Packing Up

It is said that packing up personal possessions of those who have passed on can be cathartic for the survivors.

Sometimes we need to pack up a little more than that.

Taking a fortifying breath, Emily slowly opened the door, and stepped into the room that she had kept closed for several months now. She wasn't ready before; she knew that now. The ghastly memories had flashed and swirled then, chasing her out into the hallway, where the door had eerily slammed shut behind her.

Setting down the case she carried, Emily gazed around, resolutely ignoring the tightening in her chest. Mementos were already wrapped and tucked into boxes, each meticulously labelled with its contents. Small mounds of shirts and pants were efficiently arranged on the bed, awaiting their fate. She felt the warning prickles against her nape, could hear a whispered threat.

Kneeling down, Emily opened the worn case once owned by her grandmother. She selected a few items and tucked them in her pocket for later use. She carefully removed the coloured candles, her fingers skimming over the symbols etched into the wax. Placing a pillar at each corner, she chanted the ancient words as she lit the wicks. Casting her circle, she requested the presence of the guardians, asked for their protection.

As she called the last element, the candle flames shimmered ominously, flickered in the draft that had suddenly floated into the room. Emily could feel the presence, knew he was there with her, fighting against her ceremony. Grounding herself, she raised her arms, palms up, and chanted the ritual she had written, her voice growing stronger and louder as the wind began to spin around her.

Keepsakes from the boxes began to revolve around her, twirling about in a kaleidoscope of colors. Watches, cuff links, picture frames, spinning faster and faster, twirling around her like a tornado. The clamour of the wind and constant clinking of items bouncing into one another, was deafening and Emily had to shout to hear herself above the din. As she cried out the final words, the wind immediately stopped, leaving the items suspended in air for a fraction of a second. Then suddenly, everything dropped with a thunderous crash, landing neatly in a three-foot circle around her.

Knowing she didn't have much time, Emily quickly gathered the items circled around her, throwing them haphazardly into the box. Rushing outside, she unceremoniously dumped the contents into the metal drum, fervently chanting. Taking a black votive from her pocket, she lit the wick and placed it on top of the stack of reminders. The flames took immediately, licking at the clothing, melting the photographs, quickly consuming everything.

As the fire blazed higher, she pulled from her pocket the effigy she had made; a small poppet constructed from one of his shirts, a face carefully penned on the fabric. She murmured a spell and, firmly grasping the head in her hand, wrenched it viciously from the body, the tearing heard audibly above the crackling of the inferno. As she dropped the decapitated icon into the bin, the flames shot upward, and she stumbled back as the wall of heat shoved her.

She could hear wailing, a keening moan that became louder and louder. Suddenly she heard, as though his mouth was next to her ear, that familiar raspy voice. "This is not over," it hissed.

It occurred to her at that moment that he was scared, knew that she was stronger than him, knew that she would banish him. Her hand clenched around the crystal in her pocket as she quickly ran a final charm through her head. Tossing the crystal into the fire, she muttered smugly "It is for you," and watched with immense satisfaction as the green and white sparks flew into the starry night.

The End

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