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Ethereal Equinox, Part 2

In this second installment, the ghost George grates on hostess Mae and all the other spectral guests. How will they cope, and what will an unexpected knock on the door bring? Learn more about this photo at the conclusion of the story.

Read Part 1 of Ethereal Equinox here as a refresher.

Dear God make it stop, Mae thought to herself. She was exhausted, having had little sleep from the night before. Laying in her bed, she glanced over to look at the time. Just great, 7:30 am already. She sat up and then proceeded to flop back on the bed, arms and legs outstretched. Sahira, her raven-colored cat, jumped onto the bed and emitted a long mew.

“You and me both Sahira,” Mae said as she scratched behind Sahira’s ears. “This year is going to be the death of me.”

Every year George, one of her seasonal spectral guests, seemed to be worse than the year before. Mae had invested heavily in an adjustable bed for him that rises and lowers on both the top and bottom half. The investment had not paid off, as he spent the night wailing about. When he tired of wailing, he paced. The reprieve from his screams was cut short by the tortuous monotony of his limped cadence…step…drag, step…drag, step…drag. Eventually he returned to wailing and then the cycle started all over again.

“Well Sahira, we still have to get breakfast ready. I wonder if everyone else is ‘dragging’ just as much as we are.”

Mae went into her closet and pulled out a shimmering green blouse to compliment her eyes and a black wide leg pants. Confident in her choice, she dressed and proceeded to open her bedroom door and head to the kitchen.

Walking past the parlor she saw Bruno, the haunted hound dog, in his bed but with his two front paws covering his nose. “Rough night for you too?” Mae empathized. Giving a low howl in response, he readjusted himself and curled right back up.

Mae added water to the coffee pot, put in a filter, and grabbed a container of coffee. At she was about to pour the coffee grounds in she stopped herself. She had grabbed the instant coffee instead of the coffee grounds. Well, that would have been an experience, she thought. Sighing, she swapped the instant for the grounds and flipped the switch to on.

As the coffee began to drip, the aroma wafted through the house. Slowly but surely the other ethereal guests came down for breakfast. Carmen, Thomas, and Caroline came down in short order and took a seat at the round kitchen table.

Mae placed two platters in the center, one containing fruit and the other full of pastries. They all thought George had finally…at last…wailed his last from the confines of his bedroom.

But just then, George let out another long, shrieking wail, and it was all downhill from there.

Taken by surprise, Thomas abruptly dropped his book, more like a tome, to the floor. Which in turn caused Carmen, who was reapplying her ruby red lipstick, to draw a red line all the way to her earlobe. That then caused Caroline to laugh in a truly unsettling and wicked way. And not to be outdone, in rushed Bruno, howling and running under the table and chairs. His efforts managed to wobble the table enough so that the fruit and pastries went airborne. They landed on the floor in such a mangled mess that it would make a crime scene detective salivate.

In the end, it was only Bruno who was salivating.

"Ay, Dios Mío! That man! I cannot sleep or even eat breakfast with his constant moaning and groaning. How will I ever be ready for la fiesta?” Carmen lamented.

“Maybe you should spend your time on less frivolous pursuits, but it is absolutely impossible to get any studying done with a house in such a state!” Thomas exclaimed as he retrieved his volume from the floor.

Caroline just cackled and cackled as Bruno looked up with powdered sugar coating his nose and mouth.

“My apologies everyone. I truly thought the bed would have made a great deal of difference. I will go speak to him,” Mae said.

The doorbell rang and everyone stood stock still. “Shhh. Everyone to their rooms now—quickly and quietly,” Mae ordered.

As soon as the coast was clear, Mae made her way to the foyer and opened the door. A delivery person was on the front porch holding an envelope.

“Hello ma’am, I have a delivery for a Mae Foxglove. Just need your signature right here,” the man said as he handed over a machine and stylus.

“Of course,” Mae said as she signed her name.

“Looks like you must have your hands full,” he said as he waited for Mae to sign.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, um—it’s just that you are covered in sugar and flour—and, well, I could hear a commotion,” he stammered.

Just then George let out another teeth-rattling scream. Quick on her feet, Mae hurriedly said, “Oh, don’t worry. That was just a scary movie I have playing. Tis the season and all. Working on baking up some goodies to share!” She thrust the machine back to him, took the envelope, and closed the door.

Whew, that was a close one! Mae thought in relief as she ripped open the envelope and pulled out the letter. As she read it, she slid down the length of the wall and sat on the floor.

The Chief Enchantress of Guest Relations would be arriving in two days’ time for a surprise inspection and one on one with each guest to ensure their satisfaction. Some new type of quality assurance program, and Mae would be among the first visited as this new initiative is piloted.

Mae let the letter drop from her hands. Of all the years, why this year?

She had to get promoted after this season, she couldn’t bear the thought of another year as hostess. George and his grating affect on the others could not—would not—hold her back. Maybe it was time she dusted off some of the old spell books.

After all, she was a direct descendant of Bedelia Bhàsa, the most exalted and powerful enchantress there had ever been.



This picture was taken in the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Per the Historic Oakland Cemetery:

"The Neal Monument is one of the most photographed markers in Oakland and depicts mother and daughter, Mollie and Mary Lizzie Neal.

Their monument is covered in Victorian symbolism. Look closer and you’ll see two books- one open, symbolizing a heart open to God and the world, and one closed, symbolizing a completed life. Additional symbols on the marker include a laurel wreath (eternity), the palm branch (victory over death), and the Celtic cross (eternal life; faith and redemption).

Interested in learning more about Victorian symbolism in Oakland? Visit and sign up for a Sights, Symbols, and Stories Tour."

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