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  • Writer's pictureLoveday Funck

To Love a Swamp Witch

Loving a swamp witch isn't easy. Celeste Lagat understood that so she didn't cause a scene when she found him flirting with the transplant girl at the corner market.

Poor girl only recently moved to Louisiana from Idaho, Iowa, or some such place so Celeste understood that the girl didn't understand the possible repercussions of making a move on the man of a swamp witch. After interrupting their exchange of socials, Celeste smiled sweetly and dragged Stephen home.

Stephen O'Malley dragged his feet on the dusty walk back to the cabin, muttering that he hadn't done anything wrong. Celeste remained quiet, focusing on centering herself and releasing her anger.

As they stepped into the cabin, Stephen yelled that he got bored out at the cabin while she disappeared into the swamp at all hours of the day or night.

Celeste gestured around at all the chores left undone: wood to be chopped and stacked, vegetables in the garden to be picked and processed, dishes to be washed, and clothes to be put away. Much work needed to be done within and without the cabin.

Stephen looked away and muttered something under his breath.

Celeste took a fortifying breath. She turned away from him and started putting away her harvest from the day's foraging: cat tails, some wild grapes, and a precious basket of rose hips.

Stephen remained standing where she left on the worn rug pieced together by her grandmother so long ago.

Celeste frowned over at his rebellious figure: his thick dark hair, the square cut of his jaw, at the width and breadth of his shoulders. Stephen O'Malley was a nice-looking man. She'd been smitten from the moment he'd given her an irrepressible grin across the bar in that little hole-in-the-wall tavern on Tchoupitoulas Street. He'd sent a round of shots over to her table where she sat with her witchy friends.

The witches made their living selling fortunes to the tourists in Jackson Square or one of the myriad of spiritual shops sprinkled around the city.

Celeste Lagat made her own money from her isolated cabin, foraging and creating. Now and again, she made a trip to the city with deliveries and to pick up a few needed supplies.

She never minded being alone, until Stephen.

After a night spent in his Irish Channel bed, Celeste remembered all that she'd been missing being alone for so long. Stephen O'Malley possessed magical fingers and a husky growl of a voice that haunted her dreams when she returned to her cabin in the woods.

Her trips to New Orleans became more frequent, and every single one ended in the bed of Stephen O'Malley.

After months of comings and goings, Stephen began to ask her to stay. He urged her to leave the isolation of the swamp and move in with him. He argued that she could get a job in one of the witch shops, selling fortunes and potions to the tourists.

Celeste understood that being in love with a swamp witch isn't easy, but she couldn't leave the cabin built by her great-great-grand mere so long ago.

The Lagat bloodline had responsibilities to the swamp and to the spirits of that land. The cabin long ago became a focal point for spiritual activity in her community. She stood at the crossroads between realms; a guardian of the darkness on the other side, the darkness poked and prodded on the boundaries of our world, always looking for a way to get in.

Celeste attempted to explain her position to Stephen. She wanted him to understand.

He flashed his sparkly blue eyes and smiled to show his even white teeth.

Celeste knew he didn't understand but she let it go because she wanted to feel the magic of skin on skin. She wanted to leave her worries and burdens for just a moment and lose herself in his bed.

The next time she came to New Orleans, Stephen suggested that maybe he should move in with her. With the power of his online work-from-home job, Stephen could live anywhere.

Celeste hesitated. Again, she tried to explain the spiritual crossroads and the dark spirits gnawing at the edges of our world.

She'd fortified her home with spell jars, made powerful with the right herbs, with rusting screws and nails. Under her mother's gentle coaching, as a young witch, Celeste had created her own special clay alligator, made with Louisiana mud, a guardian talisman for the cabin and the surrounding land.

The cottage seemed unsafe for someone as spiritually negligent as Stephen, but he asked to come with her again and again.

Now, as the two stood facing one another across the length of the worn rug, the silence between them stretched on and on. Stephen broke first.

With remorseful eyes and his magic fingers, Stephen wormed his way back into her heart and into her bed.

She fell asleep, loving the warmth of him against her but doubts gnawed at the edges of her sleep.

Celeste knew that it wasn't easy to love a swamp witch.

When Stephen grumbled about the spotty internet, they'd upgraded the connection but their isolation made his job so much more difficult and time-consuming.

Celeste tried to be understanding when she found him following dozens of Instagram models and leaving suggestive comments on their posts.

She knew that loving a swamp witch isn't easy.

Celeste encouraged him to help out with the chores around the cabin. Somehow having an extra pair of hands created even more work for her.

She tried to share her spiritual work with him. She lit the favorite incense of her ancestors. She set out their favorite foods on special plates, including a shot of apple brandy for her great-great uncle Hebert.

She told Stephen about the special jars and showed him her alligator talisman. He smiled indulgently and ran his soothing fingers through her hair.

Celeste knew that loving a swamp witch isn't easy so she overlooked his physical laziness and continued to brew up his favorite meals and stews.

But when she discovered him sexting through his dms, Celeste reached her breaking point.

Methodically, she walked around the perimeter of the cabin grounds digging up all the carefully buried spell jars. She went to the mantle and took down her alligator talisman, tucking him carefully away in a pocket. She packed extra clothes and blankets in her foraging basket and left the cabin.

She slept under the stars, sleeping more soundly than she'd slept in the bed she shared with Stephen in many long weeks.

When she returned to the cabin in the morning light, she found the front door of the cabin wide open and hanging by its hinges. Celeste noted deep scratch marks on the stairs and the porch. Was it something trying to get in or something being dragged away?

When she examined the door frame, contemplating the necessary repairs, she made a mental note to pick up sandpaper. Deep gouges had been dug into the inner door frame as if from fingernails.

Celeste began the task of re-burying all the spell jars around the perimeter of the property. She bagged up the clothes and personal items that Stephen had left behind. She thoroughly saged the house and placed her talisman alligator back on the mantle with gentle fingers.

Loving a swamp witch isn't easy.

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