All the sightings, warnings and visions had left me feeling decidedly scattered, so I spent some time in meditation and consultation with Hermaphroditey. But yesterday I left the Guardian of the Basement on his own (he is not the best of company), to walk in the magic wood. I half expected to see Mollie Promp in one of her manifestations, but instead happened across a trail of snail shells. They were all intact and undamaged, as if some dextrous bird had removed and eaten the contents without needing to break the shells. I followed the trail, collecting the lovely brown spirals along the way, wondering if they would lead to some sort of revelation or message from the goddess, but when I emerged from the wood I found myself at the crone’s caravan.
It struck me then that perhaps she was Mollie Promp in another of that creature’s guises, and I determined to ask her and get some sort of an answer, even if it were just a nod of her aged white head.
A hollow tinny sound echoed from the rap of my knuckles on the battered door, and I had the feeling that many such knuckles had rapped at this door exactly as I was rapping – perhaps for millennia. No one answered, although my special powers told me that the crone was inside. I sat down on the step and counted the snail shells. There were twenty two – the number of the major arcana. I was just thinking that perhaps I should create a snail tarot by painting on the shells when the caravan door opened and the old woman was looking down on me. It’s a funny angle from which to view someone. Her skinny ankles seemed like bones fleshed only by the wrinkled stockings as they balanced in the huge pink slippers, her hands emerged like two claws from the sleeves of the red velvet dressing gown, and all I could see of her head was the jagged peak of her nose above the wrinkled skin below her chin, surrounded by a halo of white hair.
I didn’t mean to be so direct – after all, she had never uttered a single word to me, and I wasn’t even sure she could hear anything I said – but ‘Are you Mollie Promp?’ I gasped.
I think she may have sighed silently – I’m not sure – but anyway her shoulders seemed to droop. She turned back inside and I thought I’d offended her, but in less than a minute came out with a pack of cards, which she fanned out and studied, her head on one side like some sort of bird – a stork or crane perhaps. Selecting one, she turned it to show me the face of the card, on which was written a single word in a childish hand.
I must say that I felt relieved. I thanked her and went straight home without waiting to be taken in for tea, although she didn’t make any attempt to draw me inside as she usually does, but turned around and disappeared, shutting the door behind her.
In celebration, and to give thanks to Hermaphroditey I made a necklace with seven of the snail shells. I shall wear it for our handfasting at the Summer Solstice – Jay will be thrilled.
It was only later that I realized that I’d forgotten to ask the crone if her initials were TD, or her name Tullulah Dervish.
Till when, Aisselle