Recently one of my stories, ‘Salt’, was printed in a Wellington Zinefest zines. This was a part of Wellington Verb festival. This year the theme was COVEN, so obviously had to send in one of my witchy tales. the word limit with 750 words. My witchy tale came in at a fabulous 666 words.
Liam at Wellington Zinefest did an amazing job of designing and hand-sewing each zine. It was truly lovely to meet him and get my copies of the zines.
There are 4 zines: Earth, Fire, Water and Air. My story was added to the Fire collection.
It’s lovely to see it in print. This is just my story (below) but you can also download the whole set of zines for free. They will be available by the end of Nov 2021: https://www.wellingtonzinefest.com/downloadablezines
Salt by Dane Divine
I found out the morning after that damp night air does strange things to salt left on varnished wood. It had looked soft and grainy when I’d sprinkled it, but overnight it had become something completely different.
Using the long-handled broom, I’d attempted to sweep the salt away, but it clumped and stuck to the bristles, streaking the floor with a whitish residue. I tentatively reached out a finger and discovered it wasn’t just sticky and salty, but somehow greasy too.
I filled a bucket with clear, cold water and began to clean a patch of the floor with a damp cloth. I rinsed and wiped again. Using an old tea-towel I dried it, but it looked and felt tacky, as if the elements were coming apart. My heart started to race at the potency of the salt, but I calmed myself and focused. I dipped the cloth back into the water, rinsed it and rubbed again, careful not to spread the saltiness onto the unmarred areas of board.
Moving across the floor, I repeated the process, cleaning and drying. The salty shape had faded, but there were still some lingering ghostly marks. I stood up, hoping some vertical distance would help it disappear, but it was still noticeable. “Bloody hell,” I muttered to myself, never imagining this would take such a clean-up. I went back down on my knees and wiped at it again.
Half an hour later, I began to wonder how much time, effort and money it would cost to sand and re-varnish the floor boards. I figured it would be a lot more than I could afford. I sighed. My knees were starting to hurt and despair was nibbling into my heart, just like the salt had nibbled into the varnish. I stood and took a moment, rubbing at my knees, considering that maybe I shouldn’t have put the salt on the floor in the first place.
“Tea will help,” I said to the cat, who had been sat watching me the whole time. She blinked wisely and we went to the kitchen together.
After a cuppa and quick skim through Instagram, I walked back to the spare room, to tackle the salt again. I stood in the doorway; the afternoon sun had started to fall across the floor. In some areas the water had fully dried and the floorboards were back to normal. I sighed with relief and went back to the utility room to freshen the bucket, suddenly confident this would clean up.
All afternoon I worked at the cleaning, and as I wiped, I remembered the ritual. The lines of salt had shone brightly in the candle-light. I’d stood in the middle and called on the Gods to remove my pain. I’d implored them, raised my athame, my ceremonial blade, repeating the spell over and over. But then Barry had walked in to tell me to keep the noise down, almost ruining everything, as normal. But the calm power of the pentagram had inspired me to say no to him for the first time since we’d married all those years ago. I smiled, remembering his surprise and sudden acceptance. In that moment I was finally a person to be respected and he’d quickly come around to my way of thinking and actually helped, giving his energy to something for me for a change. I’d been so happy at his participation and amazed at how well the magic had worked after that.
Finally all evidence of the salt was gone. I stood, rolling my shoulders to ease out the tension and effort of the chore. It was a job well done. In fact, a job excellently done. I closed my eyes and listened. Not a sound in the house, no questions, no demands, no unwanted attention. This was a new stage in my life, and, yes, from now on my life would be good.
I walked to the kitchen and fed the cat. After dinner, I’d tackle the blood.