Short story by Liana Margiva
His words kept ringing in her ears. Last night, he came to see her friend and
asked her to pass on the message, “I met another woman, and we love each
other, so leave me alone. I don’t care about you. I can’t force myself to love
you only because you love me. I don’t need your love, and I will not be looking
for you, because I don’t have any feelings left for you.”
She tried to fall asleep, but couldn’t close her eyes. It hurt so much. She
didn’t expect such an abrupt end to the relationship, although she had known
for a while that he didn’t care about her. He didn’t spare her. He knew well
that his words would cause her anguish, but he had uttered them anyway.
Emily’s world collapsed. She didn’t know how or why to go on, not while
the cruel words kept scrolling in her memory. Oh, how she wished for Death
to visit her that night, to free her from the choking embrace of her agony,
and take her away to a distant place where pain and tears would no longer
“Oh, Lord, have I sinned that much before you?” she wept, crouched on
the floor, her head resting against the hard wall.
She kept recalling those cuddly little words he used to whisper in her ear,
only now those words were making her soul sore. Those were the words of
pity, not love. She knew it now, having finally learned the truth from the
friend who had related his message to Emily. He, obviously, had called her
many times to say he didn’t love her, but every time he had heard her sad,
tragic voice on the phone and felt her stubborn love, he changed his mind and
uttered the cuddly little words in lieu of the harsh truth. And poor, trusting
Emily would mindlessly take those words and run with them, savor them, and
stash them lovingly in the jewelry box of her mind. Only later did she find out
that all her cherished gold trinkets in that box were worthless brass scrap.
He had offered to remain friends with Emily’s friend. If she wouldn’t
mind, he would still come and visit her sometimes as before. Except now, he
would be bringing his new lady friend along, on the condition that Emily’s
friend never mentioned Emily in front of his new love.
He was burying Emily alive, discarding her like an old, useless household
item, and was asking her friend’s permission to do it. Moreover, he had
the nerve to hint that he wouldn’t mind meeting with Emily on “friendsonly”
terms—that is, if Emily wished. However, she would have to put up
with his new lover and be nice to her!
Pain and hurt were strangling Emily. Her heart ached badly, but even the
most fancy medicines wouldn’t be able to control that pain. She felt completely
disoriented like a little child who suddenly woke up in the middle of
dark woods on a moonless night. Until yesterday, Emily could at least fool
herself. She held hope that things could be fixed between them, and dangled
the nebulous promise of happiness in front of herself. Now, she was deprived
even of this little privilege—to fool herself. He loved the other woman a lot,
perhaps, even as much as Emily loved him!
It was five in the morning when Emily realized she had lost her battle
with insomnia. She decided to take a walk. It was dark, and the streets were
completely deserted. She started down the sidewalk slowly, her head heavy
from lack of sleep, her eyes burning from tears, and the dull needle of pain
jabbing at her heart. She had no idea how far she walked. A new day was
dawning. The sky was taking on lighter shades of blue, and the black city
skyline was now distinctly printed on the heavenly cobalt canvas. Exhausted,
Emily lowered herself on a bench under a sprawling tree and froze, staring
vacantly in front of her.
“Are you all right, child?” a woman’s voice inquired somewhere next to
Emily. Suddenly, Emily felt a hand touch her hair lightly. She started and
turned to the sound of the voice. A gray-haired, stocky old woman was sitting
on the bench next to her. “What’s wrong, dear? You were moaning so
loud, I thought you were in pain. You really shouldn’t be out here alone at
this hour, you never know what might happen,” the old woman continued
softly, peering intently at Emily’s face.
A fresh rush of emotion overcame Emily and she burst into loud sobs.
The old woman moved closer and hugged the crying girl.
“Come, now, child. All will pass, you just wait and see. Believe me, I
know,” the old woman was saying, stroking Emily’s hair. The young woman
shook her head and kept on crying. “Come with me, child, you must calm
down,” the woman said, rising.
“Where?” Emily asked, wiping her tears.
“To my house, right there. I saw you from my window and wondered
who it was at my bench at this early hour. Come, don’t be afraid, I am all
alone in the house.” Emily followed the woman into a tiny, very cozy house.
The woman showed Emily to the kitchen and seated her at the table.
“Have a seat, dear, and come down. When you are my age you’ll understand
that all happiness and pain eventually passes. What is your name?” the
old woman asked.
“Emily,” the girl said.
“And you can call me ‘Granny.’ I am alone. I never had any children, and
my husband passed away several years ago. Now I am waiting to join him. He
was a good man and loved me dearly.”
Granny had a pleasant, kind face, and Emily mellowed as if in the company
of a close and compassionate relative. The old woman placed a small
tray of cookies on the table, poured steaming tea into cups. “Here, have some
tea, child, you’ll feel better,” Granny smiled, placing a cup in front of Emily.
“Thank you...but I doubt anything will make me feel better now,” Emily
“I hate to pry, but do say, child, have you had a death in the family?”
Granny asked, looking Emily squarely in the eye.
“Yes and no,” Emily said, avoiding Granny’s stare.
“I don’t understand,” Granny said with a puzzled look on her face.
“He doesn’t love me, Granny, he doesn’t love me and I have no idea how
to carry on,” Emily finally looked up at Granny.
“Uh-huh. Love is serious business, child. When you stop loving someone,
that’s final,” she uttered pensively. “Would you like a reading?”
“A reading?” Emily exclaimed in bewilderment. “I...I never really
believed in that nonsense.”
“Call it nonsense, call it what you wish,” Granny pursed her lips. “We
shall take a look right now and find out.” She rose from her chair and left the
room only to return in a minute with a stack of Tarot cards in her hand.
Granny laid out the cards and made several manipulations Emily
“You are right, he doesn’t love you. He is seeing two women. One is older
than the other, with short, dark hair, slightly on the plump side. The other is
young, slender, and blond. He is closer to this one, actually. Besides sex, they
also have a business relationship. She brought him much fortune, but he has
already had some problems because of her,” Granny intoned solemnly.
“Hold it, Granny, he said he was in love with one woman only,” Emily
“Naah, he doesn’t love anyone, dear. His is the kind of love dogs have, a mating
instinct. Of course he doesn’t love you, silly, and you are dying for him! What
did he do to deserve your love?” Granny inquired sternly, glaring at Emily.
“How do you know all this?” Emily asked defensively.
“It’s all in the cards. Runs in the family, I guess. My grandmother was a
real expert, passed it on to my mother, and now here I am,” Granny cracked
a tiny sly smile.
“I wonder if...I wonder if I can learn it,” Emily uttered suddenly.
“Why, didn’t you just say you don’t believe in this nonsense?” Granny
gave Emily a wink.
“Could you teach me, please? I really want to learn,” Emily pleaded.
“This is not all I can do,” Granny said suddenly. “I can also, you
know...change things if I don’t like the way they are.”
“Change...things...if you don’t like the way they are?” Emily repeated
slowly, then jumped on her feet and hugged Granny tightly.
“Dear Granny, please, please teach me how! I beg you!” Emily cried out.
“Do you wish he were dead?” Granny asked, peering at Emily intently
as if trying to read her mind.
“No, no! Of course not!” Emily broke her embrace, horrified at the
“I wouldn’t be able to live if he dies.”
“He is already as good as dead for you,” Granny reasoned.
