Inspired by Benjamin M., who opted to suffer the supreme transformation rather than continue in a loveless, abusive relationship.
RIP, Brother. I’ll never let you go.
The website sold the candles and the oils, the herbs and stones, the ritual implements and the incantation–discretely and discreetly. All total it came to a meager $207 after shipping. Ben pulled four doubles and met the cost easily, even though Mandy would protest.
Of course, if she would keep her shrieking to a dull roar, he might not need the stuff, might not need to resort to black magic. Escape without divorce, back into the sea, back into the womb, back into the cold, dark current that ran below the tears of the world.
“You got a package,” she said as he took off his Waffle Barn visor. “In by the computer. I almost didn’t sign for it.”
“Why wouldn’t you sign for it?”
“Why are last night’s dishes still in the sink?” she sniffed. “When I put a post-it on the counter, that means before you go to bed. Remember?”
He bristled. “Why couldn’t you do the dishes?”
She yawned, popped another Xanax. “Because my Crohn’s kicked in and I couldn’t move.”
Her undiagnosed Crohn’s Disease, the reason she took so many pills, the reason she had to have an eighth of high-priced weed every three days, the reason he had to work two shitty jobs while she rolled around in bed and slept all day, the reason she had almost $60,000 in student loan debt and a flag line for a transcript. The reason he hated his life.
“And it just cleared up? Just like that?”
She snapped her fingers. “Nope. None of that. You do NOT know pain, kiddo.” She lit a menthol. “You want to trade places with me for a day? Fine. You’ll be crying like the little bitch you are and I’ll just laugh.”
They married young, when he was still in the Army reserve. She seemed intellectual–faux eye-glasses, smart bangs, a sophomore at the local college studying sociology. Two weeks after the ceremony, she told him of her intestinal problems. She promised to get on disability, but it never panned out because the tests always came back negative. Then the letter of expulsion came and their future vanished into thin air.
“Doctors don’t know everything,” she said at the time.
He took the package into their bedroom, cleared a space on the floor, and opened it. The order came complete with everything needed to perform the ritual, everything needed to finally get away from a bad decision.
The conch shell fascinated him, the tool to be used at the climax of the ceremony. The outline of the rite stood out in his memory, the dream–no matter how far-fetched–beckoned. Become a dolphin and swim away. Just change form and leave for good, never look back.
A dry-run seemed prudent. The instruction manual suggested as much, as well.
First, focus your intent. Why do you want this transformation? Why do you want to change your life in such a drastic way? If your intent isn’t clear, don’t expect the elementals to cooperate with your plan.
“Get me a bowl of ice cream,” the order wafted down the hall and into the bedroom.
He started to get up, thought about it, and returned to his work. The intent couldn’t be clearer in his mind.
Next, turn your intent into power. Focus on your life, on what needs changing, and feel it burn inside of you. You will know this feeling when you encounter it, but do not delude yourself.
“And add chocolate syrup–at least three tablespoons.”
A wave of fury rippled through him, furrowed his brow.
Apply three drops of Ocean Oil to your hands and dress the three blue candles in this kit.
“Did you hear me, fuckstick?”
The candles slipped through his fingers, their wicks lit with ease.
Place the aquamarine, the turquoise, and the blue sand in front of you and meditate on the color blue and its connection to water.
“Never mind, I’ll do it myself. Lazy fuck.”
Blue–his color. He owned blue now, felt a kinship to it that few understood.
Recite the following incantation until the change occurs.
“What did you do with the chocolate syrup? It’s not in the refrigerator.”
At end of day
To Water play
Syrene be praised.
The silly sing-song chant made little sense, but each repetition seemed to pull his mind further from the moment, away from his mountain of debt, away from the wife who didn’t love him.
Absently he raised the conch to his lips, blew a thin squeal through the shell, no louder than a whisper.
He shook his head, unsure of what happened. The sensation of waking up from a dream lingered. The clock on the nightstand registered a few minutes difference but it felt like hours.
A crash from the living room forced him up. He snuffed the candles.
No answer came.
He opened the door, called down the hall. “Mandy?”
In the living room the barracuda flopped against the remains of the coffee table, tail thrashing wildly as gills pumped dry air through the dying fish. Ben knelt, felt relief course through him, pulled the fake eyeglasses from the fish’s head, and wondered if the neighborhood cats would appreciate the feast or not.