Chapter 25: Witch of the library

Arvid had told his mother that he would be late today again. That he would go to the library. He had not told her that he was looking forward to meeting a witch. Somehow, he felt that this would not go down well with his parents.

He had been a bit distracted at school, though he was pretty sure he had not written any runes or drawn any arcane symbols this time. He had tried to explain his distraction to Dag-Helge, his playground friend of years back. But there was not much sympaty. "You dream about a girl and she's lesbian? Bwahaha! Even in your dreams you can't get it right! You should have asked her to show you how lesbians do it." "Oh, I'll see her again next night, don't worry. But somehow I don't think that will cut it."

In fact, there was next to no one who would take him seriously, of this he was sure. Oh, his parents would take him very seriously, and probably tie him up and carry him to the church to have their rabid son-in-law perform exorcism rituals on him until the demons left him or he died, whichever came first. But apart from that, people would certainly think he was mad. But he was not mad. He was a genius. At least Kate would understand him. Kate at the library.

Arriving at the library, he looked quickly around, but could not see her young boyish form anywhere. Eventually he reluctantly went to the counter, where the black-haired supermodel was sitting. Keeping his eyes everywhere except where they wanted to be, he quickly asked her if Kate was at work today. The lady got up and wiggled towards a nearby small backroom. Boy could she wiggle! "Kate! There's a boy asking for you." A boy?? He was like old enough to drive! "A boy?" came the faint echo from the doorway. Then she appeared. "Arve! Hey!"

Arve! She called him Arve! His one true friend, and she couldn't even remember his name. But at least she was smiling as she came towards him. Ms Wiggle sent him a glance of malicious glee, almost certainly remembering his panicked flight last time he was here. Or perhaps she was just congratulating herself with having offended him for no reason, calling him "boy" in public.

"I've got some feedback on the witch processes. There's a researcher in Germany who has gone through a lot of this material, and written a thesis. Intriguingly, she found that while men were less likely to be accused of witchcraft, they were more likely to be sentenced to death, so all in all they made up nearly half of those executed in the years she has been through so far. My feminist friends are not amused. Intriguingly, this is one point that your book had right." "Vileness of Sorcery." "Right. That's the other spectacular thing. Nobody has ever heard about it. My Wiccan friends tend to know everything there is to know about such literature, but this drew a blank everywhere."

Arvid was not amused, either. Could this book really be connected to Gwalawala somehow? Was the mystic force that assailed that world, also present here? Now there was a scary thought if he ever had thought one.

Kate found a stack of print-outs for him. "From the forums and a couple web pages. Just use what you can use and forget the rest, OK?" "Sure thing. I'm not going to give these to the preacher." "Thank you. You're an OK guy, Arve." "Arvid. The name is Arvid." "Oh yes. That was it. So, how about yourself? Had any more magickal dreams lately?" "You wouldn't believe it ..."

And so he told her all he could remember. "I have no idea why wizards are supposed to be gay, though" he concluded. "Are you witches gay, generally?" "You mean lesbian? There are some who think that men are enemies, sort of, because men have been the heads of the Church when it persecuted witches. I think that's pretty pointless. And anyway you can't choose to be lesbian." "I sure can't." "I personally belong to an all-female coven, but I enjoy a good ..." "Coven?" "Yeah, it's like a group of witches who get together for ritual and usually also for social events." "Like a church?" "Much smaller. Just a small group. Often 13, such as ours."

"But you're not gay... I mean, lesbian." "I'm as straight as your next girl. For all I know, I could be your next girl. You seem sort of cute." She laughed at the idea. "You wanna become a witch?" "Wouldn't that be a wizard?" "Nah. Both men and women can be witches, but most are women. I guess men are generally too removed from nature. Witchcraft is about nature." "Yeah, that's what this guy said. The old wizard, or whatever. Hey!" "Hi too." "He's her father!" "So you say." "Then how could he be gay?" "Well, it happens. Not all people are totally gay, you know. Just like straight people aren't always completely straight." "I never knew!" "I guess it is easier for lesbians, though. They can sort of just close their eyes and have a baby."

But Arvid had started to think. "Hey, wait!" "I'm not going anywhere for an hour yet." "Avdyra told me about the young wizard students. How the boys liked to watch the girls dance in the air before they found out how to bind their skirts right." "Bet the girls enjoyed it too." "But they wouldn't if they were gay, right?" "Right. Except that gay originally meant happy, carefree. It's just recently that it's started to mean homo." "Gay means happy??" "Yeah. Happy, carefree, upbeat, joyful. You sure that wasn't what she meant?" "And a gay day would be a happy day." "Yeah, a day of merriment. Fun and games. Stuff like that." "Wowie!" "You said it, pal."

Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. Of course! That's why the translation magic was having trouble. She used the equivalent of a real word, but he had forgotten that meaning of it. "You're a genius!" "Hi, I'm a librarian. We know everything! We have to read all the books here before we get our first paycheck, after all." "You must be kidding!" "Yes! The answer is right! You have won ... a star performance by the wicked witch of the library!" She jumped in the air and twirled around on her toes. "Kidding all day and kidding all night! Kidding in the dark and kidding in the bright! That's me: Kate - the kidding witch!" She clapped her hands, but not loudly, because you just don't do that in a library. Especially not when you work there, probably.

Suddenly he happened to look at his watch. "Oops! I have to catch the bus. Thanks, you've been great help!" "You're not too bad either! Sure you don't wanna be a witch? You get to wear cool pendants and stuff. And doing strange rituals." "No thanks, I think I get plenty enough magic in my dreams." "Dream about me, will you? I want to see your magic world too. Know what? You could write a book about it!" "You must be kidd... duh!" "Hee hee. You're catching on." "Who would read a book about some teen dreaming that he can do magic?" "Good point. Keep dreaming!" He smiled and waved at her. "I'll be back another day, if it's OK!" "Sure thing, Arve!"


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