by Solomon Tate
Things were getting weird. Something strange was going on with my wife. She’d been lighting candles.At first it was just one or two small candles at twilight which she believed was helping to keep the planet green, and as she explained, the candles helped her to relax. But then it spiraled out of control. She was lighting so many candles that the house was lit up like Mass at St. Peter’s. We were awash with candles. There were tall ones and short ones. There were candles in glass jars and candles in pewter holders. There were holiday candles, tapered candles, and scented candles. They were everywhere. She was lighting them day and night, closing the curtains and turning off the lights in order to obtain just the right effect. And while she found it soothing, we were all concerned. She had become a candle junkie.
She developed a fondness for candle shopping, seeking them out where ever she went. She was finding them everywhere, bringing them home home from stores, and ordering them on line. She waited with anxious delight for the deliveries to arrive, and was overjoyed when the packages finally came. There was great anticipation wondering just which of the candles had arrived. She looked at them carefully, examining them methodically as she searched for any damage or flaw. Once certain that they were exactly what she wanted, she carried them to the bedroom and kit them, losing herself in the orange glow of their rather insignificant flames. I tried to warn her of the fire hazard but she assured me that she was always extremely careful. She positioned them in very specific and precise arrangements, and made it clear to all of us that they were not to be moved.
One of my daughters began to question her mother’s motives for this new found interest in candle lighting. She suspected that my wife may be a witch. It was not a new supposition, but the multitude of candles being lit at any given time had only served to heighten the concern. “She could be practicing witchcraft.”, my daughter stated. “Sometimes I hear her mumbling in there.”
“Its not likely.”, I remind her. “You’re mother rarely feels the need to practice. anything. If she’s doing witch stuff, she’s probably already turned pro.”
She was particularly partial to those little tea candles which she purchased at Ikea, and the citrus scented ones that come in little glass jars that she said would be use to hold spices once the candles were spent. It was a well thought out scheme, although I did let her know that we could purchase small spice jars at Ikea as well. She balked at the idea, reminding me that she liked the candle light.
“Wasn’t there an aunt or someone who was a witch?”, my daughter asked. Indeed there was. A great aunt, who was believed to have put a curse on her husband and turned him into a zombie. There are numerous stories about curses and hexes she had placed on several people over the years that served to make her the scourge of the family and allowed her to wield great power over her mere mortal family. Everyone was afraid of her. Everyone, except my wife. I had met this woman on two occasions, and for weeks after I regularly inspected my boxers just in case the story of her turning a neighbors genitals into a pretty useless sock puppet was true.
Aunt Layla was quite old when I first met her, and she also had a fondness for candles and had amassed a rather festive collection in her home. We visited her home just one time, and found her husband sitting in a chair, neither blinking nor talking, surrounded by an array of tapered candles of assorted sizes that appeared to have been used often. I had been warned by other family members not to accept any food or drink Aunt Layla may offer as this was her preferred method of getting someone to ingest any one of hundreds of potions. They said her husband simply drank some mint tea, and within hours had become a zombie. He stayed that way for over thirty years. My kids, who know the stories of the family’s witches, have advised me to keep a close eye on my wife, and not to eat or drink anything she prepares.
And as the candle lighting continued flooding the house with the warm glow of yellow and orange, we all kept our eyes wide open. We sought out professional help, but my wife was unwilling to participate. We considered an intervention, but worried about the consequences if she really were a witch. If she was casting spells or reaching out to her long deceased Aunt Layla to increase her powers, we were all pretty much screwed already.
My daughter has pointed out that I appear significantly shorter than I once was, and while I thought it was due to aging, it could very well be my wife’s handy work. She was always resentful that she was so much shorter than I. My daughter continues to watch her mother like a hawk. She just can’t seem to relax and let it go. “Have you seen her stirring her cauldron in the morning?”, she asks.
“She’s making oatmeal.”, I reply.
“Really?”, she questions. “Are you sure?” I would like to believe that I am pretty sure. It’s unlikely that she’s cooking up eye of newt, and toe of frog. But in the meantime, the candles keep burning, my wife keeps chanting, and the rest of us, well, we regularly roam the house searching for wool of bat and tongue of dog and any signs of a pentagram drawn on the floor. So far, its all good.