The ──── Clover (A Short Story 3774 words)

 

The spring winds are cold.
Someone is lighting a cigarette by the bus stop up a head, sending a cloud of smoke into the air. It reminds me of Greta Garbo.
I’m not sure why.

I stare at the ground, looking for clovers. It’s almost impossible to find a four-clover in the spring, much easier to find them in the fall, but I look anyway. I like the idea of looking for luck and not let Lady Luck decide for herself.

I walk up to the bus stop. The man blowing smoke looks nothing like Greta Garbo. I start thinking of my grandmother. The actress always reminds me of my grandmother. She loved Garbo and when she told me that, as an afterthought to something else, I was blown away. Imagine that there was an actress that my grandmother liked! It was like a wild statement of my grandmothers freedom, a feminist roar, all in one limp comment.

I always looked up to her as if she was a movie star, my grandmother. She was too cool with her boutique and her fine dresses and the flower on her dress in a place the other girls did not put theirs. She told such great stories of her youth.

She was always a bit of a rebel, even when she could hardly walk because of her bad hip and had to put pills under her tongue, because of her heart, she was still a rebel. When she got her stroke she rebelled, holding the bottle of the pills, her doctor had told her was essential for her, like it was the most precious thing she owned, and she would not let go of it.

She used to marvel at her older sisters hair, and she always seemed to think that her sister was the cool one. I wonder if that isn’t the case with all sisters. Her sister had developed white hair with old age, fine beautifully white hair that had made my grandmother very envious.
While she herself still had a full head of blond hair at the age of seventy.
I only remember her that way, a blond beauty despite her age.
I’ve always wanted to be more like her, despite her sometimes hard life it feels as if she lived a lot more than I ever have. If only I had known her when she was young, teasing the men and giving people the proverbial finger. She must have been such a knockout.

I’d want to be more like her, but I’d settle for just a little part of the feistiness she had. Instead I take the bus and I spend my time walking around looking for a four-clover and when I find them I make a silly wish. My grandmother would have grunted disapprovingly at that, she was someone who had all the luck she needed in her own two hands, she was the maker of her own fate and when she ran out of luck she met it with an angry grunt and pushed back.

I just dawdle, take the bus to work and hope the universe will be kind to me.

But as I am waiting for the bus I notice something in the grass behind the bus stop shelter. When I crouch down to see what it is the smoking man asks me if I lost something.
Should I tell him I thought I saw a four-clover in the grass?

I don’t tell him that. I just look up at him and shrug my shoulders before continuing to look. There is indeed a four-clover in the grass. It’s tiny and it’s pitch black. I’ve never seen one quite like it.

When I stand up again I notice a distaste in the man’s face. He makes an awkward effort not to look my way. Instead he stands there with his cigarette, the smoke quickly disappearing in the wind.

I make my wish and put the clover in the coin pocket of my wallet. It’s always empty now anyway. We use cards for everything these days and I never have any coins, they would ruin the clover completely in no time at all.

When the bus arrives I am relieved that it’s not The Asshole who is driving, but he usually takes the later passes. I wave my card at the machine and sit in the first available one seater I can find. There are only two of those, and they are designated for people who have problems walking but I always sit there if I can.
I do stand up if someone who needs it enters the bus.

There are people who sleep on the bus, but I can’t do that. I wish I was a person who could do that. I wish I could be that relaxed around strangers, or at all but even napping in my own home in the middle of the day is difficult for me.

I’m early for work, but one of the girls is out sick so I leave my things in my designated locker and start working right away. It’s a busy day in the store, articles to be placed on shelves, clients to be nice to. It isn’t until I get my first break that I manage to sit down and read a bit, as I had been planning on doing when I got here.

I stay late, closing the store for the woman who is supposed to do it that day, making sure the last of the clients are out of the store before pulling down the heavy rails that protect the door and the store for late night prowlers. I do the after hour chores as quickly as I can before leaving.

I fall asleep on the bus on my way home.

This has never happened before and I start to wonder if there is something wrong with me. Maybe a sudden drop in blood pressure? But my blood pressure has been good for years, why would that suddenly change? I haven’t changed any of my habits? I eat the same food and I always sleep seven and a half hour each night. Maybe there is something else wrong with me? Maybe it’s serious.

I walk home with the dreary thoughts in my head, half embarrassed by the fact that the guy behind me nudged me and asked if I was missing my station. I thanked him, baffled by the fact that he knew where I usually got off the bus. I don’t even remember seeing him before.

The spring winds are cold, but seeing the small yellow and blue flowers underneath the bushes somehow makes the cold matter a lot less. I push the key in the lock and hang my purse up on the hanger beside the door. I take my coat off and my shoes. Then I pull the wallet from my purse and put it in my pocket.

I make myself a warm cup of green tea and, not for the first time in my life, I wish I could drink coffee like normal people, but it goes badly with my stomach and it keeps me up at night. Drinking the first sip of my tea I swear to myself. I get up from the old kitchen chair by the window and I throw the tea in the sink.

I normally love it, but today it isn’t what I want.

