By Victor D. Infante
Sometimes, I wonder how my grandmother did it. As witches go, Abigail Sparks was pretty much the bomb, a Wonder Woman of a witch who everyone loved, feared and completely pretended not to know when they passed her at the grocery store. One night, at a bar, one of the waitresses told me Abigail had delivered a friend’s mother when she was in danger of a miscarriage. Another woman told me a story of how she withered a farmer’s crops when she discovered he was abusing his daughter. Someone else attributed the fire that destroyed the old music hall to her, but gave no explanation. No one claimed to know my grandmother, but everyone had stories about her. I wonder, sometimes, if that’s what happens to all of us witches, in the end: We become stories on strangers’ lips.
But Abigail was married. Her husband, Anthony, was by all accounts a pretty nice guy. Bookish and patient, he was a grade school teacher, like my mom. My mother is not a witch, and indeed, is so oblivious to my witchcraft that it strains credulity. Sometimes, I’m totally convinced she’s faking it to avoid unpleasant conversations. But whatever the truth, the whole witchcraft thing skipped her and waited around a few decades for me. And I was raised by ghosts. RuPaul is only the latest tulpa I’ve created. When I was subconsciously teaching myself witchcraft, characters from TV shows and comic books would come to life and tutor me. I didn’t know it yet, but I could tap into anything Abigail or anything any witch in line before her knew. But because I didn’t understand this, my mind had to put it in a format it could process the information in.
So, yes, Smurfette and I had a long and detailed conversation one Saturday morning about elemental magic, and how to channel lightning through telephone wires or unravel the molecular structure of Coca-Cola into water, or poison, or anything I wanted, which may have had something to do with spiked punch at a junior high dance. I was a lonely kid. I had to make my own fun. I regret nothing.
But … yeah. Abigail was married. Somehow, she was the biggest, baddest witch of all and had a husband and a daughter, and as far as I can tell, she balanced all this just fine. Me? I date a boy a few times and he leaves me because every time he sees me, that Green Day song he hates starts playing on the stereo, or another girl I’m seeing gets creeped out and leaves because she suddenly thinks she hears voices whispering from the TV static, telling her to kill herself, or run, or whatever. And the kicker is, this magic isn’t just something that happens. No, I know enough now to know that I’m the one doing it, at least subconsciously, but I have no idea why. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship.
Everything in this nightclub radiates sex. I feel it in the pulse of the music, in the flash of the lights, the constant cascade of yes, no, maybe flashing in the dancers’ body language. Couples slide from the dance floor to the club’s darkened corners, pressing lips and bodies against each other in a frantic desperation. Most of the dancers are only a couple of years younger than me, but we couldn’t be more distant. Even those who have every intention of going home alone are caught up in the vibe. It’s what they’re here for, to let that libido buzz dampen the darkness in their brains. It has the feel of ritual about it.
Having no better plan, I drift back onto the dance floor, surrender to the tide.
Victor D. Infante is the editor-in-chief of Radius.