This is yet another Halloween in the life of two of my favorite gals. For more go to http://www.academyofbards.org/authors/anais.html and read more about Andi and Jess
"Honey can you put down the groceries and come here please?" Jess called toward the kitchen.
"Sure." Andi sat her two close to overflowing paper bags down on the tile counter and went in the direction of the voice.
Jess nervously cleared her throat. She could barely move her eyes off her wringing hands as she sat on the sofa. Andi took in the scene as she entered the room; a sense of apprehension washed over her without knowing why.
"Andi", Jess finally was able to look up at her love, "there's only two more days."
Realization hit Andi and the feeling of dread deepened. "Two more days," she repeated. "Two more days until Halloween."
Jess packed their car to the brim. The decision had been made to leave their home and travel away for Halloween.
For the past several years they hadn't had very good luck on this day. Strange, inexplicable things tended to happen to them. Maybe this was the year for it to stop. They were running out of ideas of where to go to stay out of trouble. The problem was, they weren't going toward the trouble, it usually found them wherever they were. Maybe, just maybe, if they left and went to a quiet place the goblins would find someone else to bug. Sure they'd tried it before but if they didn't talk about it, maybe nothing would happen this time. Or would it?
Clunk, tat, tat, tat, tat went the car. Andi looked at Jess. Jess looked at Andi.
"Uh oh," Andi was almost afraid to speak out loud.
"Uh oh is right," Jess quickly agreed. Maybe too quickly.
Something was wrong with the new car. Something was really wrong.
"What should we do?" Jess turned to her companion. Andi wouldn't take her eyes off the road.
"I'm driving, you decide."
"Oh babe, you know I hate to make decisions. Plus it's usually my decisions that get us in the mess we've been in the last few October 31st," she refused to use the "h" word out loud.
The road was dark. Very dark. But ahead was a small light growing larger with each clud the car made. Andi wasn't sure whether to drive towards or away from it. Somehow, she felt confident in her choice. She stayed the road and by the time she was sure that all of her tires were flat by the way the car was jerking, she pulled in front of a small cabin. When they got out to see about the car, it was obvious one tire was flat. Very flat. Probably ruined, in fact. Both women went back to the car and sat. They took in their surroundings.
The non-descript cottage they found themselves in front of had lights on and smoke barely visible from the chimney. The smell of bread baking wafted on the breeze. All in all, just the type of place you'd want to happen upon in the middle of nowhere on a day that you've historically had really bad and scary things occur.
Andi and Jess silently sat in the car for a long time. It could have been a short time too but no one will ever know. It was as if time was standing still but yet moving at lightning speed. Finally, Andi broke the silence.
"I drove, you go."
"No way, you go."
"Ok, one, two, three."
Jess knew what Andi meant by this and slapped her right fist on her left palm. She never lost at rock, paper, scissors.
In unison they counted to three. Jess should never have thought never. Andi's paper covered her rock.
Jess took defeat in stride. She unbuckled her seat belt and opened the door to go out to knock on the front door. With their luck, this quaint cabin very well could be the gate of Hell.
"No, wait," Andi stopped Jess before she was gone. "I'll go with you."
Jess, ever the stoic, didn't give away that she was screaming 'yes, yes!' on the inside. "It's ok, you won, I'll go."
"Honey, look at me." Andi gently turned Jess toward her. When she was sure that Jess' attention was completely on her, she continued, "I love you more than life itself and if you go, I want to be with you. Wherever you go, I want to be too, no matter what."
Jess wrapped her arms tightly against the one person in the world who could turn her heart to absolute mush. "I love you, I'll always love you, no matter what happens, I will always love you."
Andi pulled away first and wiped a small tear away from Jess' cheek. "You better watch out, if you keep saying that, Dolly Parton is going to want some royalties." Andi watched the amazing grin on her partner's face and suddenly all was right with the world, no matter what happened.
Hand in hand they approached the door. Nothing jumped out, no voices were heard and no heads spun. This gave Jess just enough courage to knock.
"Henry, door!" called the elderly sounding woman's voice from inside. A bit of a shuffle and a man who could be anyone's grandpa or an extra on Hee Haw opened the door.
"You girls aren't from 'round here, can I help you?"
"Yes sir," Jess started, "our car has a flat, do you have a phone we can borrow? We don't have any cell reception out here."
Henry looked at the pair quizzically. "Cell? Don't tell me that's one of those new fangled devices you kids have." It was Andi and Jess' turn with the expression.
"Yes, sir, our cell phone."
The jovial man chuckled, "you never know about kids these days. Sure you girls can come on in. Use the phone and clean up. My Emily is just fixing to put supper on the table, why don't you join us? After, if need be, I can change that tire for you girls. I always say, when there's a man around, fine ladies such as yourselves shouldn't be getting dirty."
