Word Count: 2177
By Amy Strauch
"I can't believe she dumped me." I moan to myself over a welcome steaming cup of mocha latta and a slice of chocolate mouse. It is a chilly rainy September afternoon. My name is Taylor Evans and I am a witch. I live in Shawnee Mission near Kansas City. It's rather odd to find witches in Shawnee Mission.
"It's been six months, Taylor. Let it go." Julia Farley, owner of Julia's Java, Subs, and Pies stands behind the counter slicing one of her best selling pies. The smell of Dutch Apple fills the store. Julia is in her mid forty's, has two daughters and spend most of her time running her shop. She's a sweet, caring, friendly and a practical person. Between the comfort food, the taste and sounds of my childhood and excellent customer service, this is my favorite place to go.
I sit on an old wooden chair that looks like it ought to belong in a my grandmothers farm house in Cairo Nebraska. In fact the entire room I sit in looks like my grandmothers kitchen where I visited during the summers while I was growing up. The floor is covered with limestone tile unlike the old linoleum in my grandmothers house and the walls are plaster painted butter yellow with white trim. There are even lace curtained windows (or things that looks like windows). The table I sit in front of is a large rectangle with white painted legs. I go here for lunch everyday and think about all the trouble Sydney's given me.
That's right, six months since Sydney dumped me. Three months after she said yes when I asked her to marry me. Three months after she turned me into a witch. She said it was the only way she would marry me. I used to have a really great job as a meteorologist for the Kansas Weather Service but I had to quit so I could learn magic without killing myself and the people around me. I don't mind being a witch, it's really not all that bad, just a lot to incantations and rituals to memorize. Anyway, three months later she found somebody else. Her mother felt so guilty that she agreed to teach me. So now I work in her occult book shop next door and see Sydney nearly every damned day hanging on Carmen's shoulder wishing she hadn't dumped me.
There are a few thing about witches that I find strange. The are not immortal but they live a very long time. There are no warlocks, wizards, or sorcerers, just witches. They have almost no sense when it comes to wearing cloths. The tend to wear the strangest combinations like skirts around their chest, snow boots with swim suits, that kind of thing. It reminds me of my little sister playing dress up when she was four.
The door opens and the bell above the door rings. I look up to see a girl running in from the heavy rain showers outside. She seems a little odd, but what witch isn't. Her medium length hair is dark brown with a white streak just above her right temple. Sheryl once said that a witch with vast powers develops white hair. Sheryl is Sydney's mother. She carries an umbrella but it's broken. She wears a long denim skirt, ankle high boots with a heel broken on the left and a white blouse. And she's soaked. Her white bra shows under her blouse and there is a hole near the knee where it looks as if she fell when her boot heel broke. She looks as though she's had a very bad day. I can't tell for sure because she's so wet, but it looks as though she's been crying.
"What can I get ya?" Julia stands up from behind the counter. "Oh dear. Taylor, go and get her a towel." I whisper a spell and her clothes and hair dry up. I can't warm her up but dry clothes certainly help. I grab my heavy leather jacket from behind my chair and wrap it around her shoulders.
"What was it ya wanted?"
"Spiced Chai and hot pecan pie." She managed to say despite shivering. Julia turns around to put the pie in the microwave. You know, you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of pie they prefer. Cherry pie eaters like simple and sweet, mincemeat eaters are old souls and pecan pie eaters are slightly nutty and definately sweet.
"Don't bother Julia, I've got it." Julia smiles. The girl grabs her pie and cup and heads for one of the many vacant tables. She keeps her hands wrapped around the cup after she sits before picking up her fork.
"I should hire you, how much is Sheryl paying you." I look back at Julia as she wipes the counter with a damp rag.
"Not enough but I get lessons for free."
"I can't believe your still working for her."
"I get new books at half price and free access to her personal collection which is rare and extensive."
"Sheryl Tate lets you have free access to her rare books? Honestly Taylor, I don't know what you see in Sydney. She's such a self indulgent social butterfly. Any yummy looking young hot thing and she forgets about the other guy wrapped around her little finger. He'll be gone in a heartbeat. She'll dump him soon enough."
"It's three days till the wedding. I don't think she'll dump him in the next three days. She still hangs on him like a vampire at the red cross." I rub my temples to try to remove a non-existant headache.
"Don't tell me that she invited you?" Julia asks.
"Aren't you pissed?" The girl asks.
"I should be shouldn't I."
She nods. "Thanks for drying me off."
"Any time. I'm Taylor Evans.
"Jo Mason, well, Josephine but the only one who calls me Josephine is my Aunt Sarah." She blushes. "So who's this girl you're talking about?" I move over to sit across from her.
"My ex-girlfriend Sydney." I wouldn't be a witch if it weren't for her, I explain. "I didn't have any Darin Stevens issues about dating a witch. We dated for a while and I knew, she would be the one. Boy was I mistaken."
"I proposed and she accepted provided she make me a witch. I said yes. It sounded cool." She begins rubbing her hands together trying to warm them. I reach across the table and touch her hands. They feel like ice. I hold onto her hands and will them to warm. She looks appreciative but unsure of my intentions.