I make a cup of coffee with the expresso machine I got for my birthday and rarely ever use. When the machine has quit making its guttural noises I get the small cup and I sit down in my reading chair, pick up the book I’m reading and read while there is still light. It’s cloudy but since summertime tread in I get an extra reading hour before I make dinner and it becomes to dark to read without electrical light.

I put Demons by Dostoyevsky down. I don’t really like it, but the title suits me and I’ve liked the writer in the past so I’m sticking to it, determined to have read everything he’s written. It’s a bit of a bore though and I’d rather be reading something a little less intellectual, like Twilight or Interview with the Vampire for the umpteenth time.

I make dinner, fry salmon and cook a few potatoes, enough so that I can take lunch with me the next day, not the salmon, but I put potatoes in salad, add some cream cheese and it’s fine. After dinner I watch an episode of River on Netflix and then I go to bed.

I keep another book by the bed, incase I can’t sleep. It’s my second book, one that often takes me about a year to finish. Since I had a cup of rebellious coffee after I got home though I expect I’ll get to read a bit in it tonight, but to my later astonishment I fall asleep almost instantly.

It isn’t until the next morning on the bus that I start to think that there is something fishy going on. I am sitting in my usual spot, thinking about how much I don’t want to work today when my boss calls me and tells me that there has been a minor flood in the store and that there are people working on it but that we have to stay closed today. Everything will be as usual tomorrow, but you get today off and it’s of course paid. I express my concern that I had anything to do with the flooding, as I was the last one to leave, but he assures me that it was nothing I did.

I get off at the next station and sit down on a bench wondering what to do with my free day and it’s as I’m sitting there that I think that there just might be something odd about this. The wind is particularly cold this morning and I find myself wishing for it to seize so I can sit here a little longer and contemplate.

And lo and behold, I’ve hardly even thought the thought when there is a notable stillness in the air. It’s as if I walked into sheltered from the wind, though I didn’t move from the bench.

I tell myself that it is just a coincidence, that nobody could have this kind of power and so I do something incredible to proof to myself that I am just imagining things.

I wish my grandmother is sitting beside me. I imagine her the way I knew her, it’s hard not to. My grandmother has been dead for over 20 years.

And there she is.
Sitting right beside me.
She looks confused, like she did when she’d had her stroke. I remember the feeling of terror seeing my grandmother that confused, back then. Now she’s sitting here beside me, our elbows touching and I can hear a soft gurgling sound coming from her throat before she clears it.

I saw my grandmother dead at her funeral. There was an open casket and I had been old enough to be there. I had seen her rather pale, content face lying there. It looked like she was sleeping, though I felt there was something empty about the husk that lay there.

She looks at me, and I can see her crystal clear grey eyes, I hadn’t remembered the clearness of her eyes. It’s as if she can see right through you, and I remember that feeling, but not the eyes. She is here. Sitting right beside me.
And I panic. In fact I panic so severely that I wish her away. I can’t handle this.

And that is that.
I am either loosing my mind, or I have powers almost beyond imagination.
Of course I lean towards the idea that I am actually just losing my mind. It almost sounds like the better option.

With my heart thumping harder than it has for years I sit there absolutely still, trying to figure out what to do next. How do I react? What do I do?

Without the spring breeze I feel a bit warm as I am still wearing my winter coat and instantly I feel the breeze pick up. I sigh and wonder what I would do, if it were really true and I’m not just going completely bonkers, what would I really like to do?

I am awestruck, but also numb with fear that I am actually going crazy. I have often feared for my health in the past, but insanity has never been a part of the things I worry about. I always rely on my mind, I take pride in knowing that it never fails me and although it sometimes spooks me needlessly, I have never in the past feared for my mental health.

I don’t know where the wish comes from. I guess we wish for more things than we realise, unconsciously conjuring up new things we want and how we want them to be, as if each second provokes new potentials, provokes new wants and wishes.

And then suddenly there it is, inside me – the certainty that I am not mad, that this is, in fact, an act of uttermost magic and that I need not question my sanity.

Of course, the first thing you need to know about the insane is that they rarely realise they are unstable themselves and that should make my warning bells go off, but it doesn’t. I know for sure I’m not crazy and that this is real. I am so sure that I am perfectly fine in every way and what is happening is real and my doing.

And somehow the idea makes me uneasy, not afraid that I am wrong and that I really am The Mad Hatter, but it makes me uneasy none the less. This is all too much.

I get up and start walking to a nearby shop to get myself something to drink before taking the bus home again. It occurs to me only afterwards that I could have just wished a drink into being, but we’re creatures of habit, we human beings and the thought is obviously preposterous.

It is a small shop with newspapers covering one wall, candy covering the other and several coolers stand in the corner by the door with soda, orange juice and other beverages. I choose an orange juice and place it on the counter in front of a rather strange looking fellow who looks like he want to be anywhere but here.

I don’t say anything, just place my card and the beverage on the table in front of him and wait for him to scan my card. When I am almost at the door, leaving, the man says, a bit briskly, “You don’t even say hello when you walk into a store?”
I turn around, feeling the anger rise in me. “You don’t greet your costumers when they walk into the store?” I ask him back.

He frowns, a bit red in the face, his freckles looking like exaggerated anger spots. “You’re an unconsidered jerk,” the man says.

