Every morning started the same way for Catherine and her Aunt Lillian. They sat at the breakfast table over fruit, porridge, and a pot of tea, and each would draw a card from the deck that would represent their day.
Lillian smiled to herself as she drew out the wheel of fortune and passed the deck across the table. Catherine fanned them out across the white lace of the table cloth, the outermost cards touching the teapot at one end and the honey jar at the other.
Lillian clapped her hands as Catherine drew her card, seeing before Catherine had turned it over. She had drawn the lovers.
“It seems you have an interesting choice to make,” Lillian told her, helping herself to another cup of tea and smiling mischievously. “To love, or not to love, as it were.”
Catherine frowned. She didn’t want to have to make any choices, and besides, if the card was about romance, then it was obviously the wrong card. She didn’t even like anyone at the moment.
She was about to spoon more honey into her porridge when the doorbell rang. Lillian looked at her pointedly, and she sighed, rising and going to the door.
A girl stood on the step, her dark hair poking out from under and colourful tie-dye hat. A basket was hung over the crook of her left elbow, and her cheeks were red from the cold morning air.
“Hello,” she said brightly, bright green eyes crinkling at the corners. “I’m selling lucky charms, would you like some?” She dipped a hand into the basket and pulled out a bunch of thin leather cords, some with bright stones on the end, others with small fragrant pouches of herbs. “This one, I think, would suit you,” she said, drawing out a pendant of rose quartz. “It’s for luck in love.”
The girl’s smile was white and even, her cheekbones sharp. Catherine meant to ask how much it was, but the words got lost on the way out and turned into a feeble croak that didn’t sound like words at all.
She could feel Aunt Lillian’s presence behind her, and she leaned over and reached into the basket, drawing out a small pouch. “Straw and allspice?” she said, sniffing the bag.
The girl nodded. “And a pinch of wood rose.”
“We’ll take them,” Lillian said. “On one condition.”
The girl frowned. “What’s that?”
Catherine watched her aunt with suspicion as she grinned brightly and said, “You join us for breakfast.
Catherine moved aside and set another place at the table while her aunt fussed over the girl, whose name was Esther.
There was renewed energy at the table now, and Catherine smiled to herself as she ate, feeling like finally, something was about to change.