Oona’s sudden departure permitted Lucia new freedoms in the house and encouraged her brazenness. Though the Great Book was with Oona, Lucia continued to draw strength from the child-witch. And while his friend, mentor, and nanny had only been gone for a couple of days, Louis’ suspicions of evil in the house were confirmed. Occurrences now were very much in the open, and obvious. Louis’ outreach to his dad and to Opa now carried a message of urgency.
Thankful’s dabbling had scared the girl to her very core. What was thought to be harmless child’s play at first was not, and the dark lady Lucia had grown steadily stronger since she first appeared.
Lucia had firmly planted her feet at the altar of Gran Liv, though still not in physical possession of it. And while not overtly disturbing the book, the Dark Witch had been assisted by her slave and servant girl, Thankful, who each day had left offerings and nourishment for her lady and mistress.
Now barriers to the Great Book would go the way of the drunken witch Oona. The success of her mission now required that the Great Witch of St. Lucia bond Thankful to her. The girl came to look more like a witch, well beyond her five and a half years.
It seemed perversely normal when Thankful’s medium brown head of hair was transformed into a flame-hair red. On Sunday night, one week since she had banished Oona, KC used every hair coloring remedy known to man and also gallons of foul smelling chemicals on her little girl. It was all to no avail. Though the treatments always seemed to work at first, the flame-red hair quickly returned. KC frantically and fruitlessly tried to return the girl’s hair color in time for school the next morning. With a towel wrapped around Thankful’s head, and her face red with irritation, KC called Oona in her final desperation.
Once she heard Oona’s voice, KC went into a rage. She barked at her former friend: “Fix this curse you vile witch, and then leave us all alone forever!”
“I do not know what you are talking about ma –”
“Her hair is red!” KC roared.
Whose hair? Thankful’s hair?”
“Yes, of course, Thankful’s hair!” KC calmed herself and realized her initial suspicions were untrue. KC knew in her heart Oona would have had nothing to do with Thankful’s hair.
Oona recognized the special significance of such an event. It could be a burden or a distinction, even advancement of some sort. But Oona also sensed that Gran Liv had tricked her; and that behind the now red haired child-witch was an invisible puppet-master who would somehow take command of her great spell book.
“Please let me see her. You may all be in danger.” In spite of her intentions to maintain her ontology practice there, Oona had not returned to Westbridge since her sudden departure. “I shall be right over.”
KC wordlessly ended the call and returned to care for Thankful. She was a mortal mess and her little girl could not attend school in the morning if she still looked as she did. KC left a quick note for Trixi, with whom she had struck an unsteady truce. Trix was devastated when she first heard Oona left, yet devotedly helped with the kids in Oona’s absence. KC crumpled up the note and threw it away. Meaningless.
An hour later Oona appeared in the doorway. She had returned “home.” Alexi, as instructed by Oona, quietly returned to Cambridge. And while she sensed mischief once she entered the house, Oona did not feel Lucia’s spirit. And when at first she saw KC, her heart yearned to step back to happier times, after this briefest of break-ups, and demonstrably rally the child, her mother, and her family. But what her heart wanted was not what her body could do. Then anger set in when Oona recalled her banishment and the shutdown of her budding ontology practice. Oona was smothered in heavy clouds. And after the break up and her erotic stay at Alexi’s house, Oona was weak, confused, and vulnerable.
Early in the morning on Monday, with Thankful at her side in the downstairs suite, Oona started to recite spells from her beloved Gran Liv, and called on her Loas using expressions of love and offerings of perfumes, sweet cakes, jewelry, and finally flowers. Oona beseeched the Great Ones to assist with her requests. The Great Book seemed sluggish, even uncooperative. Still Oona felt the intensity of the magic of Gran Liv in her hands for the first time in weeks. Then, as if by a giant magnet, the book was pulled from her hands and moved through the air of the short open space and into Thankful’s unsuspecting arms.
Clearly not of the same intensity, Oona lumbered and managed to direct Gran Liv through the turbulence to bring back most of the Thankful’s hair color. Then Oona rested on the floor of the family room, totally wasted. There was one streak of red which steadfastly remained.
“Thankful may return to school in a few hours. We may need to explain the streak.” Oona was not sure the color would not return. “Should there be a bad sign, she should stay at home.” Oona sighed weakly. “It is 4AM and I need to rest.”
A few hours later, Oona and Thankful ascended the stairs and joined the others in the kitchen. On entry, Thankful immediately burst into tears.
“I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry,” she cried.
“What are you sorry for?” asked her mother as she took her little girl in her arms.
Thankful held her mom tightly and with an air of exhaustion, she cried:
“I stole Oona’s dress, Mom. I took it,” she confessed. “I stole your dress,” she shrieked for Oona’s ears.
