La Bruja: Bothwa

Serpents of Smoke

Two days later, Sara and Keisha were back at my door.

  “Come in,”  I said without a bit of welcome in my voice.

       “Thank you,” Sara’s demeanor was contrite and her eyes were peaceful.  We arranged ourselves on the living room furniture and waited for things to happen.

       “Ok Sara,”  Keisha said in her court voice, “How do you want Melissa to help you?”

       “Your husband works for City Oufittings,” she smiled shyly, “Get him to consider my designs for their housewares.“

       I stifled a laugh.

My husband hadn’t worked in the design department in years.

“That was a summer internship.” I said softly, “He’s in marketing now.”

       “Ah”. Her face fell a bit.

       “But I think I can still help.” Keisha shot me a crazed look, but there was no way I could explain. “Come with me.”

       I led them back to my workroom.The small bedroom was dim and the air laced with the fragrance of smoky resins.  The altars to the saints and spirits I served lined the wall.

       “What is this?” Sara asked breathlessly.  She paused at the door trying to make sense of what she saw.

        “Lie down,” I ordered and pointed to the cloth cover table in the center of the room. She hesitated, but Keisha herded her into the room.

I delighted in Sara’s obvious fear.  Keisha and I exchanged smirks as she struggled to heave her trembling body onto the table.  

As soon as she was on her back, I went to work placing five black candles on the table around Sara’s body.

       “Is this some kind of magic?”  Sara asked as I sprinkled black dog hair over her body.

       “Ok so you want to be a designer,” I purred as if I cared.

 Her whispered response was lost beneath the strike of a match. I touched the flame to a container of resin and inhaled the heady perfume.

The spirits in the room rustled as the sacred smoke wafted across their altars. Eagerly they poked and prodded my mind.  Who was this troubled woman? And why was she so angry with our faithful servant?  I held my peace until I was centered then called out to a single name.


       Keisha gasped as his stern presence filled the room. Bothwa was the oldest spirit in my pantheon.  Older than civilization and older than humans, he existed beyond the confines of any religion or moral system that I knew.  However, he was willing, effective, and absolute.  I only enlisted him for my most devastating work.  I called his name twice more then waited.

       He did not answer

       The spirit of mi abuelita, the curandera who passed her knowledge unto me, broke the silence and admonished me for my actions.

       I taught you better, mija!

       I pushed her back without an answer, knowing that she loved me too much to punish me for my insolence.  The other spirits remained silent in deference to Bothwa.  Finally a bone chilling cold filled the room; he was listening.

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