The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
The Witch’s Kiss
Light crept in – she had been dreaming. Her eyeballs looked: cream coloured walls, bare as they were and the clock. Instant coffee, the 7.43 to Baker Street, the astrology section in the metro – it was Thursday morning.
Her train sped through a black tunnel. Thoughts and torment, caffeine – wearing off, she reflected on childhood memories, hoping to feel a kind of hope. One memory emerged: playing cards, watching flowers, the enormous sky, trees like towers. A girl was sitting by her. A sense of love she felt for her, long and lost. The girl – her eyes were keen, she laughed, alive. ‘One day you and I will make flowers grow. Everything is moving together!’
She often thought about the past. It seemed unreal to her now but she had once been a child. She used to live in the country – Cumbria, midlands. Spring – her favourite, mud and mess, she remembered.
‘Look at all the buds!’
‘Yes, Isabelle,’ Her father would say. ‘They need lots of rain and lots of sunlight.’
‘Lot’s of rain and lot’s of sunlight!’
‘That’s right dear.’
‘Look! A butterfly!’ She chased through reeds, open spaces, muddy marshes. Grass-snakes sleuthed, a gentle breeze, seeds dispersed, she nearly caught it. The mud was thick; she ran fast and with a slide so quick, she fell right in it! – She remembered well.
Her school days too, she often recalled. She used to paint, the art room – her cocoon. Playgrounds bored her, competitions, children falling, puddles, teachers watching. Sometimes she would wander out to feel the sun or the rain.
The train stopped, it started again, chugging. It drew out of the tunnel.
There shone pink sunlight that morning. The skies had been grey for weeks. Her pale legs warmed. Time slowed. Her forehead was wet with sweat, it was not hot though. ‘Everything is moving together!’ she remembered the girl again. The girl, the trees – she saw it clearly now.
The train doors opened, no time for thinking. Moments passed, in front of her –the ticket barrier. Flies towards cow dung, electronic beeps, foreign voices – organised pandemonium – it was hellish. ‘Will these barriers take my soul?’ She wondered, swiping her oyster card and stepping out of that portal.
It was rush hour, Marylebone crawled with bodies bumping, shoving. She inhaled; the air – stuffy, stale, fumy. She stepped down from the stone stair and made her way to the crossing ahead of her. Weaving people, uniformed outfits – suits, leather briefcases, eyes fixed, hunter-gatherers, sidewalk snakes – she passed it all. It was all old now and un-amusing.
She walked to her destination, as if to a secret lover – a mistress, old and bent – she walked to work. Metal doors – grey; they challenged her. ‘I’m no fight; just don’t encourage me. One day I just might, and then that will be it.’ Her footsteps echoed through the corridor, light bulbs – hummed. The elevator was ahead of her, ‘another pawn in this dead end game.’ She pressed the button – it lit up red. The doors slid open.
Standing at the back, Brian, her colleague, smiled. He was vain and boring, like every man in this fucking city.
“Hi,” she responded, turning away from him. She pressed ‘2’.
“Ready for the meeting today?” He asked, eyebrows raised.
“I’m not going to the meeting.”
“Do you ever get that thing, when you act differently around people, for some reason?”
The doors opened. Isabelle got out.
She walked into the small reception room; plastic flowers in glass vases - the receptionist, clicking the mouse here and there, dates and times, dots and dashes. Isabelle turned left into the main office. Cubicles in rows, three by four - all was square. And on the left there was hers: her destiny, her life’s great work - click and drag, plus and minus, her epic romance.
Her colleagues didn’t look, no subtle smiles, no short waves, a short conversation. No ... all wrapped up in work. Yellow, fake light lit up the place. Her eyes squinted - they would ache at the end of the day. Phones rang, printers printed.
‘We, the workers, we, the free people,’ Isabelle thought, ‘are armed to the teeth with metal machines. Nothing can obstruct us. I am Queen here, and these are all my slaves; one day you will all see. I will claim my ultimate victory and tear my robes down. I will take a dagger and slice my heart open – a sacrifice to this metropolis: London, my city, where homeless lovers beg for heroin, plastic wives blow their bosses: London, my city, where hopeful writers sit in parks, smoke cigarettes and think of shagging friends of friends: London, my city. And there, my crown awaits upon Big Ben. The clock strikes twelve, all hail the great deliverer!’
She sat down and began her work – something was different. What it was, she didn’t know, but something was different – a detail, miniscule. A coffee cup was knocked over, spilling coffee over her desk.
