“Who said that?”
They all look up at me, their expressions blank. The oldest looks at his sister and then rolls his eyes as he turns back to his dinner. His sister glances at me with pity in her eyes. I respond by narrowing my eyes and glaring at her, “was it you?”
“No, Mom, I didn’t say anything.” She shakes her head and continues picking at her food. “I know you didn’t say anything… but somebody thought it!”
“Honey,” my husband says in his your-crazy-and-my-voice-is-intended-to-soothe-you voice, “I think you’re probably overtired, you’ve been working a lot lately…”
How else to explain this behavior of mine, the voices I hear, the things I know? “Yes, you’re probably right,” I tell him (he’s totally wrong) as I look over at my daughter again. It was probably her. My sweet, darling little girl. The one with the dimples and the “glimmer-in-the-eye,” the one who would be unable to go to sleep unless we gave her three hugs and kisses on both cheeks, my little diva with the wispy curls and mis-matched outfits… how did it come to this?
I turn away to look at my son. Perhaps it was him. He’s always had such a strong and independent personality, always wanting to do things on his own, solve his own problems, figure things out without anyone else’ help. My first baby, the one I almost died giving birth to, the one that shook our world upside down when he announced his arrival, the one that has brought unbelievable wonder and amazement to our life. Was it him? Or maybe it was the little one, the “baby” of the family? Always so quiet with such a charming disposition, never complaining, never disagreeing, always constant in his smile and pleasant demeanor.
My husband silently eats his dinner. That brilliant, kind, generous, loving man. I know he’s at a loss, trying to figure out how to stop what has long been out of control. I wish I knew. I wish I’d never done it.
When I first heard about this, it seemed like a fun thing to do, a sort of secret that I would have and be able to privately chuckle about. “They say she’s great,” my friend Mel said. “My neighbor went to her and it’s changed her life!”
“She’s a lot more relaxed now, she doesn’t have to constantly be worrying about everything or trying to figure out what is going on with her kids or her husband. I think it’s done wonders for her marriage!”
“I don’t know… how does it work again?”
“It’s so easy,” Mel said, “she gives you a potion…”
“A potion? What is she, a witch?!” Ha Ha.
“Something like that, but not in a creepy sort of way. Anyhow, you drink this thing and within an hour you can hear people’s thoughts.”
“No, you tell her at the beginning whose thoughts you want to hear and you need to bring something – like a hair – for the people whose thoughts you want to hear.”
“Wait, I have to drink a potion that has someone else’s hair?”
“Oh, get off it! It’s not that big of a deal when you consider what you get for it.”
“Are you going?”
“Yeah, I’ll probably go on Friday. Do you want to come?”
“Let me think about it.” And I did. On Thursday I plucked a hair from each of the kids and called Mel. “I’m in.”
“Awesome, see you there!”
As I drove out to see “the witch” I thought about what I was about to do. There was a part of me that really wanted to know what my kids were thinking. Parenting is so hard and 90% of it is not being able to understand or communicate with our children. If only I could hear their thoughts I would be able to mother them better and it would make things so much easier! I debated reading my husband’s thoughts but decided against it. This felt like a huge violation of his privacy and it would completely change our relationship. We had a good thing going and I wasn’t about to mess that up. As for the kids, however, their “privacy” was a bit more optional.
As soon as I pulled up to the wig shop in front of which we’d agreed to meet, I got a call from Mel. “I’m so sorry to do this to you but D- got sick this morning and I am not going to be able to go.”
“Are you there?”
“Yeah, I just got here.”
“Are you still going to go?”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on, go and tell me all about it. You can come with me when I go.” She never did go.
The witch lived next door to the wig shop. I buzzed her door and she let me in. Her apartment was not at all what you would expect for a witch. In fact, it looked rather plain and ordinary. Blah furniture, blah rug, blah curtains, blah, blah, blah. Her outfit wasn’t very “witchy” either but her attitude was. “Are you ready?” she snapped as she held out her hand. I gave her $50. “Sit here,” she said and nudged me into a wobbly wooden chair in her kitchen.
She walked over to her fridge and pulled out a small blue vial that she had resting in a glass. Her fridge was full of packages wrapped in tinfoil. “What are those?” I asked pointing at the packages. She looked at me and closed the fridge.
“Do you have the particles?”
“Particles?” I asked.
“Hair, fingernail, skin….”
Ewwww, I thought as I handed her three strands of hair. I watched as she put them in to the vial, stirred it up with a chopstick, and uttered something under her breath. “Drink this,” she said as she handed me the vial.
“Ummmmm…. what should I expect to feel after I drink this?”
“Nothing. You won’t feel a thing. The only difference will be that within an hour or so you’ll be able to hear the thoughts of the people whose particles you gave me.”
“How long will it last?”
“A year or so, after that you need to come back for another dose.”
I looked at the liquid in the vial. I had spent an hour getting here and had already paid $50. Mel’s friends loved this… how bad could it be? I drank the whole thing – hair and all – in one gulp. “Thanks,” I said and handed her the vial. “Bye,” I heard as I closed the door behind me, a little too hard and the number 7 on the door fell to the ground. I simply left it there and ran down the stairs.
My heart raced as I walked to my car, it raced the whole hour it took me to get home, it raced as I unlocked the door and for a moment, it stopped as I saw my husband and all three kids look up at me.
“Hi honey,” my husband said, “how was your meeting?”
“Good,” I said, “thanks.”
“Mom, we’re playing Monopoly, do you want to join us?” my daughter said as she smiled at me and that is when I heard it, “I love you.” She didn’t say it out loud but I heard it and she didn’t say it in her voice, I heard it in mine. As it turned out, the thoughts of all three kids came in my own voice but it was marvelous to be able to know what they were thinking.
For the first three months, I relished every single thought. My kids showered me with love and devotion every day and I couldn’t be happier. But then, things started to change. The thoughts became darker and not quite as nice. The kids started thinking mean, nasty, horrible things about me and I found it hard to be around them. As the anniversary of the visit to the witch approached, I put all of my energy into keeping it together, trying to ignore the verbal abuse they were hurling my way, pushing myself to smile and love them every day until that one day when it would all come to an end.
That year anniversary day came… and went, and nothing changed. The days kept going and going and the thoughts kept coming and coming. I went back to the witch but she said there was nothing she could do about it. It has been 2 years now and I can still hear their thoughts. I live a life of misery. They don’t want to be with me and I dread being with them. I am constantly surrounded by a swarm of negativity and sadness. It has crushed me. I wish I’d never done it.
Meanwhile… back at number 7
“Galinda, do you have any more wine?”
“Check the fridge, dear”
“G, you still have these packages…? Don’t tell me you’re still playing at ‘witch’? I thought you gave that up years ago!”
“Are you kidding me? Do you know how lucrative this business is? I still have a group of about 80 ladies that come to me every year for re-fills on my “thought-reading potion” and they always refer new people to me. Every month I get about 5 new customers. I even raised my prices!”
“Not at all, who do you think purchased that bottle of wine you’re drinking?”
“How do you make it work?”
“What, the potion?”
“Yeah, isn’t it just water with blue food coloring?”
“That… a whole lot of imagination, a pinch of paranoia and a healthy dose of vulnerability.”
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