The Priest and the Witch

 

Inside the long, winding hallways of gray lay a small, shrouded black figure.
 

The airport was desolate, wreaked of quiet desperation and delayed flights, crying babies and irritable parents, steaming hot coffee to weary travelers with sunken eyes. Groups flocked together, sitting in huddled chairs, examining itineraries with great confusion, as though something great and foreign—this tiny piece of paper which had eluded them so. Bags dragged along wearily, carried prostate by limp hands, the smell of sweat permeating the air, the cold, lifeless grey encroaching, creeping up the walls, across the glass panels reflecting planes, great hungry beasts, bellies filled with hundreds of bodies, swimming with lifeless tile floors and smiling faces waving from sunny billboards.

 

And inside this palace of transition, this lonely, gaping hole lay the tiny figure, curled over into herself, weeping loudly.

 

The people around looked at her with disdain and plain aversion, struggling to crane their necks as far as possible from her view, as though her pain was contagious; as though it would creep up to them, wrapping its feelers around their wan faces; as though it was a crime, something absurd and humiliating, to be so very naked. Frowning fathers turned their children away, fearing her maudlin air, pushing their prams away. A few lone travelers eyed her curiously, yet not without contempt, as the seats next to her remained vacant.

 

Yet she went on sobbing, completely oblivious of their sullen hatred and apathy, crying as though her heart were fit to break. Huddled into herself in a mass of black coat, black dress, frayed, cheap tights, her black hair dirty, swinging over her face and covering her swollen eyes, she wept so sincerely, so honestly and simply, that the airport itself seemed to reverberate her broken cries, her childlike whimpering, broadcasting it plainly to those dulled hearts around her.

 

The weeping was momentarily broken by the sound of footsteps—a simple one, two, one two, walking down the hall as a lone figure came into view.

 

He was by no means, outrageous looking: he appeared simply as a tall figure in jeans and a long, sweeping black coat, almost like a cassock’s robe. His face was simple, radiant with a quiet peace that seemed to emanate from him: in his pale complexion, his full lips, his green eyes, clear as glass, jade, the treasure of empires and centuries of poetry, pale, beautiful perfection; long fingers and a gentle smile.

 

He appeared thus before the witch, aghast in her odious cries, shaking in her chair, and stood looking at her quite plainly. Standing above her, he looked down into her face with a clear gentleness. A hush fell over the terminal as curious onlookers examined him, their lips pulled into twisted grins, convoluted frowns, wondering.

 

He took a seat next to her and, by means of addressing her, tapped her delicately on the back.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

She looked up at him in surprise, and it became clear to see the pain she had suffered—the anguish engraved into her face, into the violet circles underneath her eyes, the blood drained from her face. Yet the blood remained in the circles around her eyes, bloodshot, dejected.

 

He didn’t see the horror of the blood, the many successive deaths she had suffered.

Instead he saw a gentle dusting of freckles around her nose, rosy cheeks, a sharp and clever face, wisps of hair falling over her eyes, black fading into blonde;  but above all what he saw were her eyes: bright, beautiful green.

 

She looked up at him, her eyes shining, with a look of complete surrender, of a gratitude encompassing a humanity for all things which had lived and suffered. In her look, in that one, sweeping glance of the eye, he felt bound to her. He sat down next to her and began to talk to her in a low, subdued voice, a voice gentle from disuse.

 

The crowd watched as this thing began to grow—this haze of a soft light that had begun to emanate from the two, the witch and her priest. As he spoke, she grew, by degrees, to find comfort in him; to smile crookedly, as though it were against her will, to gaze at him rapturously, as though she had never seen anything quite like him before. He sat with his simple black coat, speaking to her in his steady, even way, and as she grew to inch closer and closer to him, the hunch of her back spreading, her form growing, he ran his fingers through her hair, stroked her hair so tenderly as though he feared she would shatter altogether and disappear.

 

The light grew; from where, no one quite knew—it surrounded them, seemed to reflect from their pale faces and the green eyes that bore into each other with so much patience and understanding. She inched closer and closer to him as he sat there, wrapping his coat around himself, his lips bursting into a joyous grin, a grin so large it seemed to sweep over his face, animating his features. What the tourists saw was this—this vital life which they created—they saw it in her face, in his hands, running across her hair; and were startled to realize she was a witch no more, but a beautiful girl, enraptured with rosy eyes and swollen heart—a love which had sparked, brought to life by the tender hands of the priest, which bled from her very pores, from her face and her tiny warbled hands onto his face, a tiny kiss that she planted, and the light grew and grew until suddenly there was no more—

 

nothing but the shutting of two doors and the resuming of normal, monotonous, the doldrum life which had captured the dead hearts of the tourists, waiting, waiting, from which the priest and the witch had escaped quietly, without a word, into the light.

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The Happiest Little Girl

The happiest little girl in the world approached the counter politely.

“Hello,” she said brightly, putting her hands down onto the counter.

Her hands were exceedingly small. There was little other virtue in them besides their size, sans perhaps their odd, mocha color. The girl’s face, too, had this strangely swarthy color, but it was dispersed with a generous amount of rosiness, a rosiness that crept across her cheeks and bled into her lips. Her eyelids were heavily stained with mascara.

“Yes, please. I would like a hot chocolate, please,” she rallied off stoically to the barista.

The barista scowled.

“Would you like a small, medium, large or extra large?” she asked exasperatedly.

The girl stared up at her with bright eyes quizzically, apparently taken aback. There was a moment’s pause, during which the barista continued to look at the girl apprehensively.

And then, suddenly, the little girl burst into hot, furious tears, stamping her feet against the tile, wrinkling her nose, screaming,

“I WANT A SMALL!” she cried. “SMALL, PLEASE, I WOULD LIKE A SMALL, YES PLEASE THANK YOU!”

The other two baristas lurking behind the counter perked up their ears, grinning broadly. The one behind the counter appeared to be chewing gum. She began to blow a bubble as she leaned over the counter, was almost nose to nose with the little girl.

“That’ll be $3.14, miss.”

The bubble ruptured, effectively quelling the noisy tears.

Timidly, meekly, humiliatingly, the little girl reached into her purse and extracted a bill.

“Do you have change for $100?” she asked quietly.

“Sure, kid.” The barista, still scowling, handed her the change. The little girl looked up at her imploringly, her eyes still wet.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” she exclaimed.

Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a stick of gum and handed it to the little one. The latter reached out instinctively to accept, smiling widely.

“Why, thanks a lot lady.”

And without another word, the little girl walked out, turned a corner, and headed for the nearest coffee shop.