Opening page of Drawing Down the Moon: appearing in The Grimorium Verum: Volume 3 of Tres Librorum Prohibitorum. Launched yesterday!
Cinthia swept hair from her damp forehead and adjusted her eye-patch. In the heat of the Athena Taverna kitchen sweat gathered beneath the leather pad, sticky and cloying like the blood that had fallen at the eyeball’s loss.
She put the memory aside and slid two slightly charred sausages onto an already loaded plate. She never understood this English obsession with breakfast, but it was her bread and butter; a word play that amused her as she cut two slices of rubbery white-bread toast into precision-triangles and arranged them beside the oily fry-up.
Her customers seldom noticed such finesse but it was attention to detail that got her through the steady stream of days peopled by a steady stream of workers. They tramped through the Athena from seven every morning till six at night; all drawn to her greasy-spoon cafe like snails to discarded lettuce. That day, in the teeth of a force nine, the stream was slowed to a bare trickle.
The radio churned out its diet of pop, a driving drumbeat. *bang bang* Glad all over… Cin tapped her fingers on the double-beat. She liked the song well enough but tonight its irrepressible cheeriness was more than she could take. She reached out and switched it off.
She took the loaded plate through the swing door to dump it in front of a grubby tanker driver and walked on to the front window without a word to stare into darkness. Antony was late, as he often had been in recent weeks. Sheltering somewhere warm, she told herself. The seafront on Canvey Island was not a good spot to linger in January. The English told her how they imagined Greece was hot and dry twelve months of the year, but it could be cold and wet in Larissa, perhaps not like this; cold enough. Twenty years, when she had lived a hundred-score times that, was little more than a blink, yet still she missed home.
Cin glanced back at her lone customer with his head down at the trough and unaware. Perhaps she would risk it. She signed a row of symbols into the window’s moistness with her finger nail, then, just as quickly, eradicated them with a breath.
Elementals flung a last whip-lash of sandy water against the outer side, and died away.