“But that’s different. No, all I want is for him to be lonely, unloved! I
want all the women he desires to turn away from him the way he turned his
back on me!”
“That’s a lot to ask for,” Granny muttered.
“He said he loved me...he was so loving, and attentive, and then he
dropped me like a hot potato. Yesterday, he told my friend he never loved
me, never cared for me. All the words of love he said were out of pity. And
now...now he is in love with another woman and has never been happier.
How could I know that his soul was the color of his eyes—black as pitch dark
night!” Emily’s shoulders began to twitch.
“Come, now, child. Don’t give him credit, he is in love with no one. I
already told you what kind of ‘love’ he worships. He doesn’t deserve a single
tear of yours, a single tiny sigh! Tell me honestly. Do you wish he were
dead?” Granny asked again with grave seriousness.
“No, Granny. Death is not as terrifying as it is portrayed. Life offers
many more frightful things than death,” Emily said soberly.
“Well, I have no heirs to pass my knowledge to. It would be a waste if I
took it all to the grave with me, wouldn’t it? All right, but you’ll have to
write, word for word, all I am about to say,” Granny disappeared into the living
room and soon returned with a notebook and a pen.
“Remember! Word for word!” Granny said sternly, placing the notebook
and pen in front of Emily. Intrigued and terrified, Emily diligently wrote
down, word for word, everything the old woman was saying.
“Now, this is all I know,” the old woman said finally, wiping perspiration
from her forehead. She looked exhausted and pale. “Now you have the
knowledge, you possess the secret. For your own sake, keep it to yourself.
Great disaster will befall you if you don’t.”
“I will kill him, Granny, but not physically, no! He will be wishing for
Death to visit when I am through with him!” Emily’s cheeks were flushed and
her eyes lit up with evil sparkles. “I don’t remember my grandmother, but I
will love you like my very own till the end of my life if the curses work.”
“God bless you, child. The curses will work as long as you believe in them.”
Having parted with the Granny, Emily rushed to her friend’s house. She
was afraid Maria would leave for work before she could talk to her, but, to
her relief, her friend was still home.
“Geez, you are early, girl!” Maria gasped, opening the door. Emily went
into the living room and dropped on the couch, catching her breath.
“I was rushing, hoped to catch you before work,” Emily said.
“You okay after...yesterday?” Maria landed on the couch next to her
“Couldn’t get a wink all night,” Emily sighed, staring at the carpet. “I
have a favor to ask of you. Remember he said he wanted to...you know, stay
friends with you?” Maria nodded, her eyes wide open in bewilderment.
“Anyway, I want you to say yes. Let him come with that—his tramp—to
visit you, all right?”
“You kidding? I can’t stand the bastard! Never liked the type, you know
that,” Maria shook her head indignantly.
“Ple-ease? For me?” Emily gave Maria a begging doggie look.
“I don’t get you, girl,” Maria said reproachfully. “This is absurd, you know.”
“Well, just call him, all right? Invite him over some time this week. I just
want to see what she is like.”
“I still don’t get it, girlfriend. Just forget the jerk, get him out of your
system, he is not worthy of you. He is an empty shell. Take off his expensive
clothes and all the glitter, and the polish is gone,” Maria argued.
“I’ll forget him all right, but later. Meanwhile, please do me this one
favor, Okay? Well, I’d better be going now. You’ll be late for work.” Emily
got up from the couch.
When Emily opened the door of her apartment, she was attacked by the
images of him. He was smiling at her from the photographs, hugging her,
kissing her, and pretending to care. Emily tore the pictures off the walls, the
dresser, and the night stand, and threw them forcefully on the floor. She
found his shirts in the closet and ripped them off the hangers with disgust.
“Jerk! Bastard! You never, never loved me!” cried Emily, assaulting the
expensive fabric with her fingernails.
When the outburst of anger subsided, Emily picked up one of the shirts
from the floor and fell on the couch, burying her face in the fine cotton
which still bore the faint odor of his cologne. She lay face down, motionless,
for a long time, with her eyes closed. How long ago was that night.…
That night. Emily had been at the breakfast table in his kitchen, with a
glass of Pinot Grigio in her fingers. He came over to her side, knelt beside
her, and took her free hand in his.
“Kiss me, Emily,” he said softly. She smiled and bent forward obediently,
reaching for his lips. Their lips touched. A light, tender kiss was a spark
that set them both afire.
He brought his lips to her ear, whispering passionately, “Don’t go, please
stay with me tonight. I want you badly, darling, I am losing my mind!”
Somehow, before that night, Emily hadn’t realized the desire could be put
in so many simple words. Emily blushed and looked at him coyly. His eyes
were pleading. How could she say no? Throughout the entire relationship,
she had never loved or desired him as badly as she did that night. And
then...the phone rang, shuttering the palpable tension in the dimly lit
kitchen. He picked up the cordless from its wall cradle.
“Hello. Who? Yes, she is here. It’s for you, darling,” he handed the
phone to Emily and retreated into the living room courteously.
“Hey, I’ve been waiting for you all night, dammit! Don’t you think you
are a bit late?” Maria’s angry voice rang in the receiver.
“I think I’ll stay here tonight,” Emily said apologetically. She was afraid
of her domineering friend’s straightforwardness sometimes.
“Let me get this straight. You are staying with the guy you barely know,
the one you just met last week? That’s totally insane, girl!”
“You know, I have the weirdest feeling I have loved him all my life. Like
I’ve been waiting for him all along,” Emily said resolutely.
“I got it. Prince Charming. Fine, but don’t you come crying on my shoulder
when he dumps you, okay?” Maria yelled and hung up. What ominous,
outrageous words! Emily’s common sense was shut down. He stood by the
door as if blocking Emily’s possible retreat, resplendent in a stylish, expensive
jogging outfit that emphasized his staggering attractiveness. A hunk.
Retreat was nowhere in Emily’s mind. She was consuming him with her
eyes hungrily, loving every spot, every muscle of his body. She had no idea
she was capable of loving, desiring someone so obliviously, especially if that
someone had just popped up in her life.
That night was special, out of this world, unlike any nights that followed.
It seemed like some powerful, invisible force was pulling them to each other.
He was asking Emily to stay, and that was all she wanted in the entire universe.
Was he faking then, or was he simply burning up with primitive animal
lust? “Doggie love,” Granny had said. Or, perhaps, he was truly in love with
her for that one single night? Whatever it was, he had forgotten it, and
erased that night from his memory. But Emily would never, never forget his
burning lips, or the passionate loving that made her body weightless, the
blissful moments of climax that almost made her faint! He covered her body
with kisses, repeating her name again and again.
“Marco, my love, how will I live without you and yet carry you in my
heart?” sobbed Emily, soaking his shirt with her tears.
She had been so happy with him. She had loved being in love and was
fully confident that the feeling was mutual. Marco was a courteous lover, and
knew all the right moves and hot buttons. Not exactly spoiled by male attention,
Emily savored his civility (a door politely opened for her, a hand properly
extended when she stepped out of the car, etc.), which she was mistakenly
took for signs of true affection.
Oversensitive and cautious, Emily never went out with men if she didn’t
feel genuinely attracted to them and if she didn’t feel the reciprocity.
Unfortunately, once the reciprocity was manifested and became a pattern,
her judgment became fatefully impaired. People who are unable to lie in a
relationship have tunnel vision. For some reason that defies common sense,
they can never fully comprehend, even if someone makes it a lifelong mission
to explain it to them. They cannot understand why the other party
would lie to them and continue to dwell in their realm of blissful ignorance,
oblivious to the truckloads of fraud dumped on their doorstep.
