Thrown from her stride, off balance and enraged Oona was visibly rattled and she solidly cursed Lucia. Just when she had felt somewhat relieved; now, another strike was directed squarely against her. By the time Christmas morning arrived, Oona’s clothes were strewn all about the house. KC sat on the couch in the family room where Oona observed their once comely tree doused with hideous woolen strings and cords; ribbons and long linen threads.
“Look at this!” she said to Oona. “Everything’s twisted with strange knots; yarn with strange knots, strange cords and strange knots, and even Thankful’s clothes found over there (she pointed) with peculiar knots. On Christmas morning!” And though smaller than those of years past, KC regarded the tree that once stood proudly and big enough to shout: “Merry Christmas!” to anyone who saw it.
“Now the contents of this house are all in disarray,” KC continued. “There are inexplicable noises. The house is shaken by her.”
“I am unable to forcefully act,” Oona admitted. “Somehow I manage to cling onto Gran Liv as I stand morbidly at the edge of a dark and bottomless abyss. While I continue to plan her defeat, it is time for drastic measures,” Oona declared.
“Thankful should stay with Frank and Cathy,” she said. Oona was sure that KC would not object. At this point the child must go into hiding. “Gran Liv is exposed as well, and I am not sure if it can be taken to a safer place. I just do not know right now.” Slowly Oona made sense of the unfolding story.
“The reasons behind this haunting are now known. Thankful, your child-witch, is the timely key for bringing Lucia forth.”
Oona and KC sat quietly now, surrounded by faint sounds of doors that opened and closed of their own volition. It was not even 6AM. The kids were still upstairs, making some noise on their own.
“Their hearts will be broken when they see this,” KC remarked. “There were those knots on my apron,” she said.
“When?” Oona asked.
“It was Thanksgiving. I thought I said something. Maybe I just imaged it.” KC was downcast. Despondent. She swallowed and, with her eyes she motioned for Oona to follow her upstairs, presumably to check on the kids.
Once the five of them were in the master suite the mood was tense with a façade of peacefulness. The moment seemed right for Oona to recount their present-day world back to the time of the Salem witches.
“The Dark Witch died on the gallows over three hundred years ago, at the hands of those who knew her evil doings, those who Lucia vowed to destroy. Even under the most severe forms of torture, Lucia never admitted to her prized “Great Book,” the very Gran Liv of my now-troubled Guardianship. The Book’s location was taken to the grave with her and eventually found by a worthy successor. On her dying lips, as she drew her last breath at the end of the hangman’s noose, Lucia recited a passage from her Great Book which vowed her inevitable return.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Witches are a small community with a great deal of past times to share. For better or worse, Lucia is a legend.” Oona winked a tired wink and sat on the corner of KC’s bed. “When she went to her death it is said she uttered a Final Spell for the Devil which, she hoped, would bring her back to the land of the living once she was reunited with her Great Book.” Oona was greatly troubled by this; yet so fascinated by the story. “So Lucia’s story seemingly ended months before the Witch frenzy, long before the first official witch hanging, later in 1692.” With loving eyes, Oona continued, “Your family history, KC, is linked to our current challenges. Thankful is not the only witch in your family. There was a descendant of yours, a Goodberry, who was one of Lucia’s many tormentors.” Oona gave those words a moment to be absorbed by her audience. “More research is required.” Oona was clad in loose and comfortable night ware, and though drawn and tired, was thoroughly engaged. “At a time of her choosing, Lucia will terrorize on an even grander scale. And if she has truly returned, then it was not by the way in which she first entered this world.” For that moment, the witch Oona looked deeply into KC’s soul. She was heartbroken with all that had happened and was still happening around her. As gently as she could Oona said, “KC: If you and the children are indeed descendants of one of Lucia’s many tormentors, you are at great risk. Lucia’s return would haunt their neighborhoods, and harm their progeny in and around Boston, and beyond. Beware descendants of Lucia’s tormentors. And unless she is obliterated, Lucia will only get stronger and go about in her vengeful ways.”
“How could all this just come about?” KC looked distraught. “It’s beyond belief!”
“Lucia’s Great Book is Pi Gran Liv Maji. Be sure of it!” And to what extent was my relocation to Massachusetts predetermined? Oona paused. Was it all the work of the devil? “It all makes sense!” she declared. “The three pieces of the puzzle are now married. Lucia’s appearance, here and now, is made possible by the convergence of critical factors. Lucia needed the Great Book to return from the devil. I brought Gran Liv onto the intimate soil of Massachusetts when I arrived here, and where a willing, if misguided, accomplice, Thankful, practiced her magic alongside the Great Book of Lucia’s secrets; none other than Pi Gran Liv Maji. And the place for Lucia’s dark magic is my very room.