"What happened next?"
"I bought her a ring, we began making wedding plans and a month before the ceremony, she met another man. I was dropped like a dirty shirt."
"That sounds awful. So are you going to the wedding?"
"Not for all the incense in Egypt."
"What if I went with you?"
"I might think about it."
"So what's he like?"
"Exactly like me. He and I could be twins. Heck, we'd probably be friends if it weren't for Syd. She brags about him everytime she stops in the shop. I try to ignore all the wedding plans they talk about on the phone, through the scrying fire. I even began hating bowls of water. Everytime I try to do a divination, Syd cuts in and wants to talk to Sheryl."
"Sheryl? Your boss?"
"Oh how awful. You work for your ex-girlfriends mom. Will no other witch teach you?"
"They seem to think I was a mistake. Making a human into a semi-immortal witch is taboo."
"I'll teach you." I about dropped my cookie. Could I live without Sydney? To be free of Sydney, totally free would be, astonishingly wonderful. I could find another job and I wouldn't have to see Sydney every damned day. I could just go to the bookstore only when I needed something. But how would Sheryl feel? Would she be happy I moved on?
"You look like you've had a rough day." I say to move the conversation away from my own problems.
"I just lost my job. My boot heel broke as I was crossing the street, I scraped my knee as I fell into a large puddle and on top of my umbrella bending it so badly it won't open. I think it isn't going to stop raining for a while." How does she know it's not going stop raining for a while. Is she into forbidden magic?
"No wonder you were soaked. How are you feeling?"
"Warm and dry. And ironically happy. My troubles today don't seem so bad anymore."
"Glad I could help."
"Shouldn't you be getting back to work?" Julia asks me. I look at my watch and realize my fifteen minute break was over five minutes ago.
"Damn. I gotta go."
"You work next door right?"
"I'm needing a few things. How 'bout I come along?"
"That would be great. How would you like that umbrella fixed?"
She smiles. "I think I can do that." She speaks an incantation and the umbrella rights itself.
"Hey Taylor. Did Sydney ever give you a ring?"
"No why?" Why would Syd give me a ring?
"Sheryl said she gave Carmen a ring. It has a spell on it to keep the guy inline."
"Hmmm." Jo takes my hand and we walk out the door. Once back at the book shop, I get back to work while Jo selects a few herbal items and browsing through the books. Jo brings her selections to the counter and I begin ringing her up when Sydney and Carmen walk in.
"Hi Taylor, is my mom in? I need to ask her about the flowers."
"She's in her office." The shop will be closed after today to finalize the wedding plans and will open up again after the wedding. Sydney and Carmen pass on through the door to the back room.
Jo leans in and whispers in my ear. "Is that them?" I nod. "He does look like your twin."
"Did you see the ring?"
"I have an idea." I tell her that if I can get the ring off of him, I'd like to remove the spell on it. No longer will he be her slave. He won't have anything to do with her. Jo frowns. "Whats wrong?"
"It has another spell on it. Nobody but her can remove the ring."
"I have another idea. Who's his best man?" I smile. Jo has a spell to put on Syd's ring that will makes her seem revolting to all but the ugliest men.
"Shall we go to a wedding?" Jo giggles.
Jo and I meet at Julia's before leaving for the ceremony. The sun is shining, the air smells clean and fresh and the magic in the air hints at success. Jo wears a long chiffon sleeveless summer dress. Her hair is in a french twist with ringlets cascading around her face. She is gorgeous. A dumb smile crosses my face as a certain feeling crosses my mind. Jo smiles back and my brain starts buzzing.
"Shall we go?" She asks. It took me a few seconds to realize what she said.
"Yup." I grab my broomstick and she grabs hers. We fly to Franklin Park where there are already hundreds of witches all dressed up in the most unusual clothing. Purple suits, blue swim wear, and black skydiving gear. Like I said, what witch isn't a little odd. Except me.
There is a pair of tents where I expect the wedding party is doing their final preparations. I walk to the left tent and find the groom and groomsmen. I locate the bestman and spell the ring out of his pocket. Once in my hand I whisper the words Jo told me to use and send the ring back into his pocket.
I return to sit next to Jo and we watch the ceremony. The priestess wraps their hands together, they call this hand fasting. Near the end of the ceremony, Carmen and Sydney exchange rings. Carmen first and all the girls in the audience begin to cry. As soon as the ring touches Sydney's finger, all the men in the audience stand up and run tripping over themselves and anyone else to get away from Sydney. Even I have trouble looking at her. I look to Carmen and the struggle on his face as the spells conflict is fascinating. He finally turns around and walks away. All the girls in the audience stand up cheering and rushing to Carmen. Sydney begins crying and runs to her mother. She notices the spell on the ring and tries unsuccessfully to take it off.
Jo and I fly off into the sunset. I am smiling because I am the only one who can get the ring off her finger. And I don't plan on removing it anytime soon.