Although plums are commonly known as a summer fruit, Adrianna Jasmine associates the little purple delights with Christmas. Perhaps she’s a fan of The Nutcracker #sugarplumfairy
8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
zest 2 lemons
4 tbsp brandy (optional)
100g soft butter
100g light brown sugar
100g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
3 tbsp flaked almond
Clotted cream, to serve
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Pop the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to marinade.
Using an electric whisk, whisk the butter, eggs, flour and ground almonds until everything is combined and smooth.
Tumble the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake mixture, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Remove from the oven and serve warm with clotted cream.
Perfect for Christmas Eve whilst reading Sweet Jasmine, Cakes and Magic by the fire.
Life can’t be easy
It’s not always swell
Don’t tell me truth hurts little girl
Cos it hurts like hell
‘An ye harm non, do as ye will.’
Chloë with Two Dots’ is an excerpt from the novel ‘Sweet Jasmine, Cakes and Magic.’
Adrianna Jasmine reflects on an incident from her early childhood. A classmate provokes the young witch into an unexpected spell – with consequences for both girls.
This version with edits and contributions from Christopher Ray.
Chris is a published author of short stories.
Enjoy, Catherine xxx
Chloë with Two Dots
As the witches battled through the London traffic, Adrianna Jasmine thought long and hard about her accidental spell. It worried her that her mind had cast a spell without her knowledge, and she thanked the Goddess that she had only blocked a phone signal and not accidentally harmed Taylor. She shuddered at the thought. She would need to try and keep her thoughts pure in regards to Taylor Jameson from now on. She didn’t want him accidentally snapping a tibia in half now, did she?
The witch’s thoughts drifted back to when she was seven years old and an incident similar to this had first occurred. The little witch was in Junior One at her Catholic junior school, St Catherine the Great. Her hair was tied in loose pigtails and she wore her red and grey tartan tunic uniform over a white shirt and grey tights. Her skin was like porcelain, speckled with a few freckles and her personality quiet and observant, yet approachable and helpful.
Among her fellow students was a girl called Chloe, who spelt her name with two dots. In most cases the dots correctly sit above the ‘e’. Occasionally – and – less correctly over the ‘o’. But Chloe was a perverse child who, to assert her individuality, insisted upon having the best of both worlds by separating the dots and placing one above each of the ‘o’ and the ‘e’. She was considered a nasty character and made many of the children’s lives in Junior One very unhappy.
Adriana Jasmine could easily recall Chloe’s long, strawberry-blonde hair, the girl’s pride and joy, and she constantly flicked it about like a shampoo model. Chloe with two dots believed herself to be like a Disney princess, and regarded everyone surrounding her as servants, ugly step sisters or wicked witches. She came from a wealthy family. Her father, Ceri, owned a chain of risqué underwear shops, which were, in Sicily’s opinion “simply common, darling”, but seemed to be popular with the public.
Anyway, Chloe with two dots had been quite unbearable when they all returned to school after the summer holidays. For some reason, the six weeks off had not been a cooling-off period for the golden child; it had simply made her even more infuriating. The name-taunting became intolerable for those who had to wear glasses. Kids with speech impediments didn’t stand a chance; and you can only imagine the psychological damage the tubby child went through. And if she couldn’t find anything to pick on with an unfortunate classmate, their parents were in the firing line.
“Your mummy’s gross,” she would say to Louise O’Hare (an accurate comment, but mean nonetheless). Or, “Your dad doesn’t love you, he lives in a home for crazy people,” which was aimed at a boy called Michael Strong.
Despite the potential for envy of the blond locks, Adrianna Jasmine had none for them. She detested Chloe for her spitefulness, rudeness, arrogance and for anointing herself the leader of a gang of equally brat-like girls. The taunts aimed at her, however, never bothered Adrianna Jasmine. She was a strong little girl. Evil simply bounced off her. Until one day, when Chloe with two dots overstepped the line and stirred the little witch to anger.