Marco was the direct opposite of Emily. He would normally fancy nine
of ten women he met, but he never stopped there. He would relentlessly pursue
each until she gave in. Quickly bored, he moved on to the next woman.
His handsome, polished, athletic shell contained a soul the size of a peanut,
dwarfed by a humongous ego and petty, vengeful nature. Marco never forgot
an insult; he punished the offenders mercilessly, ruthlessly taking genuine
pleasure in his revenge.
Much as Maria hated the idea, she finally decided to invite Marco and
his new girlfriend over. The woman was a typical young, blonde, blue-eyed,
skinny bimbo with no comprehension of dimensions existing beyond her
realm of partying, fashion magazines, beauty salons, and fancy diets.
Oblivious to Maria’s presence, the lovers were all over each other during the
entire evening, kissing, hugging, and whispering in each other’s ears.
Watching the couple in front of her, Maria had no doubts that had she
left them alone for a couple of minutes, they would have instantly jumped on
the opportunity to make love right there on her couch with all the lights on.
Marco was his usual jerky self. Self-assured and courteous, he seemed completely
obsessed with the blonde as if Emily never existed. Emily showed up
almost immediately after Marco and his girl left, as if she was hiding in the
bushes next to Maria’s driveway waiting for them to take off.
“You think he is in love with her?” asked Emily, hoping for a negative
“I have no clue, girl. Love or no love, they seemed very much involved
with each other. In fact, I was expecting them to make love on the couch
right in front of me,” Maria’s voice was filled with contempt.
Emily paled. Her lips began to quiver. “I have no idea how I am going
to deal with it,” she said almost inaudibly.
“I told you, give it up. Let him go already. He is not coming back to you,
no matter what you do.” Maria touched Emily’s shoulder gently.
“I wish I could,” Emily sighed. “My life won’t be the same without him.
He just won’t leave my heart.”
“Well, bury your heart then, and he’ll be gone,” Maria said.
“I’ll bury it, I’ll try real hard,” Emily said thoughtfully.
Emily spent the rest of the night pouring over the notes she had taken
at Granny’s house. She was facing three days of fasting, the first step to the
mysterious realm of witchcraft. Hunger wasn’t a problem. Every time Emily
went through an emotional meltdown, she’d lose her appetite completely.
She would brave the hunger. Hunger was nothing next to the anguish she
was going through.
Marco, her Marco had dumped her for another woman. Outrageous! He
actually had the nerve to kiss and hug that bimbo, right in front of Maria!
Well, Emily’s time would come. She would make him answer for every kiss
and every hug on Maria’s couch. He’ll regret it bitterly, but it will be too late.
She’ll show him she is capable not only of love, just you wait and see.…
Emily couldn’t fall asleep that night. She took some pills, but the sharp
needle in her heart wouldn’t stop jabbing. At the crack of dawn, Emily got
up and went to work as usual. She put on a white coat, tucked her hair under
a white kerchief and plunged into her favorite routine.
Emily baked cakes. Not the ordinary, boring ones you may find any
weekday on a supermarket shelf, but made-to-order cakes for weddings,
birthdays and other rare and festive occasions. She was a Michelangelo of
baking, as her co-workers called her. Dough was her canvas, and frosting,
chocolate chips, sprinkles, and syrup were her paints. Emily never just
“baked,” she created the sweet masterpieces, pouring her soul into each and
every one of them like a true artist. Birds really “flew” across the turquoise
sky of the glazing, the ocean “breathed,” the flowers “bloomed,” and the
gummy dew drops looked as if they were about to roll off the tender petals
of butter roses.
That day, Emily was withdrawn and somber, avoided conversation, and
explained that she was not feeling well. Hunger crept up on her, getting
stronger with each passing hour. Sweet, appetizing aromas filled the entire
bake shop, threatening to break her resolve. To stifle the sucking feeling in
her stomach, Emily drank water by the gallon. By the end of her shift, she
was almost ready to faint.
When she returned to her apartment, she marched straight into the
kitchen, opened the refrigerator, and began to unload groceries on the
kitchen counter. “Hold it, lady,” Emily said to herself aloud, “you can handle
it, come on!” She put the groceries back in the refrigerator and poured
herself a glass of water. It’s only three days of fasting, Emily reasoned. Then,
once it’s all over with, it will be back to normal life again. I can do it.
She did it. Step One was over. Next, she had to take Step Two, compared
to which three days of hunger were a cakewalk. The thought of the next step
made Emily shiver, but there was no stopping her now. Her biggest fear was
that she’d chicken out and break the sequence, leaving Marco unpunished.
The thought of him carrying on with his playboy lifestyle, while she was agonizing
over the breakup, drove Emily crazy and fueled her resolve.
Somewhere deep inside her, Emily doubted the powers of witchcraft, but she
used all her willpower to kill those doubts, remembering well Rule Number
One laid out by Granny: Where there is no faith, there is no power.
Next Monday night, when the clock struck eleven, Emily left the house.
She had a long way to walk, but she knew she could get to the cemetery
before midnight. Emily knew the town like the back of her hand, having
walked every street and alley during her frequent nocturnal escapades.
The closer she was getting to the old cemetery, the more frightened she
became. Her legs felt heavy as iron and Emily had to make an almost superhuman
effort to move them. She almost chickened out twice, but every time,
the thought of him entertaining some tramp and having a good time that very
minute strengthened her determination and pushed Emily closer and closer
to her destination.
It was a quarter to midnight when Emily reached the wrought iron gate
of the old cemetery. The moon was shining its dim yellowish light upon the
old church by the gate, and as far as the eye could see stood the endless rows
of tombstones like silent guardians of the dead. Her body covered by goosebumps,
Emily started walking among the tombstones, peering at the dates.
She had to find the grave of a man of Marco’s exact age, before midnight. She
was lucky or, perhaps, the dark forces were already at work, steering Emily
towards the inevitable.
CHARLES HUNT, said the inscription above the dates on a massive granite
obelisk. The dates were an exact match. Her hands shaking, Emily fumbled
in her pockets for the candle and a book of matches. She was afraid that
the cool, musty breeze blowing through the cemetery would put out the candle,
but, to her utter surprise and horror, the breeze died instantly at the first
strike of the match. The candle, placed at the bottom of the obelisk, burned
evenly, its flame never flickering as if in a tightly sealed room. Emily knelt by
the candle and began whispering the invocation, word-for-word, just as
Granny taught her:
“I, Emily, have come to thee in the dead of night to break not thy repose,
but to take the oath of a witch. I invoke thee, the forces of darkness, imploring
thee to share thy knowledge, to grant me thy gift of witchcraft. I swear
before thee who dwell in the darkness of the grave that I shall dare not ever
reveal my secret. I have come to thee not with fear in my heart, and I shall
leave without looking back, endowed with the knowledge and power I sought
from thee. I invoke thee, I invoke thee, I invoke thee!”
Emily screamed the last words, waking up the echo which reverberated
in the somber field, bouncing between the tombstones. She closed her eyes
expecting some supernatural effect to occur, but nothing happened, only the
breeze picked up and blew out the candle.
