The rune was black.
So black it nearly looked burned into the dark wood.
I couldn't for the life of me understand why. Dark red, or even a hint of green, would've been expected after my disastrous meeting during the day. But black?!
I very rarely used the runes these days. During my teenage years, hormones flowing wild, I had snuck away on almost every school break to shake the little wooden bricks in my hand and eagerly await their answers. But age brings all kinds of wisdom. By using the runes I had not only learned how to read people fairly well from body language and tone of voice alone, I had also learned that reading peoples thoughts can be very unpleasant and unpredictable. But today I just HAD to.
It started already in the morning as I was brewing my morning coffee. Whilst I was concentrating on adding three clockwise stirs with the silver spoon in between every anti-clockwise stir (my mums classic recipe which wakes me up like nothing else) the cat suddenly came whizzing past from the garden through the open kitchen door. She jumped up onto the kitchen table and started staring intently at me. I knew the look instantly. "She's had a Vision!" I thought, "Excellent!". My cat was a bit useless when it came to letting me know she had had a vision, but when she did, it nearly always paid off. Only last month she sorted me out so I could pull a sickie on the very day the waste drains burst in the office bathrooms. Helen had had to send her best suit to the dry cleaners and thrown away a perfectly decent pair of brogues.
I took down the battered copper tim from the mantelpiece and grabbed a large pinch of dried catnip. My gran would always advice me to steep the catnip in water to drink, but I thought it worked fine neat. Besides, my bus was due in ten minutes, so i didn't really have time. Chewing the herb, I called the cat over and sat down on the floor. It took her less than a minute to convey her feelings to me. It was happiness! She had had a Vision that was about to make me happy! It nearly made me teary. And exceptionally excited! Before I went to work I opened the cage in the larder and put one of my quite pricey white mice on to the floor. It was the least I could for the cat, as a thank you.
I spent all morning doing absolutely NO work, waiting for the event that would make me happy. At half eleven I gave up and coaxed Helen to come with me to a pub for a cheeky glass of white with our lunch.
That's when I saw him. The Man.
- "I'm sorry but you must have dropped this."
His voice was smooth and deep, with a faint arabic accent. The dark eyes that met mine as I turned around on the bar stool to take my dropped scarf from his hand made me weak to the knees.
I answered confidently.
My brain was on mental stand-by for another full minute before Helens laughter woke me up. The Man was long gone, long black leather coat swaying as he had left the pub, and I wanted to die a little bit. Or at least disappear into a bottomless pit. Only one positive thing remained from the lunch break: Helen had recognised the Man as one of the bartenders of the new wine bar in town, The Circle!
The constant 'pinging' noise from my computer, announcing the arrival of every email Helen sent me during the afternoon, did nothing for my continued productivity. But Helen wasn't the only one to blame. I spent a lot of time committing the Mans eyes to memory. Partly because it made me week in the knees, amongst other pleasant bodily reactions, but also because I knew the runes worked best with a clear picture of the Thinkers eyes in the mind of the Reader.
I jumped off the bus, and ran all the way up the path to the cottage. I didn't even stop to catch my breadth until I was sat at my kitchen table, clutching the bowl carved out of an ancient hip bone. With the eyes of the Man clearly pictured behind my eyelids I took the runes from the bowl and shook them in my hand thrice. I threw them out onto the table like a desperate gambler throwing dice for a very large bet. As a little girl I had sat at this very table many times, learning the meaning of the many shades of colour of the runes, my mother watching and correcting my mistakes. Yellow, green and red for positive, indifferent or negative thoughts. Those were the basic colours. But a true Reader could read more than that about the Thinker, from the slight shift in shades of the runes. But I didn't need my years of rune training for what I now saw in front of me: Seven wooden bricks, each with a pitch black coloured rune on it. It could only mean one thing. He was one of us.
The happiness flew through my veins like the bubbles in champagne. Maybe I had found a partner, finally?!
With loud jazz blaring out through the cottage I got myself ready for a visit to The Circle. I threw the broomstick in the corner a look, but laughed at the thought. With a skirt as tight as this I'd better take the bus.
the picture is a Dartmoor stone circle taken from http://blog.rachelcotterill.com