He starts quietly, “Let me tell you a story instead. This story begins a long, long time ago in the village of Salem. Have you heard of this village?”
I nod my head yes, my mouth still chewing. I want to remind him this is the place he joked he used to live in somewhere in the sixteen hundreds, but I feel too self-conscious to talk with my mouth full.
He continues, “It started so innocently. A small group of girls from Salem was playing with the idea of witchcraft, playing around with naive divination. Then one of the girls started feeling guilty, so she imagined she was really being possessed by an evil being. This was brought to the attention of the village council, but neither one of the girls obviously wanted to confess. However, as it progressed, each girl had no choice but to point out the witches who supposedly possessed them and told them to perform these hideous acts of fainting and dancing in the woods at night. They picked someone they did not like, someone they had an altercation with at one point or another. They accused innocent women of being witches and then panic and fear spread throughout the village like a wildfire. People were pointing fingers at each other and soon half the village was locked up in jail or being sent away to go on trial in bigger towns and cities. Nine women accused of being witches were eventually burned in the village of Salem.”
I turn to him until I am sitting sideways on the swing. He stops the motion of swinging as I pull my knees up onto the swing and fold my arms around my legs. I rest my chin on my knees. He smiles affectionately, as if he recognizes this is a comfortable position for me, especially when I am mesmerized in something. There is no way he knows though. It is impossible.
He continues while he looks at me, his green eyes smiling amused, while his face remains serious, “There was this girl, let’s call her Heather.” He smiles apprehensively.
I smile acceptingly. “Sounds like a good name.”
“And two brothers, let’s call them Kevin and John.”
“No. Not John, my dad’s name is John.”
“Okay, we’ll call him James. Heather was also one of the girls playing with divination and unbeknown to her when she pointed out the old woman who allegedly possessed her, she never knew this old woman actually was a witch. As the old woman burned at the stake, she started talking in a strange voice. The wind came up, the clouds gathered ominously in the sky and lightning crackled on the outskirts of the village. A whirlwind twirled around Heather as she stood in the crowd around the burning stake. It pulled her hair up and away from her face. Kevin was standing next to her and he actually saw Heather levitate momentarily before she collapsed onto the ground.”
He looks at me anxiously and I motion for him to carry on. “Go on. Don’t stop.”
“Now, Heather was engaged to James—deeply in love. They were due to get married in a fortnight from the night the witch accused by Heather was burned at the stake. The old witch cursed Kevin, James, and Heather. She made Kevin fall in love with Heather, with an all-encompassing love, which will last many centuries. However, Heather was in love with James at the time, and James was deeply in love with Heather. Because both the brothers now loved Heather, the old witch made it so that Heather will have to choose between the two of them. However, should she choose Kevin, she will die and then her soul will be recycled, while the two brothers remain immortal, waiting for Heather to return. If she chooses her true love, James, the curse will be broken. Kevin, though, does not want her to choose James, because the love he has for her burns within his soul, so he always manages to make Heather choose him, hoping beyond reason they would be able to break the curse.”
He stops talking and I look at him astonished. “Wow, is that true? I bet you saw it in a movie, we should watch it.
He turns toward me, smiling sadly.
I insist, “Although that is a very interesting and sad story, it still does not explain what happened earlier today.”
“It is getting dark and we should probably be going in. There is a chill in the air.”
As he says the words, I feel suddenly cold. I move my legs away from me and I put them on the ground, my knees feel stiff from being pulled up so long.
I stand up tentatively, and Kieran holds onto my elbow. I turn to him and he is standing very close to me. I say insistent, “I am not going to let you get away with not telling me what happened today.”
He laughs softly, deep in his throat. “I promise I’ll tell you what I can.”
I lean into him. “You only intrigue me even more.” I do not know if it is the twilight glow from the setting sun surrounding us, or if it is the story of everlasting love he told me, but something makes me lean into him even more. I brush my lips against his. He feels warm and safe.
I stand there looking up into his eyes and they are solemn and serious. I wonder why he looks so sad. As his arms come up and his hands wrap around my upper arms, I lift my hands slowly and put my palms against his firm chest. His arms slide around my waist and he pulls me into him gradually. He brings his head closer to mine and then he touches my lips with his. Feather soft at first, but then his kiss becomes more insistent and firm.
I succumb until I feel a persistent pushing and prodding against me. I open my eyes and it seems as if the entire back garden is filled with a dark, hazy fog. It does not feel like innocent mist though, it feels evil and I begin to feel frightened.
Moving away from Kieran hurriedly, the shadows around us melt. The dark gloominess remains around the boundary of the garden though, just hanging there. It looks as if it is alive, as it swells and withdraws like something breathing. Worriedly I consider I should go to an optometrist because there might be something wrong with my eyes.
I say nervously, “I better get home, it’s getting late.”