Emily didn’t look back once all the way home, although the temptation
to do so was enormous. Sometimes she heard the shuffling of feet behind
her and imagined an entire crowd of ragged, festering bodies closing in
behind her, their mummified hands reaching out for her. Her heart was
beating like a drum, and her skin was crawling with goosebumps, but Emily
resisted the temptation, knowing that if she looked back even once, the circle
would be broken, and she’d have to start all over. She fell asleep the second
her head touched the pillow, something that very rarely happened to
her before, but her dreams were filled with such horrible nightmares that
she woke up screaming.
The next night as the clock struck midnight, Emily ventured out of the
house again. Only that time, she didn’t have to walk far. That night her destination
was a small garden in the back yard of the building. She was carrying
a paper bag with a kitchen knife and one of Marco’s photographs. Emily
stood behind the tallest tree in the garden, making sure no one could see her
from the windows. She took out a kitchen knife, cut out a rectangular piece
of soil, and placed Marco’s photograph into the “grave.” When all was done
and a large stone was placed on the top of the “grave,” Emily knelt by the
tree and began to whisper the words of the curse:
“I, Emily, am burying not this picture of Marco, but his peace. May his
every dream be filled with horrible nightmares from now on, as long as his
picture is buried...”
Emily finished the curse and returned to her apartment. She slept well
that night, deeply and dreamlessly.
Emily changed. She spent hours studying herself in the mirror, but the
change was not in her appearance. It was somewhere deep inside her, in her
character, her attitude. She started to avoid people, shied conversation.
Maria was her only friend now, and only because Maria didn’t try to get
inside her like the others, didn’t pester her with silly questions.
Every night before going to bed, Emily had her little ritual. She lit five
candles on the floor, placed Marco’s photograph in the middle of the circle,
and intoned the curses:
“May Marco’s every hour be filled with as much pain and suffering as he
brought into my life! May he be rejected by every woman he wants...” She
was committing the man she cherished more than her own life to solitude
Once, on a warm summer day, Emily was walking through the park on
her way home. Suddenly, she saw a young girl on a bench under a sprawling
tree. The girl’s shoulders were twitching, and, although her head was
bent low, Emily could see she was crying. In an instant flashback, Emily
remembered herself, tormented and miserable, on a bench just like that,
crying her eyes out.
“Are you all right, Miss?” Emily settled on the bench next to the young
girl. “Why are you crying?” The girl kept sobbing without paying attention
to Emily’s question. Then, raising her puffy, wet, yet very pretty face, she
looked at the strange woman beside her with such pain in her eyes that
Emily’s heart skipped a beat.
“I am sick. Someone gave me a bad disease.”
You mean...how bad is it?” Emily asked. A crazy, ugly, but extremely
tempting thought suddenly flashing through her mind.
“Real bad...no cure...” the girl’s face became distorted by agony and fear.
“I am doomed!”
“But you are too beautiful and young to die!” Emily exclaimed with feeling.
“There must be something...some kind of cure!”
“They say there are drugs that can prolong life, but they are very expensive.
And I am completely broke,” the girl shook her head bitterly.
The plan suddenly took shape in Emily’s head with crystal clarity. “I can
help you if you help me,” Emily said, moving closer to the girl. “Help me,
and I will give you money to buy the medicine to prolong your life, and then,
who knows? Perhaps, one day there will be a cure!”
The girl looked at Emily as if the strange woman had just told her she
was an alien. “Me? Help you? How?” the girl stared at her in utter bewilderment,
but Emily couldn’t help but notice a sparkle of hope in girl’s eyes.
“I know how you feel, dear. Trust me, I do. You are hurting inside, just
like I am, only for a different reason. Will you help me?” Emily looked at the
“But what could I possibly do to help you?”
“Well, for instance, you could meet a certain man, spend a couple of nights
with him and give him what you have. That’s all. Do that, and I’ll pay for your
treatment. What have you got to lose?” Emily said hotly, her face flushed.
“But this...guy, he’ll be doomed too!” the girl exclaimed, horrified.
“We are all mortal, so every one of us is doomed, technically. I just want
to see him suffer for all the pain I’ve gone through,” Emily uttered bitterly,
They fell silent for a while, deep in their own sad thoughts. “How many
times do I need to meet him?” the girl asked suddenly, breaking the silence.
“Not that many. He will not waste much time on romance, or wine and
dine you, or take you out to shows and stuff. Chances are, he’ll take you to a
bar on the first day, then over a couple of drinks he’ll tell you how gorgeous,
intelligent, and unique you are. Then, if you are mellow enough, he’ll take
you in his expensive car to his big house, show off his wealth, and tempt you
with a promise of it.
“If he hasn’t changed the pattern, he’ll likely beg you to stay the night
because he never ever wanted anyone as badly as you. In the morning, he’ll serve
you coffee and croissants in bed, then tell you he is very, very busy even if it’s the
weekend. On this pretext, he’ll show you out with a promise to call. If you were
really good in bed, he’ll probably use you a couple of more times until he finds
another toy,” Emily paused, then added bitterly, “and this is the man I loved!”
“Do you still love him?” the girl asked. Curiosity returned to her with
the promise of hope.
“Silly, would I go through all this if I didn’t?” Emily laughed.
“Aren’t you afraid of what you are doing? You may start feeling sorry
eventually, but it will already be too late.”
“Perhaps. But I can’t stop now, I just can’t.” Emily swallowed hard.
“You’ll have to dye your hair blond first. He’ll chase after you like a bull after
red cloth. By the way, I am Emily.” Emily smiled.
“And I am Tara,” the girl said, wiping her face with a tissue. “You have a
Hardly had Emily stepped into the hallway of her apartment when her
phone exploded with a high-pitched shriek. “Guess what?” Maria asked mysteriously,
bursting with the news she couldn’t wait to share. “I saw Marco
today! I went to the mall and ran into him in the parking lot. Here comes the
best part: He was not alone!”
“Boy, that’s a surprise,” Emily said with sarcasm.
“Just shut up and let me finish. He was not with the blond! That one was
short, chunky, dark curly hair! Boy, was he happy to see me! The jerk didn’t
know what to do, he pretended he wasn’t with that woman, of course, but I
saw her stop and wait for him while he slowed down and tried to keep a distance.
I have to tell you, he fooled me. I thought he was really into that blond
he brought to my house. He is going through them like socks! I can’t believe
you flipped for this worm!”
“I can’t believe it myself,” Emily sighed.
That night before going to bed, Emily lit five candles on the floor and
took a shopping bag out of the closet. The bag contained a stuffed toy Emily
had bought at a toy store several days ago—a boy with curly dark hair and
dark eyes, just like Marco’s. She placed the doll carefully inside the circle of
light where he usually had Marco’s pictures. In her right hand was a long,
“I, Emily, name this doll Marco. This needle is my heartache. Every time
I pierce this Marco with my needle, my pain will enter the heart of real Marco.
I beg of thee, the forces of darkness, take away Marco’s health! Make him sick,
miserable, and lonely! May he always feel the pain he left in my heart!”
With these words Emily pierced the chest of the doll with her long,
sharp needle. “Marco, you never had a chance to feel your heart before. Now
you will feel the pain and find out where it is,” Emily whispered, five little
candle flames reflecting in her moist eyes.
