Fiction #542

There are two young women, close in age. They appear to be in their early 20’s, average height and build. One is blond, hair straight short-cropped about chin-length with severe bangs. The other has full, dark tresses, shoulder-length with a bit of an untamed curl. The way they interact, the familiarity, they seem like sisters, or cousins. There’s a feeling of close relation. Or perhaps this is artificial, maybe they’re sisters in the sense of group affiliation. Because if all else about their relation to one another is ambiguous, they are in fact witches.

Although I’m hesitant to use that word as it brings to mind a number of fanciful preconceptions.

These two women are a part of a small commune in a remote rural area framed by hills, a few flimsy buildings huddled together, made of materials not likely to stand the test of time. But for now they serve their purpose. There’s a bit of land, rather sparse and dry, hard land, where they tend to longhaired goats or some other kind of hardy ruminant which seem to do all right. There’s some spinning of yarn and weaving and dyeing of fabric. Making pressed cheeses or something of that sort. Something to do with the stone well with its antiquated bucket and fraying ropes.

The community is made up of maybe two dozen women, ages seeming to range from 5 to 80 in a typical age distribution pattern with the majority being women in their 40’s and 50’s. There are only a handful of children, and the two women mentioned appear to be the only “young adults”, as it were.

They give the impression of having grown up here, learning, training. Both mundane and occult, one would assume. The blond one is, by all appearances, studious, diligent, always busy with chores if not with craft. Whereas the dark-haired one is, frankly, lazy. She questions the point of practicing, of studying, of daily tasks that seem to her work for the sake of work. This is, naturally, a point of strife between the two of them, unresolved, and unattended to by the elders, whether oblivious, or ambivalent, or purposeful, who could know. These elder women are particularly opaque with me.

I should note about the curriculum, it’s determined by a sense of timing. This is a difficult point to communicate, as I’m reduced to inferences from eavesdropping and brief interfaces with the two women. To say “the position of the stars” evokes astrological nonsense, but it’s something like that. Like a combination lock, opening only when certain elements are in alignment, or better something is no longer in occlusion. There’s also something to do with colors. Like synesthesia. I’m still attempting to probe this subject. Hard to describe to someone not in the craft. Or so I’ve been told.

(There’s a worn wooden box of oil pastels, by the by, upon an old chair with a dusty embroidered cushion. “Ayomar” scrawled upon its lid in a boxy calligraphy. The box always fascinates, because the colors aren’t organized according to the traditional spectrum. More on that later, because that’s my own digression, not that of these women.)

In recent weeks, observing the two young women, I’m told there’s an important aura taking form around the lazy one. It’s subtle at first, easily mistaken for the smudges of youth and impertinence, but this quickly metastisizes, rapidly expands, alarmingly so. The celestial analog, tumbling into place or out of place. Some sort of revelation, but who can see it except the lazy one, and she can’t say beyond impressions and emotions, remotions. Yellow, green, blue already, light colors of carefree springtime. Clear sky and lush grass and dandelion bloom—these are my descriptions, for the women have no such perceptions here in this landscape of brown under mantel of grey sky. White. These colors are authorized. Appropriate. However, purple, red, and magenta smolder on the edges, radiant, hot, calling out in defiance of the rules. The lazy one is unusually animated, cheeks flushed, describing these colors to me with near-breathless excitement.

The elders are impressed. There are rumors, old stories about this kind of thing, on the order of myths and heroics. Nothing that would suggest such a thing could occur in an every day context. It shouldn’t be possible. However, even they feel the call of the other half of the spectrum. They wonder if an exception should be made, if indulgence should be endorsed.

Meanwhile, the studious one, also with yellow, green, blue under her belt and, until now, more progress made in the waxing of the white orbness, begins to slowly come apart with jealousy, because the colors aren’t there for her, and the heavens remain occluded as far as her receptivity. She can’t believe it. The emotion consumes her, and after a while she begins to quietly imagine ways that she might undermine, and, yes, even hurt the lazy one. Thoughts about bruises upon her flesh, yellow, green, blue, like fertile fields yielding up purple, red … She catches herself (as I catch her) staring, glowering, over her laundry task while the lazy one, true to form, props herself up against a wooden post, engrossed in a tattered romance novel.

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