What's Gone Will Not Come Back
There are blessings and there are curses—and sometimes there are both.
In a world bridged on the edge of sense,
where reality bent to a will and a way,
she knew best how to concoct spells
that could be shared or gifted or traded
like the best kind of wares for sale.
Sometimes she whispered nonsense
in the ears of bashful girls who sang
but rarely ever spoke beyond a word,
and she wished them siren's calls
that would make them bewitching indeed.
It didn't matter that she was a witch,
at least in the ways that mattered,
because the women were her customers
who knew the Old ways better than
even their husbands could ever believe.
It wasn't often she received a request
from boys who were like their fathers
and didn't think much of fairy rings
or the rites of gods dead long ago.
But that didn't mean she wasn't willing
to try and break the molds they had known,
each one a binding that cut so tight
and ended up costing so very much.
One boy asked, "Will I fall in love?"—
and she had to hold her tongue
when she looked at his fate lines
spread across his palms like webs.
It was easy enough to look up
and smile so convincingly
as she lied, "You'll be so happy."
Because written across his hands
and the very stars above
she could see death looming.
The wind got her back for her lie,
as it pulled and tangled her hair,
like a lover's caress during a storm,
but it wouldn't be the first—
or even, heaven help her, the last—
but she was not bound by mortal law.
By summer's end, the boy was gone,
gored by a beast of the earth,
and the only love he had known
was his family's embrace in life
and their tears in his death.
And her last parting gift,
a rose on his burial mound,
wilted and decayed in moments—
a curse on her, the last of her line,
for knowing but saying nothing.
That was the last time anyone saw
the woman, that witch of the glade.
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