Something Wicked: Part I
A Meadowsweet Story
The little blue cottage on the edge of town had not always been blue. When Thomas and Josephine Meadowsweet first built the tiny cottage on their humble plot of land by the forest, they had painted the wooden slatted exterior a cheerful yellow. It was in that cottage that they welcomed their daughter, Victoria and then a few years later, their son Douglas.
Life in the little cottage was simple and sweet. Thomas was a woodworker and sold his beautiful and ornate creations from dining room tables to grandfather clocks in town for a handsome sum. Josephine raised her children deftly, tended to her immaculate garden of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and treated the townsfolk with remedies concocted specially for their maladies.
It was Josephine who planted the ivy that still grows over the left side of the house and the yellow rosebushes that line the beaten path to their door. It was Josephine who handled the money, because for all of Thomas’s many talents, he had no patience for counting and collecting money.
Their attic was spacious, and the couple had few items that needed storage and so together, the young couple started collecting books. They collected books on science, books on religion and psychology, poetry collections, short story collections, and novels. There seemed to be no books that Thomas and Josephine Meadowsweet wouldn’t read. This started a tradition in the Meadowsweet family of adding to the family library with each generation.
Some of the townsfolk were offended by Josephine. They called her obstinate, unattractive, out of place, too smart, too tall, too loud. They did not like that she spoke her mind and scratched their heads that sweet, gentle Thomas could be with such a woman.
Despite the whispers that they incited whenever the couple came into town, Thomas and Josephine were very happy. They and their children were healthy, they had a home of their own, and nobody in town knew Josephine’s secret.
Josephine came from a long tradition of powerful women, all of whom were labeled as too tall, too loud, too “something.” However, with the criticism came unique gifts that the Meadowsweet family had learned to conceal for fear that others would turn against them. The traditions of the Meadowsweet family were often odd to outsiders. When Thomas proposed, Josephine informed him that she would be happy to marry him, but that they must take her surname, as was the Meadowsweet tradition. Perplexed and bemused, Thomas agreed, for he found Josephine to be magnetic and delightful. It was much later that he learned the truth about his betrothed.
It happened the first week after their wedding. Thomas had gone to the market to surprise his beloved with a new shawl he had seen in town. He walked home with a bounce in his step, the shawl wrapped in brown paper. He couldn’t wait to show his new wife and see the look of delight and joy on her face. His heart warmed. He wanted to make her look that way every day for the rest of his life.
He strode boisterously through the door and heard a startled “Oh!” from somewhere above his head. He glanced up to find his wife hovering 6 feet above the floor with a cloth in her hand, as if she were busy cleaning the small round window above the door.
Thomas stared in fascination for a moment. Josephine was in midair with no ladder or rope to hold her there he was sure. He noticed a flush in her cheeks and marveled that Josephine, his clever wife, was at a loss for what to say.
Then the world tilted, and he felt the ground collide heavily with his rump. The shawl slipped out of his hand. He heard his wife make another exclamation before darkness overtook him.
He awoke with a cool damp cloth against his skin and his head in Josephine’s lap. She gave him a sheepish smile and he smiled back. He played with the ends of her hair and thought for the thousandth time how beautiful she was. And then he remembered her floating over his head.
“Thomas, there is something I need to tell you,” Josephine said. Her skin was pale, which Thomas knew was a sign of anxiety.
He took her hand in his and kissed her fingertips. “I bought you something,” he said.
Josephine closed her eyes. “Thomas,” she said. There was a hint of hesitation in her voice that he was not used to. His wife, usually so confident and strong, looked now as if she wanted to make herself small. Thomas realized with a plummeting feeling that she looked like she was preparing herself for pain.
“Josephine,” he said quickly. “I knew from the first time I met you that you had the ability to fly.” He smiled. “I just thought of it more as a metaphor.”
Josephine laughed and her eyes shined. Her shoulders relaxed. “People in my family have special… talents.”
Thomas sat up and retrieved the package. The shawl had threads of blue that matched Josephine’s eyes and she wrapped it around her shoulders. She took her husband’s hand and felt a trust that she had never felt.
Josephine’s secret connected the young couple with an unbreakable bond. While Thomas never experienced talents in the style of the Meadowsweets, he threw himself into collecting books that regaled stories of the strange and the supernatural. He worked tirelessly to expand the library with spell books and potion books and anything that might help to protect his wife and his children—who at a very young age began to display their very own Meadowsweet gifts.
Among the strange and supernatural creatures that creep in the shadows, the Meadowsweet library became infamous—both a treasure to be stolen, and a well of information to be feared.
Years later, standing on the balcony of the modest bedroom that used to belong to Thomas and Josephine, their great-granddaughter, Imelda, cocked her head, as if listening to the secrets of the icy wind. She frowned. There were ill tidings on the air and warnings in the clouds.
Something wicked was on its way.