On Friday night, Emily met Tara in the parking lot next to Marco’s
favorite bar. The young woman wore a sexy, tight black leather skirt and a
thin white cotton sweater. She was not wearing a bra and her small perky
breasts bounced under the thin fabric like rubber balls. She had dyed her hair
strawberry blond, and her lean face with a small chin and delicate nose was
skillfully made up.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” Tara asked nervously.
“Are you scared? Even if you refuse now, I will find someone else.”
“What if he won’t like me?”
“He’ll like you, you are his type. He is a predator, he’ll look at you like
a fox at a plump chicken. Here, take this, put it in your purse.” Emily handed
the girl a black object the size of a lipstick tube.
“What is it?” Tara asked suspiciously, taking a step back.
“A microphone. You will have to keep it with you all the time,” Emily
“You don’t trust me?”
“I just want to hear it. All of it.” Tara shoved the microphone in her
purse, and both women entered the bar through the back door.
The windowless lounge was cast in permanent semi-darkness. Candles
flickered pleasantly under orange shades, mellow, soothing blues was pouring
in through the loudspeakers, creating serene and relaxing ambiance. It
was still early for the Friday night crowd, and the women took a corner
booth from where Emily could observe the front door without being seen.
Some forty minutes passed before Emily saw him. Her body stiffened and
her face turned pale.
“Is that him?” Tara whispered across the table, her eyes on a tall, handsome
middle-aged man in a blue polo shirt and khaki slacks who had just
entered the lounge and headed straight for the bar. His hair was thick, dark,
and curly, his body muscular and lean. Emily nodded, biting her lips.
“I can’t believe this...Lord, help me, give me strength,” Emily said in a
“Listen, Emily, what you want to do is abominable! I need the money
badly, but let’s come up with a different plan. Let me tell him how much you
love him, how deep your feelings are for him! It may work, Emily! You may
get him back. You can’t just throw it all away, there is always a chance!”
“No.” Emily shook her head stubbornly. “I don’t exist for him, I know it
for fact. Now, do we still have a deal?”
“Yes,” Tara muttered. “We have a deal.”
Emily rose and quietly made her way out through the back door. In the
parking lot, she opened her purse and made sure that the red light on the
tape recorder was on.
“Do you like it here?” Marco’s voice asked.
“Yeah, it’s nice and comfy. I like the ambiance. The music and the lighting
are just perfect, it’s like a fairy tale,” Tara’s voice answered.
“Every fairy tale has a king and a queen, a prince and a princess. Have
you met your prince yet?” Marco asked.
“No, haven’t been lucky so far,” Tara giggled. “Princes are an extinct
species these days. You?”
“Me neither,” Marco chuckled. “I’m not too popular with women, I guess.”
“Oh, what if you are wrong? What if there is someone out there who is
madly in love with you?”
“If that someone looked like you, I’d be in Heaven,” Marco said with
“How come I would be so different from others?” Tara queried.
“In your eyes I see Heaven. I haven’t seen that in other women’s eyes.
That’s the difference.”
“Perhaps, if you looked deeper, you might have seen something,” Tara
“Why would I want to think about other women if the most beautiful
girl in the world is sitting next to me? You are not in a rush, are you? It’s a
long night and, who knows, perhaps, the fairy tale will have a happy ending
after all,” Marco’s seductive voice trickled through the speaker.
Her hands shaking, Emily grabbed the tape recorder and tossed it
across the room. She sat in her dark living room for an hour, maybe more,
motionless, her hands clenched into fists. It was well past midnight when
Emily rose from the couch, found the needle and the stuffed doll, and began
to light the candles.
A week later, Emily met with Tara and handed her an envelope and a
small velvet box. “This is a ring he gave me,” Emily said quickly, responding
to a silent question in Tara’s blue eyes. “Take it, I don’t need it anymore.”
Emily’s heart was acting up more and more. She knew she had some kind
of a heart condition even before she had met Marco. Now the pain was
almost constant. The highly combustible mixture of love and hatred for
Marco was fueling her pain. In spite of herself, she was still in love with him
and was powerless to stop it.
Emily also hated herself for what she did with Tara’s help. She loathed
herself for using a desperate, sick girl as a deadly weapon of her vengeance.
Her only consolation became the nightly rituals, the circle of light, the needle
through the “heart” of a stuffed doll. Weeks went by and one night Emily
suddenly decided to change her curse. She didn’t know what possessed her to
do it, the decision came out of the blue.
“Marco, I now change the curse and shall not wish thee harm,” intoned
Emily, swaying slightly back and forth. “I shall commit thee instead to love
me, to long for me, but to never have me. Thou shalt feel the very pain thou
had given me, and that pain shalt be the worst, for no pain is bigger than the
one in the heart of a rejected lover! May this be my last and final punishment
for thee!” Emily pricked her index finger with a needle, smeared a droplet of
blood on her forehead, and continued. “I shall rest now under a seal of blood.
This seal shall seal the curse upon thee, and may thou always be lusting after
me. This shalt be done.”
On the following night, Emily picked up twelve little twigs in the park,
brought them home, and arranged them in the fireplace in the shape of a triangle
with a cross in the middle, chanting:
“Triangle and cross, cross and triangle, I shall cast my misery upon three
corners and four ends. Scatter in all directions and no matter where he is,
find him and make him sad!” Emily set the twigs on fire. “Here comes the
smoke, my dear friend, go fly across the land. Don’t get high and don’t get
stalled, fly and find him in his home. May the sad love ever dwell in his heart,
but never tell any living soul in town what we know and what we’ve done!”
Two months went by. Nothing had changed in Emily’s life, nothing that
could break the routine of going to work and nightly witchcraft rituals. The
pain in Emily’s chest was torturing her, but prescription drugs were not helping
much. Once during a ritual Emily felt strangely lightheaded. The circle
of candles swam in front of her eyes.
“...may he always lust after me,” whispered Emily, trying to chase away
the untimely dizzy spell. “And may the blood-oozing passion forever dwell
in his heart!” Emily’s left shoulder became heavy as if filled with liquid lead.
She took a deep breath and got up from the kneeling position. She managed
to get hold of the door frame when a cold steel hand grabbed her heart and
started squeezing it like an orange...
“Marco, this is Maria.” Maria paused.
“I am all ears, Maria,” Marco’s voice said.
“Marco, you never asked me about what happened to Emily after you
asked me to give her the message. Aren’t you at least curious?” Maria asked
“To be honest with you, I am...I mean, I was. I was meaning to give her
a buzz, you know, but I figured she’d just give me hard time, you know, start
crying and all that, beg me to come back to her.…”
“She never cried, Marco. She just went all white, couldn’t say a word. I
thought she’d drop dead right there on the spot, but she lived. She lived to
go through that night a thousand times over. She was hurting like crazy,
Marco! There was nothing I could do...” Maria’s voice broke. “She died from
her heartache, Marco! Last night. She’ll be taken to the church tonight, the
burial is tomorrow at noon. Are you happy now?” Maria hung up.
Marco’s face fell. That he didn’t expect. That was completely preposterous.
Of course, he knew she loved him! Of course, he knew she was hurting!
An odd, unfamiliar feeling of guilt and sadness crept into Marco’s heart. He
stood there holding a dead phone in his hand, staring blankly at the wall in
front of him.
At dusk, Marco drove to Emily’s church, left the car in a parking lot a
few blocks away, and walked the rest of the distance. He didn’t want anyone
to see him, stare at him, whisper behind his back.
