“Enter the First Three Witches” and Online Dating
“Last batch of eye tasted like ass,” said Stadin conversationally, stirring her caramel macchiato three times widdershins, the spoon rattling against the sides of the ceramic coffee mug with each turn. Reminiscent of a nicely charred bone utensil in a cast-iron cauldron.
“My hunch is it was salamander and not newt,” offered Hoppo, glancing out of the corners of her eyes toward the door of the Moon Under Water Coffee House.
It was storming, the toad-sized hailstones obscuring the view of the crossroads corner through the plate glass windows flanking the entrance. Thirsty connoisseurs were entering with hunched shoulders, shaking like miserable, sodden canines, steam rising off their coats and parkas in the warm interior. It was early-evening and Hoppo was waiting for her first eHarmony date’s arrival.
“Stop, sister, I implore you,” interrupted Puckle, wriggling her fingers at Hoppo.
“What?” she growled, turning her steely gaze back to the table occupants. “Why?”
“You’re acting like a desperate orphan.”
Hoppo harrumphed, the sound more bitter than angry, and broke off the corner of her pumpkin scone, pressing it between her lips. She chased it down her gullet with a long sip of her un-doctored house coffee.
“eHarmony - When you’re ready to find the love of your life,” Stadin spit out. “Get back on Tinder. It suited you,” she offered. “Your particular needs, shall we say.” She and Puckle cackled together.
“Hysterical, hysteria’s sisters,” Hoppo replied, her face stolid and serious.
“Oh, don’t be like that.” Stadin sounded contrite but with an over-bite. “You don’t need a man to get a teaspoon of elixir.”
Puckle laughed so hard she began to choke a bit on her own morsel of pumpkin scone. Stadin pounded her soundly between her jutting shoulder blades, sharp as axe heads. Puckle held up one hand, the universal symbol for stop before I hex you. She nodded that she had cleared her throat. Stadin used her knuckles to knock out a quick rhythm up the knobs of her sister’s spine, finishing with a pat on her shoulder, and settling back in her chair.
“You don’t need pepper to make a pig sneeze,” Puckle giggled.
“And you don’t need a knife to let blood,” Hoppo told both with a look that could spell disaster with the right translation.
A heavy cloud settled over the stewing sisters. Stadin and Puckle sharing covert glances that threatened to turn up the ends of both their lips in dark mirth. Hoppo continuing to cast a hopeful glance at the front door.
"I think," Stadin broke into the heavy silence. "Things were better for us when we could stir a bit of menstrual blood into a man's kidney pie. So much easier to control them that way. What say you, sisters?"
Hoppo shuddered. "It's the 21st Century, we have better things to do than serve men bloody pies."
Stadin nodded, finishing her coffee with a faraway look in her mismatched eyes.
Puckle took a long drink of her herbal tea. “Have I mentioned how much I like that the Moon Under Water hasn’t betrayed the sensible use of crockery for paper.”
“Only every time we patronize this establishment.”
She drained the last of the tea and swirled the cup quickly before turning it upside down onto its saucer. “I’m going to attempt to read the leaves for you, sibling,” she informed Hoppo.
“Please don’t. And besides, that isn’t even possible, strictly speaking.”
“In the strictest sense, and I can play the dominatrix better than anyone seated at this table, I’m reading my leaves in relation to how your future affects me. Romantic entanglement or not.”
Puckle carefully turned the teacup right side up and peered inside, Stadin crowded in, cheek pressed against cheek. They turned stricken faces towards one another and just at that moment the bell over the door announced another arrival.
All three swiveled their heads in the direction of the sound. The rain had stopped, a sudden sunbeam shone through the open door, crowning the newcomer in a halo of brilliant gold light. In his hand he held a small bouquet of hemlock.
“That’s him,” breathed out Puckle and Stadin in one foul breath.
“He’s shorter than you led us to believe,” said Puckle.
“He looks,” Stadin paused, narrowing her eyes, “dimmer than you suggested.”
“You are some salty witches,” Hoppo told them both before she stood and turned to greet her king hereafter.
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