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Sunny Dey loved men, cats and fresh-cut flowers in roughly that order. She also loved the arcane arts and was, in fact, a white witch.
Thus, when Danny dumped her for another woman the day after New Years not so very long ago, Sunny was quite angry at first. That passed as she held her black-with-a-white-spot-on-his-chest cat, Priest, in her arms and cried for about an hour. Then she set about getting even.
“A handful of chrysanthemum blossoms brings sunlight sensitivity; oil of sumac drench his eyes. Now the pits of peach and apricot and two black locust beans,” Sunny intoned while studying passages from the book of “White Necromancy,” standard reading for witches these days. For good measure she consulted “The Consumer’s Guide to Poison Protection” and found every item in her brew on the list of toxic plants.
She put a match to the mouth of a bowl filled with brown powder, a spicy incense, and placed this on her living room table between two lit purple candles. With pestle in hand, she completely crushed in the mortar all the items she purchased from the occult store down the street, cut a piece off the favorite old shirt Dan used to wear around the apartment.
Chopping the shirt into little pieces gave her great satisfaction. She poured the mixture on the smoldering punk. There was a satisfying sizzle as the room began to fill with acrid fumes.
“Omigod,” she said out loud as the smoke detector burst to squeaking life and tears began again to well up in her eyes, this time from the harsh cloud. “I better open a window!” For good measure, she also flung open the rear porch door.
Fortunately none of her neighbors in the building thought her room was on fire. Just Sunny working another spell, they remarked to one another as the air in the hallway cleared. Ten minutes later her doorbell rang persistently. Peering through the peephole she saw a man wearing a great gray overcoat and a pointed plastic hat with a number on the side standing there poking a finger at the button. She cautiously opened the door.
“Fire department, ma’am. Got a signal from this building. Fellow downstairs directed me to your apartment saying there was no fire, maybe you burned something on the stove. That right?”
She said she was fine and, yes, just a pot she forgot to take off the stove. Sorry.
He attempted to look beyond her into the room, but she blocked his view. Eventually he accepted the excuse and left.
However, she was not fine. Inhaling the fumes made her ill for two days and she had to call in sick for work. On the third day she came forth prepared to walk bravely down the stairs and face whatever this frightfully portentous new year might bring, promising herself she would never love a man again.
A dozen long stemmed red roses were propped up in the hall just outside her door.
How delightful, quite lovely, she thought and a smile blossomed. It was the first time she had been made happy in days. As she stooped to inspect the card attached to the crystal chalice in which the flowers sat she thought, they can’t be for me.
But they were. To Sunny. With Love. Homer. She did not know anyone named Homer.
Still, it would not do to leave anything so lovely and refreshing in the hall all day. Sunny dutifully took them inside to the kitchen sink where she ran some water over them and left them to soak in the plastic dish pan. She had to rush right back out again because her streetcar was coming and she could not be late for work after missing two whole days straight.
She missed it. The streetcar pounded past and she was vexed. She stood there quite alone at the corner stop since everyone else had been fortunate enough to catch their ride. Another car would be by in ten minutes, she knew, because trolleys were quite regular at this time of morning. Still, it was irritating to have to wait — and all because of those dumb flowers.
She looked down the block at the fleeing tail end of the electric vehicle and was mildly surprised to see it come to a halt. Such things happen to mass transit systems when the power fails. But when it began to back up toward her she knew something was dreadfully wrong.
There was a soft click-click-clat as the green Muni Railway car crept toward her. The tail passed, then the carriage full of people slid slowly backward until the trolley came to rest with the front doors directly in front of Sunny. The driver had the most unusual expression on his face. He strained as he attempted to push his foot through the floorboards and flipped toggle switches trying to regain power. But the vehicle’s electric motor hummed smoothly quietly at idle. There was nothing wrong with it.
Then the doors did what any bus, trolley, streetcar, or tram doors always did during her years using the system: they opened. With the compressed air sound of exhaled breath, they beckoned her to enter.
The interior was jammed with people. She caught concerned looks from other passengers. She recognized David who lived in her building and one or two others who often rode the same coach. Several sets of eyes squinted through the opening and came squarely to rest on her. She felt self-conscious.
“Well don’t just stand there lady,” said the driver who had regained a certain amount of composure. “Get in. Then maybe this cursed coach will roll.”
She stepped across the threshold and flashed her Fast Pass at the driver as the doors closed. The vehicle began to move forward toward the Judah tunnel just as it always had.
“What was that all about?” a woman sitting behind the driver demanded of him.