Jo stood in her sanctuary. It was hidden from her small town; a place
down by the pond, a mild southern wind as a relief from the Tennessee
humidity that was the norm for this time of year.She found this place as
a young child, a time before the city of Franklin had grown to what it
is now; a place where her mother and her mother’s mother had practiced
their trade in a time when women like her were revered in the community.
A time when the people would bring her family trade goods for a simple
glance into their future, or to heal a sick child, or to help a girl
draw to her the love she wanted. She wondered what it would have been
like during that time, a time when her natural intuition and gifts
weren’t scoffed at, mocked, or made to look silly in modern movie
adaptations. She let out an audible sigh. It seemed like so long ago,
before the man-made luminance of the city tainted the night. She
remembered when the pond was clearer and, in the distance, she could see
the Old Antebellum with its white washed pillars in the distance. Now,
it was overgrown. These children didn’t appreciate the land the way
that she was brought up to.
“Leave it where you found it, respect this place, respect its
magic,” her momma used to say. Jo chuckled. Momma, it’s a shame
what’s happened here. “Back to the task,” she said aloud.
Refocusing on her ‘recipe’, as her great grandmother would call it,
she could see her candle burning down within the small, hidden cave
which was now littered with beer bottles and trash; the ancient stones
covered in graffiti. “They definitely didn’t learn to leave it
where they found it,” she muttered. The shadows in the cave danced
about as she moved and watched her candle, looking for a sign of
success. The dancing, she had learned, revealed that the Spirits had
heard her request. However, she knew instinctively that just because
they heard the request didn’t mean that they would grant the
request.What seemed to be a large pop filled the silence as a spark shot
from the flame. She knew to pay close attention, as these subtle times
were the beginning. Her trained eyes focused. In the flame, she
allowed her mind to drift, to blend with the surroundings, letting her
mind, body and soul to melt into the environment. She heard it. It was
not faint, though, not like she had become accustomed to.
Typically, during Jo’s work, she would carefully plan her recipe,
focus her desire, and wait for the right time. Momma used to say,
“The right night, the right moon, and the right ingredients. It takes
patience, sweetheart. Sometimes, the Spirits don’t always give you
what you want right away.” She had definitely learned patience in her
life. It wasn’t until very recently that she began to practice her
mother’s craft for a man. But, she needed help. She couldn’t let
him go. Sometimes the flame would crackle, or the wind would blow
slightly harder. Even the candle wax may form shapes in which she could
divine the future of her recipe. What could probably come to pass? It
wasn’t like in the movies, where the Spirit would show some physical
manifestation and POOF, suddenly appear in front of her. That’s just
not the way it works. She would have to wait to see the effects, and
look for signs. It may be a certain song on the radio, or seeing her
desired wish from her work on a billboard, or even a name on a
television show; something small and explainable to the untrained eye.
Her eyes have learned to see, though. This realm and the next were
“Closely entwined, indeed.” A voice spoke from outside her
sanctuary. Jo startled and jumped, knocking her candle over in the
process.“UGGGGH,” Jo said, knowing she had ruined her work.She
quickly reminded herself to focus. There was someone standing there.
She could see the tall figure. A soft and feminine form stood with her
arms crossed low on the bodice of her dress, her dark hair kept in a
bun. The dress was unique, a very different style than the ones Jo was
accustomed to seeing, except in older movies; something she may have
seen during plays or a Fourth of July parade. Very southern, she
thought to herself.Long sleeves covered the figure’s arms. Thin, lace
gloves covered her delicate fingers. Her dress was long and
outstretched, reaching the ground. Very different than the modern dress
of women. Jo looked at herself, already feeling anxious. She had on
her torn jeans and a T-shirt she had been given as a gift from Jay.
Here bare feet were muddied from walking through the swimming hole to
the cave. Her hair was pulled back into a plain pony tail.
“Well, do you intend to introduce yourself? Or just stand there
gaping as you admire my dress?” The figure asked.“Ummm, hi?” Jo
responded. “Well, hello indeed. I can see this will go nowhere fast.
How do I put this simply? You’re Jo and you asked for my help and
now, I’m here. You may refer to me simply as Cassandra.” She
mocked. Jo’s emotions were bouncing like a ping pong ball; running
through fear, surprise, embarrassment, insult. Her eyes lowered to the
ground. She could only manage to get one word out. “Yeah.”
Cassandra responded. “I can definitely see how you ended up in this
situation. Bold is something you are not.”
Excerpted from "Hexed (Vol 1)" by Jason Woods. Copyright © 2017 by Jason Woods. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.