Jessica motioned over to an unlit campfire. It was just a pile of wood stacked neatly waiting to burn away after dark. Myla started at the wood to avoid looking around Jessica’s campsite.
“Might as well sit down Darlin’, the truth can bite you sitting or standing.” Jessica thought as she pointed at a chair made of canvas and metal bars.
Myla plopped into the chair. Her body was heavy and numb. She ran her fingertips along the coarse fabric of the chair. It felt real. Her eyes danced along each of the strange objects surrounding them. Jessica with her strange assortment of witch objects must know something.
Jessica sat across from Myla. Her shoulders were tensed. The witch forced a thin smile across her green face, “Would you like a drink- You know, I forgot to ask your name.”
Myla swallowed. Her throat was dry, but the idea of drinking a witch’s brew frightened her. She shook her head no, but without much conviction. Myla licked her parched lips and focused her thoughts, “Myla Renoir- I mean Du Bois.”
Jessica chuckled and walked over to a small chest. She bent over and shoved her hand down. Jessica’s hand blocked most of the object, but metallic shimmer danced along the top. Jessica moved her hands over the top and the object hissed. She retrieved a glass and poured. Amber liquid spilled into the cup. Noisy crackles and fizzing snaps filled the air. Jessica thrust the cup in Myla’s direction, “Drink up, Honey.”
Myla’s fingers wrapped around the cup and she peered at the contents. It seemed to pop in resistance. Myla chewed her lip in hesitation.
Jessica plucked the cup from Myla’s hand and took a long drink, “It ain’t poison. Now drink! I know you’re thirsty.” She shoved the cup back in Myla’s hand.
The last shreds of Myla’s hesitation fell away and she took a drink of the bubbly liquid. It was cold and crisp. The bubbles tickled her throat and brought a laugh to her lips.
Jessica grinned, “Nothing like a cold Coke on a summer’s day. Now that you’re settled in, let’s get to meat and potatoes.” Jessica didn’t rise to gather any meat nor potatoes. She did however lean closer to Myla. Jessica’s elbows resting on her knees as she stared into Myla’s eyes, “Your husband is a lich.”
Myla kept quiet. She didn’t know what a lich was and hoped that her silence would speak volumes. It did.
“Guessin’ they don’t give you an education magical things in your neck of the woods. Which I might get to talkin’ about soon too. A lich is a wizard that-”
Myla felt her eyes gloss over. She tried to understand. She knew the words, but Jessica used them in ways she couldn’t follow.
Myla shook her head no.
Jessica sighed. “Let me try this. You go to church right?”
“A lich is worse than a devil hun.”
Myla turned her head to the side. She let the words sink in. A feeling of dread slid up her spine and rested at the back of her neck.
“That’s impossible. Maximilien is a good man.” Myla said as she avoided looking Jessica in the eye.
Jessica set her jaw. Her lips became a thin green line across her face, “I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, cause I’d hate to see a sweet little thing like yourself mixed up in such trouble.”
Myla cast her gaze down at her drink. She wanted to know more, but some part of her just didn’t want to know.
“Well you better go before he realizes you’ve left his domain.” Jessica said as she rose from her seat.
“Your town. Runs it the way he likes. I guess he likes the way things used to be and he doesn’t like his things out of order… so back you go if you’re happy.”
“But what if I’m not?”
“Then you could leave your haunted hollows and see the real world. But you’ d never see Ol’ Max again. And if you do love him even a little…”
“Love?” Myla said. The word was thick, heavy, and hard to say when it came to Lord Du Bois.
“Listen, I know you’re probably all mixed up. Go home and think it over. I’ll be here until the ancient weed shrivel to hide from the autumn chill.”
Myla took one last long drink of the Coke before she rose from the canvas chair.
She took a look around Jessica’s campsite once more before she turned back to the hole in the stone wall.
She slink through the opening back into her husband’s garden. She noticed how still and lifeless the air was here the moment she popped her head past the bushes. It was stifling after the refreshing breeze of Jessica’s camp.
She leaned over and brushed the dirt off her knees.
“Ah Madame! There you are!”
The voice shocked Myla upright. She scanned the area like a terrified rabbit ready to bolt. She caught sight of Lord Du Bois’ servant specter, Gian.
Gian bent forward in a deep bow, “My apologies if I startled you, but come dear it’s time for your lessons.”
“You can talk?”
“Of course. This way, Madame.”
They strolled through the garden back towards the manor and passed a familiar area. Myla’s eyes fell on the alter where she married Maximilien. It felt like it had been years ago. How long had it been? What did she feel for the strange man she had been wedded to? Love? What was love supposed to feel like?
The unusual statue of a muscular man sitting in contemplation seemed to mock her with his faux pensive attitude. She frowned at the statue and let Gian guide her back into the manor.