by Bob'n Around
It can happen when you least expect it.
|How could I not know my wife was a witch, after being married to her so many years? Looking back, all the signs were there. Love is a funny thing. It makes you see things differently. We each marked our lines in the sand early on in our relationship. "You can see it with your own eyes," Diana said. "Chants, incantations, spells and potions heal and improve lives."
"Placebo effects," I offered with scientific evidence to back me up. "They heal themselves believing your magic." Every successful couple learns when and where to let differences stand. There were times her personal magnetism and force of personality made her allure more than that of a superstar. She could sell the devil himself on becoming a devout follower if it the chance offered itself to her on a whim.
"Don't you think I am bewitching?" It was an old joke spawned by our first meeting, carried on in many teasing causes of winks and smiles. There are many ways of interpreting things. For so long, I'd given her the freedom to think of herself as bewitching without my own reality being hampered by it being more than a girlish fancy.
“What do you think?” Diana pressed her wedding dress to her front, modeling it with impish delight.
My old bones creaked at me as I turned to look. Had I forgotten our anniversary? What was the message she was sending? She bore her many years with dignity. My eyes blurred with feeling. She had earned every one of them. In the next instant, the mesmerizing sight of her transfigured in my mind into the young bride she once was.
I thought it was me. My memory isn’t what it used to be. It was much easier living in the past than keeping up with the fast-paced present. “Try it on,” I suggested, my voice sounding old and rusty. I knew that would break the spell.
“All right, you old fool. Let me surprise you.”
I watched, a thing ancients like me do quite well. It is one of the few simple pleasures left to us. So much of our time is spent dealing with painful health issues. The few idle moments between leave us exhausted to do other than weakly sit and gather our senses around us.
“I remember how thick and luxuriant your dark Indian hair was. How it shown in the light on our wedding day.” My feet shifted into a higher gear, making my rocker dance back and forth with me held a captive audience of the display my wife made before me.
She slipped out of her faded soft worn nightgown, her body supple and filled with youth. “You didn’t think it would fit, did you?”
The wedding gown, white lace with silk accent rustled busily as she spoke to it while donning it on. It had weathered the years well. My bride’s arms and hands floated down over her curves. She walked towards me. “Remember?” She knelt resting her head upon my knees.
I nodded. The tears in my rheumy eyes matching the glistening diamonds I saw falling from hers. “It is not fair,” I croaked like a frog, coughed, hunting for where my voice used to belong. “I’m not much good to you. All I can do is admire you from a distance.”
“What a distance we have come. It is the love flashing in your eyes that I most treasure.” She leaned up to grace my lips with a whispered kiss. The full bloom of her mouth opened to a more intimate demand.
I closed my eyes, losing myself in the feeling. The years rolled back and me with them.
Did I sleep? What a dream. I had been young again. Not so young that our bodies did not know each other’s most intimate demands. “Are you awake?” I asked, turning Diana’s sleeping warmth against me.
“Hmm. So soon? Is it morning and time for your cock to crow?”
Dream mixed with an unlikely reality. I would not let it go. Hallucinating? If so, my madness was a welcome respite from the cruelty of arthritis and the other plagues of old age.
“Nice. So nice.” Diana cradled against me when we were done. Sleep took us into its welcome embrace.
“You don’t mind, do you? If we stay like this for a short while?” Diana sat up, leaned down to nibble on my lips, and sighed.
“We haven’t died and gone to heaven, have we?” I pulled her to my chest.
“In a way,” she replied. “I have a secret to tell you. I thought it would be easier for you if I revealed it like this.”
She smiled, transforming into the image she’d been during our middle years. The professional herbalist caring for people’s needs, devoting her life to making things better. We’d been unable to have children. Animals, wild and tame had become their substitute, coming to her beck and call. “Do you remember?”
I did. She’d been teased about her pet raven being her familiar and her a witch. Those who came for her services demanded, threatened. It came to a head when one tried kidnapping her away. “The only time we separated.”
“I wanted no harm to come to you because of me.” She bit her lips, tightening her grip on my hand. “I didn’t want you to worry. It is why I sent my raven to tell and guide you.”
I nodded, lifting her fingertips to kiss each one. “It led me to your forest place where you raised many of your herbs and potions. None too soon. Our home was burned down with reports of us in it. The raven brought me a copy of the news article.”
