Out of the corner of her sharp eye, Lucinda thought she saw another human being. The figure like shape tripped and fell in the clearing. Lucinda, without any hesitation picked up her long grey skirt and ran to her. Thomas followed. It was an elderly woman with fly-away white wispy hair. She was dressed in simple dark clothing, now she was crouched on all fours, her hands clutching the long strands of grass.
“Oh my goodness are you alright?!” Lucinda exclaimed sounding quite concerned.
“Yes I think so my dear, just a little shaken. I think I’ve taken a wrong turning and I really can’t recall the direction I came from. I’ve been walking for hours on end.”
She was helped to her feet. Lucinda gently offered the woman her arm and Thomas strode out in front. “Sorry I forgot to introduce myself, I’m Juno.” Lucinda was surprised. It was a name that she wouldn’t have expected someone of that age to posses.
“I’m Lucinda. This is my young boy Thomas. It’s very nice to meet you.” They shook hands once the woman had steadied her balance. An electric current seemed to run rapidly up Lucinda’s right arm. She released her grip and jumped. ‘What on earth?’ she thought. Lucinda offered Juno her arm which she gratefully accepted. It was not long until they returned home. Lucinda reached for the key in her deep pocket and placed it in the lock. It squeaked as it turned. They walked slowly into the house and Lucinda assisted Juno in sitting down by the roaring fire.
“Would you like a cup of tea? I always feel it does me good after a shock.” Lucinda asked gently. Juno nodded her head. “Please my dear” came her soft reply. She had an unusual accent. It had a slightly foreign twang. Her weathered and hard-working hands received the cup of tea gratefully and she sipped at the hot drink.
“Would you like anything to eat?” Lucinda questioned “I baked a cake earlier.”
“A small piece would be lovely” Juno answered. Lucinda handed her a plate. She took a small bite of the apple cake, savoring each mouthful.
“My you’re a fine baker!” Juno exclaimed, showing her appreciation of the kind hospitality. “Your husband and son are lucky men”
Lucinda coughed nervously, as a crumb of cake caught in her throat. She washed it down with a mouthful of tea. “Actually there’s just the 2 of us now these days.” Her voice sounded meek and slightly broken. She glanced at Thomas who was perched as good as gold on the footstool, balancing his small piece of crumbly cake upon his lap. Thomas nodded. His large eyes seemed to widen and appeared slightly glossy. Lucinda didn’t feel that she owed Juno an explanation, but the woman looked at her as if she was willing her to continue.
“My husband Jim was killed just under a year ago in a mining accident.” She halted, reluctant to carry on.
Juno sighed. “I thought I felt the absence of a Father figure. I’m sorry for your loss.” Neither of them said any more on the subject, but appeared to be thinking. Lucinda wished that she could mind-read. After an hour or so Juno rose, getting to her feet.
“I cannot fully restore what once was lost, but I can offer you new hope.”
Lucinda narrowed her eyes. Juno reached into her deep pocket and pulled out a single bulb.
“Here is my gift to you both in return for your kindness. You must place this bulb into a plant pot, under no circumstances can it grow outdoors. At 7pm every evening it must be watered with your tears and a single strand of your hair. When you do so you need to chant the following words :
Grow precious bulb, grow fine and tall stop my night tears which continuously fall. Bless my life with happiness and joy. Provide new hope for myself and my boy.”
Lucinda’s mouth dropped open. How did Juno know that she shed tears every single night?
“If you do this you will want for nothing. Great things will come to you” Juno smiled.
Lucinda was not convinced. She was very cautious and took anything to do with magic with a large pinch of salt.
“Are there any catches?” Lucinda asked suspiciously, still shocked.
Juno shook her head “No sinister catches, but if you don’t do this then your life will always remain ever so slightly incomplete.” She stood next to Lucinda. “I can see that empty broken space in your heart.” She whispered into Lucinda’s ear. “Don’t forget to do what I said, it’s important. Write down the rhyme if need be .”
With that Juno stood up and pulled on her rough shawl. She seemed fully rejuvenated. Her skin had smoothed ever so slightly, Lucinda was sure of it.
“I really must be off now, but thank-you again. You’re a decent woman Lucinda. “
They bid her fair-well. Lucinda grabbed a pencil, scribbling down the instructions on a rough piece of paper, still feeling quite cynical about the idea. Surely it was just a myth?
Part 4 coming soon….