On the Way to Death Valley
Mary Lynn Reed

Delilah, the Witch, sat under the Eucalyptus tree eating frozen yogurt and reading The New Yorker. She was twenty-two, just graduated from Fordham. She'd left her fiancé, Craig, in the motel just off the freeway, where they'd had a fight on the way to Death Valley.

A large straw hat shaded the young witch's eyes from the sun. She smoothed her dry hands over the slick magazine cover as she counted the cars and the campers whizzing fast toward the horizon. She pictured the curve of Craig's bony nose, his ever disapproving eyes. Hours after she'd left him at the motel she could still hear his deep angry voice, scolding.

The spell had failed again. He was not kind yet. The Tarot cards warned her. His aura was dark.

She decided. As soon as she finished her yogurt she would hitch to New Mexico where her brother taught nuclear physics. She'd been there once before, where the nights felt older than dust and the mornings were painted pure purple.

But Delilah was an optimistic pagan. She did not believe in the devil and she loved a great challenge. As she scraped the last bite of yogurt off the bottom of the cup with a white plastic spoon, the sweet strawberry taste satisfied her so completely, she thought it must be a sign. Craig really did love her. He wasn't beyond saving.

So she closed her eyes and conjured the blue fairy goddess, the one who always gave her the right answers, and she asked, "Should I marry the cranky old bastard?" 

The wind whistled through the tree branches like a lover's soft whisper, and Delilah was certain the Universe said, "Who? Who?"

When she returned to the motel two hours later, Craig stood outside wearing his green velvet cape and top hat, a cloud of smoke rising above his head like a halo.

"If we leave now, we could be married in Vegas before sunrise," he said.

Though they argued all night down the deserted dark highway, when the City of Lights rose up to greet them, Delilah grabbed for Craig's hand, and for an instant, they were as silent as secrets.

That's when she knew. His spells had always been stronger.

Mary Lynn Reed's fiction has appeared in FRiGG, The MacGuffin, Karamu, Happy, Night Train, Temenos, SmokeLong Quarterly, and in the anthology See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming published by Better Non Sequitur Press. She lives in Maryland.

To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200901dvalley.htm

Detail of artwork on main page courtesy of .susanne.

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