I was out of a job, disowned by my family and my girlfriend had walked out on me. In short, I was down and dispirited. I tended to visit Chix’s Lounge when the black dog visited; it was a live music bar in the queer quarter. I wasn’t looking for a pickup, I was just there to chill out and wallow in my misery.
The lights were on low, and a waif-like singer was doing a wonderful impersonation of Enya. She sang with the backup of a karaoke tape. The music was melancholic, haunting and other-worldly, and she sang like one of Celtic Women’s own.
I was sitting at one of the bench seats that ran along the wall, alone; I preferred it that way. I was nursing a Jameson and ice, savoring each sip before I let the elixir burn its way down my throat. It was truly an eclectic bunch of women in the pub that night; there were the usual assortments of dykes and butches, witches and goths. Over in the corner, a couple of young wannabes giggled at each other across a table. No fashion was out of place, everything was cool.
I was alone; I had already discouraged a potential drinking partner from joining me that night. Despite the mixed crowd that night, she did stand out, and I had no option but to let her join my table.
The woman could have stepped out of a Charlotte Bronte novel. She was wearing a sheer, white blouse with high ruffled collar, cuffed sleeves and the front was decorated with an embroidered floral design; it was delightful and feminine. A sky blue, full gathered skirt flowed down over her hips giving way to an elegant pair of ankle high boots. A broad leather belt accentuated her slender waist. A sliver chatelaine was attached to the one side of the belt; a short leather strap swung from the other. The strap’s handle was bound in a deep-blue leather; gold trimming wound its way down the handle, adding a feminine touch.
The chatelaine was remarkable. Four chains hung down; three of the chains had objects linked to them, and the fourth hung empty. On the first chain, there was a tiny notebook; it was bound in a deep blue leather and embossed in gold with the silhouette of a woman playing a flute. A small leather pen holster cradling a silver pen hung from the second chain, and on the third chain, there hung a small chain link purse.
The chatelaine was remarkable in its own right; one seldom sees such a striking accessory being worn in this day and age; but it was the belt buckle that took my breath away. The medallion was a solid piece of hand pressed silver, as you might see on a brandy decanter tag. A mermaid sat on a rock, a flute at her lips, her elbows held up and her fingers tapping the keys. The mermaid positively exuded magick; each scale on the mermaid’s tail was embedded with a sparkling piece of lapis lazuli. The body of the mermaid was delicately crafted with white and classic gold, and her hair sparkled with a thousand tiny diamonds. Tiny rubies in her eyes, with a touch of red enamel on her lips brought her face to life. A circle of nymphets danced around her, their hands clasped and raised up high. It was a gorgeous work of art and I wished that I could understand the symbolism; I vowed to myself that when the time was right, I would ask.
I tore my gaze away from the belt buckle to look up at her face. She was staring at me with a quizzical expression, a look of sardonic amusement twitching her lips. Her skin was flawless, and any imperfections were covered up with just the lightest application of sparing applied concealer. Her thin lips were delicately brushed with a deep shade of red, and her high cheekbones were touched with just a hint of blush. Deep green, bewitching eyes stared at me with an intensity that was disconcerting. Her shortish hair that was combed straight back in a severe, tight slick, the oil on it giving off the appearance of having just come out of a shower.
“The cat got your tongue?” she inquired?
I was at a loss for words; I was simply overawed.
“No, but I was just …. admiring your buckle……it’s gorgeous!”
She chuckled; it was an evil chuckle, one that was completely at odds with the beautiful woman that stood in front of me.
A few drinks later and I was bewitched. I don’t know whether it was too many Jamesons, the enchanting Celtic music, her beguiling manner, or perhaps a combination of them all, but I was totally under her spell.
I was totally besotted and deeply in lust. We were sitting side by side on the red velveteen bench; I had snuggled up to her and her arms were around my shoulder and my head was resting against her shoulder. Her lavender scent, her comforting hold, her soothing voice were all adding to my wonderful sense of well-being; gone was the dejection that enveloped me earlier.
“Will you come away with me on a journey, Sandrine?” she asked.
She loved my name, ‘Sandrine’, she had told me earlier. It was so old worldly, so feminine, so quaint. Hers was Sirena; I did not give it another thought when she told me that. Women in the circle that I ran with had all sorts of strange names, most self-adopted when they left their pasts behind them.
“It is a fringe festival, everyone there will be in period costume.”
In my state, I couldn’t say no to her, I was totally infatuated; under her spell. She could have asked me to go naked, and I would have done that for her.
“It would make me very happy if you went dressed as a maid. I will go as a Victorian lady. Do you think you could do that for me?”
I sensed her waiting for my answer. I looked up into her face dreamily. Her facial expression confounded me; it wrapped together a hint of malice, a touch of compassion, a sense of mystery.
I nodded drowsily.
“Excellent, I will meet you here tomorrow, same place, same time. I am so delighted to have made your acquaintance.”
