"Don't take the love light away
'Cause I'm far away from home." -Fleetwood Mac, "Honey Hi"
Misty Day had never been so lonely before in her entire life.
She supposed she should have expected it. After all, she was in a relationship with the Supreme of the coven. Cordelia had responsibilities. She wasn’t in high school anymore; she wasn’t dating the girl up the road. And Cordelia wasn’t going on a vacation without her. She had an important meeting with the head of a psychiatric facility in California who believed many of the patients in her ward were, in fact, witches.
But Misty couldn’t go with her. They only had accommodations for one person. Screening and observing the patients would take weeks before Cordelia could determine if they were witches, and further, if they were safe to be around the girls at the academy or if she needed to find somewhere else safe for them to stay. It left Misty alone again, which shouldn’t have seemed like such a big deal.
It felt like Cordelia was ripping out her heart out of her back teeth as she carried her suitcase down the stairs in the wee hours of the morning before her flight. “Text me when you get to the airport--No, text me from the Uber. And then at the airport. And then once the plane lands. And then at the hotel.”
“Would you like me to text you right now for good measure?” Cordelia asked her with a tiny smile. Misty blushed. No one else in the house was awake. It was just them. Cordelia put her suitcase down on the floor and gave Misty a hug. “I love you.” Misty’s throat closed up with tears. Oh, for fuck’s sake, she’s not dying. She desperately gulped around the lump, afraid to betray her distress. If she were dying, I could bring her right back and not have to live without her for two months. Cordelia kissed her cheek and held her until she pulled away, trusting she wouldn’t have the layer of tears on her eyes. “Are you okay?”
No. The honest answer would serve no good but to hurt Cordelia, so Misty held her tongue. “Yeah, I’m fine. I love you.” She bowed her head to kiss Cordelia. “Be safe. Don’t let any of the prisoners eat you.”
Cordelia laughed. “It won’t be a problem. I promise.”
Misty watched her from the front door climbing into the Uber. She didn’t allow herself to weep until the tail lights had disappeared far down the street.
Misty soon realized that the academy was no place for her, not without Cordelia. As she lay in their big empty bed in the middle of the night, feeling all the places Cordelia was not, the sounds of the other girls rattling around in their rooms through the walls kept her awake. She tried to listen to her records, but every song by Stevie reminded her of Cordelia, and she hated curling up on the mattress hugging her lover’s pillow and trying not to cry. For the first time in her life, even Stevie couldn’t bring her any comfort. The crowded school had no place for her. Her blood pressure was too high. Her heart beat too fast all of the time.
She couldn’t stay. So she packed up a couple of her things--not everything, of course, but just enough to occupy her temporarily until Cordelia got home--and transmuted to the swamp. She knew where she was going, after all. She turned off her cell phone. Her shack didn’t have any power, and she didn’t want to waste the battery. Fortunately, she didn’t have the time to spend on it. Her garden had grown up over the path. The shack had leaks and holes in the walls where Hank had fired his bullets at her. She had things to patch up and repair, meals to cook, animals to revive. She had things to occupy her time here. Cordelia had taught her a lot of new magic, and she could practice here.
The crickets kept her company. A raccoon, an old friend, curled up at the foot of her bed at night, and she hugged a musty-smelling pillow and relaxed without thinking too much about Cordelia or how much she missed her. In fact, she didn’t miss Cordelia all that much at all. The swamp kept her company.
Four days passed before, after bathing in the pond one night, she sat down in the dirt outside of her shack to watch the setting sun and turned on her cell phone. She wished she would have done it earlier for the stream of text messages on her phone. First from Zoe, then Queenie, then Nan, and even Madison--all wondering where she had gone. I probably should have told one of them where I was going. She hadn’t thought anyone would miss her or notice she was missing.
But, opening Cordelia’s conversation, she found a long string of text messages and missed calls and voicemails. “Misty? Zoe says you aren’t answering her texts? Where are you?” That was four days ago. Misty’s stomach flipped. She hadn’t thought about any consequences of leaving--she hadn’t expected anyone to care, let alone to tell Cordelia. “You need to answer me! I’m worried about you!” Guilt stabbed her in the pit of her gut. Hours passed between the messages with several missed calls and voicemails, which Misty didn’t have the heart to hear. “I’m keeping my phone on me today. Call me when you get this!” Three days ago. “Zoe says no one has seen you in days. Where are you? I’m worried sick.” Two days ago. “I’m flying home. Call me!”
Misty swallowed hard. So Cordelia was coming home--two weeks earlier than scheduled. She was happy about that. But she couldn’t be happy that she made Cordelia believe she was missing. Is she home yet?
The moment she thought it, the leaves in the distance of the forest rattled. The sun dipped below the horizon, leaving no light behind to navigate the dense foliage. “Misty!” Cordelia’s familiar voice drew her up to her feet. “Misty, are you out here?”
“Cordelia?” Misty plodded through her garden toward the uncharted forest territory, out of which Cordelia emerged. The sight of her girlfriend brought it all back to the surface again. “I missed you so much!” She ran toward her and flung her arms around her neck. Cordelia’s wide brown eyes caught in the orange sunset and grew brighter than ever before. With the trees surrounding them, Misty couldn’t help herself. She thrust her lips against Cordelia’s.
She expected Cordelia to wrench away from her, but she melted into the kiss. Both with eyes closed and hands fumbling, Cordelia pedaled backward until Misty bumped her right against the trunk of a tree. All the air puffed out of her mouth on impact. “Missed you,” Cordelia mumbled right into Misty’s mouth as their lips reattached, and she pushed back. Misty staggered over some saplings which sprang her back forward, their springy green branches propelling her toward Cordelia.
They spun mid-air. Cordelia tripped through Misty’s patch of cabbages. Their feet moved in a strange rhythmic pattern, like dancing, but without any music. They danced, indeed, to the beat of their own hearts. Cordelia’s tongue trailed over Misty’s bottom lip, but she didn’t open her mouth for fear of accidentally biting it. Ivy twined around Misty’s ankles. She allowed Mother Nature to drag her down to the forest floor, and Cordelia rolled with her. The grass and foliage rubbed dewdrops off on their clothes, and now, their tongues dared to meet.
They rolled about a few more times until they landed on a root, and Misty lay on her back with her hair sprawled out behind her. It had branches and leaves tangled up in it. Cordelia panted from between parted lips. “You didn’t answer my texts or calls.”
“Phone was turned off. No power out here.”
“Why’d you leave?”
“I don’t belong there.”
Cordelia rolled off of her and dusted the dirt off of her shirt. “It’s your home.”
Misty grabbed her hands and allowed herself to be pulled up. She flashed a sheepish smile. “It’s not my home.” A quirk appeared between Cordelia’s eyebrows in the fading light. Misty touched her face with a dusty, dirty hand. “You are.”