The pouch was simple leather, rough and untreated. It served the purpose of keeping the dried leaves within safe from the moist winter air. Her glass bowl sat in the middle of the round table. Other than the bowl the table was bare. The shallow bowl itself was unadorned. Ash filled the bottom and the glass had been stained by steady use.

From the leather she she drew forth three leaves. One she crumbled and sprinkled into the bottom of the bowl. The other two she gently twisted together. The spine of the leaves cracked. She was satisfied and placed the leaves at an angle against the inner wall of the bowl.

From underneath the table she took out a long handled lighter. In the past she had used matches, but the gentle lighter flame was easier to control. It took three clicks for the liger to produce a tiny blue flame. She first lit the crumbled leaf in the ashes, then moved on to the twist. The flame leaped to hungrily consume the twist. She softly blew and reduced the flame to a simple line of red that slowly ate at the edge of the leaf. The leaf crumbles had already burnt away. From the bowl streamed forth thick, fragrant smoke. She breathed in deeply.

The smoke danced in thick ribbons around the room. It danced around the shelves and bookcases, swept past the curtains and collected at the ceiling. She watched and took note of where the smoke lingered. Those were places that would need extra attention and perhaps special cleaning. She was pleased that the smoke had given her only the briefest of greetings.

The edge of flame sputtered out. The last coils of smoke lazily rose to the ceiling in a clump and slowly dispersed. It had done its duty and the room was cleansed. The put the lighter in its place under the table and made sure the the leather pouch was closed.

She went to the bookshelf, made her selection and sat down and began to read.


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