Somewhere on the other side of the world, in the middle of an arid land was a homestead where no man lived. Here, only three generations of women lived, grandmother, mother, and their 8 year old daughter, Phoenix. These three were the Williams girls. They arrived in the little town in the countryside some eight and a half years ago. No man in sight. Just the two women, the younger of which heavily pregnant. They moved into the homestead an hour out in the middle of nowhere, derelict and rundown. Miles away from any real neighbors. It was crazy to think that such a place was suitable for two women alone, one who was in a delicate situation. But alas, Mary and Eliza proved everyone wrong. Within the month or so, their house looked half decent, repairs here and there. Their land looked less and less wild, and they had adopted several sheep and goats.
Here, in this small house, something extraordinary was about to happen. After all, it wasn’t very often a young girl turned nine, or have the okay from the very private ladies of the house for a party.
Phoenix had been tasked with making a list of everything they would need for a suitably decked out party. Mary, her mother had said they were heading into town that afternoon for shopping.
‘Can we buy huge cake?’ She asked, eagerly jotted down ‘big cake’ in her list.
Mary shook her head, and her lone wooden chopstick looking hair pin moved on top of her hair as she did. Her mother always wore that thing. Never a hair band, never an elastic, forever always with that pin in her bun. Guess some people had their rings and necklaces, and her mum had her hair pin. Phoenix had been so curios as a child once that she’d snuck into her mother’s room at night to see if she even worr it to bed. ‘I’ll make you a cake.’
Phoenix’s brows rose. ‘You don’t know how to bake, mum.’
‘Oh, I don’t? Really?’
‘I’ve never even seen you turn the oven on,’ she laughed, brushing aside the used black rubber, the result of her erasing out the ‘big cake’. ‘I think grandma does more cooking than you do.’
Mary eyed her mother, too busy watching some crazy videos of cats that Mary just couldn’t see the humor in. ‘Damn right, I do more cooking.’
‘Well, perhaps either of you would like to go work and bring home money? I’ll gladly exchange lives with either of you.’
‘Don’t be silly, mum. I’m eight.’
‘Well then, remember that next time you complain about my cooking. I can’t do everything around here.’ Mary threw the wet clothes in the laundry basket harshly. ‘Hurry up, Phee, we don’t have all day.’ Just as she said this and picked up the basket, she heard the sound of a bird’s sweet call. She stopped in her tracks and dropped the basket on the dinning table next to Phoenix and pulled the list from her. ‘Go get ready, I’ll finish this off. At this rate the shops will close. You and grandma head off once you’re changed.’
‘What about you?’ Phoenix looked perplexed.
‘I’ll come once I’ve done some cleaning. Meet you there. Maybe we will have dinner out.’
Phoenix’s face lit up and she bounded away, just in time to miss Grandma Eliza wandering over to her mother and the bird chirp to sound again. ‘Haven’t heard that call in a long time.’ She looked worrisome at the younger woman.
‘It’s The Hallow.’ Mary reached in her pocket and pulled out a thick gold coin, the one that looked exactly like Siyon was carrying in the realm of magic, except, the wings of the bird were flapping in slow motion in this, with the call of the bird getting louder.
‘What would they want after all the things they’ve done?’ Eliza sneered.
‘I don’t care to talk about the past, Neer, just take her away so I can go talk to them.’
Eliza sneered again. ‘Don’t call me that!’
Eliza snapped at the car keys from the table and the list from her hand before hunching away. ‘Be careful.’
‘Drive safe.’ She called out, watching the duo wave goodbye and step out.
It was a moment before Mary pulled the pin from her hair and etched out a rune on the table, the wood singed a little before placing the coin on top. ‘Speak.’
‘Are we clear?’ A gravelly male voice escaped.
‘Yes. It’s just me.’