The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 25

As the month of November progressed toward that most celebrated family holiday, Thanksgiving, a false sense of normalcy descended upon the house.

It was deep into the autumn with fall baseball and basketball, and all the other sports and extracurricular activities at the school. There were more events than KC could remember. Fortunately there was Oona who, with all her style, helped tremendously. KC strived for everyone to get back to their normal routines, in spite of Drew’s loss. Then, soon after Oona’s arrest, the two women made their peace. And together Oona and KC managed.

As expected, Oona lost her license. She used a limo service to run errands for her, and to shuttle the kids back and forth to school. “I have lost my driver’s license for at least three months! The limo service is okay but only for the kids and me, back and forth to school each day.” Oona spent a fortune on the service and had it not been for the kids, KC’s nanny would have likely ignored the judgment by the Commonwealth against her. There in court Oona relied on powers of persuasion to carry on, as she had done all her life in adverse situations, and as she was often inclined to do.

Thankful managed to secretly share her room with the dark lady and coexisted in an unstable balance of quiet terror and warm company. When her childish exuberance evaporated, the child-witch served the dark lady out of fear. She served her mistress discreetly, when Oona was not at home. Thankful kneeled often and occasionally wept, and though she usually dreaded the very presence of the lady, the conjuring got easier each time she was so commanded or so obliged. The child-witch could not resist her and fell progressively under the dark mistress’ spell.

Lucia found great strength in the girl from which the lady’s soul drew great nourishment. This transference of energy within the household went almost always unnoticed by Oona and the rest of the family.

As the unknown intrigue played out under her unwatchful eyes, Oona was too powerful a witch and metaphysicist to not feel through the thickening fog that something was not quite right.

And though bright, telepathic, and otherwise brilliant and gifted, Oona was largely oblivious to Thankful’s circumstances and, ever since the night of her arrest, she tired easily and often felt overwhelmed or depressed. But still, Oona did not suspect an unfriendly presence; nor did she know she had fallen under the influence of the Great Witch Lucia. Worse still, Oona’s core powers and her precious Gran Liv were slowly and steadily usurped.

To Thankful Lucia would say, “Oona grows tired of Gran Liv. She grows old and the Great Book is eating away at her heart.” In truth Lucia obsessed to use Gran Liv for herself, to bring hell to those descendants of her seventeenth century tormentors. Lucia committed all her increased strength and energy to confuse and harry Oona.

Where she was shielded from Lucia’s manifestation, Oona grew increasingly vulnerable to the Dark Witch’s tricks.

The time fast approached when Lucia would be strong enough to wreak vengeance on those wretched kinsmen she wanted to kill. She was inured first to hardship and then to murder. She hardened herself and was finally made evil by the outrages and indifference in which she was treated.

Oona sometimes used Stinkly as a paranormal barometer to confirm when something seemed to be about them. When she judged by Stinkly, it often conflicted with her own self-deception that assured her all was okay. The end result was confusion and a bipolar indecision, with a mind so cluttered that Oona’s poor judgment and lack of wisdom the past few weeks had been noticed by nearly everyone, and included herself.

“Is it my mind?” Oona asked herself in the mirror. “Am I no longer the witch I once was?” The metaphysicist carefully considered the possibilities. “Have I brought on an evil Loa through my ontology practice or through one of the séances I have held for Andrew?” Was it my drunkenness, or my stresses? The good witch was clearly pre-occupied with a host of things. She was intoxicated with sex, even more than usual, and those distractions along with the relocation and her new role, and her old friends. These days everything seemed to smother her. “Erzulie: Please have mercy. I need your help and the help of your loyal servant, ma Mamie.” Oona’s legitimate distractions and her many competing interests overwhelmed her and caused her to overlook most of what went on under her very nose. She was kept off balance.

Was the vision of Pi Gran Liv on Halloween a figment of my imagination?” she asked herself. “My strength and now my beauty have left me,” she droned. “I beg you to have mercy and restore my vigor, beloved Loa. By each day, it seems, my hair, my face, grow tired, as do my eyes, body, and spirit. “I feel I have lost my touch, my natural attractiveness, and forced to trust spells for my essential trysts.”

Oona did not know the source but she returned over and over again to the possibility that young Thankful knew more about the things which now affected Oona’s state of affairs. She is likely up to something. “Is Thankful up to something?” she asked herself. She could not share any such thoughts with KC, for fear of eviction for “corrupting” her daughter. Is it self-deceptive to see the girl as just a curious and playful kid?

Though she was still quite young, one day Thankful would be a great witch. Of that Oona had no doubt, with or without her guidance and instruction. And along with whatever self-deception there really was within her, Oona could not deny that a certain pall hung over the house, something that was not normal. That there was a mystical presence of some kind in their house, Oona’s convenient denials remained in the swirl of all her other distractions. She was ultimately dismissive of Thankful, given her young age and their trust in each other.

Oona’s prized Gran Liv had been a source of great strength and ever-increased knowledge. Gran Liv had changed over the past few weeks, irrespective of whatever happened on Halloween. The child-witch was clearly not ready to be the Guardian of the Great Book and could in no way wrest guardianship from her. Still it seemed Pi Gran Liv no longer loved her, that it no longer cooperated with her, and that it no longer told her secrets. Oona’s connection to Gran Liv had never been more remote. “Perhaps Gran Liv is adjusting itself,” she thought, “drawn to its new surroundings and new life forms in its proximity, and including the gifted ones, both Thankful and Louis, though only the child-witch may touch the Great Book.” Oona’s fear since Halloween had been that Thankful had courted her cherished book of magic.

“I know every page of Gran Liv,” Oona said many times. “I know what it is and what it is not. I understand Gran Liv. I know its personality. And yet it is as if I do not know it at all.”

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