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The Hag Has an Appointment
and prepares for public appearance.
The hag walks through her garden, mumbling at herself. “You asked for it, you wanted it,” she says aloud, startling the chickadees perched on the garden fence. “It’s for your own good,” she notes, kneeling to pull some bindweed trying to invade her prized tomato patch.
The hag’s hands, feet, and face are all dirty, garden soil under her finger and toenails, her clothing soiled with the sauces and potions splashed from the pots boiling on her kitchen stove.
She has to leave in six hours.
When had she last looked in the mirror? When had she last brushed her hair?
She carried the day’s harvest back into her home with shaking hands, a side effect of a pharmaceutical potion designed to keep her passionate nature in check. A lifetime of hand tremors to keep society from spurning her any further, to keep her insanities from being discovered.
These shakes made her life more challenging, making detailing her paintings almost impossible, wobbling her handwriting in her journals, and increasing the percentage of items broken and/or spilled.
Five weeks had passed since she last left the homestead, traveling to the nearby national forest for a gathering of female friends.
She would need two socially acceptable outfits. She would need to pluck her chin hairs. She would need to jar and bottle the potions on the stove, make arrangements for the animals, and prepare herself for the meeting she was actually looking forward to.
In the city. Not just town. An unfamiliar bustling city with traffic and towering buildings, an asphalt jungle of strange people and places. Oh, how she wished she knew a transporting spell to go from here to there without the in-between.
“You’re being ridiculous,” she told herself. “You used to go out and about every day. You’re a powerful capable woman, and once you leave the homestead, you’ll be fine.”
Leaving the safety of the homestead was always the issue.
Once she filled the canning jars, she ventured to the bathroom sink to use a nail brush to wash her hands and fingernails, glancing up into the mirror.
She half-groaned, half-laughed. She had grass, paint, and pine needles in her hair and a small thicket of stiff white hairs on her chin. Her eyebrows had nearly grown together, and a new mole had sprouted on her neck. Eyes surrounded by dark circles, she looked away.
Her work was cut out for her.
First, she would find and wash outfits for the excursion, and pull out her overnight bag. Then she would bathe.
As she cleared the mess of canning in the kitchen, she listened for the magical “pop” of jars sealing. She mentally prepared her suggestions and input for the upcoming meeting, hoping to be a significant contributor to the council, wanting to help continue their traditions for years to come.
This is the price for posterity, the price for meeting with the tribe. Social involvement and interaction.
When her clothes went into the dryer, she began running her bath potion. Epsom salts, hemp and eucalyptus bubble bath, an invigorating bath bomb. She took down her hair and applied temporary color to it, covering greys and roots and thinning spots. She scrubbed, shaved, and soaked in the pool of self-care and personal hygiene.
Her hair color didn’t turn out as planned but would pass as creative and artistic. And then she forced herself to sit in front of the magic magnifying face mirror.
“Oy.” She said, and knowing she would be there a while, she decided to turn on some happy 70’s music on Sirius FM. She was once a disco queen. Now, she tries to hide bags and sags that continue to swing long after the dance has ended.
With her now bluish hair pulled back, she examined her face, the “her” that would be presented to the world, judged in the way women are judged. Youth had left her, but not completely, her potions for firming and skin moisture doing their best.
She began plucking and trimming and preparing the canvas. Cremes to fill the crevices, tricks to hide the true self. Magical makeup secrets would cover her true appearance. Highlights, contours, color balancing, spot covering. And in the process, ten years of hard living left her face.
The costume she chose was casual. She hoped to blend in, but also show her unique style. Jeans bought with rips and tears, not her jeans torn from hard labor. A t-shirt, plain and simple, with a necklace to dress it up a little. Eyeglasses without scratches and dings from branches, brambles, and projects. Converse All-Stars on her feet, comfy but still stylish. Not exactly glass slippers, but the magic worked the same. Did she look human? Professional and polished? Yes, she could pass as one of the multitudes.
She packed the car and wished her spirit animals goodbye, promising to return within a day. She drove along the twisted road that followed the creek to the interstate which would sweep her south into the urban jungle, the world of asphalt, towers, and traffic.
Among them, she vanished into the general public, where more flamboyant freaks and geeks helped draw attention away from her as an undercover imposter.
And for 26 hours, she managed to appear almost normal. But the weight of the fallacy and the magical motions to maintain her mask was draining and waning. By the time the appointment was over, she was ready to flee, back up the interstate to the outback, back to her solitude and spirit animals, to her sanctuary amongst the hills.