The second witch came by it naturally. She learned to garden from her grandmother and learned to cast spells from the wife of her father’s uncle—her Aunt Sally.
She was also called, after a while, Aunt Sally, and later there was some confusion about whether they were the same woman. They were not even blood relatives, but the younger Sally would often look down at her own hands and know they would knot, the veins rope, the plump flesh sink in, because she had seen it happen to her father’s Aunt Sally.
The second witch lived in a trailer out at the end of Bells Bend. An old magnolia sat in the front yard and the driveway made a lazy curve from the road, back behind the trailer, and back to the road. A row of hedges ran along the driveway. They must have stood ten feet tall and they separated her ordinary work from her garden.
Her garden was enormous, full of plants that, when harvested by the light of a full moon, could heal you, and different plants that, when harvested when there was no moon, could kill you. In the middle of the garden was a large grassy circle.
She imagined that, if she had a coven, this is where they would have met to dance naked, if witches even danced naked anymore or ever.
I often joke about being ruined, simply ruined, by Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Where is my snarky, experienced, scholarly, bad-assed rogue, world? Where? I think a lot of women my age who like boys were pretty fundamentally shaped by those two archetypes. So, I kind of buy this idea that boys my age might have learned something about fathers who can’t cut it for you from Star Wars.
I definitely think we have better fathers as a proportion of the population of fathers now than we had when I was growing up. I don’t know if Star Wars is responsible, but I also don’t know how to completely account for it. In some ways, I credit divorce–not just are you better off and more likely to be happy not being stuck in a shitty marriage, but I think a lot of our fathers learned they could do things they’d been foisting off on women and we learned from them all kinds of new ways for dads to be happy in the world. But that doesn’t seem like it can be all of it.
The dog is getting boney in her old age. Her ribs sit right under the surface of her chest. The meat along her back has deteriorated and her spine sticks up like some fresh mountain range. Her round hips are now full of cliffs and hard edges. She’s eating fine and is in good spirits. This weekend, she spent a great deal of time under the privet, digging around, playing happily, which she hasn’t done in ages.
Still, I find her more often just standing in the yard, doing nothing–not staring, not sniffing–just, almost, like she’s waiting.
Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a dream that didn’t seem like a dream. I was walking Mrs. Wigglebottom down a hall. The hall had wooden paneling, but grass and dirt instead of a floor. And Hel came down the hall toward us, wearing a large, gray robe that hid her from view. I held out Mrs. Wigglebottom’s leash to her and she reached out with her skeleton hand, and took it. They then walked happily off together, like I’ve seen the dog walk beside my parents or the Professor or anyone she knows and trusts. She didn’t even look back.
And it’s upsetting, now, to recount it. But in the dream, I was happy for her, watching her go off with a friend. And it seemed so real that I was surprised when I woke up and found her snoring away, curled up next to me.