Link to Part I if you missed it: https://twentysixtaps.blog/2017/05/06/saturday-morning-finish-the-sentence-they-say-old-weezies-been-reading-palms-out-of-her-run-down-shack-for-a-hundred-years-or-more/
It’s a good thing it was a full moon, because we finally rounded the corner to Farmer Street, and there were no porch lights left to show us the way. But I knew the way, by heart. I rehearsed this moment in my head so many times it was starting to feel like that piece of sheet music I have to stare at every Tuesday from 3:30-4:00. But this was way different than piano lessons, this was war.
And now here we were. Old Weezie must have planned to scare people for a living, because when she built this shack at least 100 years ago she made sure it was at the end of a dead end street. Dead end. What a horrible way to describe a street that just stops.
I could feel Mattie’s clammy hand getting clammier with each step. The only sound this far out was the flip-flop-flip-flop made by his stupid flip flops. There wasn’t even an owl or some crickets to lend a little company. It was just…quiet.
And then suddenly the sidewalk ended. I knew it was coming.
The tiny square of pavement that I was currently standing on was like the last connection I had to the world as I knew it. The grass surrounding me on three sides was tall and wet with dew, and I knew the moment I stepped foot off the safety of the concrete and into the wild, green ocean of untamed and probably haunted grass, I couldn’t turn back. I was starting to feel anxious, and was second-guessing my bravery a million ways to Sunday.
Mattie sensed my fear, and took his hand out of mine and wiped it across his jersey.
“So you’re sure about this? Which one of us is counting to 10 again?”
“I will, and we are counting with Mississippi’s. But first we knock together, remember?”
He grabbed my hand again and we took one collective step into the grass. I could feel the instant effect this first step had on my heartbeat. Old Weezie’s house was only about a 50 more steps away from where we were. What if she was awake? What if I pass out? What if she’s not even human?
Then suddenly, BANG!
Me and Mattie let out equally girly screams and crouched low in the wet grass.
“What is that?” Mattie squealed looking all around.
It only took me a moment to see that it was a shutter, pitifully hanging by one corner on an outbuilding a few yards away from Old Weezie’s house.
“No one said this place was haunted, too!” he whispered. It was then that I realized he had taken off a flip flop and was holding it above his head like a club.
“Really? I think the dead flashlight would make a better weapon.”
“Oh right,” he said as he retrieved the useless tool from his pocket and slid his sandal back on.
“Mattie?” I said, my anxiousness starting to take over.
“What if I’m not the bravest daughter Old Weezie told my dad about? I mean, my mom’s going to have another baby soon, what if it’s a girl and she’s actually the bravest? What if I’m the biggest loser in 6th grade? What if I’m the one that ends up locked in a cage cooking and cleaning for Old Weezie the rest of my life?”
Mattie looked at me now with all of the seriousness of a much older boy. He cleared the hair out of his eyes with his sweaty fingers and said, “Bremusa, I’m not going to let you turn back now. You’re doing this for me, and 10 year-olds everywhere! Now let’s go!” and after his hushed but fervent speech he was actually the first to get back up.
You see? There’s no one else I would go into battle with.
“You finally said my name right.”
“I knew how to say it right all along, now let’s go. Sparrow is on the move.”
With our next steps I could block out the banging of that old shutter. We were mere feet now from the three wooden steps that led up to the broke down looking shack. But the closer I got, I could see the not broke-downess of this little wooden house. Like the bed of tulips and roses that ran all along the front and around the side. The moon cast a bit of light into one of the windows and there were unmistakably lace curtains hanging over crystal clear panes of glass.
I was picturing at least one black cat and something scary nailed to the doorway, but the mailbox attached to the front of the house was hand painted with the name, Von Weez.
And then, we were on the first step. The second. The third. I looked at Mattie and nodded my head furiously, and me with my right hand and him with his left we raised them both to knock. And just as we were reeling back the door swung open.
