La Sorcière – 3

”Michael, dépêche-toi, s’il vous plaît!” Annick said as Michael emerged from the apartment he’d sublet on the Rue Lauré not far from the Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe. It was a narrow, quiet street and his apartment sat across from a small hotel and right next to a patisserie. “Hurry, Michael,” Annick repeated. She seemed excited about something. When Michael got close enough Annick threw her arms around his neck and kissed him meaningfully on the lips. Michael kissed her back and held her close. She was nearly as tall as he was and Michael was six feet tall. Annick’s long copper colored hair held the sunlight as she gently freed herself from Michael’s arms and hurried to the car’s driver side. She gracefully slid in behind the wheel and buckled up. Michael, in the passenger seat, did the same. If she drives as fast as she did last night, Michael thought, I’ll need the seat belt. Annick drove west around the Arc de Triomphe and through the Bois de Boulogne leaving Paris behind. “Do you mind telling me where we’re going?” Michael asked. Annick turned to him and smiled. “It’s a surprise,” she said. “Whatever the surprise is,” Michael said, “won’t it still be there if you drive a little slower?” Annick just laughed. After a short while, Annick told Michael the reason for their sojourn. In measured terms she explained that she was fulfilling a centuries old practice among witches. “This is my final test, Michael. If I pass this test I will be deemed worthy to practice my craft. Michael was still perplexed as Annick spoke of witches and witchcraft, things he wasn’t at all certain he believed in. Humans now accepted their presence in the world, though often with uneasiness. Michael harbored no ill will toward them but he’d always believed there had to be logical or scientific explanations for things. Magic? michael had his doubts. More than an hour later, Annick pulled her car off the road and followed a stone drive to a small cottage. Michael was stunned. He hadn’t seen this cottage from the road and there were not enough trees to have obscured it from view. The cottage was old but well-kept. A front garden was apparently well cared for. Vegetables and herbs in neat rows gave off a mix of fragrance. “Who lives here?” Michael asked Annick. He regretted not having his camera, but Annick had been adament that he not take it along. She unlocked the door to the cottage with a key she found in a flower pot adjacent to the door. ”Annick?” Michael started to ask her again about the cottage, but then he was distracted from his question as the door creaked open and sunlight lit the cottage’s interior. There was actually one large room, bare but for a cherry wood table and some chairs. Some oil paintings hung on the walls, scenes mostly of Provence, reminding Michael of Monet’s Gardens at Giverny. Suddenly Michael was aware of Annick at his side, her subtle scent distracting him from his observations. “Tea, Michael?” Annick asked him. Her smile made him forget the paintings and just about everything else. He took the teacup she offered, her fingers lightly touching his as he did so. They stood facing each other silently drinking their tea and looking into each other’s eyes as they drank. “Why did you bring me here? Michael asked. “Whose cottage is this?” Annick turned from him, looking around as she explained. “My grande-mere lived here, Michael, as did her grande-mere and our family’s ancestors for hundreds of years.” Annick turned toward him and continued. “She left it to me when she died, Michael. Do you like it?” Michael wanted to reach for her, to touch her cheek, caress her neck. He wanted to kiss her. Annick stood very close to him. She wanted to kiss Michael, too, but she was also desparate to tell him something. Michael fought the urge to take her in his arms and make love to her as they had the night before. He sensed her need to tell him something first. She had brought him to this place for a reason. He had to know what that reason was before anything else. Before they got even closer. As if knowing what he was thinking, Annick brought her hand to Michael’s cheek and smiled. “Today is my final test, Michael. I have waited for this my entire life.” What was she talking about? Michael thought. He was a bit apprenhensive. He really knew very little about this beautiful, enchanting girl who appeared in his life just by chance. Or was it by chance? Their first meeting seemed somewhat strange. Why had she chosen that very spot to stretch out just as he was preparing to take his photograph? And finding him later in the cafe? Returning a lens case he was certain he’d packed with his other equipment? After that, however, everything seemed quite normal. Annick showed him Paris. Sights he’d not seen before. They grew close very quickly and made love that night for the first time. Michael started to say something when Annick opened a delicate white cloth with strange embroidered symbols on it and placed it on the floor near the table. She lit three candles carefully placing them around the cloth. “Don’t be frightened, Michael,” Annick said. “I told you when we met that I am a witch. I hope you will understand why I brought you here.” Her beautiful green eyes held hope and promise. Michael started to take her in his arms but Annick had already begun the incantation. As she spoke the room spun. The whole cottage seemed to lift in the air as a relentless wind blew in. Michael was thrown backward against a wall. He could do nothing but watch as Annick completed the incantation. Was it a spell? How did he figure into this? As suddenly as it began, it was over. Annick blew out the candles and folded the cloth. She seemed exhausted but she looked up at Michael and smiled. Michael could no longer constrain himself. “Tell me why I am here, Annick. I think I deserve an explanation.” Annick moved to within his reach. “Do you love me, Michael? she asked. “Is that why you brought me here? Michael responded. “To make me fall in love with you? Was that your test? Cast some spell and make some mortal love you?” Michael regretted the harsh words as soon as he uttered them, but he was apprehensive and feeling used. Annick flushed, but her face took on a serious and sincere look. “No, Michael,” she said. “I didn’t make you fall in love with me to pass my test. I passed my test because I fell in love with you.” Annick went on to explain that witches could not always bear children with other witches. No one knew why, but it was becoming an increasing threat to the continued existence of their species. Annick and other young witches were told by their elders that they must be with mortals, but only if they found love. Those who did were permitted to practice their craft and have children. “I love you with all my heart, Michael,” Annick said. He knew he felt the same for her. Michael lifted her in his arms and carried her into the cottage’s only other room, the bedroom. They kissed deeply and made love well into the night.

 *The End*

(Originally posted on the East End Journal)

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  1. Marsha
    February 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Ah, I do so love happy endings. Very good Phil, I enjoyed your story…but what about the French food? 🙂

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