The Witch gathered up her things—the cauldron, the potion mixer, the wide-brimmed hat—and stepped over the woman she had just put into a deep sleep. The Witch left the woman lying on her back on the carpet, her form in an unattractive spread eagle position in her yoga attire, a bit of her belly flopping out of the waist of her pants. The truth of the matter was, the sleeping woman used to be her friend. Not any longer, however. The Witch did not care for her at all. It had finally come to that. The woman could never be trusted, and The Witch had been used for the last time.
Many years. For many long years she had been her friend. Funny how people use you when they know they can get something from you, The Witch thought. It’s interesting how when people needed a potion to help make their kid well or a cocktail to ensure a memorable party took place or be included in all events The Witch planned (and yet ignore the concept of reciprocity), The Witch was always the first one they would call. But when times were challenging for her—when The Witch had problems of her own and needed a friend—her friend could not be found.
Because, you see, that’s the thing about being a witch. Everyone wants to point her finger at you. Someone has to be the fall guy and everyone needs someone to blame. It’s been this way for centuries—witches always took the blame, whether that blame was warranted or not. Human nature has shown us over and over again that people enjoy watching others go down. Moreover, they often secretly wish and hope for it. They genuinely make their minds up about you before they actually know anything of your situation, and it’s mostly hearsay. Gossips and uncaring folks tend to judge first instead of asking if perhaps they could help in any way.
How misunderstood we are as a group, The Witch thought as she placed her paraphernalia in the two baskets of her bike and began pedaling for home. It was getting dark, and The Witch contemplated how there are not enough hours in the day to count how much good she had done. Whatever. It didn’t matter because it was the mistakes she had made in her own life that seemed to constantly be under a microscope, scrutinized and uncharitably condemned. It was always the way. The expression “seek first to understand” was never a concept others grasped with regard to witches, and quite frankly, she was tired of making an effort and getting none in return. It didn’t matter how kindhearted or welcoming she could be; witches would always continue to be the scapegoat because folks are unwilling to either take the blame or share the blame. Why do you think Elphaba got the reputation she did in ‘Wicked’?
She wondered whether the woman—when she awoke in only a few minutes, the most potent part of the potion having worn off by then—would have any recollection of what had transpired. There had been little struggle with the woman, and because she liked a good cocktail, she had gulped it down in two sips. The Witch had followed the spell explicitly—it was the one her mother had passed down to her from her own mother. The potion would merely remove all recollections the woman had of ever knowing and interacting with The Witch on any and all levels. No significant or lasting harm was done at all—just a mere vanishing act any magician was capable of executing. No memories of The Witch would remain in her reservoir when she awoke. She simply wouldn’t remember anything at all had ever passed between them.
As she analyzed this situation, it made The Witch angrier. How wonderful it would be for that woman to never remember their friendship, yet The Witch, with her sharp intellect, keen memory, and kind heart, still had to endure all the pain of it. Hurtful memories. The Witch considered lingering memories the most dreadful evil of all—a constant, excruciating reminder of whatever one wishes not to be reminded of in the first place. A penance of sorts.
By the time The Witch had parked her bike, she had come to the conclusion that she was ready. Finally. This time she wouldn’t chicken out. She walked into her studio and began to mix things furiously. There was a maniacal frenzy to the way she was churning the mixture, her eyes darting back and forth, her sensibilities heightened. The cauldron began to bubble, and the smell of rosemary, tea leaves, pine needles, pumpkin seeds, and peppermint filled the air. The scent pervaded The Witch’s nostrils and invigorated her. Then, briefly, she paused, leaning her head over the boiling cauldron, the steam enveloping her face, and she allowed herself to breathe it all in. She turned and filled a test tube with the boiling liquid to the top. She sat herself on the floor next to a pillow and drank it.
Within moments, she slid down, slumping on the pillow, the test tube landing safely on the edge of it. The Witch fell asleep for what felt like days, months, years. When she awoke to the morning sunlight streaming across her face, the birds rambunctiously chirping outside, and a lawnmower purring in the distance, The Witch sat up and yawned.
She stretched her legs and had the overwhelming urge to hop on her bike and ride into town for some coffee. The problem was, she just couldn’t remember where she parked it.
—Stephanie Verni, 2015