The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 33

A deeply conflicted KC randomly pulled out an apron from a kitchen drawer. It was nearly time for the family’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, an annual stay-at-home tradition which even his death could not change. KC noticed the strings on her apron were oddly knotted. Her first thought was to just replace it with another. Kids playing. But before she did, KC observed six very strange knots on those apron strings. KC didn’t know exactly where to start but she needed to confront Oona. The séances had brought only grief upon them and doubts of how well she really knew the woman. There were so many things about Oona now which made her unwelcome. Could KC trust her; should she fear her? Where would she start? Let’s get through dinner first.

Frank, Cathy, and Little Andrew were expected shortly, and the kitchen was already crowded with the kids and with Oona. Though quite different than years’ past, the day would still be special. In addition to Alexi, who had been seeing more of Oona and would not be at the dinner table, the most notably absent person was KC’s husband. Andrew would not be at the table this year or any year. And in his place, there was Oona, only Oona.

Oona loved to cook. Though visibly worn and wounded, Oona carried on in a pleasant way with a variety of kitchen tasks. Today Oona was just a simple nanny. Her quixotic pursuit of KC was a commitment stronger than to anything she had ever committed, and was expressed now by the devotion and hard work for her adopted family. Oona took those duties most seriously for the moment, and with resolve she was committed to make certain changes to her routines. In better times, the powerful enchantress could summon the spirits at her behest or, for that matter, could “call for the wind and the clouds to battle in the sky.” But all the mundane duties of caring for the house and kids simply had to be assigned to another person.

The area swarmed with activity. As if her head were in a cloud – not a dense and stifling cloud, but aromatic and soothing – Oona became completely unfocused.

An evil descended on the house poised to smother them all. The powerful presence of Lucia would have otherwise been felt by her, had she not been affected by the Spell of the Dead, sometimes called the Dance of the Dead, which continued to diminish Oona’s strength, powers, and judgment.

The day seemed to move very slowly. Oona’s mind was awash with pent up anger. In close proximity, KC quietly struggled with the continued presence of the witch-nanny, though she managed to keep an agreeable face. For now and for the sake of her guests and family, KC put her conflicts aside.

So freely allowed into her home.

This day there were only eight for Thanksgiving dinner: KC and her children, Oona, Cathy and Frank, and Little Andrew. In mid-afternoon, and under a pleasant mixture of natural and artificial light, everyone took their seats at the long, rectangular hardwood table and devoured a terrific turkey with all the fixings. Conversation came easy and it seemed that everyone delighted in the company of one another, all under the watchful eyes of those dark figures from past centuries who adorned the dining room walls.

KC quietly regarded Oona as she was, as always, the center of attention. There was so much that needed to be said and questions which needed to be asked. Still she muzzled herself and planned to have the conversation or more likely, the confrontation, once things had settled down, and the unenviable tasks of clean up and reorientation were completed.

That time came around nine o’clock; Cathy and Frank departed and the kids were occupied. KC could not help but see Oona through an entirely different lens, ever since the last séance, and even before. Now she needed to know the truth. The two retired to the study and KC closed the door behind her. Oona carried a glass of red wine in her hand.

“Come here, ma chère,” Oona motioned as she took a familiar place on the love seat near the fireplace. “Please, let us enjoy the holiday.”

“Did you kill my husband?” KC suddenly and shockingly asked.

Oona was shocked by the question and she said nothing in reply. It was as if she were suddenly pulled from a haze from which she could not possibly discriminate. Oona still said nothing.

“Did you?” KC demanded.

“I had nothing to do with his death!” Oona finally said. “Nothing! How dare you say such a thing?” Obviously hurt, Oona added, “How could you?”

“How could I? With the horrible things you’ve conjured up; the images of that horrible plane crash, that look of perverted pleasure on your face – all the contentment on your sick and disgusting face?”

“I love you,” she said. “I loved your husband. I could never do such a thing to someone I loved.”

“And you’re telling me the truth?”

“Of course ma chère. I seized the opportunity to be at your side in your time of grief because I love you. I love you…completely. And I had nothing to do with Andrew’s death. I swear it!”

“An opportunity. Then that’s all it was. Then why show me those disgusting memories, those gruesome images? Why subject all of us to all of those horrible things?”

“You, not me, wanted the séances,” Oona said strongly. “You asked for all of them. And you asked me again and again. I did only what you asked me to do.” She took a deep breath. “A séance with a Group of Six is a very powerful medium, of which I am but one part.” While Oona was not entirely complete with her version of events, she was sufficiently truthful if not entirety so. “And the strange events following such spiritual outreach are unpredictable and oftentimes unpleasant.”

KC stared at her nanny. She pressed on. “You seem different. Weird.”

“I am still myself, I assure you ma chère.”

“Then what’s wrong with you?” KC shouted. “You are not the same person I knew!”

“I assure you I am. And be careful not to disturb the children?”

“Are you kidding? Disturbing the children, coming from your mouth?”

Oona smiled and considered a wink, then thought better of it.

“You’re distant. You’re not the same person who moved here last month. And I’m not even sure I liked that person either.”

“If you must know, the house-nanny thing is just not working out for me. I have doubts, KC. This may have been a mistake.” For the moment, Oona found sure footing. “The drink-driving thing does not help, having lost my license. I have a lack of privacy and, concerning Alexi, it troubles me that you will not accept her.” Oona squarely looked on at KC who was speechless. “I work very hard to help with the house and the kids, but it is that and other ‘stuff’ that bothers me so much, and so increasingly so since Halloween-time. And for that I am truly sorry.” Then with an uncharacteristic awkwardness, Oona added, “With things here at home as they are, I have been thinking about this for some time.”

“Thinking about it?” cried KC. “Thinking about it! You think I’m stupid? You’ve been seducing your ‘job candidates’ for over two weeks, and with the kids in the house! You think they don’t talk? How could you? Weren’t the construction crew enough for you?”

“I believe you are jealous ma chère. Are you not?” Oona felt much stronger now, combative. “The nanny-search and ‘seizures’ will continue.” She laughed.

“You’re incorrigible!”

“I think I may hire Alexi.” Oona smiled her smile, rose and started to saunter away.

There is trouble in Paradise.

“You will not!” thundered KC.

“Of course not! I would never do that. I know how you feel about Lexi. And I am sorry for hurting you.” Her eyes were sincere if clouded with drink and mental disarray. “And I do want things to work for us.”

And with an opportunity to end on a more positive note, KC, issued a reciprocal apology, and said with some reservation, “Trixi is finally coming this weekend. Let’s make it a pleasant time for everyone.”

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