Come. Walk with me. Yes, into the woods. I know it’s late, but there are things I must teach you now.
First, be healthy. Walk one hour every day. Enjoy the sun on the Black Sea. Walk alone or with your hound. Yes, I too love Dragon’s happy trot. Note the colors of the sea. Enjoy its steady green, learn to beware of its stormy blue, and hurry home–-there are monsters in deep waters that venture ashore and seek out pretty maidens. I cast your horoscope the other day: you must avoid sailors.
Second, eat vegetables. To have sweet breath. Learn how to cook for your husband, how to supervise his eating, how to sprinkle coriander and parsley on the millet, how to lay the table and heap the red berries and yellow apricots on a small white plate. Let him fall in love with you, of course, but also with your domestic arts. Learn potions and charms to enhance your housekeeping skills.
Learn songs and speeches and music. Be an actress. Pray to Hecate. Your moon goddess. Your mother prayed to her when she was alive.
Your young brother will inherit the throne, but you can be Queen elsewhere, of some other kingdom. You were born to rule, I know. It’s in your purple eyes.
Soon I will enter menopause. No, don’t speak. It happens to all grandmothers. It happened to mine, and she was glad of it. No more cloths to rinse out. But for you, you have to learn how to fold the cloth. Here try. It won’t chafe.
Look, an owl. And two baby owlets. Your totem animal. Owls mate for life. Your mother admired owls, revered Hecate, was taught by me. But she died.
And if your husband takes another lover, here’s a recipe for punishment. Gather hemlock and henbane by moonlight, make a decoction, put it in his wine, sing one last song to him, and watch him sleep forever. You have purple eyes and are strong.
Remember always how to be healthy. Get exercise, good food.
Here’s a pale flower with purple veins. The leaves are oily, but it’s pretty. Take it. A flower for a flower. Put it in your wild hair.
Cezarija Abartis has published a collection, Nice Girls and Other Stories (New Rivers Press) and stories in Bennington Review, FRiGG, matchbook, Waccamaw, and New York Tyrant, among others. Her flash, “The Writer,” was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleaf’s Top 50 online Fictions of 2012 and “To Kiss a Bear” was selected for Wigleaf’s Longlist 2016. Her flash “Sisters” was selected by Amber Sparks for Best Microfiction 2021. Recently she completed a crime novel.