this story was first published in the may, 2005 edition of New Witch Magazine. i wrote it as a gift for my friends one christmas in lieu of a newsletter, which i found impossible to write without serious embellishment. when the embellishments got too crazy, i thought... oh, what the hell- why not send them a story? so here it is... i'll share it in parts... cause like everything else i write... it tends to be loooong.
Conjuring Johnny Depp by Annie Kelleher
“Now I hope you’re not planning anything too elaborate.” Olivia’s voice crackles and pops like cereal over her cell phone.
“What did you say?” I scream into the phone. “GianCarlo wants you to pick a date?” There’s no way I’m going to let a milestone like my best friend in all the world’s fiftieth birthday pass without some recognition. Olivia knows this and suspects I have something planned, which of course I do.
But her attention these days is easily distracted by her latest conquest, an international businessman who so far has flown her off to meet him in Bali, Monaco and Marrakech. He tends to show up unexpectedly bearing wine and exquisite gifts, settling in for days of endless and exotic sex.
There’s something shifty about him that we all sense, something that plagues Olivia herself with a vague sense of unease, which, on some level is partly why I decided on this particular present. There are lots of reasons, of course, but GianCarlo is definitely one of them.
“You know perfectly well he hasn’t asked me to pick a date. I said, I don’t want you doing anything EE-LAB-BOR-” The rest dissolves into static fuzz and I smile and put the phone down.
If she’s in traffic, which is the only place in the world Olivia ever uses her cellphone, she might babble on for minutes before she even realizes I’m not there any more. It isn’t nice of me, I know, but there’s too much to do before the coven meeting to waste a minute of it lying to the guest of honor. Besides, I know once Olivia realizes the birthday surprise I’m planning, she’ll be too speechless to object.
I hurry the dogs, Buddy Love and Duffy, out to the poop-patch and back, then shut the door firmly, murmuring the traffic spell I only use when I need life to flow especially smoothly. Consequently, I run through my list of chores with the efficiency of someone whose elementals have achieved harmonic congruence. At least those are the words Olivia uses to describe the world when things are going particularly well for her. As they appear to be now.
The word I would use to describe Olivia is glorious, I think, as I turn the corner into the parking lot of the Weirdly Ways and Curious Goods shop that Olivia’s ex condemned regularly from his pulpit. A lesser woman might have broken beneath the weight of the wave of condemnation that rolled across the congregation when the first accusations began.
Olivia’s become the woman I want to be when I grow up (assuming i ever do) because she's strong-minded and independent and passionate about everything. Including her love life, which, unfettered by bonds of matrimony, censure or community standing, she’s littered with discarded men like the bowlfuls of tissues and unpopped kernels left on a coffee table after a long night of girl-talk. On the one hand, GianCarlo seems perfect.
But on the other... It’s not for me to make the decision, of course. It’s just I think I’ve hit upon a way to help her.