“The Witch” by Bohdan Enko

At night, Misha dreamt of being a witch – a witch with hair so long, it never ended, but would spread out, its trails spiralling throughout the forest; in cobwebs and birches, into abandoned wells and rivers, under mounds of dry leaves and soil. It sunk deep beneath the roots, through the thickening layers of decay, past hordes of bones and fossils. Sometimes, it would even reach as far down as the molten belly of the earth; so that when she moved, and pulled at her strands, everything twisted and churned around her.

During the day, he thought of love. He had love, but he wished that he cared, that he really cared. Her name was Andrea. Beautiful and smart, he thought, but could own it more. Principled, even if words trip her up. Most importantly, she was passionate about her work, and he respected that. She was a schoolteacher. He tried. He was present, he would cook at his apartment and clean at hers, and they’d both think of fun things to do together. They’d go on drives, or kayaking, they ate out and snuck into the movies. They had a treasure trove of nicknames and inside jokes. She was Stitch, and he Abu.

One spring evening, they’d driven out to the river, for a picnic. They brought sandwiches and watermelon. The sunset reflected off the rippling waves.

“Look at the fish,” he said, “jumping out the water. It’s cause they wanna take a look at you.”

He kissed her neck, and bit into a melon slice. She stared on ahead.

“You ever think of moving?”

He blinked. “What, like move in together?”

“No,” she said, “I mean leaving Montreal, going someplace else. If you could, where would you wanna go?”

He gave it a moment. “I don’t know. Nice here, isn’t it?”

“That’s just it, though,” she sighed. “We’re too comfortable.”

“You think so?” He sat up, and mulled it over a bit more. “I wouldn’t mind visiting Machu Pichu, save up.”

Andrea shook her head. “It’s different for you. You came over from Alberta, but not me. I’ve been here my whole life. What I want is not to visit. I want to move, to change everything. I’ve been talking about it with Mom.”

She brushed bits of dirt from her jeans.

“Change everything, huh. Don’t you like what we’ve made so far?”

“No baby,” she touched his face, “I do. You come with me. Nothing too crazy. Maybe the west coast, or the US. Not so far that we wouldn’t know what the people are like.”

“What about the kids,” he said, “at your school?”

“Oh, they’re fine. It’s not like we’d up and leave in the middle of the year. And you could bartend anywhere.”

He nodded. “So, it would be next year?”

“Actually, I was thinking sooner than that.”

“What,” he whispered, “this summer?”

She nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“The idea’s stirred up in me just recently. We have a few months left. If I talked to administration in the next couple weeks, they’d find someone by September, and I’d at least substitute somewhere else.”

He snorted. “So you’re dead serious?”

“I know it’s a lot,” she said.

They went over the specifics – the timeline of the move, friends and family, their apartments and furniture, where they might go, whether they preferred city or town, town or country. They talked into the night, and through the mists of the city, the stars shone dimly above them. Misha suddenly felt hungry and, remembering they had half a melon left, he devoured two pieces.

She had some too. “Anyway, give it some thought,” she said.

They slept at Andrea’s, that night. But before that, he stepped out for groceries. He wanted to walk and think. He meditated on their relationship, and questioned himself about whether his intentions were genuine. And if he wasn’t sure, wouldn’t it be wrong to go with her?

He sat down at a park swing, dropped his head in his hands. He thought it was unexpected of her to suggest this change, and he liked that she’d done it. Weren’t emotions made up, anyways? What did it matter if he loved or not, if she was everything he could want, if she surprised him, and if he put in the work, in turn? Wouldn’t the feeling realize itself, as a result of the action? But then, he also wondered grimly, whether he risked hurting her, and derailing her life over something that wasn’t yet real.

The streetlight flickered over the park. He got up and wiped his eyes.

BOHDAN ENKO is a student, idler, and dog mom in Tio’tià:ke. He has no prior publications. Connect with him on instagram @forumanarchiste.

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