A Reckoning by Sarah Arantza Amador

I understand the Witch now. A little over a year ago, I succumbed to a bad flu — the kind of true influenza that leaves you dry, spent, delirious. Alone in my home, I remember floating into the unlit bathroom late at night, glimpsing in the mirror my aged fingers gripping the glass from which I drank, the vague outlines of arthritic knuckles spotlit by the light in the hall. Panting at my reflection, I watched the ridge of my orbital bone rise and glow, my burning eye sink into darkness: a feverish transmutation that I’ve worried over since.

I continue to catch brief visions of the future slipping along reflective surfaces. My crone features are serious, stern, harsh: frowning mouth, grooved brow, long cleft down my forehead. A glance from my crone visage makes children shrink away, withers men in public spaces. When the Crone makes her appearance, I feel more powerful than I ever have before. I say the word No now like an incantation — the word drops like a stone. Full sentences tumble from my tongue in a ferment of directives, injunctions, commands. My crone body cuts through the world. Young people move aside with deference I am more than happy to accept.

There is some grief. I was recently mesmerized by the body of a young woman in the changing room at my gym. As she undressed, I couldn’t look away from the radiance of her skin, the slenderness of her trunk and limbs. My crone visage stared. The woman walked to a shower stall and reached up to pull the curtain shut like Aphrodite emerging from the white foam thrown by Uranus. I felt true envy that day. Intellectually, I know that my body was once as lithe and firm, that it inspired similar awe, but I am astounded by my lack of true recollection. That body resides in an empty void of memory.

This transformation has given me a type of clairvoyance. When I am with the Girl, I see how they look at her and what they think. I watch them circle her like sharks. I see what lies ahead of her, and I know that she senses it, too. It is in the set of her shoulder blades like jewel beetle wings, how quick she is on her miniature pony feet. Observing her sit in my car while I stand at the pump at the gas station off Highway 129, she shines like a polished crystal in a velvet-lined box, and that envy turns into something more akin to jealousy: protective, foundational, feral. She is mine to freeze forever at that age before she becomes the Maiden. My crone visage glowers at the men floating aimlessly in the parking lot — my gaze communicates that I will eat them alive, like air, like candied eggs, like toads, newts, large insects. They see the Crone and they swim on. The Girl beats in the loam of my heart.

As I said, I understand the Witch.


Sarah Arantza Amador is a graduate of the Creative Writing BA program at UC Santa Cruz and is a former Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish and Latin American Literatures at NYU. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her dog Roscoe. She has new words published in CHEAP POP, FlashBack Fiction, and FIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshow. You can find links to those stories and more at saraharantzaamador.com. She tweets @ArantzaSarah.

Image: unsplash.com