Sunday, June 7, 2020
A centenarian named George is about to discover those aren't the only options. Fear of the grave can be a powerful motivator, and George has had plenty of time to plan his escape from the Grim Reaper.
Enter now an assisted living facility called the Paxton. Its oldest resident is about to enter. . . .well, you know the rest.
On the last day of his life, George set out on his motorized chair to see the witch. His Sunday paper lay ignored like others on this wing of the Paxton; it was all lies anyway. He took the elevator to the third floor, knowing Bruna was up at this early hour. He tooted his horn outside room 312, and motored inside when she called the invite.
Bruna occupied a recliner in the dim space, a silhouette against green drapes until his eyes adjusted. She turned down the TV volume. "Happy one hundred, birthday boy. I suppose you want a youth potion. As if I could--I can't even cure these swollen ankles." She rubbed at them above ruby-sequined slippers.
"I know how you got named Bruna," he began with a slick grin. "Your dad was hoping for a Bruno. Surprise!"
"Droll, George. You came all the way up here to remind me half the population is female?"
"No, no." George offered up a cottony old-man laugh. "I need a potion."
"Ah yes." Bruna kicked down the foot rest and hobbled to the bedroom.
George followed, careful of the Christmas tree she never took down. I'd only have to put it up again, she reasoned.
She bent with a groan and pulled a shoe box out from under the sofa bed. The view outside was all sunshine and birdsong at this early hour.
George inspected the contents when she plopped down beside the box. Oval stones called "magic eggs" supposedly warded off magic. A parchment healing spell worked by placing it on the affected body part. "The translocation spell," he decided. "How does that work? I keep forgetting."
"You make it like this." Bruna closed eyes in concentration. "Boil snow and oil with two different woods for the fire. Marinate in a sheep bladder for six weeks. Add charcoal until it dries out. Grind it to a powder and pour into a pouch. Lay it on an object that comes from your destination--a place you've been to before. Picture that place while you say the incant beneath the pouch." She studied him. "What did you have in mind?"
"I thought maybe the old homestead where I grew up."
"Doesn't work that way. You'll be there, all right, and see yourself as a kid. But you'll still be old, and nobody knows you from Adam."
"Well then, how about the fairy sight?"
She recited again. "Add rose water and marigold to oil, and mix until it clears. Add buds of hollyhock, marigold, thyme, hazel, and some grass from a fairy ring. Steep it in the sun for three days." She studied him again, more closely this time. "Same deal, George--if you go into the fairy plane, you'll still be old."
"But immortal--am I right?"
"Of course. Nobody ever dies there. But why do you think fairies are invisible? If they think you can see them, they'll take you into the fairy plane, and nobody ever comes back."
"Maybe I'll see you there some day, Bruna. Gonna miss ya."
Bruna made a wan smile as she opened a tin of yellow cream. "I can't make any promises about that, not unless you find a way back and tell me what it's like. Come here." She applied the eye salve.
"Say, this is soothing. But things are a tad blurry."
"It'll pass. Go down to the park. If I was a fairy, I'd be all over it, what with the squirrels, pools, fairy houses, flowers, and whatnot."
"I'll do that. Thanks a mil, Bruna!" He turned and motored out.
Minutes passed. "Aw heck." Bruna got behind her walker and prepared to follow, tucking the tin into a pocket. "I always wondered what fairies look like."