Yes, I should have figured things out by then. Strange how the daily ritual of habit lulls us into easy acceptance, making the unusual a commonplace. “So much for helping others. I became a recluse. I felt your presence without you being there. The animals and forest helped. I waited.”
Diana relived the past with me, speaking of things she had not filled in before. “The one trying to make a slave of me was an evil wizard thinking his dark magic would hold power over me. I had to make sure he acted alone.”
She pointed to a small figurine of a forest dwarf carved out of stone placed on our bedroom fireplace mantle. “That is him. It is better I keep him close where I can keep an eye on him. He ended up trapping himself with his one true honest desire. He had a heart of stone. I gave him what he wanted. He is the finest polished semi-precious stone effigy of himself he could ever hope to be.”
At the time she reappeared and brought the small sculpture with her, I’d thought she was venting, teasing, storytelling, trying to make light of the time apart. It was part of her nature to make light of the strange things occasionally transpiring to us. “A wizard,” I said.
"You were never a believer in the occult. That offered you a kind of armor against the idle mysteries, chants and power of supernatural charms, except that very human one of falling instantly in love." Diana winked and smiled.
"The demon caught me half asleep, my mind muddled and dark. He pounced in sudden opportunity. It took some time for me to open my eyes to what was going on and do something about it. You have beautiful hair. It is angel white." She paused to comb her fingers through the length before continuing on.
“Yes. My third eye saved me. You know how the few friends I have made think I have special powers of seeing things. I can find things for them they have lost without being in their presence. Fortell what will happen if they keep on their silly ways.”
“Third eye.” I knew about her lifelong friends she’d known since childhood. They stayed in touch through letters, phone calls, the occasional visit, and other unmentioned ways.
“Some are witches like me, studying under me, learning and doing as I request. Others are human, like you. I need them to feel the pulse of humanity and keep me sane and in this world. Your love does that best of all.”
Diana’s body changed into the well-worn one I knew most recently and so well. My own presence shifted, echoing hers, bringing me back to my familiar self. I’d never wanted nor tried to change the way she was. We both respected that in each other, allowing personal beliefs and patterns of behavior to shift, grow or wither as was their want. Over the years we had only grown closer.
“Why now?” I asked. My breath felt heavy, labored. My aches and pains clothed my nakedness closer than my skin.
“It would be worse than death living without you. I don’t want to be without you.” She looked away, unable to meet my gaze. “I cannot force you. I never have. The choice is near. It is up to you to make.”
“You mean I am about to die,” I said the words calmly. I’d made my peace, as much as a man could. It wasn’t something we’d talked about. Now it was time. We’d joked about reincarnation, coming back to be with each other, this time raising a family, having foster kids as well as some of our own.
“Yes. I wanted you to remember what we are to each other. To relive it for a time. I felt you fading away, lately. I don’t want you to go.”
“I will live within you, long after my body is gone.” We’d talked about this. How when either of us had to make an important decision, it was like having each of us on the other’s shoulder, prompting what to do next.
Diana smiled, reaching for my hand, pressing it to her cheek. “I have made a home for you within me. It is not a prison. Your soul will be free to explore wherever you want to go.”
The transition was smooth and easy. I passed away, dreaming, in my sleep. There are more worlds than you can imagine. Some frightening in how alien a nightmare they can be.
Finding a home in Diana keeps me stable, sane, and human. We have time for me to prepare her when she is ready. For now, the world’s gathering crisis has need of a witch like her and a soul attached to her like me.
Perhaps we can help ease some of the pain and burden for those we select. It takes time to gather the worthy ones and teach them how to transition into the reality we will weave together and become.
Diana is more worried by this evil wizard than I am. When she leaves he will be set free and all his pent-up energy with him. He is a vengeful thing, likely biting at her heels, causing mischief or worse.
Your help is needed. We will meet you and teach you in your dreams. The time is short.
If you choose to join us, keep your eyes sharp for a cawing black raven fluttering its wings down to greet you, knocking at your windowsill. Listen well to what it may say.
There is a home waiting for you in a forest place quite bewitching, indeed, with a few loving companions, one of whom you may especially want to meet.
1928 WC. October entry into the "Paranormal Romance Short Story Contest"