An Untold Want
by Sara Stark
Genre: literature, women’s fiction
Rating: 4.4 star average from 26 reviews
Available at Amazon.
Being born into a family of witches in rural Georgia has made Maggie MacAllister a recluse. She just wants a normal life, and if it weren’t for the MacAllister curse, a husband. When her teenage daughter nearly dies, Maggie must let others into her cloistered lifestyle, even a potential suitor.
Resting her forehead on her knuckles, her eyes searching the crumpled paper in her lap for an answer, Maggie grips the steering wheel, listening to the rain hammer the roof of the car, trying to decide if she really wants to do this. She knows the answers to what the paper means can be found a few steps away, inside the new age store, but after sitting here at least ten minutes, she’s yet to open the door and cross those few steps. Just waiting for the rain to let up, she tells herself, but it doesn’t sound convincing, not even to her.
When she left the house a few hours ago, it was only sprinkling, but the capricious Georgia weather turned those few drops into a monsoon. Even with the windshield wipers sweeping, the downpour obscures her view. She can’t make out if anyone’s in the store. Anyone besides the owner.
But she has to find out what the paper means.
Earlier, when she pulled out her billfold at the gas pump, she found the Crazy Old Cat Lady doll shoved down in her purse and couldn’t help but smile at how sneaky Liz can be. But as she took out her debit card, she found an odd piece of paper shoved into one of the slots. Thinking it was just an old receipt, she’d tossed it on the seat, pumped the gas in the spitting rain, and then climbed back into the car, all the while trying to decide whether to stop at the grocery store.
She almost chucked the paper in the garbage can, but as always, compulsion stopped her, forcing her to make sure there wasn’t a credit card number on it.
She drops one hand to her lap, just now realizing she forgot to buckle her seatbelt. The ding-ding-ding of the warning was just background noise. She fingers the paper. Odd symbols written in brown ink cover it, but seeing her name written with JD’s in the center of the paper distresses her almost as much as recognizing Liz’s handwriting.
After refolding the paper, she places it in her purse and then, not wanting it to get damaged in the rain, she snaps her purse shut and tucks it under her jacket.
She could ask Liz what it means, but she’s sure Liz would fabricate some elaborate tale instead of giving her a straight answer. So the only other option waits inside this store, a place she’s managed to avoid all her life until now.
Her mother frequented this store, sometimes selling homegrown herbs and handmade soaps to the woman who runs it. If Momma trusted this woman… Was her momma friends with this woman? She’s never really considered that her momma might need friends, might need someone in her life besides family.
The urge to drive away, to avoid too many painful truths at once threatens to overwhelm her, but if she leaves now, she knows she won’t make the effort, won’t have the courage to come back. So she steels herself up, switches off the ignition, and climbs out of the car. She runs for the sidewalk and its protective awning, the downpour making the few feet of asphalt and concrete seem like miles.
She takes a deep breath to slow her pounding heart, then another. There’s nothing to be afraid of, but her feet don’t want to move. She takes a minute to brush the excess water from her jacket, scrunches her hair squeezing out the rain it’s absorbed, and then finger combs it, hoping she doesn’t look too disheveled. She straightens her clothes as much as possible, pulling at the lapels of her blouse and smoothing the front of her jeans. It only takes a few seconds in a Georgia deluge to destroy any effort at a polished look, and even if this woman is some crazy, wacked-out pagan high priestess, Maggie wants to be presentable. One of them needs to be normal.
Unsure if she’s shivering from getting drenched or from nerves, she peers in the window at the woman arranging books on a shelf in the far corner, blessedly alone in the store. The woman looks normal. She’s not wearing a long black robe or a huge pointed hat or any foolishness like that.
And the store, full of bright colors and light, looks warm and inviting. Perhaps this won’t be so bad. Either way, she can’t put it off any longer.