500 Words—Bewitched

She made that odd shape with her lips that women make when they put on their lipstick, and she leaned closer into the mirror. She followed the shape of her stretched mouth with the stick of crimson and pressed her lips together to set the color.

“There,” she said to her reflection. “That should last long enough.” She flipped off the bathroom light, grabbed her keys and slammed the door behind her as she hopped off the front stoop. She was going to set wrong things right, and that mission added speed to her step.

She had met him at the post office. He was the postman who manned the counter every day from 8:00 to 1:00 with a smoke break around 10:30. She was the office worker whose job it was to pick up the mail, and every day she stopped by the dock in the back of the post office to get the big, plastic bin and hoist it into her car.

The first time she saw him, he was squatting on an upturned bucket, watching her walk across the parking lot as he flicked ashes into the puddle in front of his feet. “Hey,” he said to her, and she turned and said “hey.”

The second time she saw him, he was standing on her front porch, leaning against her and pressing his smoky lips against hers. She liked the feel of his long hair that draped over her hands as she held his shoulders. And she liked that he made her feel the way she remembered feeling at seventeen, a little wild, disinterested in eating and unable to sleep at night.

He was so unlike the men she had dated since college, the men she chose because they were more like adults than they were like bad children. He was a bad child, and she resisted the urge to be a scold, to replace the mother he seemed to be missing. Her friends were perplexed and said he was bad for her. But she was helplessly bewitched, she told them. Bothered, bewildered.

That was before he found his feet and became the bewitched one, actually wanting her parenting and making her feel her age, or older. He cut his hair and threw out his Pall Malls and stopped squatting on an upturned bucket in front of the puddle in the parking lot.

With her flaming lips and the spell un-cast, she cut him down to size and told him plainly she was finished. He had put her on the blink once, but she was suddenly wise, and her eyes were fully opened. Romance finis, she said. Those ants that invaded her pants finis, she said. She turned on her heels and walked quickly home, wiping her lips with the back of her hand. Finally, she was convinced, she would sleep and eat and be herself again.

But witchcraft once started, as we all know, is virtually unstoppable.

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