“Miss Sylvie,” said the old woman, pointing toward the room off to the left, “Would you mind stepping into my bedroom there, and fetch my Bible. It’s on the nightstand beside the bed.”
Amilee looked at the old woman quizzically. “What, child,” responded the Dark Mama, “Are you surprised I read the Good Book? I told you I ain’t a witch.”
Sylvie returned with a large, very old and very used large print Bible. “Thanks child.” She began thumbing through the pages. “Now this is talking about the Kingdom ‘a Heaven, but the principle’s the same.” And she read: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
The old woman stared into Amilee’s eyes. “What you want is a treasure dear to your heart. But nothing’s free in life, child. Any fool knows that. The Good Book says you got to be willing to sell all in order to have the treasure. Are you willing to do that for your treasure, child?”
Amilee looked at the old woman quizzically. “Are you talking about how much I must pay you to help me?”
“Lawd no child! Haven’t you heard anything I’ve been telling you? Yes it’ll cost you! But you don’t pay me child – you pay yourself!”
For the next half hour the old woman outlined certain specific, and detailed procedures that Amilee was to follow – to the letter – if she wanted to claim her treasure. “I know this might all sound silly to you child,” the old woman said, “But I can’t stress strongly enough – that you MUST follow these procedures EXACTLY as I’ve told you. Nothing more. But nothing less. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” said Amilee, rather weakly. “But I don’t understand. What will following this – this – this ritual do for me? It all sounds so spooky, so magical almost!”
“Just you do it!” And you do it EXACTLY,” the old woman added. “Do you want the truth Missy? Then I’ll tell you the truth. Right now, right this minute, you don’t stand a ghost of a chance of claiming your treasure. You stand a better chance in becoming the Pope’s wife! But – if you follow my instructions, if you follow them seriously, follow them earnestly, follow them reverently, and follow them faithfully and to the letter – then this silly ritual as you call it will prepare you heart, your mind, your body, and your spirit. Then perhaps, just perhaps, this little so called ritual will have made it all worth while. I hope so child. I hope so for your sake!”
First, there was all this stuff to purchase. New this. New that. Crystal, not glass. Linen, not some man-made blend. Everything had to be brand new – and there must have been dozens of items. And – the old woman refused to let her write anything down. That was a part of the ‘ritual.’ It had to be done from memory.
It was already late when Sylvie and Amilee left The Dark Mama’s place. Fortunately, that put them even closer to Oak Branch, and the large shopping mall. The Dark Mama had stressed, “Don’t waste you time trying to find these things at Wal-Mart, child. Treasured desires require treasured offerings. Top quality my dear. Nothing but top quality.” Oak Branch Mall would have them all – if only they could get there in time.
As per instructions, Amilee locked the doors on returning home, unplugged the land line, and turned off her cell phone. Next she closed all the drapes and blinds. She was not to be disturbed for anything. Then she began of arranging the assorted ritual items, each in its specified place. Two candles in the bedroom. Two in the hallway. And eight in the bath. A candle at each corner of the bathtub, and the others equally spaced around the room. She stripped the bed and replaced the sheets with the crisp, new linen ones. One pillow… with a crisp, new linen pillow case. She folded the plain, white, full length nightgown, and laid it neatly at the foot of the bed. She almost forgot to cover the full length mirror in bathroom. Then she began filling the tub with water, as hot as she could stand it. As the tub filled, she emptied the small bottle of Lilac bath oil into the water. Amilee walked to the bedroom and closed the closet doors. Next she lit the candles there, and turned off the light. In the hallway, she lit those candles and turned off that light. She entered the utility room. There she stripped off all her clothes, placing them in the hamper on the washing machine, and switched off the light. She walked back into the bathroom naked, closing the utility room door behind her, and the door from the hallway to the kitchen. Now only the bedroom, hallway, and bathroom remained opened to one another. The rest of the house was blocked off, eerily darkened and quiet. Finally she carefully lit the candles in the bathroom, and switched off the overhead light. This area of her home was now a special sanctuary, illuminated by the soft glow of candlelight. The scent of Lilac filled the room. It was time to begin.
