Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hecate's Cauldron

—Anonymous Painting

—Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA

“Welcome to The Crossroads, child,

I have been waiting.

What will it be?”

I stared at her long flowing hair,

and nimble fingers as she sifted through

strands of something I wasn’t sure I wanted

to see clearly.

“Well, dearie, what’ll it be?”

On the side table next to her sat a

small mirror, a book, and a key. The

cauldron before her rumbled and burbled.

At first blush, the mirror was tempting.

What to see, though?   I was tired of seeing

myself in the daily reflections of others…

surely the mirror was not the answer.

The book?  Again, difficult to imagine.  

Would I be expected to read it?

Would I be expected to write it?

And the key…was that for locking

something up or letting something out?
I began to feel uneasy.

The steam from the witches brew

curled her hair into ringlets.  She waited.
After a moment, feeling the coin in my

pocket, and still unsure, I watched as her

eyes met mine.
She plucked the mirror from the table, and

with one swift motion, it was into the brew.

I could hear the screams of a thousand tiny voices.

None of them mine.

Her eyebrow arched.

“Which shall it be, child?  We haven’t

all the time in the world just now, you know.”

The thought of the book dissolving was

unsettling, and the thought of the key in

my custody was equally uncomfortable.

She shrugged, and with a wet plop, the

book was in the brew.  On its way in, I could

see the pages were stained, and no words were


With hardly a pause, the key was in her hand.

Ringed in garnets, glowing

over the fire, it was a lovely, frightening thing.

I looked closely; it had a face, with tiny glistening teeth.
She offered it to me.  I sat, as though frozen,

heart racing and hands still.
Dangling from her bracelet was a locket,

with a bleeding, open key hole.

“So it comes to this?” she asked.  “I thought

it might.”

The key dropped into the brew, and the

locket’s wound was cauterized.

The steam from the cauldron clouded my eyes,

and the hair from my head was stretched

and pulled into long, dark strands.  My nails

grew longer, and she grasped my neck

lightly in her teeth before leaving.

I never heard such 

music as when she laughed.

In my cauldron, a mirror, a book, and a key.

In my pocket, my coin.
At The Crossroads, I stand.


—Medusa, with thanks to Loch Henson for today’s tale!