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by Steve Passey

To love a witch, a real bruja, is to hate her enemies and curse them by word and sign. To love her is to serve her.

The dog had run out of the dark into my high-beams and stopped, paralyzed by the light. I hit it and it descended, from left to right, with the same motion as if falling down from a height back into the ditch out of which it came. I stopped and la bruja got out and brought the dead dog back to life by speaking a single word into its dead mouth like I had seen her do with other dogs and small animals before.

The dog gasped, and then started. It raised its head up out of the pool of its own blood and looked around in confusion for a moment, not really seeming to notice us although we were close enough to touch. It got to its feet and shook itself and began to walk awkwardly away. It crossed the median and walked onto the far lane following its nose on whatever mission we had just so unfortunately interrupted, whereupon it was hit by a large truck coming the other way and killed in front of our eyes a second time. La bruja covered her mouth with her hands and the tears, big and bright, began to roll down her cheeks. The truck, which might as well have been a mountain, felt nothing and passed into the lightless night.

“I’m sorry, baby,” I said. “You are above reproach. Your word was pure but perhaps the timing was unfortunate for this one.”

“Tell me you love me,” she said, speaking through her hands. Her eyes were bright with the salt of her tears, bright like the constellations of heavens unknown, so much more prefect than our heavens. I tell her the same thing I always told her when bad things happen. I speak to her of rapture, when she alone will remain.

“You always know just what to say, baby,” she said to me.

I always say the same thing when bad things happen.

We got back into the car but she drove this time. We drove on but a little slower than before.


I asked her once for the word she used to make life come back into small things so recently dead. She told me only that a thing is magic only if one and one alone knows it. Once it is written, once it is passed on, it can be learned and it isn’t magic. It becomes mere science. In time it won’t even be science, it will just be a fact, and facts are soon superseded by other facts and then others until the original, the magic, can’t work. When that happens magic is just superstition, another error of creation, and it is discarded and forgotten. It is as if it had never been.

Steve Passey is from southern Alberta. He is the author of the collections Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock and The Coachella Madrigals and many other things. He is an editor/reader for the Black Dog Review.