THE WITCH IS DEAD by Katherine Gleason

Jamey sprawls across the sofa. I place the box of Ding Dongs on the coffee table, and she laughs.

“You remember,” I say.

“Of course,” she says. “Mom loved those.”

“And pretended she didn’t. We need coffee.” I slip into my galley kitchen and mix a few grams of a fruity Ethiopian with the usual beans. The blueberry overtones will blunt the waxiness of the chocolate.

Cups in one hand, French press in the other, I trip over the cat, fall to one knee and, fists closed tight, stop myself with elbows planted on the back of the couch.

Jamey springs up and rushes over. “Great save,” she says, settling the mugs on the table.

My cheeks burn. Jamey would never trip over her cat. If she did, she’d land like a swan, a swoop of wing and slender leg. 

I plop myself down on the couch. “Hey, look,” I say, holding the press aloft. “I didn’t spill a drop.”

“Brava,” she says and perches on my desk.

Now I’m supposed to ask, How was your trip? Then I’m to whine the required ooo and sigh the desired ahhh. I feel my knee, exaggerate my wince, and that’s when I notice.

“Maybe ice it,” she says.

“You moved the lamp,” I say.

“It looks so nice on the cabinet.”

“I like it on my desk.”

“You have to admit you can see it better.” She sweeps her arm in an arc, displaying her superior design sensibility.

“It’s my lamp.” I press the sore spot on my knee, hard.

“It’s Mummy’s lamp, Mummy’s favorite.”

“It was Mummy’s lamp.”

She purses her lips.

“Where’s Kitty?” I ask.

“Sulking in the bedroom.” Jamey peers through the doorway. “She’s fine.”

“I don’t come to your house and rearrange your furniture.”

“Oh, please,” she says.

The cat glides back into the room. I pour the coffee.

“I almost forgot.” Jamey digs in her purse and produces a small paper bag. “From the organic pet place.”

“The one on Ninth.” 

She shakes the bag, tears it open. Kitty jogs to her, rubs against her leg, snaps up the treat, meows for more.

“One more?” Jamey asks.

I nod.

Jamey doles out another crispy bit, stows the bag in my desk drawer, drops herself beside me on the couch. “We’re opening these, right?” She grabs the box of Ding Dongs.

“You do the honors.” We each unwrap a cake. “Do we dare?” I ask.

We giggle and bite into our boxed chocolate confections.


Katherine Gleason’s short stories have appeared in journals such as Alimentum, River Styx, and Southeast Review, and online at Derelict Lit, Gone Lawn, Juked, Jellyfish Review, Mississippi Review, and Monkeybicyle. She won first prize in the 2007 River Styx/Schlafly Beer Micro-Fiction Contest, garnered an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and has published a number of nonfiction books, including Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism (Race Point Publishing, 2013).
 

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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