, on the floor but fighting to get up. Mother stood over him, the blue bottle in one hand, her other hand extended toward the man, the magic tendrils of a spell keeping him down. Jeannie saw terror fill the man’s eyes as Mother began an incantation.

“No!” He cried, but a moment later, he vanished, and a bottle of black glass appeared on the table next to Mother.  Mother calmly placed the blue bottle back in its place, and then picked up the new black one.

She pulled a key from her pocket and opened her cabinet mounted on the back wall. It held other bottles that had always been locked up. As she placed the new one with them, Jeannie could hear her singing a song Jeannie knew well. Mother had sung it to her many times as a child.

One more treasure for the collection,
One more penny in my pocket,
One more gem for the jewelry box,
Turn the key and lock it
Polished until it shines so brightly,
Yes, my dear, you’ll do nicely.


********

Late that night, as Mother slept, Jeannie left her bottle. She tucked her bottle into it’s place on her belt, then paused, listening to make sure Mother was still asleep. Taking a deep breath, Jeannie walked over to the blue bottle, Jessica’s? And reached out for it.  She was startled as her hand went through it like it was smoke. Quickly, Jeannie tried grabbing other bottles, but couldn’t touch any of them.

Her heart was beating fast, and afraid that Mother would wake, Jeannie slipped out the back door, running into the night.


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