Sicily had picked Adrianna Jasmine up from school on a warm September afternoon, wearing a beautiful red summer dress that fitted her body like a second skin and billowed out into a long, feminine skirt that cascaded down towards her matching red, high-heeled sandals. She looked beautiful, just like a film star with her lustrous hair and glowing face. Adrianna Jasmine swelled with pride when she saw how gorgeous her mother looked. Sicily had enthusiastically hugged and kissed her daughter when she ran up to her, and Adrianna Jasmine’s friends all came over to gawp at the goddess in red.
The next day, Chloe with two dots and her cling-on friends had been overheard calling Adrianna Jasmine’s mother nasty names, some of which Adrianna Jasmine had never heard before. One of them she had previously only associated with an edible delight consisting of pastry and jam. Now she knew differently. It enraged her. She felt fury burning through her skin.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, she thought, clenching her fists during art and craft, but I do not like words that insult my mother! She was able to control her anger with deep breathing and concentrating on her work (she was colouring in a picture of a tropical fish), but not quite able to control her thoughts and before long a spell had formed in her head.
Be careful, oh one with the blonde, wavy hair,
Your comments are neither true, nor are they fair.
Your tongue is spiteful, your words sharp and cruel
With your eyes that sparkle like an evil jewel.
Learn this lesson and learn it well
Or your life will turn into a living hell.
All your remarks that cause such pain,
Will now turn on you, the one so vain.
A lesson I think to make you realise,
It is you that is both loathed and despised.
The possession that you believe makes you unique,
Will fail you now and make you a freak!
And worst of all it will not be returned,
Until I believe that right has been earned.
Now you will learn what it’s like to be sad,
And it’s all because you have been so bad.
As soon as the spell entered her head, poor Adrianna Jasmine’s little face crumpled with woe and she tried desperately to dissolve the words that were flooding into her mind like toxic water. Yes, she hated Chloe with two dots, but she had no right to cast a spell on her. Sadly it was useless, and before she knew what was happening, the spell had been cast and Chloe with two dots was in for a nasty shock.
The next day, when Adrianna Jasmine arrived at school everything seemed normal. Chris Swanson was sitting next to Terry O’Thomas, and Pearl Grey and Tanya Lamont were talking intensely about their Barbie and Cindy dolls. Other children chatted amongst themselves about the TV programmes they had watched on Children’s ITV the day before.
The teacher, Miss Staples, rapped on her desk and asked for everyone to be silent for the register. As she worked through the list the children answered, “Present” when their names were called, but Chloe with two dots did not – which evoked plenty of head turns and outright gasps from the children. It was impossible to say if the reaction was that of surprise or perhaps even elation.
Playground gossip concluded that Chloe with two dots had been unwell in the night and therefore was away from school. Adrianna Jasmine’s heart skipped a beat when she found out and panic began to rise up through her body like a raging fever.
Oh Goddess, what have I done? she thought. What’s happened to Chloe with two dots?
For days she kept her fear to herself and was very quiet at home. Her mother noticed the change in her daughter, as she had lost her appetite and appeared unable to relax.
Her mother asked her a few times what was wrong, but Adrianna Jasmine would simply reply, “Nothing.” and bury her head in a book, or relocate to her bedroom. Sicily decided not to push her daughter into answering, for she knew that when her little girl was good and ready, she would open up and talk.
Then it happened. Adrianna Jasmine came home one day after school and burst into floods of tears and buried her face into her mother’s warm embrace. She could no longer hold the secret.
‘Oh mum… I heard Miss Staples and Mr. Morris talking outside the staffroom. It was awful. Chloe’s mother had just phoned.’
‘You were eavesdropping!’
‘I had to find out. I heard everything. Miss Staples said that morning when Chloe woke up, she had raised her head – but it felt slightly cold and strange. Then she looked round – and there, still lying on the pillow, was all of her wonderful hair! She had gone completely bald!’
Adrianna Jasmine shuddered as she pictured it. Chloe’s head lifting and sliding free of those strawberry-blonde locks. She could almost hear the shocking scream. She would have desperately tried to re-fix it. Maybe she tried to use it as a wig. But the hair would have begun to wither. It would have turned grey and flaked into ash.
Adrianna Jasmine wailed into her mother’s arms, partly because she felt so terrible about what she had done, but also because she was sure she was no longer a white witch and instead an evil black witch who cast evil spells. ‘But I did it for you, mummy,’ she blurted.