“And with Gran Liv as the spark, and over three hundred years after her death on the gallows, it has set Lucia’s spirit on fire. She is surely engulfed with the deadly flames of vengeance.”
“You frighten me,” Thankful said. Nearby the boys were huddled together.
“There is more to say,” sighed Oona. “We know only a witch may touch Gran Liv and Thankful certainly filled that purpose. She has helped Lucia open her eyes, but it is only the devil who can hurl a witch out of hell.”
“That book of yours is cursed!” KC asserted. “This whole family is cursed!”
“No. I know some history here, though still not enough.” Oona paused. “Gran Liv usually passes peaceably from one Guardian to a deserving successor. Until such time as a Guardian is willing to relinquish the Great Book, most witches would never dream to share it. Through the ages there were a few witches who harbored malice toward a Guardian. All covet Gran Liv but few would assiduously conspire to take it.
“Much of Gran Liv is a compilation of spells, charms and curses of its past Guardians, mistresses always, and sometimes great priestesses of the Black Arts. Theirs is almost always in partnership with the Book, which over time evolves full circle, though without preordained stewardship periods. Possession periods for Guardians are typically stable until such time as the partnership is irrevocably frayed. When sudden death or open conflict prevailed, then the disposition of Gran Liv became an open question, unsettled business. Then Gran Liv itself could influence such transitions, even ‘play favorites.’
“Gran Liv knows its witches, all its admiring subjects, and builds relationships of love and co-dependencies. Gran Liv works with all heiresses, whether it passes in smooth or troubled succession. A qualified successor will learn its secrets as she uses it. Gran Liv has the power to attract and influence witches and, while most part in death, a few are retained for as long as desired.
“I fear I stand at that precipice. I am vulnerable. My strength had been sapped and even stolen from me.” Though improved since she retrieved her dress, Oona was continually in exhaustive conflict with the Dark Witch. ’Even now, with my dress back from the grave, returned, in hand and clean, my strength returns rather slowly, if at all. Killing the python exhausted me. In normal times, I would quickly replenish from the feat.”
There were pranks every day right through the holidays. Every day the residents were reminded of her presence. Trunks, drawers, boxes, and closets were intermittently emptied of their contents, and scattered about the floors and hallways of the house, and in the oddest of places. The house was increasingly unsettled. Pillows were pulled from under their heads, blankets were cast off their bodies, and flying objects, even small stones from time to time, bombarded the rooms and the Christmas tree. On New Year’s Eve, KC was smacked with bed clothes formed in the shape of a corpse. Oona’s twenty-ninth birthday arrived the next day and the boys joined Thankful with Little Andrew and his parents.
The month moved along and the kids remained with Frank’s family. The circumstances of her revolving family were best left to the neighbors’ wild imaginations. KC avoided them as best as she could; would wave from a distance or say a quick word of kindness or encouragement.
As the spring semester approached, KC’s attention made room for Trixi whose arrival in Boston quickly pivoted to Westbridge for the weekend before school. Once she landed in Boston, Trix had very purposely “popped back” to see Oona. The co-ed was broadly welcomed back by everyone. And once the three women caught up on the dark events since Christmastime, they vowed peace among them and agreed to do what they could to resist and ultimately defeat the witch Lucia. Trixi noticed how Oona looked at KC with adoring eyes.
It was very late, when Trixi quietly entered Oona’s room. She could not help herself. But Oona was exasperated and inconsolable.
“With each passing moment and each material encounter the Dark Witch grows more substantial and stronger than before.” Oona’s drive and usual brilliance were thoroughly exhausted. She was helpless, and clung to her seemingly unfaithful Gran Liv.
“I want to make love,” said Trixi. She embraced Oona and managed to slide in a single digit to gauge her reaction. Within seconds Trixi aroused the tight bundled knot of Oona’s glans. How she starved for Oona, and especially so since the last time she returned to Holland.
When they were through, Oona rather coolly decided to go out and visit “friends.” She needed to get out of the house. Even if it were just for a few hours, she needed to take a break. And while there was no explicit invitation for Trixi to join her, the Dutch girl convinced Oona to save a cab ride. They would use her rental (and thereby keep herself within easy reach of her obsession).
Oona felt she had simply been outclassed by Lucia and ineffective in deflecting even the mild terrors and inconveniences of her. Every ounce of strength Oona possessed was needed to preserve herself and her connection to Gran Liv. It was a labor of lost love for her, but Oona unremittingly clung onto Pi Gran Liv, and in doing so, kept it away from the prying cold, ghostly fingers of Lucia. Oona avoided anything that could wait, and allowed herself to recover strength and renew her powers. Oona took no new appointments or any new professional commitments. She was home bound, the devoted one who would risk all for the one she loved. Oona feared this was her only defense against the Dark Witch; Lucia was otherwise free to frolic about.