Charlie and Juno traveled to the fifth floor where Juno knocked on apartment 502. The moment she did so, a cacophony of sounds erupted behind the door. Pans crashed to the floor, birds squawked maniacally and something glass or ceramic shattered. Charlie eyed Juno, but she simply watched the door as if this was all very normal. Moments later, the door flew open to reveal a middle aged woman.
“Good afternoon, Harriet,” said Juno with a broad smile.
The woman looked like a wreck. Her chestnut hair was tied up in a crazy mixture of braids, pony tails, buns and top knots. Multiple strands simply stuck out in odd directions of their own free will. She had on a long forest green floral dress with patches sewn onto it of various colors and materials, a rust-colored knit sweater, and a pair of much-to-large-for-her-face, round spectacles. Her fingers were dusted with brown soil, and her feet were covered only in thick woolen socks. She also wore several beaded necklaces which all flopped haphazardly around her neck and across her chest.
“Oh hello dear,” she said to Juno with a faint British accent. Then, suddenly noticing Charlie, she added “And handsome young man?”
“Charlie,” he said, holding his hand out to shake hers despite not wanting to get his own hands covered in soil.
She held up her grubby hands and wiggled her fingers. “Sorry dear, just pulled me ‘ands out of a pot. Wouldn’t want to get you filthy.”
“Uh, thank you,” said Charlie, glad for her consideration.
“Did you two need somethin’? I’m just a bit busy replanting the hydrangeas. Then I’ve got to feed the birds and fix that vase.” She looked back at a shattered white and blue ceramic vase strewn across the floor amidst the wreckage of soil, water and flowers which lived inside it only moments ago. “Threw it at my knitting when I missed a stitch.” She turned back to them and whispered conspiratorially. “Don’t worry, loves. I am working on my anger…” Her face grew sour. “Progress not perfection, an’ all that.”
Charlie nodded along, becoming increasingly afraid that she might take out this anger on them if they said the wrong thing.
“We actually came to see you about acquiring some seeds,” said Juno.
“Oh dear,” said Harriet, her expression growing dreary. “You’ll have to go down to the corner shop. You know my drawers haven’t worked since Arty passed, Apollo protect him.”
“You might want to check on those drawers,” said Juno with a sly grin. “This,” she pointed at Charlie, “is Arty’s grandson, and ever since he showed up this morning, the relics have all started working again.”
“Arty’s grandson?” She looked him up and down with new interest. “Well I’ll be. I knew you looked like someone I’d snogged.”
“What does snogged mean?” asked Charlie, fairly certain he didn’t want to know.
Juno threw a hand over her mouth, stifling a laugh.
“Oh you know, dear. We danced the waltz of the moon fairies. We shagged in the garden under the full moon. Oh what do you kiddos call it?” She thought for a moment. “Oh yes, we did the Netflix and then we chilled … in the nude.”
“Oh my God,” choked Charlie. “You banged my grandpa?”
“No dear, of course not,” she said with a smile.
“Oh … well that’s a relief,” sighed Charlie.
“He banged me,” she corrected.
Juno finally burst into laughter.
“It’s not funny,” said Charlie, who looked as though he might be sick.
“It is though,” she said through her fit of giggling.
“Well come on in then,” announced Harriet who was completely unaffected by Juno’s laughter and Charlie’s discomfort. “Let’s ‘ave a look at the old cabinet.”
She waved them inside and closed the door behind them.
“Thanks again for bringing me to my Grandfather’s fling’s house,” said Charlie so that only Juno could hear as they proceeded into the apartment.
“I swear I didn’t know that,” she said, trying to regain her composure.
“This way, this way,” said Harriet, waving them into an adjoining room. The apartment was covered from top to bottom in potted plants of all shapes and varieties. From small one’s just starting to grow to large, thick-leaved ones. There was even a massive, human-sized Venus fly trap waiting with its jaws wide open in the corner of the room. Several birds in wooden cages screeched at the newcomers as they walked through. At several points, Charlie had to use his hands to push long hanging vines out of the way. The apartment was hot and muggy as if every room were part of an elaborate greenhouse.
As they walked, Harriet introduced them to each of her birds as if they were real people living with her. “That’s Wallace and Bugsby. They’re homosexuals and just recently got engaged. But Bugsby is cheating on Wallace with Rutheford—he’s the blue one with the long beak in the corner. And that one there is Penelope. She’s a feisty flirt so watch out for her. Over here we have Clementine. She likes to shit on everything that moves, so I’d say clear if I were you, loves.”
“Seems like your birds could star in their own soap opera,” said Charlie.