Andi stole a glance at Jess seeing if she was seething. Henry seemed like a harmless man so what if he's a little chauvinistic, he's old and he lives in the middle of nowhere. Andi somehow was able to send those thoughts to Jess because she didn't even lift her eyebrow like she normally does when she's ready to pounce on someone.
The two women crossed the threshold and still no lightning, no pigs flying and no voices telling them to get out. They tried calling AAA for their automobile service but they kept getting the wrong number. So they took Henry up on his offer of dinner. It was home cooked fried chicken with country gravy, mashed potatoes and warm bread; they couldn't very well pass that up. Though after, Jess insisted on changing the tire herself. With Henry's help of course.
When Jess went in to clean up, Emily tempted them to stay longer with the blueberry pie she'd just pulled from the oven and the brewing coffee. It was good coffee, the kind you used to percolate on the stove even. After the pie and coffee, some fun conversation followed and suddenly it had gotten late. So late that Emily insisted they stay over in one of the guest rooms.
The guest room was huge, with shiny wooden floors. A cozy looking double bed barely took a third of the space in the room. Strong wooden furniture filled the rest. The bright light from the window called to Andi. She went to it and when she pulled the lace curtains aside, she saw the biggest, brightest full moon she'd ever seen.
Jess stood behind Andi, wrapping her arms around her torso and pulling her close. Andi leaned back, enjoying the feeling of her lover's embrace. She sighed.
"Something wrong?" jess whispered in Andi's ear.
"No, something's just right. Look at this view. How incredible it is. Seeing this and being in my favorite place in the whole world…life can't get much better than this."
"How can this be your favorite place in the whole world? We've never been here before." Still whispering in Andi's ear, Jess took a big whiff of the blonde's hair. Head and Shoulders. Damn she loved this woman.
"You goof! Andi turned around making sure the strong arms continued to surround her. "My favorite place in the whole world is in your arms." She looked deep in her love's eyes and then she caught a glimpse of those incredible lips and was drawn to them.
After several minutes of languidly enjoying each other, Jess pulled back. "Honey, I love you with all my heart but really, if we go any further we'll give those poor nice people a heart attack. I'm sure they think you're my sister or something!"
Another sigh came from Andi, though this one in frustration rather than pleasure. "I suppose you're right. Are you sure we can't fool around a little? Maybe play carpenter and high-priced art gallery owner?
Morning came and everything was still ok. While both women wondered if finally they had broken the curse, neither was ready to put a voice to their thoughts.
The night before the women had offered money to stay as they would have had to pay a hotel. The kind couple rebuked the offer and said they would be insulted if any money was left behind. Since Emily announced she was off to get groceries and Henry was at the barn with his livestock, Jess went out to their car and got a nice bottle of wine they had brought with them and left it in the room, along with a thank you note for the hospitality.
While waiting for the tire to be fixed, Andi and Jess went across the street to the little coffee shop. It was conveniently located because it also happened to be the only coffee shop in this little town. The overly friendly waitress took the pencil from behind her ear and stopped smacking her chewing gum, or maybe it was that tobacco chew, it was hard to tell but she stopped smacking long enough to ask what Andi and Jess would like.
The waitress expertly flopped the coffee cups full to the brim down on the table without spilling a drop.
"Where you girls from? Never seen you around these parts." She managed between pops of the gum.
Jess had the feeling she was in an old episode of "Alice" and was just waiting for someone to say something about kissing grits.
"We were passing through yesterday when we had a flat. We stopped at a cute cabin and they helped us out. An older couple, Henry and Emily. They were very kind. They fed us dinner and put us up for the night until we could come to town to get the tire fixed." Andi offered.
The café suddenly got quiet. Well since Andi and Jess were the only ones there save the staff, it was already quiet but the gum chewing stopped. The waitress visibly blanched, almonds had nothing on her. "Henry and Emily Baker?" she stuttered out.
"Yes, I believe that was their last name," Jess answered, recalling seeing 'The Bakers' on the mailbox.
"Hon," her voice went quiet, "you must be getting them mixed up with someone else. Henry and Em had a big fire about 10 years ago, they passed on in it. We all miss them and wish they were back but the fact is, their house has never been rebuilt."
Andi and Jess glanced at each other; the expression each had confirmed they believed the waitress.
The mechanic entered the café and let them know the tire was replaced and everything was working again on their car. Without saying a word, Andi and Jess got back in the car and headed to the cabin they spent the night before. As the waitress said, there was nothing but a pile of charred wood. Upon closer inspection amongst the residue lay a single new wine bottle in the middle of the pile next to a partially burnt piece of paper.
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