Last time on Jane Crow, we met Jane only to learn that she was outcast in the witch family she grew up in for showing a singular lack of magical nature… until one fateful Yule break…
It had snowed in Baltimore (that’s where Aunt Cat and family lived) that year and I was dating an Jewish playwright who lived in the area. Char was boyfriendless, which I think was part of why she was being extra witchy to me. It was the year of the lycanthropy epidemic on the east coast, and the Invisible Coven was working overtime trying to keep the rumors of werewolf attacks to a minimum. That put me in the position of having free reign to sneak Arthur into my room at night without getting a lecture on safe sex and the untrustworthiness of human menfolk. (I already knew ample about both, but Aunt Cat was always up for a rant.)
Anyway, I was totally craving for ice cream one night, and since I was feeling magnanimous, I told Arthur I’d let him stay in the nice warm bed and go down to the Wawa myself for some Ben and Jerry’s. (Another lie: I desperately wanted a cigarette and Art always said he hated the way I tasted right after I smoked… but don’t I sound much nicer the other way?) The snow was still falling, but it was just making the streets slushy. I trudged the two blocks to the convenience store and grabbed a pint of Chunky Monkey and a pack of Wint-O-Green Life Savers to cut the tobacco taste. I was heading up to the counter for a pack of Marlboro Lights when I bumped–and I literally bumped–into Chloe.
In contrast to my Princeton sweats, she was dressed up like a sugarplum fairy, white fur trim on her tight-waisted pink jacket and tights that showed off legs which even I couldn’t help but think of as “gams.”
“Oh! Hey, Jane!” she beamed.
My eyes squinted suspiciously. When you lie a lot to other people, sometimes it’s hard to take them at face value yourself. Besides, while Chloe hadn’t been unpleasant to me since I left home, there were enough years of watching her do nothing through tear-filled eyes to ever really trust her.
“Hey, Chlo,” I said.
“So wow, awesome snow, huh?”
Nope. Didn’t trust her at all.
“Yep. Water from the sky, I hear.”
Chloe blinked, unfettered by the recognition of sarcasm. “I was just going down to CVP for a drink, want to join me? I really want to hear about how Harvard is going!”
“Princeton. And no thanks. Got a hot date with a cigarette.”
“Hot date! I get it!” Chloe looked like she was on the verge of some weird manic nervous giggle fit. I’m a good liar, which is how I knew she was an abominable one.
“What the hell is going on, Chloe?” I said, squint turning into a glare.
“What? Nothing! I was… I was just trying to be nice!”
“Yeah, that’s why I asked.” That’s when it occurred to me. Chloe didn’t get up to things. She just facilitated it when Char did. I pushed the carton into Chloe’s mittened hands and stormed out of the Wawa.
I didn’t know what Char was up to, but it was obvious that she had sent Chloe out to keep me busy while she did it. I ran back fast enough to make my face a collection of snowflakes. The door to the house was locked, my cold fingers fumbled awkwardly for the right key.
Through the door, snow melting down my cheeks with the climate change from out to indoors. I raced up the stairs, some instinct already knowing to check my room first, not Char’s.
I flung the door open and came face to ass with myself.
Okay. I didn’t literally recognize my own ass. I’m not that much of a narcissist that I’ve actually looked at my butt enough to pick it out of a lineup. But I did know that the long haired blonde straddling my boyfriend naked and grinding her hips against him wasn’t me.
“You. Skanky. Witch,” were the last words I actually remember saying before everything went red.
I reached out and grabbed a handful of her/my hair in a furious fist. Pulling at it, determined to rip her off my playwright with one arm, there was suddenly a strange warm feeling rushing through my blood. I’m not proud to say that I’ve tried intravenous drugs a few times, and the feeling of magic is uncannily similar. Just a million times more intense. No, not really intense… more… complicated. I can’t describe it better than that.
Ripping the glamour off of Charissa, I could feel magic for the first time. The spell tore off of her like a giant Colorform and from her scream, it hurt like a bikini wax. My–if I say so myself–nicely curvy figure peeled away, my cousin’s bonier and significantly less busty frame underneath.
“What the he–” Arthur started, trying to sit up.
The transformation spell in my hand writhed like one of those ribbon things that rhythmic gymnasts wave around. Or maybe a snake. More like a snake, I guess. At the time, I wasn’t really looking for a metaphor. I just wanted to kick Charissa’s ass into the next county. As it flickered in my hand, it wrapped tighter and tighter around my wrist, my arm, burning into it as I ignored the fire and focused on raising my knee to impact the back of Char’s head.
I somehow dragged her onto the floor, and there were several minutes of hitting her in the face before arms pulled me off of her. When I came back to myself, the spell in my hand was gone, just a red streak of burned skin around my wrist. Charissa had a broken nose and a new look of fear in her eyes that I consider a trophy to this day.
Aunt Cat had to wipe Arthur’s mind, and that was the end of that relationship. I don’t think I could have stayed with someone who couldn’t tell the difference between sex with me and sex with Char anyway. Ew. Bad mental picture, excuse me.
The positive side of the whole incident, though, was that I finally got accepted as a part of the whole witch community. The leader of the Invisible Coven, an old woman named Lisa Vassey, took several days with me trying to discern the nature of my abilities. Despite her intense Russian perseverance, I still showed up as completely unmagical. The only difference we could find was the glamour spell I had somehow taken from Charissa. She was never able to cast it again. Suddenly I could. It was hard, and it hurt like hell, but if I focused hard enough, I could layer another appearance over my own.
The part that shocked everyone was that even under the glamour, my aura was still blank. It was like there was no spell upon me at all.
That was when it was decided that I would join the FBI.
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.