There was salt in the pepper shaker for as long as I could remember.
Grandma said the salt shaker got broken the year she moved into the house so she
simply added salt to the pepper shaker.
My brother and I, in our youthfull innocence, told her it wasn't right to do that.
I even pointed out to her once, when we were very small,
that the shaker had a scary face.
"Stuff and nonsense" she said, "why that shaker is pure crystal.
But I don't want you two using too much of my salt."
And she always did keep her eye on that shaker.
But we knew that there many things in grandma's house that were strange and frightening.
She made us sleep up in the attic when we stayed over. Once, I saw a bat fly overhead
in the middle of the night, lit by the moonlight shafting in through the eyebrow window.
"Folderol and snakes" she said, shaking her head,her eyes glistening in a menacing way.
"Bats are the friendly things in this house."
As we got older, my brother decided to skip the trips to grandmother's house on the weekends.
But grandma fascinated me with her ways and I loved the herb garden out back of her house.
I loved its shape, interlocking triangles.
When I asked her why it was this way, she took her tiny thin finger and poked me on the shoulder.
"Magic" is all she would say.
But I never saw any,magic that is. She was just a plain grandma who was always busying herself
with reading and cooking and the taking care of her cat,Boo.
Boo didn't like me. He sat on the table with his paws around the salt shaker glaring at me with his yellow eyes,tail flicking wildly.
One night Boo starting hissing and arching his back,shilly shallying across the room like he saw something.
'What is it Boo?" I asked him.
He jumped up on the table and knocked down the salt shaker. He began yeowlling and flew off the table like his tale was on fire.
"Grandma,grandma!' I yelled, "Boo knocked your shaker down."
From out of the kitchen my grandmother came,an alarmed look on her face when she saw the shaker down and opened,a tiny bit of salt spilt on the table.
"He's out, child, get behind me," she said grabbing my shirt.
"Who's out?" I asked, my breath short and rapid.
"The spirit." I have neglected to keep the shaker filled, and he's gotten out."
Before I could answer, the lights dimmed and a wind howled across the room
rattling the crystal on her chandelier.
"Quick child,into the pantry."
She grabbed my hand and we rushed into the pantry and she locked the door.
"Salt, we need salt!"
She grabbed the container and began sprinkling it all over me making my eyes burn and tear. Then she poured it on herself and across the crack of the door near the floor.
"What spirit, Grandma, you're scaring me!" I cried.
"The spirit I conjured out of this old house. I thought I could trap it in the shaker, evil hates salt,child."
"Is that why you never had pepper?"
"Shhh!" she said as the door began to shake and the door knob rattled.
Outside we could hear Boo hissing and spitting, and things being knocked around the room.
"Get him Boo!" grandma said, her fists clenched.
We heard the sound of breaking glass and the roar of a tempest. Then nothing.
Grandma waited a while before opening the door and peering out, a handful of salt in the palm of her hand.
"Oh,Boo!" she cried,"my precious Boo!"
Just below the shattered window, Boo laid still on the oak floor.
"The spirit doesn't like cats either," grandma said holding her injured cat to her bosom.
"Quick child,go back to the pantry and bring me the purple glass canning jar."
I did as I was told and watched as grandma reached into the jar and pulled out a root that looked like a person. She rubbed it over Boo's body while chanting something very low.
"Mandrake," she said.
Slowly Boo opened his eyes and began purring.
Grandma looked at me with resignation in her eyes.
"I guess I'll have to teach you now, teach the ways."
"Grandma ,you mean I really did see a scary face in that shaker once?"
"Yes,child," she answered, "you did. Now we must get to work right away,he'll be back."