Lydia Goodswell first came into The Coaxing Cauldron when she was four years old – alone.
She was lost. While holding the calf of her dad’s pant leg as he continued a never-ending conversation outside the coffee house she caught the brown sugar butter smell of the candy shop. She waddled her way past the bookstore and the small alley to land at the shop’s stained glass door. With sweaty, mini palms she pushed the door open and with a twinkle dropped into the lives of Pathos, Ethos, and Logos.
After watching a frantic Mr. Goodswell sprint up and down the block screaming, Ethos calmly stepped outside the shop holding his little Lydia nibbling a chocolate, guava turtle. Ethos offered Mr. Goodswell a piece of boysenberry taffy to ensure the single father that he, in fact, was not the world’s worst parent.
Since then, Mr. Goodswell made a point to come into The Coaxing Cauldron two-three times a week, no matter what was on the weekly agenda. In the last twelve years he has proudly tried every chocolate, licorice, taffy, and hard candy the Greek siblings have offered. This includes the failure of candied deviled eggs Pathos experimented with last Easter. His daughter, on the other hand, stuck with chocolate, she never fell for the distracting rainbows of lemon drops or berry rhubarb lollipops. Mr. Goodswell has never been a rich man and his financial status fluctuates on an almost monthly basis. He always pays in cash and when he came up short in the past, Ethos always managed to hand the treats to Lydia directly and shoo the father and daughter out the door before Logos could see.
Lydia had grown into a well-mannered, but shy girl who enjoyed playing “Minecraft” more than seeing the latest movie or scrolling through Instagram. Her love for The Coaxing Cauldron, Pathos’ chocolates, and Ethos’ motherly advice never seemed to waver. As she steadily grew into a teenager she made sure to stop at the candy shop before submitting a length book report to hear Logos’ critiques, before agreeing to trick-o-treating with her fellow soccer players, and when she needed help convincing her father to allow her to get a job and help with the family finances. An argument she would have lost if Pathos hadn’t told her to remind her father of her dream to be a video game designer and how work experience at GameStop could be essential to the start of her career.
Now she stood in the doorway with a bloody knife in her shaking right hand. Ethos, Logos, and Pathos could only gape at her for a moment before she stepped forward, holding the knife as far away from her body as possible; “Please.”
Instinctively, Ethos and Pathos took a step back. Logos remained fixed in his position. After a pause, he stepped toward the terrified girl and wrapped his hand around her pale knuckles and the knife.
“Let go, Miss Goodswell”.
Lydia releases the knife cautiously into Logos’ hands as if it were a bomb. As soon as she releases it, she falls into Logos’ chest. Her hot tears dampen his suit as she wraps her arms around his waist. Logos spreads his arms wide, so he won’t touch the girl. His lips form a immaculate line across his face. He glances at Ethos, raises an eyebrow, and quickly looks down at Lydia, signaling his desire to be relieved as the “comforter”. Ethos takes a breath before running over and taking Lydia into her arms. Logos straightens his suit with his free hand. Logos looks around before announcing, “It looks like we will be closed today. We seem to have a situation”. He waves the bloodied knife in front of his siblings.
Pathos shakes his head, “No, we only close Thursdays. Today is Wednesday”.
“How observant of you dear brother. But clearly, we can’t open with a potential murderer in our midst. We can hopefully open midday. If not-”
“If not, we deliver chocolates and almost no-good candies to the Food Bank at the university”, Ethos interrupts. She holds Lydia close to her chest, who hasn’t uttered a word since her first plea for help. Ethos hisses at her brother “And there is no murderer here. Who you say, murderer?”.
Pathos rubs the back of his wide neck before he heads back to his kitchen. He speaks calm instructions to his brother and sister, “bring her to office. People see through windows. I bring cauldrons”.
In the back office, Lydia sits with her hands pressed underneath her thighs. Her left leg bounces without rhythm. She looks up at Logos’ harsh features bent to meet her eye level. His eyes doubt her, but his words ask for an explanation.
She takes another labored breath, which is stopped shorter than she would have liked. She gulps in an effort to catch the lost air and is unsuccessful. Pathos hands Lydia a chocolate on a small napkin and a glass of macadamia and cashew milk he made himself. With the napkin and glass to hold onto, she finds her voice and begins with “I didn’t mean to. You know I didn’t mean to”.
Logos kneels in front of Lydia and interrupts her by holding up a palm; “We know. We know. Please just tell us everything you know in the order that it happened. The more we know the better we can help you”. Pathos and Ethos stand behind Logos with their arms crossed, except for the hair and the height difference, the three siblings could be triplets.
Lydia nods and takes a sip of her milk. “There were noises- thuds- coming from the kitchen in the apartment and you know our place isn’t that big so it woke me up. But when I came out of my room the noises got louder, something shattered, and there was yelling. Dad was scared. There were other men. They were hurting him or threatening him. I ran out to the kitchen-”, Lydia pauses. Her leg bounces more rapidly, still without a pattern. She digs her right fingers into her left palm. She stops when she sees the blood under her right fingernails, unsure if its her own or the man’s. The tears resurface, she lifts her chin, hoping they’ll just pool instead of flow onto her cheeks.
“I had to help Dad,” Lydia continues. She drops her head and lets the back of her hands rest against her thighs. Her saliva won’t cooperate. Every time she tries to swallow or salivate her mouth turns up drier than before like she just ate a bag of movie theater popcorn. “I ran for the dish rack and I grabbed the knife. Someone grabbed me from behind, they lifted me, but I already had the knife. I didn’t even see Dad. I just stabbed the arm that was grabbing me. He dropped me. I could hear dad, ‘Run Lydia! Run!’, so I ran. I felt something reach for my leg, but I skipped or something”.
Logos tilts his head to the side; “They didn’t chase you? How did you get rid of them?”
Lydia’s guilt and sadness are suddenly replaced again with fear. “I don’t know. I ran out of the building and came straight here. I didn’t know where else to go”. She pauses as the realization dawns on her. Quietly, almost to herself, she whispers, “I didn’t even look back”.
Logos turns back towards his siblings with his raised eyebrow. He remains knelt on the ground. “They will be here soon enough. Lydia is a witness. Ethos take her to the townhouse. Pathos and I will stay”. Pathos nods and heads back to the kitchen.
Ethos bends down to help the traumatized teenager, she addresses Logos. “They have Mr. Goodswell. We must help him”. Logos stands to follow his brother without looking back, “Yes, unless they’ve already killed him. Take the back door, E”. Lydia’s tears return and run silently down her cheek. No hope of pooling this time.
The two words don’t translate when used in the same sentence. She lets little Ethos steer her to the back door as instructed. Ethos seems unconcerned. She simply rolls her eyes in response to Logos, “Take the back door, he says. Tells me like I’m a child or an idiot”.
To be continued.
© ariannairwin.com June 2022