Mistress Sweetmeats (as her scruff friend observed, it gave her a secret jest) closed the alehouse door behind her, pulling her cape closer about her ears. Leaving her cap behind was a sacrifice in such weather, but she needed a ruse for returning. Given her sleeping reveries of late, she was not full surprised by his sudden appearance. As she set about her errands (her larder was fair empty; if company, then provender was needed), she remained deep in thought.

Just afore she left to resettle here, an ancient looking warped and rippled wooden box bearing her name as a label was delivered to her chambers. Curious for there seemed a familiarity with it, she pushed open the lid. Nestled inside were a faded cloth and a small leather pouch. She spread the material out, tracing various stitchery patterns and symbols with delicate fingers. When she held the pouch to untie its string, the contents felt warm then hot on her palm. She dropped the bag in surprise, the contents spilling out across the cloth.

She retreated to her child-self. Yet too short to reach up to the table’s surface, pillows had been placed beneath her bottom for a boost. Across from her sat a diminutive woman with sparking cerulean eyes – her great grandmother. Genice was to have her fortune cast – a rite of early passage in her family.

The foreseer placed the fortune casting beads into Genice’s tiny soft hands, then cupped these within her larger, rougher ones. She was yet young enough not to question commands, “Think upon the beads alone,” but not old enough to settle still for long. “Genice! Do not be a gabble-ratchet!” her mother hissed. Genice attempted to keep her eyes closed, and ignore the purrings of the brindle cat rubbing against the legs of her chair.

When ritual words had been encanted, her great-grandmother instructed her to drop the beads, all in one rush, upon the cloth covering the table top. Each bead landed with a squelched plop – the cloth absorbing the blow. Some careened off others, gradually all settled into a pattern. A few remained fair center; others hugged the symbols scattered across.

She was aware of her mother and grandmother behind her – she felt her mother’s puffing breath against the nape of her neck. In one swift motion, her great-grandmother snatched up the fortune casting beads, crying “Cova and Jaena; this one is far too young! She is not the number of years you say!” Protests from the other two women, pleas and fawning did nothing to sway her.

Genice never entered her great grandmother’s house again. Any future questions concerning this elder, were shushed or waved away. And, while she was sure the woman no longer lived, she did not recall attending a sending-beyond ritual. A vendetta of silence and shunning arising from that day forward.

She had maintained little contact with her family; there was much bitterness with them. How, then, had this box come to her, she wondered? Arriving as it did on a cusp of her life, she took it as a portent, an omen that she must flee now, or lose the opportunity.  She carefully placed the box among the few other personal belongings she packed for her journey. Later, when finally placed upon a shelf in her cottage, it remained shut; she dared not play at fortune casting. She doubted any ability to read the beads; her mother and grandmother where not of the foreseeing sort.

Then, in a series of waken dreams, her great grandmother visited. In each, the two women spoke as if nothing strange or untoward about a ghostly presence seated at her table. Spoke without words breaking the silence; the communication seemed to echo inside her mind, not her ears. Each was a progression: taking down the fortune casting box; spreading out the cloth; untying the pouch; feeling her great grandmother’s hands around hers, the spilling out of the beads. She sensed this was a replica of her first pattern, with slight variations. In the last of these dreams, the foreseer, smiling, retreated from the room, leaving the beads and cloth as they lay. Genice expected to find them upon her table – but the box, slightly covered in dust, remained closed upon her shelf. She could not but think it another omen. Now, she began to comprehend; to understand her dreamings’ points and portends.

Linda’s jusjojan instructions for January 23rd’s SoCS and jusjojan are:

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “close eyes and point.” When you’re ready to write your post, open a book, a newspaper or whatever is handy and close your eyes and point. Whatever word or picture your finger lands on, make that the basis of your SoCS/JusJoJan post. Enjoy!

But, as I rarely follow instructions “to the letter,” I used the words close, eye, point as prompts.

This installment also owes gratitude to: Pensitivity101: sleep, retreat, ripple; mlmm Saturday Mix same but different: synonyms for see; soft; blue; kind; weak; FOWC with Fandango reverie; word of the day challenge: vendetta; gabble-ratchet; ragtag daily prompt: spark

And, incase you stumbled into the alehouse by accident (or pleasant mistake?),  order a cup of the nutbrown, have a seat in front of the hearth, and read “sdrawkcab