He approached the massive gray stone building from the back and used
the service entrance to get inside. In a darkened corridor leading to the altar,
Marco found a tiny utility closet and hid inside, placing his ear to the door. He
could hear someone’s heavy footsteps on the tile floor. A priest or deacon was
closing up, turning off lights, moving chairs. Finally, the footsteps approached.
Marco heard a cough and shuffling of feet, a door slammed, a key turned
in the lock. He waited for a couple of minutes, listening, then sneaked out of
his hideout and headed for the congregation hall. The church was dark
except for the dim light seeping through the tall stained glass windows and
some flickering light in the hall, beside the altar.
The dark wooden coffin stood on a platform, covered with a white lace
cloth. Four thick white candles were burning at the corners, casting their
flickering orange light upon bunches of fragrant white flowers surrounding
the platform. Marco approached the platform, touched the coffin with his
shaking hand, and ran his fingers along the polished side.
Emily. His Emily. What will she be like now, lifeless and cold? Will she
still have the familiar dismal look on her dead face? Perhaps, he should just
turn around and run away from this mournful place without looking back?
Marco stood by the coffin, clenching his fists until the knuckles went white.
Beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead. Slowly, he reached out for
the coffin and flipped the top open.
Emily was resting on the padded silk in a long pink gown studded with
knitted flowers. Her face was chalk-pale, so pale that even the semi-transparent
pink lipstick seemed bright on her lips. She looked tranquil, completely
relaxed as if she were sleeping peacefully. She was beautiful even in
death, and Marco’s heart suddenly filled with sadness and bitter regret.
“Why, darling, why?” he whispered, touching her cold, stiff cheek. What
a travesty. Only recently he was enjoying the thought of hurting her, hating
her for the annoying habit of crying and the sullen, withdrawn look on her
face every time he followed a passing skirt with his eyes. The enjoyment was
“Emily, darling, why did you believe me?” Marco muttered, holding
Emily’s dead hand. “I thought you stopped taking my words at face value
long time ago! Did you actually believe I fell for that tramp? Hell, no! I made
the whole thing up on purpose just to hurt you!” He squeezed Emily’s hand
tighter, feeling dead iciness of her fingers. “I missed you, Emily. Why don’t
you tell me it’s a lie? It is not. Tonight I will be telling the truth, only truth,
this one time only, but you’ll never hear it. Here it is: I loved you, Emily, I
loved you very much, but eventually my feelings for you went away, and you
just couldn’t put up with it.
“Something was pushing me away from you, your devotion annoyed me!
You couldn’t explain why you kept loving me, you were always sad by my
side, while other women were having fun in my company. I realized that your
sadness was the result of my lack of feelings for you, and I couldn’t make
myself love you just because you did.
“Eventually I started to enjoy hurting you. Often times when I was with
other women, I pictured your face distorted by the pain of seeing me enjoy
their company. I took pleasure in hurting you. When you fell in love with
me, you committed yourself to torment, to death. I bit you like a snake and
you died in agony from the poison. Can you ever forgive me, Emily? God is
my witness, I seek your forgiveness with all my heart!”
When the minister opened the church the next morning, he was shocked
and touched at the same time to find an athletic, well-dressed middle-aged
man kneeling by the coffin, holding the icy hand of the diseased young
woman. The priest helped the man up, offered him water, uttered words of
condolence, but Marco did not respond.
Little by little, the church began to fill with Emily’s relatives and friends.
The service was short, and at noon Emily’s body was put to eternal rest at the
very cemetery she had visited only a few months ago, shaking with fear, to
take a Witch’s Oath. Marco stood at a distance from the crowd of mourners,
watching the coffin disappear into the bottomless pit, listening to the sound
of dirt hitting the top of the wooden box which contained the only person in
the world whose heart was bursting with love and devotion for him.
He recalled Emily’s favorite line from a book she always kept by her side.
“Gone is my love, gone forever. Bound for the eternity of peace, it hid itself
in the depths of the soul, insulted by indifference, so dare not disturb it.
Perhaps, it will gather strength and rise again.”
A slender young woman with dark wavy hair and large turquoise eyes was
there every night. Barefoot, in a long pink dress, the woman was invisible to the
living and could, therefore, pay her frequent visits to Marco’s house unnoticed
by anyone. She would stand at Marco’s bedside, watching him toss and turn.
Sometimes he would get up and massage the left side of his chest, moaning from
dull pain, then reach out for the pills and a glass of water at the bed stand.
Then came the night when sirens blared outside the house and the bedroom
was awash with red and blue flashes. That night people in blue uniforms
entered Marco’s house and ran into the bedroom, carrying a stretcher
and a first aid kit. They went right through the young woman at the bedside,
unaware of her presence. She watched the paramedics perform their routine,
taking blood pressure, asking questions, talking on their radios.
They didn’t take Marco away this time. He refused to go to the hospital;
but they gave him a shot and he soon fell asleep. The mystery woman in pink
dress sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the sleeping man’s handsome
face now slightly distorted by the pain. Boxes and containers of multicolored
pills were lined up on one bed stand, while the other one was adorned by a
large photograph of Emily and some roses in a white porcelain vase.
“Marco?” called the woman softly, touching the man’s hand which was
glued to the left side of his chest. “What is happening to you, Marco?”
“Emily, darling, is that you?” Marco cried out, opening his eyes. “I swear
I heard your voice, but I don’t see you!”
“I am right here, beside you,” Emily said soothingly. “Don’t be afraid,
you are not hallucinating, it is really me. By the way, did you put the flowers
next to my picture just because I am dead?”
“But you are not dead, Emily, right?” Marco was peering into the darkness,
but couldn’t see a thing. “I can hear you, how can you be dead? As for
the flowers, it’s...nothing, really. Are they bothering you?” He reached out
and pushed the vase off the night stand.
“You can’t touch me, Marco,” Emily said, watching the man wave his
hands in the air in a vain attempt to feel her. “You can’t because I am dead.
But you can hear me, and that’s wonderful. It’s amazing. Regular people can’t
hear me even if I yell at the top of my lungs.”
“Emily, I am lonely and I miss you terribly,” Marco said in a thin, teary
voice. “I guess I am dreaming. Thank God for this dream! I am so tired of
“Marco, I tried to forget you, but couldn’t. You lived inside me, in every
cell of my body. I was very hurt when you left me, Marco, and I finally died
from the pain. I am dead now, Marco!”
“Don’t talk like that, Emily!” Marco pleaded. “You are alive, you
couldn’t die, you hear?! I can’t take it anymore!”
“You know, darling,” Emily said suddenly, “I kept your burgundy pajamas.
Burgundy looks so good on you. I wore them every night after you left
me. They smelled so sweetly of your body, your cologne...”
“Emily, please, stop! I don’t want to hear it anymore, you are breaking
my heart!” Marco sobbed, covering his face with his hands.
“Heart...” Emily repeated slowly. “All people have hearts, but sometimes
they forget about this simple anatomical fact. Sooner or later we all
become aware of it, though. When you left me, my heart was hurting.
Physically hurting. I tried doctors, medicines, everything, but you were the
medicine I needed.”
“Will you ever forgive me, Emily?” Marco implored, tears rolling down
“Dead people are forgiving,” Emily said sadly. “They have no choice...
What’s with the medicine over there, are you sick?”