There was something old-worldly about her turn of phrase, but I went home in a haze of happiness. I dreamt of Victorian maids’ uniforms, of lace and silks and cashmere shawls, of crinolines and bustles. I thought of the petticoats that would swirl around my body, caressing my legs, igniting my senses. Lacy white collars, pristine white lace edged caps.
As promised, I waited for her at Chix’s Lounge the following evening. I was dressed in my scullery maid’s outfit: a pale blue floral frock, white starched apron, white cotton mob with an elasticized band; a pair of old fashioned, black ankle high, lace-up boots completed the outfit.
I gasped as the door opened and she breezed in. There was nothing hastily assembled about her outfit; this was a Victorian lady through and through; self-confident, period costume, black lace fingerless gloves, a bewitching lavender scent enveloping her presence. Her skirts flowed out around her, varying shades of chocolate, beige, whiskey, cinnamon and rust, creating a magical woven palette of upper-class decadence. Her cream silk blouse was eye-catching, with a lovely pattern of mermaids woven into the fabric. The Victorian styling was unmistakable: gathered leg of mutton sleeves, gathered front neckline and back button closure. The stiff white collar around her neck was adorned with a cameo; even at this distance I could make out the relief of a mermaid on her rock, playing her flute, surrounded by the dancing nymphets. Elegant brown lace -up boots, which contrasted so heavily with the ungainly black hobnails that I sported, completed her attire.
Once again, my eyes were drawn to the broad brown belt that encircled her waist. It showed off the stunning buckle that she had worn the previous day, and the chatelaine with its four chains, one of which was empty. At their centers was the flute playing mermaid surrounded by the nymphets.
I wondered why she had a thing about mermaids and nymphets; perhaps she would explain that to me sometime?
I felt her eyes running up and down me, appraising me, assessing how well I had dressed myself up. At last she nodded slightly, and through pursed lips she acknowledged my effort.
“You will do. We will get Mrs. Grimes to sort you out properly when we arrive.”
Who Mrs. Grimes was. I had no idea.
The Time Travelling Spell
I stood up to greet her; perhaps a hug to take us back to the mood of last night. Her tone had changed, perhaps in keeping with the role she was now playing.
“You will address me as My Lady” she instructed me, “and when you speak to others of me, you shall refer to me as Lady Sirena.”
I determined to get into role too.
My voice sounded husky and trembling; I never was good at role play.
“Yes, My Lady”
“Very well. Now, when you respond to me, you will curtsey as gracefully as you can. Show some respect, girl!”
I flushed, feeling once more like a schoolgirl. I did my best; sweeping one foot behind me, and hold my skirt out from my body, I made the obsequious move, and was grateful to see a sardonic smile of approval play out on her delicate lips.
“We are about to take a magickal trip, Sandrine. It may seem strange to you now, but everything will become clearer in the moments ahead.”
I nodded, not knowing what to expect. She pulled me down to sit beside her on the velveteen bench.
“Breathe my scent in Sandrine, and close your eyes,” she whispered, her voice sultry and provocative, bewitching and beguiling.
As she leaned into me, I was intoxicated by her fragrance: aromatic floral notes, a hint of licorice, whispers of geranium, rose and orange. An earthy touch of musk, traces of ferns and mushrooms and patchouli. Images of Victorian ladies promenading down cobbled streets, glittering balls, horses and carriages flashed through my mind.
Her chatelaine chains tinkled quietly, and I felt her take my left hand in hers. Ever so gently, I experienced the sensations of her wrapping the links of a chain around my ring finger; the empty chatelaine chain I realized at once. As the links circled my finger, they became ever warmer, infusing a magical life, betrothing me to the Lady who was bewitching my soul.
“Keep your eyes closed Sandrine, breathe in my magic,” she whispered into my ear.
She placed my palm on the chatelaine’s medallion and began to gently and rhythmically stroke the back of my hand. Somewhere, far away, I imagined that I could hear a gentle Gaelic tune playing, the crystal-clear melody being teased out of a flute. I felt myself drifting deeper and deeper into her hypnotic trance.
Faintly in the background, I could her Lady Sirena chanting, repeating an incantation over and over and over.
Increase my powers on this Sabbat day,
Make haste while the Goddess lets me have my way.
Bring this maiden lured by my siren song,
Take me now where I belong.
Harken to my leitmotif,
Step us back to my ancestral fief.
Her honeyed voice enchanted me; the mystical chant lured me ever deeper. My mind became attuned to spiritual forces that seemed to be swirling around me. Her irresistible voice seemed to be accompanied by the ethereal, pure sound of a magical flute. Haunting arias sung by a coven of spirits, the beguiling refrain of an underworld choir. I could hear the wild sea crashing on the rocks down below, the salty spray rising to form a dense, grey fog. With my hand held tightly in Lady Sirena's grasp, I felt myself spiraling down into a whirling abyss. Down I drifted, until a deep blackness overcame me.
@Copyright Gail Fae 2020