She could feel her whole family gathered together in the mortal world. After the blowup over her return, Etty didn’t feel the least bit like joining them. Not that she could stay away for long, because she had to tell them she didn’t just have a suitor, she had a husband.
It was beyond her ability to imagine, the sort of reaction her parents might have to that news. So, she went to her favorite place in the universe, the Thorson’s cow field, to center herself before leaning into that disaster.
“Mawww.” Brownie—the bovine sidekick—bawled and leaned against her as they stood together in the field.
“Things are a little tense, yes.” Etty admitted.
“Yes, I do have a bull of my own now. I’m really happy you like John. You strike me as a good judge of character.”
“Moo.” The calf preened. “Maw.”
“Once John and I make love, I’ll be able to stay in the human world for as long as I want. Then I can see you there, and see you here. Isn’t that wonderful?”
Brownie fidgeted for a moment before saying anything else.
“I suppose I could have done it with him then, but it didn’t seem like the right time. Besides, I didn’t want him to feel like I was entrapping him with sex.”
“Yes… I’m skittish about it. I wish you hadn’t noticed.”
Etty felt chills run up and down her arms before she heard the footsteps, or the mocking voice approaching them.
“Well, jus’ about ev’ry virgin a lil twitchy fore she lay with her man,” the woman cackled, “or her woman, too. Ain’t no surprise, girl.”
Etty turned around slowly, hampered by Brownie, who didn’t want to move at all.
“Who are you?”
“I? You ask who I am?” The pale old woman held her hands to her rotting bridal gown. “I, lil girl, am Brigitte. Mama Brigitte. Not from around these parts, you gonna guess.”
“If you are of goodwill and good spirit, you may abide for a time.” Etty fell back on the antique manner of speaking to a stranger. “Be you an enemy, or one who means to harm, know you that me and mine protect this place.”
“Bah!” She cackled again, and ran her cadaverous fingers through her hair. It had the look of red hair long ago bleached by age. “I mean you no harm. See? I felt you choose your husband, and I come to see.”
Mama Brigitte stepped closer.
“Little girl, it been a long, long time, since I feel anything like that. So I come to see the what, the who, and wherefore the clatter be.”
Etty didn’t like her. Something was amiss.
“Hold where you are Mama Brigitte. Come no closer.”
“Aw! What they say these days? You paranoid!” Brigitte rested her hands on her hipbones, and gave Etty a wary look. “Ah. Keep your peace, girl. I saw what I wanted to see. I know what I want to know. I go where I gon’ go now.”
Mama Brigitte turned and walked away the way she’d come. Etty didn’t turn around again until the mists closed around that bony figure.
“Brownie, are you okay?”
“Oo.” The calf gasped. “Mnaw.”