“Sick...yes.” Marco reached for his heart instinctively. “My health...it’s
all gone. But nightmares are really the worst part, Emily. I have them every
night, horrible, despicable phantasms. Black snakes with alligator heads are
chasing me, I try to run away, but somehow they are always only a step
behind me! It’s been going on for several months now, ever since...I don’t
understand it, I was always such a happy camper, full of life and stamina, but
now.… First the attacks started, as if someone was sticking a knife into my
chest, then they went away for a while. Now the pain is back, it’s always
there, ever since...ever since I left you.”
“Oh, darling, what have I done!” Emily felt like crying, but she knew she
“What do you mean, Emily?” Marco stopped sobbing and looked up,
staring into emptiness, a puzzled look on his face.
“It’s so hard to see you suffer like that, Marco! I have been watching you
for many nights now, I see your pain, the agony; I watch you being tortured
in your sleep, weeping, crying out for help.” Emily’s voice broke. “Even in
death I have no peace.”
“And I have been so lonely, Emily,” Marco said coarsely. “When you are
sick no one wants to stick around, people walk away from me as if I have
some horrible, contagious disease!”
“Those who don’t care walk away,” Emily said. “That’s how you figure
out who your true friends are.”
“I know. But people don’t always choose carefully who to push away and
who to buddy with. Sometimes it just happens, and then it is too late to fix.
But you, you are not going to leave me, are you?”
“Unfortunately, it is time for me to go,” Emily said regretfully. “I have
to leave before first light. Why do I always have to part with you?”
“Please don’t go, Emily!” Marco got out of bed and reached out for his
invisible guest. “Don’t leave me!”
“And why not?” Emily smiled. “You left me, didn’t you?
“Emily, Emily, come back!” Marco dashed to the fading sound of Emily’s
voice, but she was no longer in the room. He came up to the window and pulled
up the blinds. It was still dark, but a thin purple stripe on the horizon heralded
the dawning of a new day. Marco looked at the broken vase and the red roses
scattered on the floor, bent over, and picked up a white porcelain fragment. Was
he dreaming? Of course, it was a dream, and Emily was never in the room that
night. But her voice was still ringing in his ears, he could have repeated every
word of the conversation. The terrifying word insanity flashed through his mind.
From that night on, Marco couldn’t get the broken vase out of his mind.
He was getting weaker and weaker, could no longer work, and his heart condition
was progressing rapidly. Doctors failed to diagnose the cause of his
disease, offered no treatment, and advised him to rest as much as possible and
keep taking medicine they knew wouldn’t help. Marco stayed in bed most of
the time now, getting up only to cook a simple meal or select a book from his
library, but couldn’t concentrate on reading. His thoughts inevitably drifted
back to the fateful night, a bodiless voice in the darkness, and the fragments
of a broken vase on the floor.
The young woman slowly walked across the garden in the backyard of
an apartment building. It was full moon and the garden was basking in eerie,
milky light. The trees were casting deep shadows on the trimmed grass, but
the solitary figure in a pink dress did not have a shadow. She kneeled on the
grass next to a tall tree, plunged her hand effortlessly in the soil and retrieved
a rectangular piece of paper which she deposited in her dress pocket before
floating out of the backyard.
The young woman had the ability to transport herself from one place to
another by a sheer concentration of will. All she had to do was to think hard
of a place, picture the surroundings, and some force instantly carried her to
the chosen destination. She entered the house through the closed door and
approached the bed where the sick man was tossing and turning in cold
sweat. He was arching his back and moaned loudly, obviously living through
a dreadful nightmare.
“Marco, darling, wake up,” the young woman said softly, but the man
heard her voice and opened his eyes instantly.
“Emily, sweetheart, is this you?” Marco called, sitting up on the bed.
“Thank God you are back! I thought I was going insane, but somehow I was
expecting you to come back.”
“I have some good news,” Emily said, taking out a faded photograph and
placing it on Marco’s pillow. He watched in utter amazement as the picture
seemed to materialize out of thin air. “No more nightmares from now on.
You see, those nightmares were part of a curse I cast upon you. I used this
picture in the ritual, but the curse would only hold until the picture was
buried. Tonight I unearthed it, so you will be all right now.”
“I remember this one,” Marco said weakly, carefully touching the picture,
afraid that it would disappear on his touch or go up in flames. “You took
this one at the fair when...two weeks before I left you. You were so much in
love with me then.”
“I have always loved you, Marco,” Emily said. “Before and after.”
“Even when you were cursing my picture?” Marco asked with a crooked
“Why would I do it if I didn’t care for you?”
“I don’t know...to spite me, I guess.” Marco started laughing, but winced
and grabbed his heart. “Anyway, I am not mad at you, Emily. I realized I care
too much for you to harbor any bad feelings.”
“What about that...woman?” Emily asked tensely. “The one you abandoned
“I never loved anyone but you,” Marco said seriously. “I wouldn’t lie to
“I still remember the hurt,” Emily whispered. “It was I who ruined your
“Nonsense, I broke up with her myself. Besides, how could you ruin our
relationship if I never saw you again after I left you?” Marco wondered, still
not realizing the absurdity of his question.
“The night after I learned the news from Maria, I decided to kill myself,”
Emily said casually.” But instead I met an old woman, a witch, who taught
me the craft.
“The what? Emily, for the love of God, I dumped the stupid bitch
myself. We had nothing in common, zero, zilch!”
“Nothing in common?” Emily asked angrily. “If I remember correctly,
you asked Maria to tell me that you were in love with her, and that you never,
never loved me! Remember the strawberry bimbo from the bar? I hired her
to sleep with you, to give you a disgusting, deadly disease! She had a transmitter
in her purse and I heard everything. I heard the words you were saying
to her, the sweet fairy-tale with the Princesses and Princes. You were
repeating, word-for-word everything you had told me when we first met. Are
you going to deny it now?”
Marco lowered his eyes and said nothing. He now knew for fact that he
was going crazy, but didn’t have the strength to stop the madness.
“So, to cut a long story short, I became a witch,” Emily concluded bitterly.
“Every night I burned candles and chanted, casting spells on you, sending
disease and loneliness to your home. I was wishing for you to become
rejected by women, I wanted them to turn their backs on you like you turned
yours on myself!”
“Are you happy now?” Marco asked coarsely, without raising his eyes to
her voice. He could not believe what he was hearing.
“Happy? No. How can I be happy? I am dead, Marco.”
“Dead,” Marco repeated contemplatively. “Right. So, what you were
saying here tonight cannot be true . It’s absurd, I don’t believe in this witchcraft
“Do you believe I am dead?” Emily asked, amused.
“I guess...I was at the burial, but...this is totally insane!”
“No, Marco, dear. It is the veritable truth. I became a witch, but only
after you hurt me.” Emily’s voice broke.
“I am sorry, Emily.” Marco reached towards Emily’s voice instinctively,
but his hands found emptiness. “Could we forget about all this? Please?
Could we stop thinking about the past?”
“I no longer have any past, Marco. I dwell in a pastless world,” Emily
“What kind of world is it, Emily?” Marco asked.
“The kind where birds don’t sing and leaves don’t rustle,” Emily said.
“It’s a world of stillness and solitude. But I have no peace because I miss you,
Marco. After all that, I still love you.” She started towards the window, went
through the glass and vanished.
“Emily, Emily, where are you?” It took Marco a few minutes to realize
she had gone. He woke up with a splitting headache, and started pondering
his strange dream. There was no doubt in his mind that it was a dream, no
matter how real it felt. Suddenly a dark rectangular object on his pillow
caught his eye.
