This is the first part of Alex Anderson’s short story, published in The Bugle Issue 50. Part two can be found in the new Bugle, Issue 51, and will be published on this blog in April 2021.
Each time I visit Elsa I am welcomed with a brew of the newest, sugar sweetened, but milk-free tea. I have not yet found the nerve totell her I don’t like tea, partly because her teas are different and are quitelikeable. Most times a cup of her tea helps me relax. I feel bolder, stronger, my memory seems to be holding information better and I feel every sense is working a whole lot harder than it was a week ago. I am convinced I see better, my sense of smell is so much sharper and I am touch more sensitive. I am sure I am thinking clearer but, surely, that is all just how I feel, rather than how I really am.
We always end up checking out her quite extensive collection of brooches and pendants and, like her teas, I keep getting drawn to check out one specific pendant. Surprisingly it is the only one she does not want to share even the name of with me. I mean brooches are created to decorate and be seen, while pendants are supposed to do something to and for the wearer. I have no reason to believe it is true but I feel sure the pendant has many times, whispered, at an emotional level rather than a physical and audible level but always it feels ‘friendly.’
I think my obvious interest in it and my questions may have upset her for it never seems to be in the same place and each move made seemed to make it harder to find and, now I see it is not even out on show. It is that discovery which has driven me to goto the City Library and see if they can shed any light on its history and purpose.
I suppose, as there are so many pendants it should not be too surprising, that the library has a very large, thick and heavy book that claims to have drawings and information on every pendant known to have been created from the 12th century to today. I think the librarian got used to me visiting because it took me twenty one consecutive days to work my way through the drawings and, but in the end, I felt it been a complete waste of time and effort for I am totally convinced they do not have a drawing that comes close to being seen as her pendant; nor is there any information on that most intriguing of so many pendants. I think that is why it has become something of a challenge to me. I need to seek out its history and know its purpose but if she will not tell me and, the library cannot, how am I to learn what I really need to know?
When I handed back the book, for this last time, the librarian asked “Did you find what you seek?”
In my despondent mood, I answered, “No that search was a waste of time and effort. The pendant I seek to learn about is not in that book.”
She sat up straighter gave me a most curious look as she asked, “Are you sure?”
I nodded and went to leave almost too exhausted to care that she lifted her phone and dialled a number.
Many teas and visits later, due to a much more active mind and the nagging thought I was desperate to pursue, I again went to the library. With that more active and questioning mind I saw the area had been made more secure by the fitting of security cameras and recording devices.
When I asked for the ledger once more, the librarian showed she was interested by saying, “I thought you said the pendant you want to know about is not listed. Doesn’t that say it cannot be a real witch’s pendant?”
I was on the point of making it known what I felt had happened, but then, feeling a need for some secrecy, I suddenly recalled she had made a phone call last time I had visited.
I curbed that response, shrugged and said, “I agree with you, that is why I am not searching for that pendent anymore, but to see how many pendants have been listed as lost after their owner’s died?”
I went and sat out of her sight but was able to watch her actions, and saw once again she made an other phone call. Just as quickly as she had last time. She was not to know that one of my newest skills was to be able to read lips and make sense of what I was seeing, even when the lips that were being ‘read’ were reflected in a mirro
I felt I was being rewarded for being extra careful when her lips let me see she addressed the caller as ‘Master’ and said, “As you said he would ‘that man came back and asked for the pendant ledger again.’ He says he wants to know how many pendants got listed as ‘lost’ when or after their owners died.”
I read her body movement and that let me see she was feeling guilty about making the call and I was almost certain that the guilt was due to knowing she was breaking the non-disclosure-of-library users code. I smiled knowingly, when her lips told me, “just like a wand can, a pendant can choose who can find it and own its complete allegiance.”
I sat up straighter as the thought struck me and I pursued the idea as my chemically alerted mind reminded me, ‘It was my interest and Elsa hiding it from me that has, with the help of those mind expanding ‘teas’ that she led me to seek to learn all I can about it and its purpose and be who I am now?’
I had come prepared to draw the five pendants I was assuming they could be the ‘parts’ of the one but as each was seen on the page I had no need to draw it for I recognised each and saw how they all meshed well together as the single pendant I knew they had become.
I worked my way through my problem.
My very obvious interest in the pendant was what made Elsa move it about as she tried very hard to hide it from me, even as she made me more able and aware that I really did need to find it.” I asked myself, “Is this her and the pendant’s test of my nerve or ability to own it?”
As I walked home from the library I pondered the question; was I worthy and the one this pendant was meant to serve. I decided, ‘I want to find it and know if I am or can ever expect to be deemed worthy of its custodianship and service.’
Just before closing time he entered the front door of the library and approached the librarian.
She did not look pleased to see him but, knowing she had no choice she said nothing.
He had her lead him to the security control room and sat at the control panel, before he had her, “show me recordings of the pendant seeker and while I watch them, go get me all you have on him.”
The instant she was out of sight he set the video running and raised the volume of the talk between the unknown seeker and the librarian.
He chuckled, proud of himself, but as he was alone, he verbalised his satisfaction when it became clear that his thinking was being seen to be quite prophetic., “Those five pendants had been given up so that the five could become one special pendant where they had once been five.” Now he knew he was right he had to believe the man in the video had seen the supreme pendant and that meant he had to know where it was to be found.
That thought was why he smiled as the librarian entered with her handwritten information and handed it over. Though he had no need, he paid her for her extracurricular service. With the name and address known he had a target to chase and eliminate and, by succeeding, prove to the pendant he should be seen as its one and only Master.
He went to the address given and took up a concealed vigilance and every time the man went out he followed. He was overjoyed to know his target was unaware of his presence.
He thought ‘this is going to be like taking candy from a baby.”