I don’t know where his anger is coming from. I guess that he is probably just having a really bad day, but I get angry and with the anger comes a wish. I don’t utter it out loud, but I think it properly enough and in the same moment the man begins to mumble, and then he just stares at me, his mouth moving without a sound escaping his lips.
I can see the horror rise in his eyes and I know that he can’t speak. That I have made him mute. I am angry and I leave the store, completely indifferent to his dilemma.

I walk to the bus station and wait for a while, or until I feel guilty enough so I stroll back to the store to see if the man has regained his ability to speak.

He is standing in the store, upset, talking on the telephone.

I get back just in time to catch the bus. It’s The Asshole who is driving and on the bus there is an incident. The man has dirty habits and a potty mouth. I rarely ride the bus when he is on duty, but it happens and each time it’s something.

The worst incident was when I witnessed him harassing some teenage girls late at night. I had been doing a bit of inventory at work after hours and when I went home, two girls got on the bus at the same stop. This chauffeur started by glaring at me and when the girls came on, behind me, he whistled and said that hotties rode for free that evening. The girls giggled and the man said in a strange voice that they should sit in a seat where he could see them. When the girls sat down he looked back and told them to smile, which I guess they did and then he told them to lift their skirts a little. This, of course, made the girls very uncomfortable and they moved back in the bus.
At the time I really wanted to tell the man off. I wanted to tell him just what I thought of him. But I didn’t, mostly because I was afraid. I did make sure the girls got off the bus before I did, so that nothing more would happen to them.

Now here he is, looking like he is having the migraine attack of his life or maybe he is so hung over that he shouldn’t be driving at all and I am determined to make it worse for him. I sit down in my usual seat. I can see him grunting and growling at the traffic.

I think the thought as I am getting off the bus. It isn’t exactly a conscious decision, I meant to do something but not this exactly. I hadn’t thought that far. I can say that with utmost honesty, but as I ring the bell he looks back in the bus and right at me and then he utters those incomprehensible words loud and clearly, he says: “Witches stop”.

That’s when I wish him dead.

I hear the ambulance sirens from the distance. I see them take the body away and then I see the bus role away later on. I see it all with my binoculars, standing in the living room with my hands shaking violently as if I’ve been working them hard. My heart is thumping as well. My reality seems lucid but strange. I already regret what I have done. He was an asshole, but he may not have deserved such harsh punishment.

I fondle my wallet and wonder what to do, careful not to think up any inadvertent wishes.

I decide that this is too much for me, for anyone. So I get my grandmother’s old jewellery box from my cupboard and I empty it of its treasures. Then I hold the clover between my fingers for a while. It is fragile. I can easily rip it to pieces if I wish and with that I would probably ruin whatever magic there is in it. I don’t do that however.

Instead I make two wishes. I speak them out loud, clearly and thoughtfully and then I place the clover in the jewellery box and I bury it in the backyard.

I even made a map, which I keep locked with my jewellery. It is a precious thing this clover, but it is too potent. It’s too easy to make mistakes with it, maybe it could even undo the world with one simple wish. Or maybe it would all end in a day? What do I know? I’m not willing to find out at this moment.
But I don’t throw it in the trash where anyone can find it. I keep it close, so that if I feel I am capable, or I feel a dire need, I can get it.

My fingers itch for it already. But then I remember the bus chauffeur. His name was Barry and he had suffered beating by his father when he was a kid. I made some research. His obituary was a sad, pitiful read.

Could I undo what I did to him? Possibly, but not without affecting so many people. Can I correct the errors in all those peoples minds and lives? And what happens if I forget something?

No, the danger is too high and my mind too soft. The mere idea of him makes me terrified, I’ve all but stopped taking the bus.
I wished for two things. I wished for two cats that will outlive me by a day and I wished for money so that I can do whatever I want, for the rest of my life.

The kittens appeared in a small basket on my doorsteps moments later and when I called in to check my bank balance I had to sit down the shock was so severe.

The clover has been buried in the backyard for a while now, my hands itch for it and I have a decisions to make. Two actually. Do I take it out, because I know of a murderer who trolls the city park and rapes young women? Do I take it out now because I just got diagnosed with terminal cancer?

Or do I leave it in the backyard? Because all the dark wishes I’ve thought since I buried it in the backyard might instantly come true if I touch it again?

It’s a difficult choice, but my hands, and my mind, are aching. I fear the consequence of my actions. And I find myself in the backyard howling at the moon as I unbury my treasure. When I find the box I open it right away. My heart thumping, it might not be there anymore. It might have turned to dust with decay.

But it is there and I take it and I wish the cancer away and I wish the bastard who is doing the evil deeds, whoever he is, to hell.

And then the wishes wash over me like those anxious thoughts do at night and I can’t stop them. They pile on me and I can feel the darkness in the clover get deeper and deeper, the darkness in my soul get deeper and deeper.

I have the power for now, but who knows? I may have sold my soul to the devil.
The spring winds are cold, just like they are supposed to be.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I really loved this one – it’s so vivid and compelling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eygló Daða says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 Really glad you like it!

      Like

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