Chapter 2

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Overhead lights basked over Irene's silhouette as she swayed her hips from side to side vigorously, a transparent blue bowl in her arm moist inside with lettuce. She stirred the ranch around the greens furiously as if preparing a spell for her enemy in a witch's cauldron: maybe it was poison, or perhaps an eye of newt to scare the Netherworld out of Laura. 

"What shall it be?" Irene asked the air, imagining she was at the bakery earning pocket money by helping Bethany with the distribution of crepes. On the counter next to the stove, two herbs were shadowed by the dim veil from the light as the cabinet of spices and herbs above was open. "Pepper or sandwich spice?" 

Irene smiled to herself as she examined each choice to avenge the death of her right to visit Bethany. Since Laura stayed down to take inventory of the store — one of the nightly chores — Irene saw a light in the chances of getting away with this fair prank: for it to succeed, all she needed was to make up her mind before her wife finished closing up the Shoppe. 

So, once more, she inquired to herself, "Pepper or sandwich spice?" And like the first time, she couldn't choose. Her grip tightened around the wooden spoon; her stirring became wilder and wilder. She spat air at the ground. "Just give me a sign!" 

She kept a keen eye on the pepper and sandwich spice, kicking at white floor tile. A teaspoon of ranch flew into her; her canary, a tiny yellow-feathered bird attributed with singing, landed atop her metallic blue scalp, chirping in singsong. "Good evening, Erli," she said to her canary. "Do you have a preference on how to get back at Laura?" She pointed her spoon at the spices ahead of here. 

Irene watched the bird as it spread its small wing and flew to the cup of sandwich spice. "Sandwich spice." She felt its claws sink into her scalp as she made her way over to the counter. "Thank you, Erli," she said, gazing up at the yellow bird, and poured the packet of spice into the bowl. She whisked her spoon around the salad, hiding the herbs in the depths of the ranch. To further veil her potion, she sprinkled burning red slices of tomatoes over it. Whisk. Whisk. A layer of carrots mixed with the other vegetables. 

And with an exhale, her justice was ready to be served. "Oh, Laura," Irene called out, patting the spoon against her thigh. A snicker brimmed her lips. "Dinner's ready." 

"Coming!" The words of her wife echoed from the Shoppe downstairs. Irene placed the bowl on the table as footsteps hurried up the dark staircase at the front of the suite. The voice grew louder and louder. "Ooh, that smells good, Rene." 

Irene bushed her hands against her black leggings and practiced the best smile she could plant on her face — a witch never tells her secrets, after all. With a spoon tight against her thigh, she listened to the loudening footsteps until the silhouette flattened against the wood floor panels, and her wife emerged into the suite.


Her cheeks were burning the second she heard her wife's voice mere inches into the upstairs apartment. Her fingers twitched against the spoon, and the words swarmed around her like a storm: lummox! It blared in her brain; red gushed through her thoughts. 

Of all that she was capable of, Irene, herself, never thought she would have the gumption to resort to expressing her displeasure in ways she witnessed from others: she never thought the adrenaline in her veins would win over her determination to not lash out on her past. But, as the burning of heat engulfed every inch of her skin, red adrenaline emitted into the suite. 

With her muscles, she pulled into the clench of her shoulder, and upon an exhale, every fiber inside her pushed forward, sending the spoon shooting across the apartment. Quickly, she tightened in a wince, waiting for the consequences of exploding in her brain, waiting for her stomach to clench in a pit of remorse. Sadly, the only thing that coursed through her were a string of fiery words prepared to ignite.

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