Photo: © Depositphotos.com/shawn_hempel
Written by Kate Racculia
Witchcraft was frowned upon, though technically not prohibited, in the office; the employee conduct handbook did not formally equate practical spells and hexes with other Inappropriate behaviors, i.e., the wearing of denim, tank tops, or flip flops (though flip flops weren’t, depending on one’s manager, frowned upon on summer Fridays), because the unfettered expression of one’s abilities was protected under the Free Magic Act of ’78. But it wasn’t encouraged by the general counsel’s office either, its chief concerns being the management of corporate risks and workplace accidents—especially since last year, when Molly in client relations conjured a rainbow over her cube for her birthday, or tried to, rather; it came out a tiny thundercloud that drowned half the computers on the floor. After that incident, after poor Molly became cautionary shorthand in Hester’s mind for well-intentioned but calamitous spellcraft, witchery that had no place in the modern office environment, Hester couldn’t even resurrect her cold coffee with a heating hex without feeling a little suspect. And yet, there was Trip. Trip in the cube beside hers, Trip who, more than once, Hester caught eating a lunch that she knew for a fact was in Timothy’s Tupperware, that still bore Lin’s initials on the peeled-back lid, Trip who made inane crank calls on his desk phone, Trip who talked over her (and everyone else) in meetings, Trip the boor, Trip the bully, Trip, who—as the subway carried Hester home to her snug apartment, her purring cat, her cozy shelves full of advanced and practical spellcraft (Hester may have been a marketing information analyst, but in her heart, in her bones, in her bluest veins she knew she was made for a life more magical)—Trip who she imagined daily disappearing in a puff of white smoke. Which was why, on a day when Trip was being a particular dick, laughing about the always-broken copier on eleven, nicknaming it Molly because it “didn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground,” Hester cast around the corner of her cube without thinking. Later she recognized him by the shine on his empty black shoes, still beneath his desk, the twin plumes of vanished-Trip smoke she’s seen so often in her mind, and realized some witchery might have a place in the modern office after all. In any case, it was time to look for a new job.
Kate Racculia is the author of two novels, the most recent of which, Bellweather Rhapsody, was a 2015 Alex Award winner. She is a freelance writer and researcher, manuscript consultant, and online instructor at Grub Street.