Caroline’s alarm went off at 4am as it had for the last 6 years, work week, weekend, or holiday- it did not matter. She felt as though that magical time between 4am and 630am belong to her alone. She could do whatever she wanted without judgement or interruption. If she used the time to clean the apartment, she was free to plug in her music and dance away while sweeping and doing the dishes. If she chose to run on her 7-year-old squeaky treadmill hiding in the back room, no one would make fun of her singing. If she instead used that time to write, her best inspiration would inspire her to create new worlds that only worked in those brief moments before the world woke up.
However, today was different. She had somewhere to be, and she was not going to be late. However, she still had her schedule to maintain, a set sequence of events that she did every morning in the same methodical manner, so as not to anger the spirits of the new day. There was comfort in knowing exactly what you were going to do every morning. She had once tried to compared it to a religious ceremony or ritual like Catholic mass to a group of friends so rebuffed her for her insensitivity to religions but Caroline knew- repetitive movements can mean comfort.
4:05am-Brush your teeth
4:10- let Beacon the Corgi out for his morning relief, feed the dog
4:20- take vitamins, check all living plants in the kitchen and living room to make sure they hadn’t died over night,
4:25- let Beacon the Corgi inside to go back to bed,
4:30-5:00-drink coffee and plan day
5:00- decide what was on the plate for the morning warm-up.
It was a run morning, and after the storm of last night she knew that the air would be fresh and clean and the road ways clears of too many people. A small, easy run of 3 miles and she would reward herself with a cup of coffee and doughnut from the next-door pastry shop. This was a special day. Regardless of how it played out, she had earned her right to grace the doorstep of the Raven Society, so why couldn’t she also reward herself with a fresh apple fritter?
She had mentally chosen her outfit the night prior, settling on what she believed to be a fitting look to a new published writer. A pair of new jeans, a black t-shirt, a gray cardiganed, and black low-heeled boots. She attempted to curl her hair, which turned into a disaster as her electrical plugs were worn and outdated and could not handle the pressure of a modern appliance. She opted for her ‘go-to’ pile of a messy hair bun, hoping to portray an appearance of chic bohemian women. Light makeup because she wasn’t sure how to apply it, and she was ready to go. By 5:45, she was on her second pot of coffee and was pacing her small, cluttered living room, dodging the haphazard furniture and Beacon the puppy sprawled comfortably in front of the electric fire place insert.
Her note cards of pros and cons laid on the t.v. stand, placed in such a way that with each of her rounds she could look and consider. She still hadn’t decided. But it didn’t matter she thought to herself until she got inside and was faced with actual process of answering.
“Do you think that they will be dressed in long black robes and Phantom of the Opera masks like we see on Netflix?” she asked Beacon. “Or will it be a table of members all staring from their platform, taking notes on my presence and answer?”
Beacon looked up from his early morning naps, watching her as she paced for the 20thtime around the couch. He watched her with slight interest as she walked to the coffee pot to refill her mug.
“Maybe, it will be a dark castle, like Skull and Bones, or a magically protected castle like in Harry Potter. And when I walk in, the candles floating in the air will automatically alight and a sorting hat will be placed on my head as I make the decision of who I want to be.”
Caroline took a deep sip of her coffee, warming to the idea of magical wands and instant dinners lining long wooden tables that held 13 different types of coffees and desserts. She could smell the fire from the library fireplace, crackling merrily as she and her fellow magical writers sat in large comfy chairs while sipping on lovely drinks and discussing old and new novels.
She knew that she was going to have to take her mind off this evening if she was going to keep any part of her sanity. She sat at her desk and wrote out her tasks for the day, emails that she needed to return, phone calls that needed to be made, bills that should be paid, and writing that was going to need to get done if she was ever going to publish another book. She had been working on The Life of Death for ages. It was her first real attempt to write, and while the publisher was sure that it would be a success, she was unable to find the inspiration that she needed to add excitement and thrill to it. Her characters had come to mean just as much to her as her family, she didn’t want to let them down. On the other hand, she didn’t want to write them into trouble, pain, or uncertainty. She felt a protectiveness of them, but knew that they needed to live through her words. She grabbed another cup of coffee and started her day.
Before she knew it, it was 6:20pm. If she was going to get there on time, she was going to have to leave now. Caroline put on her Tweed jacket, grabbed an umbrella and her purse, and headed for the door. She turned to look at Beacon, already fast asleep for his second mid-evening nap.
“Wish me luck” she said the Beacon and her home and walked down to the street to start her new journey.
Caroline stood outside of 177 Elm Street looking onto the 3-story colonial-era white clapboard house. For being a secret society, it looked rather normal. She looked closely at all the windows, why would a secret society have windows? Holding the card out once again, she confirmed the address. Yes, 177 Elm Street. She was at the right place. The street behind her was alive with late evening runners, dedicated coffeehouse patrons, and students hoping to find their favorite areas at the local college library in order to complete their research projects. For a second, Caroline watched the world come alive with its second wind and thought to herself that she could walk away and go to the coffeeshop to write. She could work on her next book, or finish her first novel that she still had hidden on her laptop. She could go home and walk Beacon, make some coffee and watch her favorite Netflix show before taking a shower and going to bed. She could stay content in the world that she knew so well. She looked down at her watch, 6:58pm. The decision was hers still. The comfort of the known, or the excitement of the unreal. The Magic of an Ordinary Day vs. Alice in Wonderland.
Caroline walked up the path way to the door and knocked.