As she sobbed, her mother soothed her daughter and hugged her tightly. She rocked the little Adrianna Jasmine back and forth for ages, until no more tears could be cried and a hiccup-type noise replaced the sobbing. When Sicily took Adrianna Jasmine’s delicate face into her hands, she felt sadness and pride towards her daughter. Sadness because of what her daughter had been through over the past couple of weeks (the little girl was practically skin and bone), and pride because of how very powerful her daughter was.
“Oh, turnip-top, no more tears,” Sicily advised through a warm smile. “You mustn’t blame yourself. After all, you are a very powerful witch and, unfortunately, you aren’t able to control your wonderful powers yet. But you will, and when you can you’ll be even greater. And as for casting a spell to protect Mummy’s honour: well, I am deeply, deeply grateful, my little pumpkin. But you must understand,” and with this Sicily’s voice went one shade darker than mahogany, “Mummy can most certainly look after herself!”
She peered into her daughter’s eyes and Adrianna Jasmine found herself, for the first time in weeks, smiling, then more tears came.
“What’s wrong, pumpkin? You mustn’t let the thought of that girl without any hair keep upsetting you.”
Adrianna Jasmine nodded feebly.
Sicily sighed. “Well, it’s a good job that you have those feelings my sweet, otherwise your intentions would certainly be dark and, I must admit, I would be a little worried about what I’ve got for a daughter!” Sicily joked. “But, as it happens, I have a wonderful, beautiful daughter. Although, you have looked better than you do right now, but let’s not dwell on that.”
Then she said the magic words that soothed her daughter’s heart. “Let me tell you. Your guilt proves your innocence.” Sicily opened her arms to enfold her. “So, apple popsicle, you are certainly a white witch through and through.”
Adrianna Jasmine nodded with a little more conviction, but then deflated again when she realised she had no idea how to reverse the spell.
“I’m afraid,” Sicily explained, “that your spell was so powerful that it will only finish when it truly believes it’s time to finish.”
Adrianna Jasmine looked confused and asked why.
“You have accidentally cast a lesson-learning spell on your school companion, darling, and until she actively learns her lesson about the things she’s done in the past, I’m afraid her hair will not return.”
Sicily and her little daughter heaved a sigh.
“It’s useless then,” said Adrianna Jasmine shaking a heavy head, “she has no idea about how nasty she is, so she’ll be bald forever.”
Sicily went over to the stove to boil some milk for a hot chocolate for them both.
“Oh, she will learn, darling,” sang Sicily, “albeit in a rather over-dramatic way, as hair loss is rather a harsh punishment. But everything happens for a reason and this unfortunate event will make that girl a better person, and as soon as it does her hair will grow back, good as new.”
They both drank their hot chocolate and sat snuggled up on the couch for a while, as Sicily sang Adrianna Jasmine a soothing lullaby. Before long, the little witch could hardly keep her eyes open and was escorted to bed, where she slept dreamlessly through the night and woke up, feeling much more positive.
When Chloe with two dots returned to school, wearing a pink bandana to hide her baldness, she was much quieter, stayed close to a few loyal friends from the clique (whose mummies were adamant that they must support their unfortunate chum), and never once hurled abuse towards the fat kid. She would even wince when her friends made fun of other children and scolded them for being mean. It appeared Chloe with two dots was changing; she was beginning to see the light.
It helped that Miss Staples opened the class’s eyes to other children who were undergoing treatment for leukaemia and cancer – or had suffered severe alopecia – and who, as a result had temporarily lost their hair. After learning about these brave children, all Chloe’s spite drained away. It wasn’t too long before the first new shoots of hair began to sprout from under the bandana. And another surprise. The two dots had joined! She had at last become ‘Chloë’.
Love it when Amazon informs me, “you’ve sold a book!”
Love it when Adrianna Jasmine is there to inspire aspiring authors.
Lots of interesting questions asked today by a group of 10 year-olds, such as; what inspired me to become a writer, who my favourite author is, ( Agatha Christie) and why do I like writing?
Hope my answers help with their future creativity and writing developments.