It had gone eleven by the time Harry got home from practice and a few beers with the team. Melissa took his uniform and threw it into the wash; she’d dry it in the morning. Harry nuzzled her neck as she climbed into bed and they had the kind of mid-week, bread-and-butter sex that tired couples often have.
The next morning, pulling on a clean t-shirt and her jeans, Melissa slipped her fingers into her pocket and felt the brooch. Harry grabbed a cup of coffee and some toast as he took his keys off the shelf by the door and called, “Come on, Hannah! The train for Jefferson High is about to leave! You can finish texting Olivia in the car.” As they pulled out of the driveway, Melissa took a soft cloth and began to clean off the brooch. The profile of the Goddess Athena was easy to clean, but the owl beneath her took more time. Dirt had caked inside each incised line of the feathers and, in the end, Melissa had to use one of the Hannah’s small paint brushes to finish the job.
The morning flew by with a dozen chores: the grocery store, the dry cleaners to pick up Harry’s suit and Hannah’s madrigal gown, the post office to ship some herbs to a customer up north, and a stop at the garden center for a new trowel. When she got home, Melissa made a pie crust and cut up the broccoli and ham that would go into the quiche for tonight’s supper. She threw Harry’s uniform into the dryer, started a load of light clothes, and collapsed on the sofa. She pulled the brooch out of her pocket and began to turn it over to examine the catch. It was stuck and she decided to oil it as soon as she closed her eyes and rested for just a moment.
Out in her herb bed, under a full Moon, Melissa and some other women walked slowly widdershins around the school flyer, placed carefully in the center of Melissa’s rock. Circle. Circle. Circle. “By the power of three times three, an end to this there will be,” declared the oldest of the women. Each woman walked up to the flyer and tore off a piece. “It comes apart. It comes apart. It comes apart and cannot start,” each said as she crumpled her piece of paper and mixed it into the compost pile. Melissa stepped up to take the last piece of paper. She wore an old brooch on her shoulder. A barn owl swooped down from the sky, snatched a mouse from under the day lilies, and flew off past the Moon.
Melissa splashed water on her face and downed a glass of iced tea. It wasn’t like her to fall asleep mid-day, but, the odd dream notwithstanding, this nap seemed to have given her a boost. She was just folding the clean laundry when Hannah came home from lacrosse practice, starved as usual. Melissa poured her a glass of iced tea and warmed up the last bit of leftover bean soup. “Save some room for dinner,” she said. “How was school?”
“Fine. Got an A on my chemistry test. Oh, and here’s another flyer. They had to cancel that program for Friday. The student council voted this afternoon that they’d rather have Field Day and old Mr. Turner had to agree. I’ll be on the computer, working on my English paper.”
Melissa smiled, went into the bedroom, and slipped the old brooch into the back of her jewelry box.
Picture found here.