It was the 31st of October, Halloween, and Aurelia was getting ready for her day.
Notes of peony, muguet and musk settled on her skin, the scent her mother always wore. She embraced the memories that began flooding back as she spritzed her mother’s perfume. The memories of her mother’s touch and how her scent danced around her as she embraced Aurelia; how it lingered long after she had gone.
Aurelia had struggled to move on after losing her mother and father at a young age, it was as if she had died with them on that fateful day. But her mother’s scent, on Halloween, or Samhain, as her mother would call it, gave Aurelia life, it gave her hope.
Samhain was the one day each year that Aurelia felt close to her parents. They say it is when the veil between life and death collide; where little glimmers of light shimmer in the darkness letting you know your loved ones have come to visit, or so Aurelia hoped.
Her mother used to tell her stories of Samhain. How their town used to celebrate this special day by hosting annual Samhain dances where everyone dressed in costumes and made wishes as they marked the beginning of the new year. But Samhain is no longer what it used to be. What was once a day steeped in tradition and rituals has now become a promotional holiday for confectionary companies encouraging children to accept candy from a stranger.
With the memories of her mother fresh in her mind, Aurelia reached for her go-to necklace, a beautiful gold chain adorned with the most striking baroque pearl, a necklace that was handed down to her by her mother. As she turned the necklace over in her hand, hoping to hear her mother’s voice once more, reminding her “Look after this necklace, one day, it will take you on an adventure”. Oh how she longed to hear these words again as an adult instead of echoes from her childhood. She wondered what adventure her mother spoke of, and hoped one day she would understand. A buzz from her phone brings her trip down memory lane to a halt.
‘BREAKING NEWS: Disappearing women confirmed to be descendants of the 1933 Veil coven’ — Aurelia gripped her necklace as a her eyes drew to the photo of the most recent victim, Ellie Rue. Although she was certain she had never met Ellie, she scanned her mind, trying to pin point why she felt a sense of familiarity. It was like she knew who Ellie was.
Shaking the thought out of her mind, Aurelia put down her phone and reached for her father’s ring. She loved surrounding herself with sentimental items that reminded her of her parents, of home. Her father had always worn a signet ring on his pinky, she never saw him without one. Memories of him rotating the signet on his pinky as he spoke to her played vividly in her memory; a cinematic highlight reel of their brief time together. Her father was forever losing his signets on the farm, so much so he had a collection of backups he would switch into. However, Aurelia’s ring was special, it was his last signet, and he left it to her.
A gush of wind brushes past her, almost too quick to notice, interrupting her admiration of her dad’s ring. Before her sat an engraved wooden jewellery box, one she had never seen before. Despite the mysterious nature of the box, she felt an overwhelming sense of calmness and a call to open the box. As she slowly opens the box, a dizzying feeling settles over her and she feels herself falling down a vertical tunnel before suddenly, she is still. Disorientated, she opens her eyes and finds herself surrounded by trees. Immediately she notices her father’s ring is missing, and begins searching the grass frantically when the sound of chanting and singing suspends her search.
The chanting grows louder. Curious, Aurelia stands up and slowly begins walking towards the sound. Peering from behind a tree, she sees a group of women dancing in a circle, all wearing white dresses. Afraid of being seen, she creeps closer. From the safety of another tree she continues to watch them dance in slow, purposeful movements. It is then she sees her, Ellie Rue. “She’s alive!”, she thought quietly to herself, the unmistaken face of the missing woman she was drawn to from the article she had read earlier that day.
Mesmerised by the moment and confused by her encounter, Aurelia watched on as the women dance. Before she has a chance to process what she’s seeing, something familiar catches her eye; her mother’s pearl necklace on the neck of one of the women. Instinctively, she clutches her own necklace. As she does so, she notices the woman with the necklace has stepped out of the circle and is looking in her direction, hand outreached, beckoning Aurelia to join them.
Realising she’s been seen, Aurelia plucks up the courage to approach the group. She can’t shake the feeling of familiarity she feels with this group of women. With each step, the feeling of familiarity grows. She takes the woman’s hand and she leads Aurelia into the dance circle. She can’t remember the last time she danced but it’s like muscle memory, except for a dance she doesn’t know, as she slips into rhythm with the group. It comes to her so naturally, like a dance she has done her whole life.
With each step to this dance, Aurelia can’t help but wonder about this woman next to her’s necklace and how it looks just like her mother’s, the same one draped around her neck. Almost like the woman has sensed her curiosity, she takes Aurelia’s hand and brings her into the circle. They stand face to face, their necklaces mirroring each other. They communicate without uttering a word. Aurelia can tell this woman wants to show her how she got here, to share the story of their necklaces. She watches as the woman grabs hold of Aurelia’s necklace and they plunge into this woman’s memories.
Aurelia takes in her surroundings. She sees the woman who has brought her here, the woman’s whose memories this belongs to, sitting around a table with a group of women. The table is covered with a black satin cloth and a crystal ball sits in the centre. The women are chanting, holding hands as the necklace, Aurelia’s necklace, is being brought to the centre of the table. She realises the women are chanting and calling her name — “Aurelia”. This is why she’s here. She was called here by her ancestors, distant relatives, which explains why the women felt so familiar to her, especially the one who wore the same necklace, her mother’s necklace. The very one that was handed down generation after generation, the one that now nestles of Aurelia’s neck.
As the woman lets go of Aurelia’s necklace, they return to the forest. She realises she’s no longer in 2022. She is in the past, 1933, with the founders of the Veil coven. She is a descendant of Veil coven.
For the first time since her parent’s death, she has found solace. She has found a place she felt loved and heard. Sewn into this feeling of solace were still traces of pain, anger and sadness; that feeling of free-falling down an endless black hole. But somehow, that feeling now felt manageable knowing she was surrounded by the coven.
She watches as the women start walking into the forest, disappearing one by one. The woman, her ancestor, holds out her hand to Aurelia and tells her, “It’s time for your new adventure”. Her mother’s words, the words Aurelia replayed for as long as she could remember, finally made sense. Overcome with excitement, Aurelia takes the woman’s hands and they too, disappear into the forest.
And so the biggest adventure of Aurelia’s life, began.