The Pain Maiden
By Wendy L. Callahan - http://www.wendylcallahan.com
Cover Art by Erin Lark - http://erinlark.storenvy.com/
Published by Three Magpies Press
The Pain Maiden
"Here's to the most cynical person I know." Melissa Wingrove raised her tequila shot to me in salute.
"Indeed. To cynicism!" I cried, a little more loudly than I would have normally, had I been sober.
But I was neither sober nor normal, and I licked at the salt on my hand eagerly, intent on making myself far drunker than I already was. Maybe it didn't help that I had just gotten out of a craptastically boring marriage, only to find that single life wasn't much of a life, or that my ex was now seeing a woman at least eight years younger than me. Even though it was a relief that the divorce was finalized, I simply had the urge to get so drunk that I could forget how well it had turned out for him in the end.
"Oh please," Melissa slurred, leaning across the table to extend her arm toward me. "You can do so much better, Jinxie-girl. What about Todd?"
"Todd? Todd Browning? As I recall, he shoved his entire tongue in my mouth when he kissed me. Are you advocating that I seriously consider dating that?"
"But you two have so much in common, and he's certainly not interested in me." Melissa's voice was full of the indignation of years of rejection by Todd. He was a nice enough guy, but the fact that my friend had crushed on him hardcore for so long made him even more undateable than his questionable kissing skills. Besides that, Melissa was my boss, and the last thing I wanted was to piss her off by dating the guy she wanted so badly.
"You know that the guys just love you," she continued to babble, exaggerating "love" so that it sounded like "looooovvvve". I was the one who had set out to get hammered this evening, but it was Melissa who was definitely taking the lead to Wastedville. "Once they know that the geek girl du jour is single, they are just going to be lining up at the store."
"Oh yeah, I can have my choice of any of the guys here in Dover, land of farmers and Mennonites." I snorted and reached for another tequila shot.
"No, you're right Melissa," I continued, feigning excitement. "Surely there's some hot Amish man who will give me exactly what I want. I can see the personal ad now: 'Witch Seeks Partner for Pain Play and More. Do You Have What It Takes?"
With a drunken snicker, Melissa raised a shot glass to her mouth. When realization hit, she pouted. "This one's empty. Jinxie... did you steal my tequila?"
"No, sweetie. The Tequila Fairy did."
"There ain't no such thing."
"There is," I said as I rose from my chair, "and her name is Melissa Wingrove." I figured now was as good a time as any to go home, so I grabbed my purse and Melissa's oversized H.I.M. messenger bag. "Let's go, Lissa the Lush."
"Jinxie?" she groaned, peering at me.
I sighed, rolling my eyes as I helped her stand up. "I think we've drunk all the tequila in Irish Mike's tonight, sweetie."
"They're out of tequila?"
"Yup, and they're out of cute guys too." I took Melissa's arm and led her out the door, down Loockerman Street.
It was midnight on a Friday, which meant some action downtown, but not much. Most of the guys from the Air Force base were up in Wilmington, or even Philly. It was mostly the locals who tended to stick to downtown and Irish Mike's. Between here and Superior Comics, there were a few people loitering along the street; small groups from whom cigarette smoke and laughter drifted.
Melissa's shop was only a few buildings away from the bar - a new age store called The Magick Kat. Melissa's inability to spell even the simplest words had turned into a bit of a running gag among friends, so when she had opened the store five years ago, she had intentionally misspelled “cat” to carry the joke just a bit further. Even the name of our coven - The Green Cyrcle - was misspelled. Only, that had happened by accident, and the 'y' had stuck.
We lived in a two-bedroom apartment just above The Magick Kat, along with our own cats.
Oh yes, in case you have yet to guess it, we're both Witches; bona-fide, Goddess-worshiping, doing-good-for-others Witches.