Marco reached out and picked up a faded, water-stained photograph. It
was the photograph from his dream! She made this picture appear out of thin
air! He shuddered and dropped the photograph like a poisonous snake.
Marco ran to the phone and hurriedly punched in a number.
“Maria? It’s me, Marco! I am sorry, I know it is very early, but...do you
know something about Emily I don’t?” he asked in a quivering voice.
“Like what?” Maria asked in a sleepy, unpleasant voice. It was five
o’clock in the morning.
“Like...what was she like after we broke up? What was she up to?”
“She is dead, Marco. What difference would it make? Have you been
drinking? Call me at a civilized time if you want to talk,” Maria snapped,
Emily entered her apartment and sneaked into the bedroom. It looked
different now, all furniture had been changed. She moved closer to the large
bed and stood there for a minute or two, looking at a peacefully sleeping couple.
Her sister and her family had moved in soon after Emily passed away.
Smiling, she drifted into the adjacent den which was now used as a second
bedroom. There, her little arms spread wide, her feet tangled in a Disney
sheet, Emily’s two-year-old niece was sleeping like a little angel. Next to the
little girl was a stuffed doll with dark, curly hair. Emily bent over and picked
up the dreadful doll, the object of her nocturnal rituals, the source of many
a curse. An angel girl’s bed was hardly an appropriate place for nasty witchcraft
paraphernalia. The little girl would be missing her doll in the morning,
but her childish grief would be short-lived.
She went back to Marco’s house the following night, holding the doll to
her chest. It was pouring, but the raindrops never touched Emily as if nature
itself was showing its respect for a stray soul lost in oblivion. This time the
man on the bed was not tortured by nightmares. He was sleeping deeply, but
his right hand was still gripping his chest, and a weak moan was escaping his
lips. Emily recalled clearly the delirium of her rituals, the paroxysm of hate
as she had driven the needle deep into the soft entrails of the accursed Marco
doll again, and again, and again.
And now, all curses had come true . Marco was dying, but Emily felt no
pleasure. When alive, her emotions were like a seesaw: hate on one end and
love on the other, jumping crazily up and down, completely out of control.
The new, dead Emily was different. She emerged from the grave a changed
spirit, harboring nothing but love.
“Emily, you are back!” Marco cried out, opening his eyes. “You are quiet,
but somehow I know you are here! I knew I’d see you in my dreams again!”
“Are you still hurting, Marco?” asked Emily in a voice filled with genuine
“Yes, the pain is always there.” Marco pointed at his chest. “But I think
I am getting used to it.”
“Forgive me, Marco, I is all my fault,” Emily said sadly. “I have made
your life hell.”
“Oh, no, Emily!” Marco protested. “You can’t blame yourself for my
sickness. Your witchcraft stories are such silly nonsense!” Emily let go of the
doll and it fell on Marco’s lap, appearing out of thin air, but this time he wasn’t
“Every night I would stick a needle or a pin into this doll’s chest, and as
I did it, you felt a prick of pain in your heart, didn’t you? But then the pain
would be gone instantly, right? That was because I’d take the needle out!”
“But now it hurts all the time.” Marco shook his head in disbelief. “It’s
been like that ever since...oh, God, Emily...ever since they buried you!”
“I know, dear,” Emily said softly. “That’s because I had a heart attack and
didn’t take the pin out. Look closer.” Marco brought the doll to his eyes and
saw a red pinhead. He pulled on the head and the pin came out.
“See?” Marco held up the pin. “It’s out, but the pain is still here!”
“It’s been there too long, Marco,” Emily said contritely. “I am so sorry,
but the thought never occurred to me before tonight. I’d have pulled the
darn thing out long time ago! And now, I am afraid, it’s too late!”
“That means...I am going to die?” Marco asked with childish curiosity as
if they were not talking about his own doom.
“I don’t know! But now I don’t want you to die, I don’t!”
“Well...” Marco crossed his arms on his chest and smiled knowingly.
“That means...we’ll be together again!”
Marco’s funeral was not a popular event. A couple of friends showed up,
but even they didn’t stay through the end of the ceremony. None of Marco’s
former female acquaintances came to see him off to the last journey. Unseen
by the living, Emily stood by the gaping grave, staring dismally at the polished
wooden box which contained the gaunt, yellowed body of her lover.
“Guess who?” she heard the familiar voice behind her, and a hand landed
on her shoulder. “I told you we’d be together, didn’t I?” Emily turned
around. Marco, his tanned face beaming with delight, stepped forward and
pressed Emily to his chest. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him
lightly on his lips.
“Marco, darling, I loved you with all my heart! I knew you were the one
for me, my Prince Charming!” Emily smiled through the tears of joy.
“That’s why I am back,” he said gleefully, stroking her long, wavy hair.
“...In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, take the soul
of your humble servant Marco.…” The words of litany rolled off the priest’s
tongue, and the light summer breeze picked them up and carried across the
vast expanse of the graveyard.
By Liana Margiva.
Translated from Russian by Anatol Kardiukov.
Reader Reviews for
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|Reviewed by Christine Tsen
|So compelling! You had me captivated from the first word to the last!
|Reviewed by JMS Bell
|INTERESTING FICTION...VERY WELL DONE AND IT CERTAINLY HELD MY ATTENTION FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END. ENJOYED AND THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING. LOVE, JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS|
|Reviewed by Inspire Hope
|What a story Liana! very well penned, may the Lord always bless and keep you in His care!
|Reviewed by Gerald Tate
|Written with passion, and with a style that shows me that this author is capable of much greater things.
|Reviewed by Gwendolyn Thomas Gath
Liana thoroughly enjoyed reading the story "The Witch" very well written and constructed.
Have a wonderful day,
|Reviewed by Tommy Thomas
|I enjoyed this story very much. Love follows those who have been smittened, even unto death.|
|Reviewed by M. Teresa Clayton
|Wow that was an awesome story. Didn't see the end coming so it was a surprise. I like that.|
|Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain
Bravo on this exceptionally penned story - loved it!
|Reviewed by Dawn Anderson
|Liana, this is wonderful. You are such a gifted writer.|
|Reviewed by William Butler
|I must say, "a truely wonderful story." I look forward to reading more of your work.
|Reviewed by Angel Editing
|Liana, this is a great story, really well done. It's an interesting tale, and told and developed really well. I will be reading more of your stories.|
|Reviewed by *** ********
|Well done, my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Thanks for sharing. ;o)
|Reviewed by Theresa Koch
|Exceptional I truly enoyed my visit here...|
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|A fine short story, Liana. Thank you for sharing it. Love and peace,
|Reviewed by Errr oooo
|Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson
|A great story. It held my interest completely.....M|
|Reviewed by Margarita Caligaris (Reader)
|This work is a composition that does lend a golden chapter to the history of short stories; and reveal to the reader how a profound and artistic author honor his/her art and language. "The Witch" I read and am satisfied and intellectually fed.
Thank you for posting "The Witch".
Margarita Caligaris, Litt.D.,Ph.D.
|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
|Everytime I read Your work I learn and educate my writing tools. This composition is a glowing page of short story that inspires and enchant the reader. "The Witch" has filed a new chapter on the history of short story.
I salute You, Author-Poet Liana Margiva.
May Your pen nver rest.
Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU