Art by B.W.
Figure as thin as a spindle, skin as pale as ivory, eyes as green as gooseberries, the breathtaking grand matron, Julia, stood strongly in the attic of her towering gothic manor. Through the timeworn glass of her marble and brass telescope she gazed across the grounds of her property, towards the bay where just beyond Carp Cove she saw the Pequod, her lover’s ship. Like a fly in a spider’s insidious web, Julia was bound to a relationship she wished to evade. Julia was sensible and knew she could not run away from her sailor bridegroom, because she had been promised and her dowry paid.
As the soft blue sky turned to ebony, darkness fell upon Julia’s colossal edifice. Only the entrancing glow of the bronze enclosed hearth offered light, for even the moon laid low and hid its buttery yellow face. The old clock’s bell was beat nine times disturbing the benign and steady silence of Julia’s drawing room, and it occurred to her that the sailor would be home soon. Abruptly, lightning crackled and illuminated the inky sky as the antiquated, cumbersome crimson door of Julia’s manor swung open as if it weighed nothing.
Under a violent cold rainstorm and the tudor arch of the doorway stood a black cloaked elderly lady with a foggy left eye and face that looked as if it had started to melt, for her cheeks and nose drooped down like wax on a candle. Julia was frightened, as any sensible person in this situation would be, but being wise she knew not to show her fear and approached the lady with as much hardihood as she could muster. The old hag’s face nearly made her scream, for it was exceptionally unpleasant to look at.
“Hello hello hello dearie, for you I have a query!” exclaimed the witch in a voice so scratchy and unsettling that it gave Julia a chill. “Are you, my dear, in a relationship that you wish to skip?”
Julia responded with a horrified look. She could no longer keep a facade of confidence. The sorceress had one of the most unsavory looks that Julia had ever laid eyes on and her soul was an inordinately malicious one.
“Why you needn’t answer, I can tell that you would rather have cancer than be in this bond of which you are not fond. Ole’ granny knows all, really it’s uncanny. Don’t worry, nor be sorry. I have the thing for you, an enchanted tart which will be more effective than a poison dart. When your love or lack thereof takes a bite you will sleep well every night.”
The odious hag shakily held an apple tart in her wrinkled bony hands in which blue veins showed through.
“Take it, take it dearie after he has this you’ll never be dreary.” The old cow nearly forced the tart into Julia’s hands and let out a cackle that no sane person could muster, something that resonated in darkness.
A flash of lightning enveloped the sky once more as a fierce and formidable thunder crash followed. Julia developed the confidence to raise her gaze from the red apple tart and found herself looking at a closed door with no trace of the witch ever being there. Even the muddy footprints of the ole’ bat had vanished. Silence flooded the halls of the manor once more; the ticking of the clock stayed steadfast and a storm battered the walls no longer.
Promptly, a brave and sturdy bang of a brass lion door knocker dared to spoil the silence, and it occurred to Julia that the sailor was on the other side of the door. She rushed through the parlor, study, hall, informal dining room, lounge, trophy room, gallery, west conservatory, morning room, small library, sitting room, saloon, billiards room, winter parlor, and kitchen to the servants kitchen where she hid the tart in the dumbwaiter. Then she returned and greeted the sailor at the door.
When morning came before red dawn rose, Julia sat in the servants’ kitchen perplexed as to what to do with the tart. Julia hadn’t the slightest idea of what strange magic was hidden within the treat and could not decide whether to throw it away or give it to the sailor bridegroom. Unexpectedly, the sailor came down to the servants kitchen and loomed over the troubled dame.
“May I have a slice of that tart?” He inquired.
“Why of course, my valued fiance,” Julia replied.
Julia walked to the kitchen counter and began anxiously cutting a slice with a beautifully engraved seven inch steel knife. The knife trembled as she cut it, but she kept a tight grip around the leather base. As she carried the slice over to the sailor she realized she could not commit such a potentially awful deed. She stuffed the troublesome tart into her mouth and suffered an immediate death. Her beautiful cadaver fell to the floor with a haunting thud, and a puddle of red soon formed.