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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Walker

Logos: A Jo Murphy Prequel Story

Updated: Mar 12

“You can’t just keep calling this place ‘my shop,’” Emma tells me while we're stocking shelves. “You have to name it something. You need, like, a logo. Signage.”

“I’m not even open yet.” I hand her a small box of Sun and Moon tarot decks. “Here, take these over to the card display.”

“But you will be in less than a month.”

With a sigh, I consider this as I place the last of a series of fragrant soy candles on the shelves. In the past two months of nonstop work on this building—old and in all kinds of disrepair but absolutely mine—it has already come such a long way.

A big part of that was due to the girl beside me in her artfully ripped Death: The High Cost of Living T-shirt, black short-shorts, and sparkly black high-tops. She’d left off all makeup but her cats-eye liner and mascara in deference to the work and tied back her short, spiky hair in a white bandanna. She’d shown up one day after I’d hung my strophalos suncatcher in the large front window, asking question upon question, being so friendly and relentless that I found myself responding. Talking to someone who, unlike my cat or my rooftop gargoyle, actually talked back to me.

I offered her part-time work on the spot out of self-defense.

“I don’t have time for that right now. But it’s fun, the way you try to bully me.”

“Ugh.” She rolls her eyes. “Just trust me, okay? I’ve actually taken some business classes.”

I can’t help but grin at her affronted tone. Between her and the gangly velvet-black cat winding between our feet at any given time, I’ve already become frighteningly accustomed to not feeling alone in this space.

I turn to get a new box of candles from the store room—it would soon be time to order the perishable stock, I reflected—and nearly tripped over the aforementioned cat. “Cole, dude.” I bent to pick him up. “How did you even get down here?” His deep purr contains no answers or apologies for barging into our work day. Our first shelf-stocking day.

“I can hear him from over here. He’s a purry boi,” Emma croons over her shoulder. “Furry, purry boi.”

Cole’s slow blink up into my eyes seems to confirm this. “Furry, purry pain in my butt,” I whisper, but I still kiss him between his silky ears.

After a moment of cuddles, I set him down on a work table and look around. The shop is taking shape. The top floor, the roof, they’re my personal space. My sanctuary. Down here, this first floor will be my livelihood—I’ll read tarot here and sell supplies, spell kits, and potions rather than other rinky-dink shops or flea markets. I’ll help others learn and practice the craft. I’ll sell supplies and solutions.

The magic I’ve fed into the building every day has made it more than a sanctuary, though. It’s a place of power. Emma had jokingly called it the St. Louis Sanctum Sanctorum, asking if Doctor Strange was going to pay us a visit.

Sanctum. A sacred place. A place private from those who would do harm to others.

I look at Emma. “What do you think about ‘the Sanctum Occult Shop’?”

She spins dramatically, eyebrows raised. “I fucking love that.”

I smile. “Me too.”

Two days later, Emma has set up her laptop on the counter where I’ll be putting the cash register I bought from eBay, if it ever arrives—three days and one teeth-grittingly polite query email overdue—and opens it only a little before she pauses.

“Now, remember, it’s just something I made on one of those design sites from a template I thought was cool. So if you don’t like it, I can change it entirely or tweak it or whatever. And it’s just the basic logo—no other text or anything.”

With a soft mrrrow, Cole jumps up to investigate.

I pet him. “Emma, just show me. I’m sure it’s going to be great.”

Emma takes a deep breath and opens the laptop. I see my logo—ours, really—on the screen, and for a moment, I can’t say anything at all.

The moon phases, the circles, the font. “The Sanctum” arcing overhead, “Occult Shop” on the bottom.

And in the very middle, the strophalos in place of the full moon. I look from the screen to the window, where the same Hecate’s wheel design glints in the morning sun. I look at my arm, where it is tattooed in soft black ink.

I’m going to own a business, Hecate help me.

And this is my logo.

I smile. “Em. It’s exactly right.”

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