All the girls who bullied you in high school are into spirituality nowadays. They wear blue evil eyes around their necks—the same kind your mother hangs up in the house—and write “love and light” in their Instagram bios, forgetting the purpose of shadows and darkness. You see them sometimes, when you go back to your hometown, reading tarot cards while sitting cross-legged on the sidewalks of cul-de-sacs, gossiping as a ritual, burning sage until the smell haunts your nose, desperate to banish the phantom of you from their imagination. They read books by Christians about the secrets of Qabala or Cabala and always spell it wrong. They tweet pentagram emojis and shoplift beliefs from cultures like knockoff handbags, posing for photos in a carefully cultivated costume of appropriation. They claim to be the daughters of the witches that could not be burned, yet their pale hands do not hover over flames like yours as you whisper prayers in an ancient tongue. And it is true, there was a rumor you were a witch. It is true, you live at the edge of town near the woods with a black cat named Mitzvah and a golden woman who wears Tznius and practices Jewish folk magic. Sometimes, while they walk under the light of the moon and call out to other people’s gods, they catch a glimpse of you and her through the window. You, reading out of a book that survived a burning. Her, praying for goodness, for life, and for peace. Right when you welcome the Shabbat Queen, before the sabbath begins, Let us go, my beloved, to greet the Bride, let us welcome Her, you hear a high pitched voice outside whisper about the Magen David and the Hamsa and the wonders of Lilith, the demon-woman, hellish-mother, child-thief, and you feel as if something has been stolen from you, so one by one the two of you decide to steal things back. First, you wait until they feel safe to act. Second, you creep into their house during a sleepover for the falsely enlightened, ignore the cross of Jesus on the wall, the doorway, over their hearts, and take back what was never theirs. You do not make a sound, and the amulet seems to glow with a power once dormant, each returned to its rightful owner. You manifest it into the hands of those who know what it means. Next, you take the sage to give it back to the land, then release the idols of deities from their hostages. You do not look too long at the sleeping, beautiful forms of the Aphrodisiacs. They called you names, threatened your Neshama and silenced your heart. Before you leave, your wife pulls out the Justice card on every tarot deck, then places it on the top, face up, so that the Rabbi on it holds two objects: a scale in one hand, as a symbol of balance, and a sword in the other, to exemplify the preservation of that equilibrium even by means of force. Her lips press against yours, and together you let out into the universe the words: Baruch HaShem. She borrows a broomstick from the closet and whisks you away, out the window, like a crow into the star covered night. The girls wake up at the sound of an absence and scream, but all that echoes in the dark is the violent memory of a shared, unstoppable loss.
Lara Boyle is a writer who enjoys telling stories, reading, and getting lost in bookstores. She studies creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. You can find her work in The Huffington Post, Newsweek, The Jerusalem Post, and more.