By now the tub was filled with hot, steaming water. Amilee stepped in. She arranged the new tub pillow behind her neck, and slid deep into the water until only her chin was above water. She’d been told to relax. Even amid the recent calamities, surprisingly, it was not too difficult to relax. The sweet lilac water, soft and hot on her skin, enveloped and cradled her as if she were back in her mother’s womb. If felt secure. It felt good. She closed here eyes – and for a while – she thought of nothing. How long she remained in that blessed state of security and serenity she did not know. For once in many horrible hours, she was at rest and at peace. Just as her body lay buoyant in the steaming water, her spirit floated above the chaos that had become her life. Her very mind was being bathed and cleansed. Slowly, her thought processes began to return. A deep and urgent dream for normalcy and peace flooded her being.
A phrase the old woman had used kept reappearing over and over with her head – “Treasured desires require treasured offerings.” Amilee now treasured the concept of peace in her life more than anything. She’d been such a fool to take that peace for granted while she yet possessed it. Never again. Never again would she be lax in holding tight to peace – never again. She was digging deeper into her resolve. She was digging deeper into a true understanding of self and self worth. She was digging deeper toward that buried treasure. The heat of the water melted away her fears. The wetness washed away her doubts. The sweet aroma of Lilac filled her heart with hope, like the hope which naturally comes with Springtime. Amille was willing to make what ever offering was necessary.
Buzzzpt. Buzzzpt. Buzzzpt. A sleepy arm groped across the nightstand, desperately trying to silence the horrid alarm clock. Get up, she willed herself. Amilee shuffled to the small bathroom and folded her nightgown. She stepped into the shower, even before the warm had kicked in. She stepped from the shower and toweled dry, catching a glance of her image in the over-sized mirror. Not bad she thought. She toweled her hair dry and ran a brush through it in half a dozen rapid strokes, then reached around the doorway for her skirt and blouse. They were not there! Drat. She’d have to iron.
When dressed – she headed for the door. Amilee was holding an important press conference for 10:30 this morning. As per usual, she was running a bit late. She usually ran late for everything. But being late this morning was not an option. Now behind schedule, she rushed out the door. With a thousand thoughts running through her hyperactive mind, Amilee pulled into the street. “Ok Amilee,” she said to herself, “Relax. The cameras are only machinery.” Amilee was more worried about her appearance than her answers to the media.
30 – 35 – 40 – 45. Amilee’s eyes were on the road ahead although she hardly saw what lay ahead. Even if she’d seen the climbing numbers on the speedometer, chances are it wouldn’t have registered… or mattered. She was late. And she was focused. Today was a big day. Today was a big day indeed.
A sudden flash of Red ahead! A bike! It all happened in a split second.
The image of the Red bike looming before her had hardly registered on her brain when natural reflex kicked in. Amilee jerked the wheel to the left – right into the path of an approaching truck. The Red bike skidded to a harmless stop right in the spot that Amilee’s Buick had just occupied. But Amilee’s speeding Buick and the huge, heavy trash collection truck couldn’t possible occupy the same spot. There was a tremendous crash.
The next day the newspaper proclaimed: Candidate Killed In Crash – Wilson was likely winner of race for governor. Clouster County News by Harvey Phillips: Amilee Allen Wilson, candidate for governor was tragically killed early this morning in a head on crash with a county trash collection truck. There were no witnesses other than the driver of the truck and 12 year old Billy Frye. “She swerved into me to avoid hitting the boy,” the truck driver said. The tearful lad told reporters that he was temporarily distracted when a strap broke on his school bag. “I didn’t see her coming,” he said. According to the truck’s driver, he didn’t believe that speed was an issue. Ms Wilson is being hailed as a hero for avoiding the lad. “It was a great sacrifice,” said Sylvia Turner, her longtime friend and assistant. Pollsters say that that Ms Wilson was favored to win next year’s race for governor. “She was a shoo-in if you ask me,” remarked Joshua Stone, “She was the right person for the job. We will truly miss her!” Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.