Rosalie Hawk loved her dogs Amber and Pepper just as much as anybody loved their children, and she found herself telling anybody who asked. People would ask at the grocery store when she went to buy meat specifically for them, they would ask at the pottery class when she would talk about finding places to put her creations so they wouldn’t end up shattering in her home, and they would often ask at the park as she removed treats from her bag to feed Amber and Pepper and would often be heard conversing with them. Rosalie didn’t mind that when people became privy to the profound relationship she had with her dogs, that every question following would be laden with the overtones of why don’t you have children? Don’t you want a man? You must get lonely. Rose was done with people, done with their entitled manners, their rudeness and their ingratitude, she entertained anybody she came across with and was always pleasant, but her dogs at this time were more than enough for her. Part time lecturing at a university was more than enough income for her simple life, she had already amassed a small fortune from twenty years as a top executive at one of the Fortune 500s, but that’s when she was asleep, now she was awakened to the beauty of life, to truly enjoy herself. That morning after a particularly enjoyable walk along the river in the marshes nearby, she had stopped by the Persian bazaar and picked up some spiritual stones and an evil eye portrait, now it was time to enjoy a strong herbal tea and meditate, thanking the spirits for keeping her safe and strong and happier than she’s ever been. A knock on the door interrupted her plans and effort to centre herself, she naturally didn’t receive many visitors and was wary as she approached the door, she opened and the last person she ever thought to be at her door stood there.
“Rose” came the reply.
Rosalie let her old work colleague at the old firm into her home; the look in his eyes was enough for her to know it was important. The James Grace she knew had been poised, proud and pompous; Rose remembered how he preened about the office floor; pavonine braggart, reeking of successful but spreading disdain with ever look and instruction. This man now sat across from her at the dinner table was smaller than she ever remembered James Grace, it was clearly him but he looked like he had aged tremendously, his lustre hair now sat like a used mop on his head, his eyes sunken and deep in his skull, above anything he looked broken.
“Are you ill?” Rosalie asked him as she drank some tea she prepared, he politely refused.
“I am beyond common illness now”
Rose sat attentively as James told her the tale of what happened to him, he explained that once he got divorced from his wife for whatever reasons, he began to get seriously ill, his appetite vanished, and he slept less and less, doctors told him they couldn’t find anything that was the pause and that he was probably stressed. Months passed before he began to notice the change. He paused his oration and pulled the sleeves of his jacket back and showed Rosalie his arm, the skin seemed to be cracking and cauterising, it looked deathly pale and she gasped, it was turning to stone. That’s when she knew what business he wanted with her.
“I think I’ve been cursed Rose” his voice cracking in grief as he spoke. At the office where they worked together in both their past lives, Rose had began attracting ridicule as her office began to look like a spiritual shrine, her casual conversations began to be littered with talks of the asomatous and doctrine of the powers of the otherworldly and other such things not adherent to conventional structures of thought and belief that people felt comfortable with.
“What happened to you” she asked him
James explained how remembered blacking out in a park one night having an encounter with a creature surely not of this world, he thought he had a concussion and it was all an illusion when he returned to Earth and began living his life again, but when the illness began, her words began reverberating through his mind and he began seeing glimpses of her in his nightmares.
“I know you know about these things please Ralph you have to help me” James pulled his arm back and shrouded himself deeper in his clothes; Rose caught a glimpse of his clavicle and could see that the arm was not the only place being affected. Rose set her cup of tea down and looked at him.
“I don’t have to do anything” she calmly uttered.
The surprise in James’ eyes surely made more of his skin crack as his eyes widened, his lip quivered as he asked “why can’t you help me?”
Rosalie Hawk, known as Rose to her former work colleagues and Miss Hawk to her new students at the university, and also known as Kllanĕ to the other members of the occult of whom she rendezvoused with monthly, clasped her hands together and looked at James with what was almost pity. “When I knew you, you never took any moment to be anything other than perfunctory in your manner to me, I was thankful not to have to work directly with you, but the times we did have to interact, you were always terse, curt and frankly rude, I saw the way you spoke to people too, you weren’t unkind but you never really went out of your way to be nice to people either, I have no moral obligation to help you”
“Please” James reached out for her but Rosalie moved back from him and continued
“ I know somebody who once called upon the powers of Dionysus, to resurrect a woman’s baby, but in doing so he untowardly gained the powers of communication with animals, he couldn’t control it either, and nearly went mad, imagine having the constant continuous drum of the thoughts and instinctive whims of every animal around you, luckily the power faded” The puzzled expression on the man’s face told her he hadn’t understood her point so she continued; “I also had a friend, who when he was a young man helped an entire village in Turkmenistan repopulate their drought wrought crops, he used borrowed magic and as a result went blind for a month, so you understand that when you ask the spirits for some great power, they take something of yours, even for a little bit , there must always be recompense” Rose stood up and walked to her doorway entrance, “See James, you have indeed been cursed by a clearly powerful and very old entity, a spell so powerful and so old that to even try to placate it, to diminish some of your symptoms may cause me my own life” She looked at him straight in the eye and opened her door with one hand “ I frankly do not care about you enough to risk my well-being for even an aorta, now please leave my home”.