By Alexandra Riera
Mandraxa was sitting in front of her mirror applying some more make up to her already beautiful face. Her skin wasn’t as terse as it used to be. No matter how many creams she put on or concoctions she drank, she could tell she was getting older. It wasn’t just the physical part that she didn’t like, it was the mental part. Getting older meant being seen as a sea of calmness, accurate decisions and above all extreme wisdom.
She was well considered among the rest, in fact she was the best; but the weight of the responsibilities was getting to her. She had many things to take care of and a great deal more of people to see that she didn’t want to see. She hated having to pretend. She considered all the paraphernalia attached to her profession a total waist of time and effort on her part.
As soon as she came out of her room, she knew that people would be waiting for her outside. She knew some would bow in reverence and respect and that others, quite a few of them, would bow out of fear. She had no patience for those who feared her because she knew they didn’t know a thing and she would show herself as she truly was to them and scare them even more. She didn’t like the people who reverenced her either but at least she didn’t mind them. She would just walk past them and ignore them completely.
The time had come.
Mandraxa got up and went to the door. She could hear the humming of people on the other side. As soon as she opened the door everything was silent, everybody was still.
Mandraxa glided past all the people and went to the garden where Wimbur was waiting for her.
Wimbur had been her companion for many years. He had even been her secret lover although she knew perfectly well that that wasn’t a well kept secret since they had been found making love in the woods quite a few times. Wimbur had been younger in those days and unlike Mandraxa, he hadn’t managed to keep up with time. He had grown old and shrivelled. He had even grown careless.
The garden was full of boxes, trunks and chests.
“Is everything here?” Asked Mandraxa.
Wimbur looked around and said: “Yes”
Mandraxa lifter her arms up and facing the young boys and girls that were circling the garden she told them in a commanding voice to begin the loading of the boxes.
As the boxes were loaded onto a pyre, Mandraxa noticed that Wimbur was carrying a heavy book with him.
“We don’t need that either” she told him.
“Yes we do.”
“No we don’t; and don’t argue with me”
Mandraxa was beginning to run out of patience with him. “I told you. Everything. Absolutely everything must go on to that pyre.”
“Or …..what?.” asked Wimbur again.
“This is not the time nor the place Wimbur, just do as I say.”
“What about your favourite crystal ball, is that going too?”
Mandraxa’s regal posture faded a little bit and her hand gave a little twitch as she reached for the ball. She knew that if she wanted a fresh start she’d have to get rid of the crystal ball but somehow she just couldn’t make herself do it.
Images of the crystal ball started swirling in Mandraxa’s head. The day her mother gave it to her had been a very special day. She had given it to her on her death bed and had made her sworn that she would keep it and hand it down to her own daughter when the right time came. That crystal ball had been with her ever since. Not that she had ever needed to make use of it. No. She didn’t need any artefacts. That’s probably why her mother had given it to her, to ensure that she remembered what she was.
Wimbur was unaware of Mandraxa’s reverie and broke her train of thought when he said:
“I can understand you wanting to get rid of everything, even the book of charms but not the crystal ball.”
Mandraxa put the ball back on he top of the tree trunk and turned away from it. A quick glance confirmed what she already knew. All the boxes had been piled up onto the pyre. Everything was ready. Everything except the book and the crystal ball.
She was supposed to convey confidence and right now Mandraxa felt very insecure. She turned back to Wimbur and very slowly took the book of charms from him with one hand and then took the crystal ball with the other. She walked towards the pile and stared at it for what seemed like a long while.
Complete silence surrounded the garden until a gentle voice was heard.
“You have summoned me mother. I am here”
The voice belonged to a very thin girl who in spite of being of a small frame was very majestic. Her long flowing red hair loose around her shoulders, made a dramatic contrast with the loose pink dress she wore.
No one had ever seen this girl before.
Mandraxa turned around and faced the girl. “Yes, Driva, I have summoned you.”
Driva walked towards her mother as all the eyes were on her. Assessing her, evaluating her. Wondering what was going to happen next.
Wimbur had taken a few steps back. He could see the resemblance between the two women and felt a stirring within for this young girl. If only he were a few years younger, quite a few years younger he could show this girl a few things he thought. But he wasn’t.
Driva was now facing Mandraxa who handed her the crystal ball.
“Keep this Driva for ever and ever and hand it down to your daughter when the time comes. I warn you though….. it will be hard but it will have to be done.”
“The book!” cried Wimbur, “Give her the book”
“No!” Mandraxa shouted back as she climbed up the pyre. “She’ll have to make her own book of charms just like I did.”
Driva saw how her mother set fire to the pyre and how the flames engulfed her and the boxes. She didn’t cry. She remained impassive and motionless until all the fire had died down and only ashes remained.
Wimbur sent everybody away and Driva went to her mother’s room where she placed her crystal ball on the table in front of the mirror where her mother had been earlier on.
“Good bye mother” was all she said before she fell asleep in front of the mirror unaware that not far away from where she was, two women were talking in whispers.
“How did she take it?”
“Very well. Better than I expected. She’ll do alright. Do you think I should have given her the book of charms, mum?”
“No, you did well. Driva can manage. She’s just as good as you”
“I’m a bit worried about Wimbur, I saw how he looked at her, you know..”
The older woman just laughed. “Wimbur? I shouldn’t worry too much about him. He’ll do alright with her too. He did with well you. I remember the first time he set eyes on you…”
© 2005 Alexandra Riera
This could well be chapter 1 of something couldn’t it… if I carried on that’s it!