Havok Publishing
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Ties That Bind

Lorraine banged on the witch’s front door until her fists hurt, crying and calling her name. It finally flew open, and Jessamine jerked her inside.

“You have to give me more!” Lorraine sobbed. “It’s wearing off!”

“Child, I told you, love spells are temporary. You can’t bend the heart forever, and you can’t stop true love.”

“Please! I need more time.”

“No,” Jessamine said. “And don’t come back. They’re already trying to run me out of town.”

“I have money.”

“Don’t want it.”

“I have something you do want!” Lorraine withdrew a paper bag from her purse.

Jessamine’s eyes narrowed, then she snatched it and peered at the hair inside. “This is his?”

“Yes, it’s the mayor’s. Will you trade?”

Jessamine muttered something, then disappeared into her house and rummaged through a shelf covered with dusty bottles.

Lorraine felt sick when she thought about the mayor. Hopefully, Jessamine wouldn’t kill him. He’d always been friendly to Lorraine, but he’d had it in for the witch ever since she’d moved to town over a year ago. “An ungodly woman,” he’d proclaimed. “Taking advantage of the simple-minded.”

At first, Lorraine had agreed, but after desperation led her to Jessamine’s door, there could be no doubt about the witch’s power. The last month with Chuck had been so dreamy. Jessamine’s spell had turned the handsome senior’s attention from Peggy Sue to her, Plain Lorraine. She had new friends, new popularity, and she couldn’t give it up now—not right before prom and graduation. All she needed was time.

Jessamine thrust a bottle into her hands. “Here’s enough for three doses. Use exactly five drops each time, no more, exactly four weeks apart. Same incantation as before. You will not speak of this, or of me, and you will never set foot on this doorstep again. Do you understand?”

Lorraine nodded.

“Take care of yourself, child,” Jessamine said and shooed her away.

Relieved, Lorraine tucked the bottle in her purse and hurried home.  Rules for the spell were very specific, but at least she already had the main ingredient, having saved some of Chuck’s hair from the first time. She performed it as directed, then went to bed, hoping for some positive news in the morning.

The next day at school, Chuck waited by her locker, but he was not alone.

Peggy Sue stood in front of him, crying. “Chuck, look at me!”

He kept his gaze trained on his shoes.

“I know you love me! One day we were talking about getting married, and the next you were with her. What happened?”

“Chuck?” Lorraine said.

His head snapped up. “There’s my girl.”

Peggy Sue ran away, sobbing. For an instant, his eyes followed her. Then he smiled at Lorraine, but his face looked troubled. Had she mixed the spell correctly? The first time, he wouldn’t have noticed if Peggy had collapsed at his feet.

Lorraine brushed a kiss on his cheek. “Watch her, Chuck. She wants to split us up.”

Chuck grimaced. “You’re the one I want. I will be true. I will keep watch.”

The automatic way he said the words disturbed her. There was no light in his eyes. He looked tired and troubled.

Two weeks into the spell, Lorraine panicked. Chuck was losing weight, losing interest in her. Prom was coming up, and he hadn’t asked her yet. She didn’t want to go back to being Plain Lorraine. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to refresh the spell a little early.

Chuck’s flat top looked shaggy, so she suggested he come by her father’s shop. He merely shrugged while watching Peggy across the cafeteria.

Surprisingly, he came. Lorraine swept his hair into the dustpan and dumped it into a bag when no one was looking.

That night, she emptied the contents of the bag on her dresser and stared at it in horror. Black hair, red hair, blond—all mixed. In her haste, she hadn’t checked the dustpan, and now there was no telling whose heart she was bewitching.

There wasn’t time to wait on another haircut. She poured all the hair into the bowl. His was in there somewhere. It would have to do, and since she had more hair than before, she poured all the remaining potion on top of it.

The next morning, someone shouted her name as she entered school. Mr. Kent, her history teacher, cocked his head and stared at her.

“Miss Stephens,” he said, fidgeting with his collar. “You look lovely today.”

Lorraine murmured, “Thanks,” then tried to walk away.

He grabbed her.

“Let go of her.” Freddy—one of Chuck’s teammates—glared at Mr. Kent, whose fingers dug painfully into her shoulder.

Freddy swung, his fist connecting with Mr. Kent’s jaw. The teacher fell, nearly dragging Lorraine down with him.

She screamed.

Freddy wrenched her free. His eyes looked wrong, unfocused. “I love you, Lorraine. Go to prom with me?”

Mr. Kent grabbed Freddy’s leg and bit him. Freddy kicked him in the face.

Lorraine ran.

“Girl, wait!” a boy called, holding up a fistful of tulips ripped from the school’s flowerbed, clumps of dirt dangling beneath them. She had no idea who he was. “These are for you.”

Both Mr. Kent and Freddy staggered toward her.

She turned and crashed into Chuck, who grabbed her hand. He looked wild. Panicked. “What are they doing? You’re mine, Lorraine! Come on.”

He pulled her toward the parking lot, and they jumped in his car. He stomped on the gas, and his Chevy peeled out of the lot. Lorraine saw Sheriff Mills glance up when they rocketed past his car on the square. He hit his siren and tore out after them. Chuck sped up.

“Chuck, stop!” Lorraine pleaded, grabbing his arm. “I want out!”

“You can’t leave me.” A tear rolled down Chuck’s cheek. “Together forever, Lorraine.”

Lorraine’s fingers dug into the upholstery as she whispered, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

They were doing seventy when the Chevy went into a roll on Deadman’s Curve.

Can you guess which song from the 1950's inspired this story? Share in the comments!

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About the author

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Stephanie Scissom is from Altamont, Tennessee. She inspects tires and plots murder by night at a tire factory and attends a somewhat excessive number of Jake Owen concerts on her nights off. She's published in romantic suspense and horror, with four full-length novels and numerous shorts. Her story Dandelions recently placed first in an international competition.

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