I inhaled so sharply out of fright and surprise that I started to cough. Mattie started brandishing his dead flashlight like a sword.
And old woman stood in the doorway, with a knit afghan like the one we had on the back of the couch around her tiny shoulders. She had long, grey hair kept neatly together in a braid that was slung over her should like a pet snake. Her white nightgown that reached her bare feet made her look like the Ghost of Christmas Past. The single long-stemmed candle she held illuminated a face that I’ll never forget, she had eyes sharp and blue like an eagle, but twinkling, with all the mystery of universe.
“Do you dare show me your palm? Oh bravest of daughters?”
She knew me. She knew I would come tonight.
I swallowed. It was now or never. I took a half an inch step closer to her and held out my right hand. She leaned low and grasped it with hers, papery soft, and stroked the flat of my palm with her ancient thumb.
“I see wondrous things in your future, oh bravest of daughters. Wondrous things, indeed. You will be lucky in love and in fortune. Indeed you will be. But….”
“But what?” Maddie called out as he scampered closer, his nose nearly touching my palm.
“If you please, you’re blocking my light young man,” Old Weezie said politely with the faintest of smirks on her face.
“Oh sorry, Old Wee…I mean Mrs. Weezie, ma’am.”
She continued, “But you will have to always make the choices that will lead you to your destiny, it will not all fall into your lap. Do you understand me? The stars do not work like that.”
I nodded at the old woman with a confidence I had never known, and just then the clock on her mantle struck midnight. I was eleven. I smiled at her and she smiled back.
Then Mattie held out his hand.
“And when will you turn eleven, young compatriot?”
“Not ‘til April,” he said looking crestfallen.
“Then I shall see you then,” she said, and all in one movement she took a quick step back, blew out the candle, and slammed the door shut with more drama than that Scarlet O’Hare my mom loved so much.
Me and Mattie turned to one another and took off running for our lives. He lost his flip flops halfway back to the sidewalk and didn’t turn back to get them. We chatted over each other, breathless, the whole way home about actually standing face to face with Old Weezie, and how she’s probably more like 150 years old, and how my life suddenly sounded like the most amazing and exciting thing ever in the history of the world. In just a moment’s time, 6th grade now sounded like the greatest adventure of all, and I couldn’t wait for school to start. Mattie was now feeling the familiar pangs of anxious anticipation because we’d have to do this all over again next April, but now he would be the only boy to ever brave Old Weezie’s door twice.
I hugged Mattie at the corner of Canal and Mechanic and we parted ways for the night. I was flying high as I walked back to my little house and snuck in through the sliding screen door. I crept back into bed with not even a peep and reached for my walkie-talkie.
“Sparrow? Come in, Sparrow?”
“I’m here, Bremusa, over.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay, see you tomorrow, Bermuda, Sparrow out.”
And with that, the white noise clicked off and the universe was silent until the next day in the life of a brand new 11 year-old.
**The story of Old Weezie.
Mrs. Von Weez, one of the most senior residents of Fox River City was well-known to the parents of this town. Bremusa’s dad had in fact had an encounter with her when he was younger. He actually did pass out when he made his attempt at being brave, and Mrs. Von Weez tended to him while she waited for his mother to get there, Bremusa’s grandmother. Bremusa’s grandmother and Old Weezie were childhood friends like Bremusa and Mattie, and they thought it would be heck of a hoot if Mrs. Von Weez actually played along with the legend that she bore with no knowledge of how it came to be in the first place. And she played her part well. She made sure everyone got a rosy palm-reading, but with the disclaimer that they’d have to work hard to get it. Some parents even called in special requests to Old Weezie, like, “Put the fear a’God in Bobby, because I can’t say anything to him!” Or “She keeps worrying about her math tests, will you tell her that she’s doing just fine?” Because some adults know, and of course Old Weezie knew, that it’s really how you look at a thing that makes it so. And for now, Bremusa has all the hope that one kid could ever need as she ventures out into the wild unknown of adolescence.
Until next time.