“What?” her mother roared. KC was shocked her daughter would ever steal anything.
“I’m really sorry Oona. Really! I’m sorry to everybody!” Buried in her mother’s bosom, Thankful’s words were riddled with guilt.
Oona struggled to maintain her composure. She was in a paralyzed panic, and exhausted. Her face was blank, expressionless.
“I’m sorry Oona.”
As she continued to embrace Thankful, KC saw how over only a few hours, Oona’s energies had been most visibly consumed. Likely expending great power, Oona restored her daughter and, by extension, defended her whole family. In no small way Oona had delivered them all. She had “sobered up” to the challenge. And for all that, KC was deeply appreciative of the one who had lost considerable luster. Oona’s beauty and possibly even her passion were diminished.
Much to Trixi’s distress, she also noticed the change in Oona. Trixi found it hard to believe Oona was the same person she made such passionate love with only last week. Oona looked totally depleted, old. With some hesitation, Trixi guardedly approached Oona. Then they touched and caressed their shoulders and backs. She secretly channeled Oona her ideal of love and her strong belief that all would be better. “I love you,” she most carefully whispered through her waves of raven-black hair and into Oona’s ear.
A tired Oona was most appreciative and forced a lovely smile. She turned to KC and said, “I cannot leave you now.”
Then as one, KC and the kids all gathered in the family room and huddled. Oona and Trixi followed. KC knew the witch Oona could hear her thoughts, and she thoroughly wished now for a return to a time without magic and terror. There would be no school for Thankful today. Trix would take the boys. How KC wished now she had never allowed Oona to move in.
It was late but it didn’t seem to matter. The kids all sat blank faced with terror, with Trixi and KC at their flanks. Oona was seated nearer to the girl.
Thankful started to reveal her story slowly and very cautiously: the truth about her mischief and finally about her mistress and lady.
From upstairs there came a soft rumbling, clearly discerned. The lights briefly flickered. And though the dark lady was not yet strong enough to fulfill her most ambitious projects, Lucia’s powers clearly flexed beyond Thankful’s bedroom.
“Say the name, child,” Oona begged. “Say the name of the spirit to whom you refer. Say it; say it now.”
“Lucia,” she finally said, and a thunderous clap was heard upstairs. Lights flickered and wall hangings fluttered and, after Thankful shrieked, Oona called for calm. And she reached back to that fleeting image of Lucia, at that moment in time when she bathed luxuriously last week, before her banishment. Oona was shocked though, regrettably, not surprised the spirit’s name was Lucia.
“Hear me witch,” Oona hastily called as she sprang from her seat. She howled the words again. “I shall put you outside of this house. I commit my future, my happiness, and my life if need be, to banish you from this place. I shall defeat your evil purposes, witch, and send you to hell.”
Unmistakably, the house shook. The Evil One conjured bolts of lightning even outside the house and with jolts of thunder.
Oona tightly held Pi Gran Liv in her hands, and softly told her audience, “Or you shall all perish.” Then Oona spoke strange words then finally indicated a plan of sorts to protect everyone, including Thankful, and “banish the witch named Lucia.” Oona vowed, “I shall confront this aberration and put it to rest.” After several incantations and walks around the first floor of the house, Oona was finally ready to climb the stairs. Here the group parted when Trixi left with the boys for school.
Oona hastened their departure and she ultimately led herself, KC, and the child-witch upstairs to Thankful’s bedroom – its door seemed alive – where the girl shrieked in terror and tried to plant her feet in the hallway, firmly and as far away from her door as possible.
Oona calmly walked away from the child’s room and instructed KC to take the girl to the master suite. There she should stay with her mother for at least a few nights, or until her own room was thoroughly cleansed. First Oona would isolate the evil in Thankful’s room and gather her own strength of purpose to cleanse and expiate. Now equipped with the spirit’s name, Oona had no doubt that the spells the demon had cast on her and on Thankful would ultimately be broken.
Thankful was put to bed in KC’s suite, and the two women found places near her where together they would tease out all the tension in the house. KC insisted that their arrangement was only temporary, but conceded that Trixi was already in the process of vacating the house, though the co-ed still needed a plan.
Oona suddenly cast a resounding bellow of strange sounds, loud enough to wake the dead. “No you do not!” she insisted. A confrontation with the Dark Witch Lucia was certain. Oona’s black eyes showed like a shark’s blankness of expression. So as not to be distracted, Oona returned to the hallway and closed the door behind her. KC and Thankful remained behind, and Thankful quietly slept. Her heart felt disclosures and cruel honesty granted the girl rehabilitation and some much needed rest.