The Witch Bridle

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Part 1: Chapter 1

It was Moving Day and the bright afternoon sunshine gleamed through the kitchen’s spotless windows. Oona hoped her things would arrive soon. The house was already wild with noise and anticipation. The family dog, Stinkly, was perched on her favorite chair; her deceased master’s old chair. Of course the canine could not understand the permanence of any such loss as that. Stinkly simply continued to lay and wait. His was the chair at the head of the large, rectangular, solid oak table. It had been in the family for years, like the chair on which Stinkly was, with her ears perked, tuned toward the banter between Louis and his sister Thankful. Barely a week had followed his death.

“Tomorrow will be sunny,” Thankful declared.

Five year old Thankful was pretty as the sun, sometimes precocious and always stood up to her big brothers. Louis was nine and Charley was a tall, lanky teenager of thirteen. Thankful’s gray eyes perfectly matched those of her grandfather, Anton, or Opa, as she always knew him. He was her great-great-great grandfather to be exact. Opa was a ghost that she never really knew; it was more accurate to say she didn’t recall him. They met when she was just a little baby. She knew he came from a time when thousands of people got together to kill each other in the Civil War.

“How do you know it’s gonna be sunny tomorrow?” asked Louis. As the words left his lips, the boy privately acknowledged that his sister knew things; she knew things like when Dad’s plane crashed before anybody else knew about it. Louis himself was a seer of ghosts and spirits; his sister was a seer of events.

“I read it in the Boston Globe,” Thankful proudly announced, and waved the newspaper in the air around her.

“Who taught you how to read?” Louis shot back. The usually winsome boy knew his sister was a good reader too. She was more like a great reader, really; for a kid of five anyway. Louis’ sarcasm was meant to give his sister a hard time – to say something to “get her going” and get her mad. It was always funny to see Thankful that way, he mused. She would kick and scream and even scare the dog when she got really good. Yes, Louis thought, Thankful was best when she was just being Thankful.

“Oh, shut up Louis! I hate you,” Thankful howled. Then suddenly she switched gears and, purposefully not taking her brother’s bait, she very calmly asked, “When will the moving trucks be here?” That question was followed by, “And what’re we going to do if they don’t get here soon?”

Charley’s voice could be heard from across the hallway. He talked loudly at the TV, or possibly his computer screen. He apparently didn’t like whatever he was seeing. Other noises crept into the kitchen, none in response to the girl’s questions: the grandfather clock, which everyone knew followed KC’s family for generations, sounded three strokes, and the washer buzzed from downstairs to signal its load was ready for the drier. Oona paced softly though persistently across the floors.

Seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, Oona was a marvelous blend of female humanity and unsurpassed in her splendor. With French and French-Haitian parentage, the metaphysicist-turned-nanny was arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world. And it was in that world which she travelled so freely that Oona Neeci practiced her many crafts, sorcery and enchantment included.

What is Past is Prologue, Oona thought. That quotation was engraved in her mind as clearly as it was on the Archives building down south in DC. She smiled to herself; her head was slightly bowed. And how things have changed over these last four years. The fall air was warm for October. It was Indian summer in the year 2010.

“I shall go about my new nannying career as my main job,” Oona vowed. “I shall also manage KC’s schedules, her day-to-day tasks and her chores. Yes! I am ready for this change. Yes, I am ready,” she repeated with her tantalizingly slight French accent.

Thankful quietly studied Oona. I know she brought something with her last night; something weird and creepy; important and strong.

Oona’s Porsche had long since been emptied of the few personal items she had hauled up from Virginia. More than eight years had passed since the Harvard graduate and sorceress had packed her bags to return home to New Orleans. Then, two years later, Oona packed again, this time for Georgetown University, where she pursued her post-graduate studies under the watchful and nurturing eyes of the incomparable Brisbane Turner. After she earned both her PhD and her Msc.D by age 24, Oona Neeci became a licensed ontologist and started what would become a very successful practice not far from the Georgetown campus. Now having gone full circle, Oona needed to get re-acclimated to New England and especially to the dreadful New England winters she remembered so well from her university days. And while she was generally eager to resettle close to Cambridge and Boston, she was more eager to just settle down; settle down with KC and her special family at their fine colonial style home on a picturesque and quiet cul-de-sac in Westbridge, Massachusetts.

Detached and deep in her thoughts, Oona finally took a seat at the kitchen table and began to leaf through “Thankful’s” Boston Globe. The trucks would be here shortly, she surmised. Well, she hoped they would. Oona wanted to just get on with it. She wanted to get on with her new life. She wanted everything to be official, so to speak. With a sip of her favorite Blue Mountain coffee blend, the wild, raven-haired Oona reflected on her new career – dual careers, really. First, Oona would manage three young children; an onerous task and totally new for her, and her efforts would surely be appreciated by their mother. KC would be free to return to her former banking career in Boston, while Oona built her new ontology practice here at her new “home.” Yes, Oona Neeci planned to do a lot these days, and especially for her dear friend and the newly widowed, KC. Yes, Oona Neeci had returned to Massachusetts, though never in her wildest dreams had Oona ever imagined she’d be “Oona the Nanny.”

Now it was so, and it was remarkable that Oona had done it entirely by her own design. This transformation was of her own free will. And how could she not do this? KC needed her and, with all the tantalizing possibilities, there would no doubt be opportunities with her new assignment. And for the exceedingly libidinous Oona, she needed KC as she needed those others who would settle into the soft comfort of her bed in return for delicious and well-deserved relief. “Oh, no! Not now!” She could hear KC already. “This is not the time!” Oona fully realized she needed to separate the pleasures from the pain of her employment, at least for now. She would never leave the children unattended and would always be true to her new obligations.

Now Oona was linked, or more like chained, to Louis, Charley, and that little witch Thankful. There was still no school for the children this Friday; it was still too soon for them to return. Their father was gone for not even a week, having perished last Saturday in a fiery plane crash. Still Oona would have this whole weekend to move in and get established. She knew she had done the right thing. Well, she was not entirely sure, but she did know she did what she had to do. Oona’s thoughts shifted again to KC, whose husband had died so horribly and so suddenly. It was odd that the atmosphere at the house was almost cheery. The kids seemed okay; as if by her timely appearance a new and exciting chapter in their lives had begun.

Oona’s mind drifted again to Virginia, to the attic of the old Bornheim House, as it was known in centuries past, when she and KC converged at the place where old Anton existed in earthly purgatory. The place where everyone got to know that kindly old ghost in all his vivid substance and intensity.

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