Susan hated company parties. Everyone pretending to like everyone and acting happy. People pretending to enjoy each other’s company while exchanging gayly wrapped presents. Plastering fake smiles on their counterfeit faces. Acting like everyone was their best friend.
Pretending was not one of Susan’s strong points. If she liked you, she loved you—none of this fake crap, which is why she didn’t have many friends. Except for this year.
She glanced at the table where the prettily wrapped gifts waited for their new owners. This year was the first year Susan attended the company Christmas party. Ten years she had worked at Wal-mart and never participated.
Last Christmas, she received a present from a secret Santa. Opening the beautifully wrapped gift to reveal a gorgeous engraved Silver bracelet. Susan loved it at first, but slowly, insidiously, the innocent-looking bracelet revealed its true nature.
Sitting on the table, now it looked innocuous enough, but she knew better. Guilt flooded her body at the magnitude of her actions tonight. Adele was innocent in this situation, shaking the responsibility away. Letting thoughts of her dark-haired, green-eyed daughter wipe away the guilt. Adele didn’t deserve this.
Glaring at the gift lying so incongruous on the table, an intense hatred of the damn thing swamped her. Shaking from the intensity of the emotion, she thought, “Soon. Soon it will be someone else’s problem.”
It had only been a year—such a short time for an ordinary bracelet to wreak such havoc on their lives. Susan had loved her gift when she first received it. It was lying inside the red velvet box, enwrapped by rose tissue paper. The silver gleamed in the light with an unusual rune symbol carved in its center. It had been the epitome of beauty.
Breathtaking and perfect, she loved it immediately. The present was from a Secret Santa, so she didn’t know their identity. Whoever it was, knew Susan well enough to know she loved anything Celtic. She didn’t recognize the rune, but it was beautiful too.
A jolt of electricity slammed through her body, touching the bracelet. Trembling and sick to her stomach, her fingers shook, lifting them from the present. Wary now, Susan stared at the box, not wanting anything more to do with it. She didn’t even want to touch it again.
It had taken on an ominous feeling. There was something wrong with the exquisite trinket. Conflicted because it was too lovely to throw away, but Susan didn’t want it near Adele. Reclosing the box, she placed it on the Cherrywood vanity where it sat day after day.
Every day, Susan would come home from work and stare at it, trying to decide what to do with it. Not wanting even to touch it, Susan dusted around the box once thought lovely. Now she couldn’t even bear to look at it.
Fear tickled her spine with icy fingers. Atop the cherry wood vanity, it sat in utter stoicism, waiting. For what, Susan didn’t know, but couldn’t shake the feeling.
Nights were the worst, with terrible dreams filled with blood and swords in her sleeping world. She would jerk awake, soaked with sweat. Her mind was still filled with images of blood before looking towards the box. It never moved, but it felt as if it was watching her every move.
Unnerving feeling that a piece of jewelry studied her while she slept. She knew the bracelet caused the nightmares, and yes, Susan knew those were crazy thoughts. She didn’t care; that bracelet had to go.
Where to put the thing, though? Susan didn’t want to keep the item in the house. Having the trinket running loose in the world didn’t fill her with fuzzy feelings, either. She covered the box with a thick washcloth and buried it under jeans that didn’t fit anymore.
There it stayed until October when somehow Adele found the bracelet and put it on. She had been ransacking through Susan’s closet, searching for jewelry. Adele wanted to accessorize her Halloween outfit and somehow found the bracelet hidden in the clothes.
It had been a scared Adele that told her the box had been on the jeans. Not buried under the jeans, but out in the open for her daughter to find. Susan knew the intensity of her fear frightened the little girl. Her mind was still reeling from what Adele had told her.
It was impossible. Susan had buried that box under piles of clothes. No way for her to find the bracelet. Yet, there it was. Gleaming silver encircled around Adele’s thin little wrist.
Terrified out of her mind, Susan frightened the little girl more when she grabbed her wrist. She yanked the bracelet off, leaving an angry red welt behind. Adele’s brilliant green eyes filled with tears, staring at Susan in fear.
She had put that fear in her daughter’s eyes. A daughter she loved more than life itself. Susan tried to repair the damage, but Adele was too scared and ran from the room.
With Adele’s tears burned into her memory, Susan collapsed on to the bed. She was shocked at her behavior, still clutching the nasty thing in her hand. It had to go. Susan would bury the velvet box far away from her home, where no one would find it.
Then Adele fell sick. Developing a high fever and chills. It was flu season, so Susan didn’t think any more about it. Except Adele didn’t get better, and the trembling worsened. Seizures started scaring Susan so bad she rushed the sick child to the emergency room.
In the time it took to drive to the ER, Adele had slipped into a coma. The doctors hadn’t seen this type of illness before, and they didn’t know how to treat her. Her precious daughter lived because machines took over her body’s functions. They were keeping Adele alive until she recovered if she recovered.
