A Leaving

In the weary mill town in Massachusetts, the man had lived in a kind of captivity for many years. There were no bars on his bedroom window, and he had a key to the front door, but nevertheless he felt powerless to leave. There was a woman in the house with him, who, though not a witch, had cast what amounted to a spell over him, and he found that every time his thoughts turned to leaving he grew anxious and fearful, until his thoughts almost never turned that way at all. This man was not happy, but he wasn’t particularly unhappy either, and he spent his days in the grey sort of mood that was reflected perfectly in the grey sky of a Massachusetts winter. Fights occurred, yelling matches and seething resentments, but the man had forgotten hot to think about leaving and his agency was buried deep enough that what little sunshine there was never made it down far enough to let it grow.

So things might have remained forever except that one day, in the thoughtlessly evil way that characterized much of her doings, the woman tried to kill his daughter. She failed (the attempt had been half-hearted), but so intense were the man’s fears and revulsion that they overcame all of the barriers in his mind, sweeping away the stagnation of the spell and reminding him that just because things were did not mean that they would always be so. Worried that his nerve might desert him as quickly as it returned, he left his keys on the table and drove west that morning, looking for a highway but no specific one, his daughter asleep in the seat beside him, and though the day was as grey as every day was in the depths of Massachusetts February, he could feel intensely the weak light of the sun on his face.


Written for a family on the Charlotte Pier on 10/16/16. The details were mostly given to me by the family, and the story felt true, but I’d love to have heard the perspective of the witch.