The bruja showed up on the stoop quite unexpectedly. Her long red hair, in an amalgam of dreads, and thick wavy locks, cascaded from underneath a purple kerchief. She was bedecked in a simple earth-toned skirt and a flannel button-up tied over a plain t-shirt.
"Pseudo-Russian farm girl look?" I inquired flippantly as I invited her in.
With her was the colonel. The had decided to go on a roadtrip, Kerouac in fashion. They were heading west, deeper into the American Maghreb, bound for nameless places and far-flung locals of which there may have only been apocrypha about. But before they truly struck out, the bruja had wanted to swing by the House of Owls and Bats to have a cup of Moroccan mint tea with me.
Despite my memory, one which she has spoken of in tones of both admiration and annoyance, I cannot recall what we spoke of. I know we laughed. There was probably some remark about me having relations with her mother. Well and repeatedly. Inquiries of mutual friends down below. Then, as unexpectedly as she had shown up, it was time for them to go. The bruja gave me a strong and long-lasting hug.
"Don't worry," she said. "I'll be back in time."
...In time? In time for what? And the bruja? Being punctual? Really, now. Here was someone who embodied the term Pagan Standard Time...
The answers to my unspoken questions hit me like a two-tone heavy thing, nearly knocking me to my knees...
In the rising and setting of three suns is her memorial. The public one that seemed to be such brain damage to bring together. An event I have composed a requiem for, though I do not know if I will get a chance to read it there, what with a combination of shyness and so many others wanting to speak their peace. A shin-dig that had the gypsy and Madam Lung not gotten involved, probably would've turned into some kind of dysfunctional Burning Man affair, which, though I recognize that was as much of a facet of her existence as my friendship with her, I'm not sure I could attend without wanting to murder everyone in there. Even the children. Especially the children.
I watched the colonel help the bruja into their vehicle. The two of us did not speak during the visit. I might've found that odd save the fact we never really got to know each other that well. I watched them drive away. Up above was a perfectly clear turquoise blue sky. To the west, toward the Roof of the World, was a growing wave of tar-black clouds. A slight breeze stirred, and I could feel a marginal phantasm of pain along my twisted spine, one of my shoulder muscles starting to twist itself into macrame knots. There was a storm coming.
I awoke a little earlier than a usually do with spasm along my left shoulder blade and the sound of the bruja's voice still in my ears. A slight growl issued from my thin lips as I pulled myself from the warmth of the bed and pulled on some clothes to start the day. Whilst Moroccan mint tea might have been a more contextually correct infusion for the mourning, I opted for simple jasmine instead. Perhaps I was being defiant. It used to be said that hot jasmine tea could fix anything, even that, which is not broken. I have learned firsthand the bittersweet lesson that is not always the case.
Ten-pence dream analysis speaks to the obviousness of anxiety at my friend's impending memorial. Not like it would take an aleinist or psychic to solve that riddle. In the rising and setting of three suns I will be involved in the burying of my friend, at least by virtue of metaphor. I do not know if I will get the opportunity, or, even if said opportunity is presented, if I will pluck up the courage to read the requiem I've composed for her. When I think about it, I find there is a swarm of gypsy moths fluttering about in my gut.
As the gulf between her dreamtime ghost and awakes widens, and I sip my tea, I can still so vividly remember her voice. Her laugh. The tight warmth of her embrace and her scent. The look of bliss she cast toward her colonel and her happiness over having a simple cup of Moroccan mint tea with me. These are things I can never, ever have again. Never get back. Well, not within the realms of the flesh. So it goes.
I have dreams. I have stories. I have memories. Perhaps this is one of those times where my memory, one that has been said to make an elephant cry with envy, is more of blessing than a curse.