The doctor’s advised Susan not to get too hopeful about her waking up from the coma. Susan knew it was the bracelet’s fault Adele was sick. She knew the truth, even if nobody else believed her or not. Staring down at the rune gleaming in the moonlight, Susan knew she needed to find out what this meant.
She googled the bracelet’s symbol for hours. In the process, discovered a witch experienced in reading runes. Grabbing the cursed bracelet, Susan drove as fast as she dared to the address found online. She was praying this Raven MoonHawk could help her Adele.
Musical chimes tinkled as Susan walking through the doorway. The smell of sandalwood filled her nostrils. Lit candles were flickering everywhere while the shop bustled with customers.
Susan ambled up to the front of the store to the cash register. As she approached the counter, the cashier’s blue eyes rose to meet her concerned hazel ones.
Hesitant, Susan inquired. “I’m sorry to be bothering you, but I am looking for a Raven MoonHawk?”
Clear blue eyes studied Susan’s face for a long moment before the woman answered. “I’m Raven MoonHawk. How can I help you?”
She pulled the bracelet out, saying, “This might sound crazy. I received this bracelet last Christmas. I’m trying to find out what the rune in its center means.”
Staggering backward away from the bracelet, Raven replied. “No one gave you that bracelet as a gift. There is a curse on it.” Horrified, she continued. “You didn’t put it on, did you?”
“No, I didn’t, but my daughter Adele did, and now she is in a coma. I was hoping you could tell me how to save her.”
Raven stared into Susan’s eyes, “That symbol in the middle is a sigil, not a rune. A sigil is a symbol carved on an item. An item a witch is placing a spell on. Each sigil represents a specific spell cast. This sigil represents sickness, which means whoever wears the bracelet will fall ill. The wearer will continue to get sick before dying.”
Shocked, she replied, “someone hated me so much they cursed me?”
Noting the sympathy in Raven’s eyes, she continued. “I wasn’t the one who got sick. It was my daughter, Adele.”
“Did she put the bracelet on? The spell affects the person who wears the bracelet.”
“Yes, she was looking for an accessory to wear with her Halloween outfit and found the bracelet. I found it on her when I got home. Oh, God! How do I save my daughter?”
“I’m sorry, the curse is on the bracelet. You must give the bracelet to someone else if you want your daughter to live. The disease will transfer from your daughter to the new wearer.”
“So, if I gift this bracelet to another person, as soon as that person puts the bracelet on, Adele will get well?”
Raven studied her face before answering. “You would curse an innocent like your daughter. Is that what you want to do?”
Susan’s face flushed, “No, but Adele is an innocent too, she doesn’t deserve to die either.”
Her words sympathetic, Raven replied. “You have two choices then. You must find the person who cast the spell. If not, then put the bracelet on yourself. Those are the only options for saving your daughter.”
Disheartened, Susan left the shop. Now here she was impatient for the gift exchange to begin. It was time. Each person chose a number within a range of numbers. The number they chose determined the order of selection.
One at a time, each person went up and got there present. Each time hers unchosen. Susan knew someone would get it. She had picked hers. It was the waiting that got on her nerves.
Soon, Susan’s gift was the only one left on the table. She was anxious as she watched Barbara Wentforth walk to the table and pick up Susan’s gift. While she was watching Barbara, Theresa Benton sidled up to her. She and Theresa didn’t get along at all.
For starters, they both had interviewed for the same position. Susan got the promotion instead of Theresa. That didn’t stop Theresa from whining about it. She complained about the so-called slight almost every day after Susan’s promotion.
“So, you are going to give that bracelet to poor innocent Barbara. Now, what did she ever to you?”
Susan turned to look at her nemesis. “The question is, why did you give it to me? What could I have done to you to deserve that loathsome bracelet?”
Closing the distance between them until inches separated them, Theresa hissed. “You stupid bitch. Your innocent act isn’t going to work on me. I know what a conniving bitch you are. You stole my promotion!”
Confused, she asked. “What the hell are you talking about? I earned that promotion through hard work. You want me dead because of some stupid promotion?”
Theresa screamed. “You took what was mine, and once you’re dead, it will be mine again.”
Susan was furious now, “I didn’t put the bracelet on Theresa. Adele did, and now she is in a coma because of your stupid envy. You are killing an innocent child because of your pettiness.”
Nothing Susan said appeared to be getting through Theresa’s unreasonable hatred. She was running out of time. Adele was running out of time. Grabbing Theresa’s wrist with her left hand, she pulled the bracelet out with her right.
While still holding Theresa’s wrist, she pushed her face into Theresa’s until separated by inches.
“My daughter isn’t dying because you’re an idiot,” she said slapping the bracelet on Theresa’s wrist. Then she turned and left with the sound of Theresa’s screaming in her ears.