House of Night, Untamed, Chapter 21:
Aphrodite is skeptical that she’s just written the poem from her vision in Zoey’s grandmother’s handwriting. Zoey rightfully points out that it’s dumb to be skeptical of this when loads of unbelievable things happen in their world. I mean, her example is Darius running really quickly and not the fact that Aphrodite regularly has visions, and Zoey can control all the elements, but whatever.
Zoey decides to go grab a letter from her grandmother to confirm she’s right. Then she decides to ask Aphrodite if the handwriting in question is her own. I’m not sure why this didn’t already happen.
I started to hurry from the room, but on second thought stopped long enough to hold the paper with the poem on it up to Aphrodite. “Is this your normal handwriting?”
She took the paper from me and blinked several times to clear her vision. I saw the shock pass over her face and knew what she’d say before she spoke. “Well, shit! This is soooo not my writing.”
Am I supposed to be getting chills? My house is cold, and I’m still not getting chills.
But wait until you guys hear about what’s on Grandma’s card! Seriously, you’re not going to believe this.
On the front of it was a picture of three grim-faced nuns (nuns!).
I told you! I told you you weren’t going to believe it. NUNS. Zoey was just with some nuns!
The caption under them said,THE GOOD NEWS IS THEY’RE PRAYING FOR YOU . Inside it continued,THE BAD NEWS IS THERE ARE ONLY THREE OF THEM . It still made me giggle a little as I hurried back to Aphrodite’s room, even as I wondered if Sister Mary Angela would think the card was funny or insulting. I’d bet on funny, and made a mental note to ask her about it sometime.
Zoey simply cannot wait to share this uproariously funny joke with her new nun pal. Grandma, you have perfect timing. I’m not really sure who she is making a mental note about asking, though. Is she going to ask Grandma about her brilliant card selection? Or ask Sister Mary Angela about whether the card is humorous or insulting in the opinion of nuns everywhere?
Zoey brings the card to Aphrodite, and they agree it’s Grandma’s handwriting and that they need to call her right away. Aphrodite again muses on how she thought she just wrote this poem five minutes ago, so none of it makes sense! YOU DID WRITE IT FIVE MINUTES AGO JUST IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HANDWRITING. Because Nyx!
Aphrodite describes a vision of a woman with a white quilt in a pasture. Aphrodite is worried the woman’s quilt will get stained but…
“It didn’t.” I spoke through lips that felt numb and cold again. “It was cotton, and it washed up easily.”
“So you know what I’m describing?”
“It’s Grandma’s quilt.”
I wish all shocking revelations centred around laundry. I’m thinking that someday I’ll include a scene like this in my best-selling novel:
“I was worried her white dress would get dirty and that it would be dry clean only.”
“But it wasn’t. It was machine washable.”
“So you know what I’m describing!”
“Based off your perfect description, it couldn’t be anything but my grandmother’s beloved dress.”
The woman in the field who Aphrodite and Zoey believe to be Grandma is holding the poem that Aphrodite copied down. Even though it’s 3 A.M., the girls call Grandma. Apparently she had a dream as well and has been awake praying ever since!
Grandma doesn’t say what the dream was about, but Zoey and Aphrodite start asking about the poem. Things are apparently pretty bad:
Grandma gasped and cried, “O Great Spirit protect us!”
“Grandma! What is it?”
“First the Tsi Sgili and then Kalona. This is bad, Zoey. This is very, very bad.”
I’m going to go ahead and trust Grandma on this one. Lady seems like she knows what she’s talking about.
But what the fuck, exactly, is going on?
“They are Cherokee demons. Dark spirits of the worst type.” Grandma hesitated, and I could hear her rustling around with something in the background. “Zoey, I’m going to light the smudge pot before we speak any more of these creatures. I’m using sage and lavender. I’ll be fanning the smoke with a dove’s feather while we talk. Zoeybird, I suggest you do the same.”
I felt an awful jolt of surprise. Smudging had been used for hundreds of years in Cherokee rituals—especially when cleansing, purifying, or protection was needed. Grandma smudged and cleansed herself regularly—I’d grown up believing it was just a way of honoring the Great Spirit and of keeping my own spirit clean. But never in my life had Grandma ever felt the need to smudge at the mention of anyone or anything.
“Zoey, you should do it now,” Grandma said sharply.
To smudge or not to smudge? Erik Night would be so impressed by my question. Find out what happens next tomorrow…