Samhain in Salem
Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black 28 October, 2013
It was a happy circumstance that sent the Mikah family to Salem, Massachusetts at the end of October. They flew from the Greater Pittsburgh Airport to attend a family wedding on Friday at a mansion outside of Boston. After they celebrated the beautiful wedding and wished the newlyweds blessings, they packed into their rented vehicles to explore the famed foliage and invade the little sea-side town that lived in infamy because of its witch-hanging past.
As they drove into the town itself, they were greeted by a lean, pumpkin-headed king of Halloween who directed them to parking lots. The Mikah family was large and with diverse ages, so they split into groups with similar interests. Walter, the patriarch, headed a group of five interested in piracy and the House of Seven Gables. Chris and Lisa, Kevin and Tracy, Kahn, Paul and Debbie took their children to the witch trial reenactments. Teenaged Tina and Amy, who was not far from her teen years, joined their older sisters Lily and Jenna and their mother, Virginia, to explore the street fair and the many paranormal vendors.
Virginia and her girls found a fortune teller and anxiously sat in the waiting room of the summer-blue Victorian home. Each sipped chamomile tea from china cups, waiting their turn. Silks of brilliant hues draped the furniture and darkened the room. Looking like frozen raindrops, facetted crystals hung from the ceiling tied to transparent fishing wire, each prism sending candlelight dancing in rainbows about the perfumed room. Pillows tossed onto the furniture and floor and a thick oriental carpet of garnet and purple hues lent the look of a gypsy wagon interior.
Virginia was the first to have her fortune read, returning with a knowing smile on her beautiful, wizened face. She was quiet about the experience. When the youngest of the group returned, however, they chattered and giggled, comparing findings. Lily was refined as ever, skeptical of the fortune teller, but enthusiastic about the ambiance. She listened to her younger sisters and engaged her mother in conversation as well while Jenna was led to the separate room for her reading.
Jenna smiled at the fortune teller. They introduced themselves. The fortune teller was called Aisha, and she was descended from a long line of seers. She could read tarot cards or tea leaves, palms or auras. There was an ornate chart outlining the services with suggested donations.
Jenna sighed. Money was a bit tight. She had two young children who were presently exploring Salem were with their father, Kahn. She happily met their needs and wants, but when it came to indulging herself, it pained Jenna to spend the money. The children outgrew their clothes and toys, and Kahn needed to look professional for his work. Jenna managed the affairs at home, and as a housewife, she imagined that she did not have the same needs as her nuclear family. Thus, faced with the fortune telling options, she chose the least expensive service with a tight, nervous smile. Aisha considered carefully, staring with dark, almond-shaped eyes into the weary face of the young woman before her.
In a smooth, deep voice, the fortune teller began, a sad look crossing her face. “You have two girls, right? Little ones?” Jenna nodded, swallowing. “You are married.” Jenna again agreed. She’d known Kahn since she was younger than Tina. He was older than her, a college boy then, and she found his attention flattering. She’d waited patiently for his infrequent phone calls or letters when he was away as an undergrad and then a graduate student. She’d helped him complete his lessons and supported his activities, though she physically saw him rarely. Even after he earned his Doctorate, she still saw him infrequently, since the pressures of landing a good job were plentiful.
Aisha continued, “You are very deeply invested in your family, more devoted than many. You are a good mother and,” she paused, “wife.” Aisha continued, “You will be moving very soon.” A little surprised, Jenna responded, “Yes, and Kahn and I were looking at houses closer to my mom. It is a surprise,” Aisha shook her head, her many earrings clinking like tiny wind chimes. “You and your girls are very close to your mom, and will be.” She seemed to consider before continuing. “You will lose something.” Aisha looked at the table, staring into the white taper’s flickering light. “You will lose a ring. I am so sorry.” She leaned forward and blew out the candle.
Jenna was confused. She looked at her hands. There were many rings decorating her fingers, rings that she’d had since childhood or her wedding. Her newest was a gift from her mother, a family ring with her daughters’ birthstones. Her reading seemed significantly shorter than the others’, but she reached into her pocketbook and removed the currency to make her donation. Aisha rested her hand on Jenna’s before the money was placed on the china plate. Quietly, she said to Jenna, “Keep it, please.” She did not see the confusion on Jenna’s face because she turned without another look or word and left the room. Jenna hesitated before placing one of the bills on the plate despite the strange request.
Brow furrowed, Jenna found her way back to the parlor and her waiting siblings and mother. The others were surprised to see her back so soon, asking which service she requested. Jenna shrugged but had an uneasy feeling from the experience. Out in the festive streets, with vendors peddling their wares and people ironically proclaiming their Wiccan beliefs in a town where gruesome witchcraft trials and resultant deaths took place in the 1692, Jenna shrugged when her sisters asked about her brief touch with the supernatural. “Wasn’t she creepy?” Amy asked, looking around nervously in case Aisha was in the crowd. “She sure knew a lot more about me than I would have imagined possible,” agreed Lily with a wistful expression. Momma Virginia said little but seemed quietly concerned about her oldest daughter, Jenna.
The Mikah family met up at the parking lot at the appointed time to attend their dinner reservations. Kahn was not with the rest of the group, however, and the group organized a fruitless search. No one could recall when he went missing, only that the children were handed off to their grandfather with some mumbled words interpreted as a need for a restroom.
Police did not have any better luck locating Kahn. It was not until they all returned to their hotel, Jenna ill from worry, that they were given an explanation. Jenna was handed a letter by the gentleman working the front desk. The letter was from Kahn, and through it he declared that his intention to divorce. He would be in contact when he wanted to see the kids. She would be served with the papers upon her return to their Pittsburgh home. Sign them, he insisted.
Jenna and her girls left their home and moved in with her parents. To pay for her girls’ Christmas presents, Jenna sold her wedding and engagement rings. Her family offered tremendous support, helping her through a dark bought of depression. Once the divorce was finalized and she was emotionally accepting of their new circumstances, Jenna reflected, and in a bought of inspiration wrote a short note to Aisha, telling her that although the news was not good, her Halloween prophecies were accurate.