Scene One as told by Jaden Bruxelle, a red haired woman with one blue eye and one green eye….
My mother told me all about the witches in our family.
She heard the stories from her mother, who heard them from her mother, and so on, all the way back to the mid-1800s, in London, where the twins, Henrietta and Elizabeth, started The Curse.
Henrietta and Elizabeth were inseparable from the time they reached across their mother’s bosom for the other’s hand. Their mother was considered to be the best witch of them all, whatever that silly statement means, and she taught the twins. They practiced their spells in the forest behind the fountains and statues on the manicured estate their mother’s wealthy, titled family owned.
The twins eventually, reluctantly, agreed to marry wealthy, titled men. They did not feel it necessary to tell their husbands of a few wild years, sins committed and sins omitted, handsome men here and there, and their mother agreed, she of a colorful past herself. “It’s our secret, dears,” she told her daughters, a pinky tilted up as she drank her tea. “Husbands don’t need to know much.”
The twins’ elegant estates, with lands adjacent to each other, soon held all the herbs they needed for their spells, plus Canterbury bells, hollyhocks, lilies, irises, sweet peas, cosmos, red poppies, peonies, and rows of roses, which is what their mother and grandmother grew, too.
Together Henrietta and Elizabeth had eight children who would later prove to be both saints and raucous sinners, especially the girls, as is often the case in witch families, or so I’m told.
Sadly, though, in their late thirties the twins’ friendship fell apart because of a fight over, of all things, a tea set. At least that’s what started it. Henrietta bought the delicate white teacups, pitcher, and creamer with the pink flowers, knowing Elizabeth loved it, coveted it, but Henrietta could not resist. They were elegant, from India, hand painted, and the flowers looked as if they could talk if let loose for but a moment. There was only that one set and when Elizabeth found out what Henrietta had done, so sneakily, she was overcome with anger.
Another scene, via Jaden Bruxelle, about her love of herbs and spices…and her fear of what they tell her….
I grow herbs in my greenhouse to make my meals yummy. I grow herbs and flowers because then I feel connected to my mother, Grandma Violet, and all our women ancestors who grew the same herbs and flowers that I do. I grow them because I love to nurture living things, especially since I deal with death so much.
I also grow herbs for therapy. I call it Herbal Therapy.
Here is the weird part of myself that I do try to keep somewhat secret: Several times a week I plug in white strands of Christmas lights and light a handful of scented candles that match the season, for example strawberry for summer, pumpkin spice for fall, vanilla for winter.
Next I stand at my butcher-block table and I cut a handful of herbs up and inhale their scent. I have to touch them, crunch them in my fingers, rub them between my palms. I have a spice rack in there, too, and I add sprinkles of this and that.
I use crystal plates owned by Grandma Violet and silver spoons owned by Faith, and I mix herbs and spices together. I have normal spices and less known spices including: Szechuan pepper, boldo, annatto, lemongrass, wasabai, galangal, peppermint leaves, black lime, and zedoary. I mix cinnamon with nutmeg and lemon mango tea. Parsley and oregano and mint leaves. Szechuan pepper and garlic. Bay leaves and dill.
The scents wrap me up soft and tight, soothing me. There are flowers blooming and growing all around, my favorite books and journals are on a nearby bookcase, and when I leave, after a cup of tea, I feel better. I call it Herbal Meditation.
We all have our odd quirks; herb and spice obsession is mine.
But there’s been a problem the last weeks. When I start my chopping and blending and mixing, I smell death. Not the death that is usual with my work as a hospice nurse, either.
Death, as in someone I know is going to die.
A Third Scene written by Jaden Bruxelle’s son, Tate…
Tate’s Awesome Pigskin Blog
My name is Tate Bruxelle.
I am seventeen years old and I have a big head.
What’s it like living with a big head, with one eye higher than the other, with a face that looks normal on one half, but odd on the other?
Not damn easy. I have been made fun of my entire life. In preschool, the other kids wouldn’t play with me, except for two twins named Anthony and Milton, Milt for short. Their mother is from Jamaica, she’s a doctor, their dad’s an attorney, they live across the street from me, and we have always been friends.
Some of the kids in my class cried when they saw my face, I remember that. I was three. One kid said I was ugly, another kid said I was scary, like a sea monster. A girl with braids told me I had a face like a person on one side, and a face like pigskin on the other. I remember going to sit in a corner and crying almost every day.
Now you know why I call this blog, “Tate’s Awesome Pigskin Blog.”
Some kids are jealous of others because they have cool hair, or cool clothes, or cool parents. When I was in preschool I was envious of people’s heads.
One time I went home and told my mom, “I want a small head. Can you get me one?”
She told me that God had given me a big head because I had big brains…