It was the kind of night that made you wonder what lurked in the shadows. The wind howled through the trees and leaves swayed from its bluster. The sun should have set for the evening, but a thick layer of blackening clouds extended as far as my eyes could see, making the time seem closer to midnight. The marsh smelled heavy with pluff mud while the winds whipped across the emergent soft-stemmed vegetation. The grassy stalks shimmered with beads of mist, like dew kissing a morning lawn. Suddenly, bright streaks of lightning darted across the pitch-black sky.
Why did I leave my car? After having time pondering, I should have stayed there. It would have made more sense for me to wait right there, alone in my car, my dead car. I shook the image of the impact with the tree from my mind. You may be thinking the same thing I am. Why in God’s name did I leave my phone at home? Or did I? I again rummaged through my handbag, to no avail.
A strong smell of wet asphalt permeated the highway, signifying a recently added layer. The road beneath my feet looked as dark and foreboding as the sky overhead. Three miles ahead—my mind reflected upon my decisions while I trudged along the shoulder of the highway. If only I had not swerved to miss the animal in the middle of my lane. At least I missed it, and it is still alive.
A torrential downpour commenced. I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head and secured the snaps down the front to keep out the chill. The rain and dropping temperature felt like they were penetrating my very soul. I shivered.
Knowing houses in the area were few and far between, I wondered if I would get a ride home or get to call someone for help. I continued walking, cringing at each rumble of thunder, allowing the bursts of light to guide my way. In the distance, I saw a faint porch light. I neared the darkened house. I knocked on the door and rang the doorbell.
All was in vain, as not a soul came to the door.
When the ding of the bell fell silent, I turned to face my destiny in the dark of the night. A blue shimmer caught my eye on my right side of the front yard while a streak of lightning darted across the sky. At first glance, I saw only darkness within the tree. My eyes adjusted to the dim porch light, and I saw beautiful cobalt blue bottles hanging from each sturdy limb. Fishing cords allowed some bottles to swing back and forth, while others were stuck on leafless branches upside down. I reached up to touch one of the swinging blue bottles. A prismatic maelstrom erupted from the center of the bottle, seized and entangled me in the draw of its vortex, and sucked me deep inside the small bottle.
Arriving home late due to a traffic accident, Sybil Fortune pulled her car into her driveway and watched the nasty storm outside for a moment before darting to the door through the downpour. Her cat greeted her as she entered, then backed away while Sybil removed her rain-soaked jacket, flicking drops of water on the floor by the door.
“Our tree has ripened. I see we have a visitor,” Sybil said to her cat. “Would you like to help me send the lost soul on its way?”
Her cat tilted its neck back before jumping onto the back of the sofa and loafing near the window.
“Good. When this downpour lets up, we can do that.”
Sybil prepared her altar by placing several tea light votive candles in a circle around a larger four-inch white candle. She opened a cabinet and withdrew a display box of assorted natural crystals, each labeled with its identity. She placed several stones on the table in between the candles.
“Well, it doesn’t look like this storm will pass quickly, so I guess I will fetch our visitor.”
Sybil put on her rain jacket, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and headed out the door while her cat watched from the window.
“Well, hello, tiny soul,” she said, lifting the bottle to give slack to the cord for extrication from the tree before hurrying back inside. “I promise a beautiful experience awaits you tonight.”
Sybil placed the bottle inside the circle of candles. She removed her wet jacket before lighting each candle and closed her eyes. “I call upon the Divine Source and all beings in the holy realm to protect us and assist with our endeavor to thin the veil to return a lost soul from this earthy realm to the other side. Thank you.”
“Oh, tiny soul, your presence on earth is no longer needed. It is your time to return home to the Source, who created all. I release the hold of this haint bottle upon your soul. You must go into the light. Use the light of the candles to guide you on your journey.”
She tilted the bottle toward the flickering orange glow of the candle.
“Go in peace,” she said.
A speck of what appeared to be a luminous orb flew out and disappeared into the flame.
Sybil smiled. “It is done. Thank you.”
The rain had stopped. Sybil lifted the bottle from the altar, took it outside, and placed it upside down on a small branch.
She stepped back, looked at all the upside-down bottles, and smiled. “Another saved soul.”