OLD ADDIE • by Donia Strand

Honey, come in, come in. Set yourself down in that old rocker to the side of my bed. It’s good to see a young face around here. Help yourself to a cookie out of that tin if you’re hungry. So what did you do to get sent here to keep us old folks company? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. What’s that? Speak up, girl; my hearing isn’t what it used to be. I’m coming on eighty years this spring. Tell Old Addie how you got yourself in this fix.

Wait, let me guess — a man is at the bottom of the trouble, am I right? Sorry, honey, I’m not laughing at you; things get to be kind of predictable once you get to my age. Community service for fifty hours, huh? That’s a shame, although things could have been much worse. You must be like me; interested in the dark and dangerous type. You seem like a nice girl that met the wrong man, that’s all.

My, but you are a pretty one with all that dark hair and big eyes on you. Look at me; I was beautiful once with thick red hair and always got lots of attention. My hair is awful thin now, though it’s still red. I tell, you, it hurts to get old and not recognize yourself in the mirror. You don’t believe it, but it will happen to you. You don’t ever believe it until it happens to you.

We sound a lot alike. I had troubles of my own. My husband’s name was Tom, and he brought me nothing but grief. He cashed bad cheques all over the place, and I had to cover them. Tom drank and was mean when he drank too. Finally, it got so bad I couldn’t meet the eyes of anybody in town. They thought I was no good, just like he was. But I didn’t drink and never cheated anybody in my life. Not that it mattered to the townsfolk. They turned me away at the store when I went to buy food for the little ones and told me they didn’t want my kind in there again. I realized then and there that Tom was the problem and I wasn’t going to have any type of life as long as he was around.

Once I made up my mind, I set to thinking about what I could do about it. I’d done small magics before; my mother taught me and her mother before her. So, I created a circle of salt out there in the barn and called upon the Power That Be to rid me of my husband. Damned if Tom didn’t burn up in his favourite rocker the very next day. It created quite an explosion and burned off half of my eyebrows because I didn’t say the words exactly right. He left a hell of a smudge on that chair that wouldn’t never come out. Otherwise that rocker was fine. It’s awful comfy, isn’t it?

Oh honey, I think you’re more interested than shocked if you think about it. Lean a little closer and Old Addie will tell you what to do. We’ll get rid of your bad luck and that bad man in no time. Old Addie will teach you how to say the words exactly right. And, you’ll have lots of years before the payment comes due.

Donia Strand lives in Vernon, BC with a big chocolate labrador and thinks the shoreline along Okanagan looks like a great sleeping beast. She loves the outdoors and gets inspiration from fairy tales, myths and conversations in coffee shops.

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Every Day Fiction