Walking in the door felt like being hugged by an energy field of creativity and friendship. The Heart of the Craft was her aunt Minny’s consignment shop. The play on words amused her to no end. Yes, it was a craft shop, but also her aunt was a practicing Wiccan, so supplies for rituals and spells could be purchased there as well. Of course, some people just thought that those displays in the store were year-round Halloween displays, but sometimes people see what they want to see.
Margaret walked in circles as she came in. Smiling at her aunt, who was helping a customer, she took in all of the Valentine’s crafts up front given the holiday of love was only two days away. The red, white and pink were almost too much for one’s senses to take in, existing together in so many shades.
An artificial Christmas tree by the checkout counter, with red and white lights currently, held small seasonal items. She fingered a crocheted heart with a long drawn out sigh before thinking to look to see if anyone was around. She wouldn’t want her current bad mood, something that really irritated her to be plagued by in the first place, to soil anyone else’s enjoyment of the holiday. Bright, fuzzy pink and red hearts should make people smile, at least on some level.
Aunt Minny finally made it to the front and offered a big hug. Margaret let herself get lost in how huge it felt, despite the woman’s small size. Minny’s real name was actually Elizabeth, but being so petite a woman, from childhood Lizzy had become Minny.
“So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit today, my dear?” her aunt said, arranging a display of candles decorated with hearts.
“Just wanted out of the house, I guess. Oh, grab me the big candle there. I just love that one. Those metal hearts stuck into the wax are so rustic against the decoupaged candle.”
“Sure. You know I love it.” Minny smiled at the candle, holding it up to the light, looking it over. She always was a stickler for details. Made her a great crafter.
“Yes, I guessed as much, since it made it to the coveted special table.” There was always a round table by the tree that was reserved for the shop items her aunt loved the most that week. It actually had a sign on it, which read, Minny’s Favorites.
“Put me down for one of these too,” Margaret huffed, pulling a bag of chocolates off the tree, opening it and popping one in her mouth. They were over-sized chocolate representations of the candy conversation hearts everywhere at this time of year. She hadn’t bothered to read what it had to say before chomping on it though. What the goddess did it matter anyway, this year, she thought.
“Something is wrong. Tell Aunt Minny,” the older woman said, pointing at a folding chair inside the squared counter area. Cashier stations were at opposing corners, leaving the other two counters for craft work when the store got slow.
“It is just this holiday. Not in the mood, I guess,” Margaret replied, placing three chocolates into her mouth at once.
“Really? You usually love it… like you love all of them,” Minny said, her hand waving in the air as if images of them all were there behind her head. “By the way, what did your chocolates say?”
“I guess. But this is so unlike you. Something must be going on with Michael. You guys have a fight?”
“No. I almost wish. Ever since he lost his job, even though he got a great severance package, he has not been himself. At all! He is just obsessed with finding a new one. He is never home. When he is, he is so quiet. I don’t even know if he even realizes I still share the house with him some days anymore. And just because I have noticed that things with him, and thus us, are different, doesn’t mean I have the first clue how to approach him about it without making him feel even worse than he already does. I will not pretend to understand the mind of a nearing middle-aged man who is suddenly without his job of twenty years. The distance is just giving my brain enough free time, I guess, to start creating those anxieties, those nagging worries which create every possible situation in your mind about what he could be doing, who he might be seeing—”
“Breathe, dear. I get it. Relationships are hard, and with a big change in life, sometimes even harder than that. You know there is no sure-fire cure—you can’t just wiggle your nose and make everything better—but a few magical nudges never hurt. Marriages take work. And when one is hurting, the other must work harder.”
“I knew you would understand. So, then, you have got some kind of spell to recommend? I was hoping you would have some love potion all mixed up to re-kindle an old love. Even the kids have dates for the evening.” She would forever call them kids, but Melissa and Matthew were both teenagers now, pretty consumed with their own lives as kids their age are.
“So, you are saying you have the house to yourself?”
“Yes, for a good chunk of the evening.”
“Well then, I will see you a spell and a potion then raise you some instruction in Sacred Sex.” The woman, despite her nearing-seventy years of age, giggled like a schoolgirl.
“Ack, please, spare me,” Margaret teased, but she was used to her Aunt never ceasing to surprise her. “Seriously? Can’t I just buy the potion and the candle?”
“Now, come on! I know a few things about sex, my dear. I am old, not dead, and I have wonderful memories.”
“You know that the thing about memories is… well, forget it, just spare me the details, will you? Please!”
“Sure, deary! But you know as well as I do that this holiday has little to do with some patron saint and more to do with kinky pagan sex rituals. I have told you the stories of the Eve of Lupercalia.”
“Yes, you have. Many times.” She had been told since she was almost old enough to hear it about the pagan festivals devoted to the goddess of marriage where girls and boys were paired, these arbitrary unions often resulting later in marriage. But the Catholic Church had long ago stepped in and put a stop to things. Centuries later, Chaucer associated the same dates with love, which helped to create the Valentine’s most know today.
“You know what, I will give you a few recipes too with ingredients that carry the best possible energies for love and for making love.” The old lady winked. “Let me get the books, mark a few recipes and spells for you to go through, then I will get you a potion and grab a book on Tantric Sex rituals.”
“Seriously? Sex rituals?”
“Would you rather I torture you by explaining the sex magick myself? You only have two days. I suggest one day, today, for reading and research, Monday for shopping and on Valentine’s Day you get it all together and then work some hot magick on that man of yours.”
As she waited for her aunt to grab everything, Margaret finished off the chocolates while planning out her next few days. She could work in her office today quietly, given it was Sunday, since with her luck he would be home today if she actually needed the house empty. Then, on Monday, she could shop after classes, and on Tuesday prep after classes were over. She was a college professor, and luckily Tuesdays and Thursdays her classes ended early.