Once In A Blue Moon

The smoke in the house was bitter. Isolde could smell it in her clothes, her hair as she set the tables for the morning. It was the kind of smoke that resembled fingers, clutching, pressing on your throat. It was sweet to begin with but quickly turned acrid as grave dust.

The household had been preparing for the blue moon for months. It was the time when the power of the witch was heightened to well above its maximum potential, when every spell cast could not fail. It was more potent if it occurred at the end of a decade. Lulubel had run a big marketing campaign on Facebook and Twitter, had bought ad space on Google and set up a website –Spells R Us – she had called it. So tacky.

Isolde had doubted that people would pay good money for spells they couldn’t see, wouldn’t immediately get results for. It’s not as if the power of a witch could be packed up in a box, but the campaign had proved successful. People were crazy for the occult these days, it was all Harry Potter this and Twilight that. She had even heard girls at the coffee shop discussing the hotness levels of the vampires in True Blood. I’d love to have a vampire boyfriend, said one girl as the other giggled. That’d be the ultimate in sexy.

You have no idea, Isolde thought. A real vampire would rip out your throat, dismember you, then suck on your bones as he watched television – Ellen Degeneres probably; real vampires couldn’t resist talk shows. Many of them held fantasies of storming into studios and killing the entire audience at once. A television studio with all its alarms and doors that only opened one way was like a meat market for vampires. A human meat market. The only thing more enticing was the Intensive Care Unit in a hospital. Or nap time at a Kindergarten.

Lulubel was smugger than the kitchen cat when Cook slipped him real salmon fillets. Spells R Us had attained a Google ranking of 8 out of 10. The spells were walking out the door. Lulubel had been invited to appear on the Shopping Network. She’d had hair extensions put in and had Agatha cast a glamour on her so that people couldn’t help but hand over their money when they saw her. Isolde had protested about the ethics of using a spell to sell spells, but Lulubel had waved her concerns away with the curve of a deeply manicured hand (she actually had fingernails with broomsticks on them.)

There is no place for ethics in the modern world, she said. All that crap about not using witchcraft for personal gain and being careful about what you send out because it might come back to you threefold is a load of codswallop. Ethics, schmethics. Modern witchcraft is all about the bottom line, maximising your sales potential and promoting your brand. It’s all about our share of the market, not about what flies about in the ether. Get with the program, Isolde.

Isolde knew the batshit was really going to hit the fan when Lulubel got a call from Oprah. She had bought a Think Yourself Thinner package and wanted Lulubel to appear on the show via Skype. Lulubel preened herself like a 17th century aristocrat, getting Agatha to cast another glamour so that Oprah would feel her earnestness right through the broadband. Oprah hung on every word. She wanted to be thin so badly. Isolde could see the longing in her eyes, like a puppy waiting to eat the cookies you’d left on the kitchen table when you walked out of the room. The woman had more money than King Midas, but it was still wrong.

Have you tried any of these spells? Isolde asked. How do you know they’re going to work?

I’ve got the whole coven working on them, Lulubel said. I’m not an idiot. Besides, it’s a blue moon.

The next blue moon was set for August 2012. Isolde could imagine the frenzy leading up to it if Lulubel’s spells actually worked. She’d have to move out, get a house among the trees.

She put on her coat, walked out into the garden, looked up at the sky. It could have been painted by Monet, so rich was it with purples and blues.

Isolde had a spell of her own to cast.

Save the trees, she whispered. And the creatures that need them. Give them a chance for a good life.

She heard Lulubel shouting out something about half a million sales and shook her head. Gathering her coat around her she walked. Her skin was aquamarine in the moonlight. Her boots were silver.

Isolde walked and walked, guided by the moon, blue as a Christmas bauble, on and on until Lulubel’s cries were gone and all she could hear were the leaves catching the wind in their sleep.

And the smell of the wind as it carried the clouds to morning.

*Image by StamatisGR at DeviantART.

13 thoughts on “Once In A Blue Moon

  1. Hi KAREN:
    I know. Thank goodness that amongst that rampant consumerism there was some common sense lurking. 🙂

    Isolde’s spell was the best of all. If I had such power it would be my spell too!


  2. I absolutely love this Selma – what a hoot! I didn’t realise it was a blue moon on New Year’s eve until the day after. Your story reads like an introduction to a bigger story rather than a short story – might be the way it ends. I think it would make a good long story. Especially love the way you have incorporated all the modern day trending issues of Twilight etc. and having Oprah wanting a spell package is a stroke of genius.


  3. I really like the inclusion of Oprah too. You realise that if the Think Yourself Thinner spell actually works Lulubel will be a billionaire? I agree with Gabrielle – this could definitely work as a longer story.


  4. I enjoyed this story greatly. I especially liked how you placed it in a modern day setting, with all the bells and whistles. I agree with Jules, This has the makings of a book.


    We all know Oprah would be in there if there was a legitimate diet spell. So would half of the Western world. I’m really glad you liked this story. I was feeling a bit cheeky last night and had fun writing it!

    Hi JULES:
    Well, you know I’m working on the book *insert dramatic music here, preferably by Wagner* but I am going to collate a lot of the short stories that I think might work in a longer format and develop them later in the year. We’ll see what happens!

    It amused me to think of witches using social media. And why not? They could completely manipulate it to their own ends. I’m really pleased you liked it!

    Awww – you are too kind. Hope you have a really FAB 2010!


  6. This is great, you. I love the humor, love Isolde’s wistfulness. I like best of all the stories you write the ones where I can put my picture of you in them as the protagonist. Is there any possible way a sentence can get more convoluted than the previous one? Sheesh.

    Happy New Year, Selma. You rock.


  7. Hi HEATHER:
    I am Queen of the convoluted sentence. Give me a pile of semi-colons and I can go on for hours.

    It’s funny that you should say that about me being the protagonist because I mentioned that to Karen the other day about the characters in her books being like her in many ways. Maybe the characters we like best really hold aspects of ourselves.

    Have a fantabulous New Year XXX


  8. Happy New Year! I enjoyed this so much – sometimes the way people act with their wallet, it seems to make sense there would be SOME sort of spell being woven. And yes, the protagonist in this piece sounds a lot like you – maybe that’s why you weave such a captivating spell over your readers. 😉

    Very fun new look –


  9. Hi TEX:
    You’re right, it is as if big business has enchanted us. Have you ever really looked at people at the mall? Their eyes are often quite vacant. It’s scary. It’s as if they don’t want to be there but can’t help themselves. I’m beginning to think that Isolde really was me and that this whole story came out of my reaction to the shopping frenzies I witnessed at Christmas and New Year.
    Glad you like the new look 😀

    Hi LISA:
    Aww, thanks so much. Yes, I am feeling a little perkier than usual, I must admit. Truth be told, this is actually more like the real me and what I really like to write. Glad you enjoyed it!


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