Reality is a tricky concept“, Layla had said one night. She had found me on a field, where I had been crying, and she had had a basket full of red flowers with her. Remember? No? Doesn‘t matter. We will keep talking, just keep on reading.
„I say, reality is the weirdest shit“, I whispered. Out of nothing. Well, out of too much wine, maybe.
Layla got me. She remembered, even days later, what I was referring to. At least I thought so, while looking into her eyes. „What‘s so real to you, right now?“
My mouth felt weird. I liked Layla‘s dry taste in red wine, but sometimes it lay heavy on my tongue.
„You know“, I finally answered. „Sometimes people open up worlds inside my head.“ I was lying on the floor, and Layla sat on the table, while potting some new plants. Oh, and there was candle light, of course. „It‘s the way we talk. The things we say. The thoughts afterwards. The things we do. How they feel. It‘s a scent, it‘s a word. Sometimes a song, a color. It changes me. In a good way.“
Layla giggled. „Since you‘re drunk and cursing everything currently in existence, I assumed there was a „but“.“
She was right. „But people leave. People get swallowed up by some weird shit distracting the universe. Suddenly, people are gone. People are gone and things are never said, are never sang, are never there, again.“ Oh god, the wine was already empty, and I was only getting started. „It‘s like a thousand ties, forever loose.“
Layla wanted to make a joke. I could feel it.
But she only sighed, deeply. „Sometimes, that happens.“
„Sometimes?“, I repeated weakly. „Sometimes for normal people. I feel like for me it‘s always.“
„Come one!“ Then, Layla left her potting plants and climbed down to me. „There are no normal people around. Just a witch, you summoned out of being burned, or something.“
My witch giggled again. „Let‘s talk boys.“
„Oh, because while being locked away in the 17th century, you‘ve had so many to talk about?“, I snapped.
„What do you think we did back then?“, Layla exclaimed, amused but on some level hurt, I thought. „We were just as human as you.“
Then she became a bit shy. „I was married two times. And there were years in between, and after that …“
„Give me a number.“ Oh, I felt wild. No. I just had not been wild for too long.
„A number of what?“
„Of people you‘ve had sex with.“
Layla rolled her eyes. „Is that really all you can think of? I‘ve already told you, I‘ve never slept with my first love, because he died to soon. But the wordless conversation through my window, I will never forget.“ Then she added: „Four.“
„Starting with my first husband“, she continued. „I was 21 years old, and still missing my love in secrecy. Being married of seemed like a suitable solution,“
„A suitable solution?“, I had to ask.
„Of course“, Layla answered. „I was still curious, and wanted to forget my pain. Also, I got to wear such a wonderful dress!“ She giggled. „Priorities of a Lady surviving some serious heartbreak. But seriously, my dress had ribbons on the shoulders, and around my middle. It was the prettiest dress that someone ever took off of me.“
„How was he?“
Layla laughed. „Oh, I don‘t know …“ When she noticed my confusion, she rolled her eyes. „I don‘t think, I really got to know him. During the day, we‘ve had our business to attend to, and in the night we really hid it off, before he fell asleep. He was even more gone when I was pregnant after a while …“
„Reminds me of my first one“, I finally said.
Layla raised her eyebrow in disbelief.
„Do you really think that after hundreds of years there suddenly are no distanced men out there anymore that want to sleep with you, and have children with you, and want you to plant a tree in the garden, but leave to charge you with hysteria as soon as your face shows the faintest expression?“, I answered.
„Well …“ Layla had gotten herself some chocolate. „My husband didn‘t do that. But after our first child was stillborn, he kind a underestimated the healing process that I was stil going through, because my uterus had not functioned properly – wait, you call that rape today, right?“
My mouth suddenly felt really dry. „Yes, we do …“
„Oh great!“, Layla exclaimed. „It finally has a name.“ After swallowing a lot of chocolate: „You know, back then, my favorite part of being raped was that I could tell each and everyone, and they were all really okay with it. They said things like: Pain is a part of women. Or: Things just change after giving birth.“ Then she looked sad. „I‘m sorry, if this is too weird for you.“
Hesitatingly, I shook my head. „It‘s not. You know …“ God, was my mouth dry. „Mine did that, too. And … I know those words …“
Layla‘s eyes widened. „Some things never change.“
„We have began to change“, I said, „It just takes time …“
After a quiet and sad moment, Layla decided to giggle again. „It‘s so mean that I‘ve met that one person way too late.“
„That one person“, Layla now whispered. „That one person that moved me, that changed me. That every inch of my skin, my soul, answered to.“ Then she giggled again. „My plague doctor.“
„Your … what?“
„He came into our town towards the end“, Layla began to tell. „Over years, the disease had returned, and returned. At some point, my husband had died, and I had been accused of so many different things for not dying myself.“ There was a shadow again. „For weeks, I had been locked away, and tortured, until anyone who remembered me had also died. I was alone in a dead town. And there he found me.“ Were there tears in her eyes? „Entering my prison with his beautiful face hiding underneath the most terrifying mask that I had ever seen, wearing a long coat and talking to me in a mild, yet shadow tainted voice.“ She smiled. „He saved me. He was the only one that could have ever saved me. He was the answer to all the pain inside me. He transformed me.“
„Oh yes.“ My witch nodded. „He took me with him, and asked a lot of me. He would not let me enter one of the houses of the dead, or take anything from my old life with me. He would not touch me, or look at me without his terrifying suit for weeks, and keep me locked away in my room.“ Her eyes were sparkling. „Until finally, I could see his face. His beautiful face, even milder than his voice. Gray eyes, black hair. And a deep sadness all over him. He would come close, he would hold me. He made me his wife. He made sense of me. Everything that I had suffered, that I had lost, that I had almost burned for, found answers inside this mysterious man.“
I began to understand what Layla was describing.
I remembered feeling like that while being with a lover, and something deep inside me ached.
„That is witchcraft“, Layla continued, her voice as soft as never before. „Not just the transformation of the body, but also of the soul.“
We were both swallowing our tears, after those words.
Two girls on the kitchen floor.
Eating too much chocolate.
Missing their boys.
Oh, and candle light.
Witching really is a thing.