“Well funny you should mention that because Donatella, the yellow one with the fancy plumage, did have a small role in the Young and the Restless. She played a surgeon.”
“The bird played a surgeon?” asked Charlie, trying to keep up.
“But then she bit one of the actors who was supposed to be her patient and they had to write ‘er off the show. Her character, Dr. Candice Featherton, died ‘orribly if you ask me. Crashed her car into a cow, which was inside a gas station, which was inside a tornado. It was very upsetting for all three of ‘er fans. They writer ‘er letters and everything.”
“I bet,” said Charlie, who no longer understood any part of the story that was being told.
At the back of the adjoining room, they approached a large apothecary cabinet made of dark wood. It had dozens of small drawers with little ornate copper handles and little cream colored name plates to specify what each was holding. However all of these plates were left blank, implying that there wasn’t actually anything in the cabinet.
“See?” said Harriet sadly. “Same as it’s been for months. Nothing but blank slates. I’m sorry to say but…” she stopped mid-sentence as something caught her eye. “Well I’ll be.” She moved out of the way so that they could see what she saw and pointed to the wooden frame at the top of the cabinet where glowing words spiraled to life.
Relic Reset Complete
Level 1 Unlocked!
New Seeds Unlocked!
Drawer 1 – Lettuce Seeds
Planting Season: April – November
Drawer 2 – Tomato Seeds
Planting Season: May – October
Actions which grant experience towards Level 2
Seeds from the Apothecary Cabinet must be planted and grown.
Note: This planting and growing may be done by anyone.
Two drawers on the upper left corner of the apothecary cabinet suddenly glowed to life. When the glow receded, new information appeared on their placards. Charlie leaned in to find that the two placards each had a single word and a picture on them. One said ‘Lettuce,’ with a drawing of a leafy green lettuce plant, while the other said ‘Tomatoes’ with a bright red tomato beneath the word.
“Ceres be praised! You’ve brought her back to life!” exclaimed Harriet, who seemed as though she might cry from joy. “But how?”
“I … don’t really know,” admitted Charlie.
“Well no matter, you’ve done it all the same. Though it looks like she’s taken a few steps backwards.”
“It seems like all of the relics reset and started back at level one when Charlie opened Arthur’s backpack for the first time,” said Juno.
“Well then I suppose we’ll just have to get her back into shape,” said Harriet. A single tear rolled down her cheek now as she stroked a hand across the top of the cabinet. “I remember when Arty made me this. ‘So you’ll never want for seeds again,’ he said. That man couldn’t stand to see someone go without something precious to them.” She turned back to them and smiled a toothy grin. “Seeing her wake up from her long slumber … it’s a real miracle, it is.”
Without warning, she wrapped her bony arms around Charlie, giving him a big, strong hug. She then did the same to Juno. Juno held one of Harriet’s hands. “We were actually wondering if we might use some seeds? Charlie wants to plant some of them in the Garden.”
Charlie wasn’t sure this was something he wanted to do, but he didn’t have a reason to be disagreeable.
“Why of course,” said Harriet. “Elphaba here can produce as many seeds as you want of any crop, root or flower you might need.” She paused. “Well she’ll be able to eventually that is. For now it looks like you’ll be sticking with lettuce and tomatoes. But that’s all you really need for a nice side salad, innit?”
She quickly went to the side of the cabinet and opened a small secret drawer. From it, she procured two brown paper pouches. She then moved back to the front of the cabinet and opened the drawer marked ‘Lettuce,’ which emitted a soft golden glow from within. She scooped several seeds into the pouch and then folded over and sealed the top. Then she did the same with the drawer marked ‘Tomatoes.’ Finally, she turned and held the pouches out to Charlie who took them carefully, as if they were precious gems.
“Thank you for this,” he said.
“No, my boy,” she said, placing a hand on his cheek. “Thank you.”
They said their farewells, Harriet giving each of them another hug. As they left the apartment, the monstrous Venus fly trap tried to take a bite out of Charlie, but Juno pulled him out of the way just in time to avoid the loud chomp. The plant grumbled in displeasure. Only when they were back in the hallway with Harriet’s door closed behind them did Charlie realize he had no idea how to actually plant, care for, or raise the seeds he now held in his hands.
Another short chapter but I love getting to introduce you all to this crazy cast of characters who live within Darkmoon Drive. The best part is that it is my hope that I will constantly have new characters to introduce to you as time goes on and Charlie’s needs expand! Harriet would definitely be played by Helena Bonham Carter in the movie, in case that wasn’t incredibly clear!