“Shit,” a voice whispered. The desk beside her, normally empty, was now occupied. A woman was there with long dark hair, brittle and coarse here and there. ‘She’s had her fare share of wear and tear,’ Isabelle thought. ‘She is still young though, none the less, like a witch, beautiful clever, but obsessed. She celebrates when weather becomes ruthless and bathes in malevolent yearning. She performs rituals, reaching other worlds, conspiring with banished spirits – ghosts and ghouls, stirring up the old black smoke. Will she get up and cast a ring of fire, chant words that plant seeds of envy and desire, will it come now? I’m ready. I’m ready. Take me.’
“Shit, let me clean this up, sorry,” the woman said. Her hands were scoured but young; they searched around for some tissue or cloth, some paper. She grasped Isabelle’s documents and soaked them in the coffee. Creases formed instantly. Isabelle watched this woman cleaning up, squishing the paper – soggy brown balls, ‘I wonder if they could stick to the walls.’
“You didn’t need those, did you?” The woman asked. She seemed quirky, maybe kind. Isabelle went blank. She felt strange. Déjà vu - something like it washed over, heavy, hollow, like in the train earlier that morning. And that memory came again, crystal, bright; not a dream, not a fantasy – a real, old memory; it was there, in the present, she recalled it clearly. That girl from the memory somehow resembled this woman.
“I guess not.” The woman said, turning away.
‘Drifting off again,’ Isabelle thought, ‘she looks so strange.’
“I’m Isabelle.” She suddenly said.
The woman, turned around.
‘Francesca,’ thought Isabelle, ‘Francesca the deliverer, a martyr, lost and noble. Drifting off again, she makes my thoughts sink, I swear.’
Both were silent for a moment, thinking of a topic to start some dialogue, but neither did.
Isabelle continued her work. Excel sheets, clicking dragging...
“How long have you been here?” Francesca suddenly asked.
On the train, Isabelle thought about Francesca. She wanted to know this woman.
Her mind then went all coloured, impulsive, real, flowing from one thing and to the next. The months behind her – the months of nothing began to fade, but never did they cease to exist. The emptiness – real, clearer now than before lingered above her always, like a ghost haunting forever.
She arrived home.
She painted. Many months an empty canvas, never touched, virgin – incorrupt, begged to be shown the ways of love. Empty spaces, patchy backgrounds... She painted.
The evening passed. Her eyes were tired. She went to bed, dosed and wondered. ‘What is Francesca doing now? Is she in the shower, washing away the day’s thoughts. She seemed sad. Does she love?’
‘I will see her today, and today I will find out if she loves. I will find out if she is like me, a Queen. I will find out if she is haunted like me. I will fulfil the prophecy.’
She got in to work.
Francesca was pale. Her hair was knotted. She was arguing with her boss. She looked crazy, out of control – he was trying to calm her down.
“Stop packing, sit down!”
Francesca threw her coat over her shoulder. She turned to walk out. Isabelle stood in her way.
“What’s going on?” Isabelle asked.
Francesca looked at her.
Isabelle felt stabbing pains in her stomach. ‘What kind of human is this? She could hit me now. Those flaming eyes, she could bite me now, suck my blood and disappear through unseen walls. Could she love me now? This great obscure woman, could she love us all now? No. She would leave the world. Those flaming eyes, she would let us die.’
Francesca’s face contorted. She looked around the room – everyone watched. “He,” she pointed to her boss, her bony finger trembled, “Yesterday, he tried to fuck me in the bathroom...I’m leaving”
The room was quite, computer fans hummed.
“That’s a lie. She’s crazy!” He shouted.
She walked out and slammed the door. Isabelle looked at him. His sweaty face, his round belly – she felt sick. She stormed out and caught up with her.
The traffic was loud; a heavy breeze blew around their feet. ‘Is this the end of the world?’ Isabelle thought
“Who are you?” Isabelle asked her.
Francesca stepped forward, pushed her face against Isabelle’s lips and kissed her violently. Francesca’s taste was strange and foreign. Isabelle pushed her away; her body was bony but strong, her shoulders were broad. Francesca walked away and vanished into the Underground. Isabelle went back up to the office. She wept behind her computer.
It was just a shock, it did her good. That woman, Francesca apparently, lived now only in Isabelle’s thoughts. She was the girl from that memory – Isabelle knew it. She came to deliver a wake up call, a witch’s kiss, and that was all.
© Richard Melkonian July 2010
richardmelkonian11 at googlemail.com
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