Nothing was going to spoil their special day — not even mortals
“I wish we didn’t have to keep coming back here for our one day of freedom, Druce,” said Filomena.
“I’m with you, sister, but we don’t have much choice, do we?”
“Just look at this place!”
The beach was packed; an ocean on one side and a sea of people on the other. An obese middle-aged man less than six feet away from the two women was shouting into his cell phone about the decline in dentistry. A family on the other side was playing music, ignoring the sign that prohibited the practice. Most annoying of all was a boy building a sandcastle a few feet away who kept flicking sand in their direction.
“I must admit, the crowds are getting worse. It wasn’t nearly as bad as this a century ago,” said Drucilla.
“Where do all these mortals come from?”
“Let’s not allow them to ruin the occasion, Fil. This is our special day, let’s make the most of it. This is our sixth one. Only four to go.”
“Four more! What’ll the next one be like, Druce? The mortals will be stacked on top of one another.”
“Probably. Still, time flies, dear. Four hundred years may seem a stretch but it’ll be over faster than quicksilver.”
“I suppose,” said Filomena.
She was creating a person-sized runic symbol in the sand. Filomena carefully added shells, feathers, pebbles, and a large hag stone.
“Is that the hag stone?” asked Drucilla.
“The one and only.”
“I can’t believe you still have it,” said her sister. She picked up the object and absently poked a little finger through the smooth hole the ocean had punctured through its center.
Drucilla gazed at the thin slice of the ocean she could see through the throng.
“Such memories,” she said dreamily, spinning the hag stone around her pinkie. “Do you still think about them? The twins.”
“Now and again.”
“Shall we visit the cave?” ventured Drucilla.
“We visited last time. Don’t think I need another reminder just yet. Besides, the cave is buried under that big pipe.”
Filomena gestured to a rusted sewage pipe jutting out into the ocean.
“Mortals are such beasts,” spat Drucilla.
“Not all of them,” said her sister.
Drucilla went to reply but desisted; she knew that her sister’s emotional wound was still tender. Almost seven hundred years had passed since Filomena lost the only mortal she had ever loved. Drucilla took up with his twin brother, but her affair had more to do with lust and a thirst for adventure than love. It was against their coven’s rules for witches to consort with mortals so they were already running the risk of expulsion. Then one day Filomena’s lover happened to pick up a hag stone on this very beach and looked at her through the hole in the stone. He saw Filomena as her true self: a formidable witch. The young mortal was terrified and threatened to betray his lover. Inevitably, the two men were terminated by the coven, and their bodies were interned in a nearby cave. The two witch sisters were sentenced to one-thousand years in solitary confinement for breaking the rules. They were allowed one day of freedom per century, but that day had to be spent on the same beach where their ill-fated lovers were buried to remind them of their crimes.
“OK, I’m almost done, Druce,” said Filomena, breaking the mood. “Give me the stone, please.”
Drucilla handed over the hag stone and her sister placed it precisely in the sand rune.
“Perfect! Right, let’s get on with it so we can start our picnic,” said Drucilla brightly.
They sat in a lotus position on a pentangle at the center of a large rectangle of black cloth bordered with runes, closed their eyes, and began to chant. People stopped and laughed at the two young women dressed in flowing black robes and festooned with silver jewelry and charms. But no one felt threatened by the twins’ strange behavior. With their waist-length blonde hair and fair looks it was assumed that they were a couple of new-age women smoking weed.
Presently, a stiff breeze blew the sisters’ tresses. The breeze strengthened into a wind, and whitecaps dotted the ocean. A slab of dark cloud drifted across the sky as if some demon was unveiling its latest mischief.
The wind gained strength. Beach umbrellas began to fly. People frantically packed up their gear and children and exited the beach. Bathers ran for their lives as huge waves crashed onto the shore.
The wind howled, reached a crescendo, then subsided as fast as it had appeared. The deserted beach was silent.
“That’s better,” said Drucilla, surveying the empty shore.
“Eminently,” agreed her sister. “So, what did you pack?”
“Dragon pot roast, hog’s breath bread, new-moon frog spawn jelly, and mistletoe berry wine to wash it down,” said Drucilla proudly.
The two witches gleefully started their beach picnic.
“Here’s to the next one!” said Filomena, raising a glass. “From now on, I’m going to call them our Hag Stone picnics!”