by Wizzy and CosmosCotillion
All Rights Reserved/WGA Registered
"One Good Twitch Deserves Another"
Life-altering decisions are never easy to make, but they're often even more difficult when you're a witch.
Samantha had agonized over her predicament for weeks, distractedly mulling things over during the day and tossing and turning while it haunted her in her sleep. She knew that witches shouldn't tamper with fate and the natural laws of the universe, but the loss she was facing was entirely too much to bear. Every day that passed brought the unthinkable closer and closer to her door, and she knew that the window of time she had to work with was growing dangerously and precariously short.
Watching Darrin age had become a painful process, and she sobbed in private when no one was around, mourning the impending loss of the love of her life, the one and only man she would ever love. As a witch, her metabolic rate worked at a much slower pace and consequently she still looked and felt like she was in her thirties, although she deliberately made herself look older with a twitch of her nose when mortals were around. She knew full well she could outlive her mortal husband by hundreds of years, and the thought of spending the rest of her life without her beloved Darrin was a grim reality indeed. Darrin, with all his mortal human frailties, was now a very unhealthy 71 year-old man, and he'd recently been diagnosed with the double whammy of emphysema and prostate cancer. The odds were very much against him, the doctors had all said, and when Samantha watched him struggle to climb the stairs or fall asleep when he watched TV, her heart broke in two. His withered frame and wizened face reminded her that time was rapidly running out, and she had to act fast if she was going to successfully stall the inevitable.
She knew that she couldn't change fate, but Endora had told her of a way she could "bend the rules" a little that wouldn't anger the Witches Council too much. However, the solution, if she chose to use it, was irreversible and she'd be giving up an awful lot in the bargain. None of her options were without sacrifice, which is why she wanted to make sure her decision was exactly the right one. She could leave things alone and let nature take its course and face the rest of her very long life alone. Or there was the option of going with him when his time came, joining him Romeo and Juliet-style in the Great Beyond. Neither of these options were acceptable to Samantha, however, which is why she was fixated on Plan C as the only logical answer. But, if she used it, she wouldn't be able to see or communicate with her children and grandchildren for a very long time. She could see her other relatives, but not her own descendants. Forty years would have to pass before they'd be reunited, and it would be very difficult to not be a part of their lives for that long. However, as she kept reminding herself, forty years wasn't forever...but losing Darrin was. She knew Darrin wouldn't approve, which is why she didn't confide in him, but she simply had to buy some more time with the man she loved and adored. In the final analysis, Plan C was the only choice that made any sense.
After talking things over with Tabitha and Adam and receiving their blessing and tearful goodbyes, Samantha knew it was time to quietly use the incantation that her mother had secretly given to her as a 30th wedding anniversary gift. It was a touching gesture coming from Endora, after decades of strong opposition to their mixed-marriage between witch and mortal. Samantha wondered if the gift proved, for once and for all, that her mother finally accepted Darrin as the love of her life. But on second thought, Samantha surmised, Mother was a stubborn witch. A protective maternal instinct, the desire to spare Samantha the pain of loss, was a more realistic explanation for her mother's special gift. Endora's fear of what Samantha might do if Darrin passed away was another likely possibility.
Samantha kept the yellowed old scroll hidden away in a trunk in the attic. She'd peeked at it many times in recent months, committing the spell to memory as she read it over and over again. With Darrin's health becoming so fragile, she had a feeling she might need to use it at some point in the near future.
And the future, it appeared, had arrived.
While Darrin napped on the sofa hooked to a portable oxygen tank, Samantha listened to his rasping, labored breaths and sighed. She moved closer, and then paused to glance at the framed photographs of Tabitha, Adam, and her grandchildren resting on a table next to Darrin's head.
"Goodbye, my loves," she murmured as a bittersweet smile spread across her face. "We'll all be together again one day...I promise." Clasping Darrin's hand gently, she took a deep breath and quietly began to recite the spell's introductory phrase:
"When mortal death is drawing near
Her eyes began to blur with tears and her lower lip quivered, but she swallowed hard and continued:
"Invoking this spell will cancel today.
Holding Darrin's hand tightly, she leaned in closer and whispered the rest of the spell in his ear...
"Rewind the years and give us our youth.
With a tremendous flash of technicolor smoke and sparkling fire, Samantha and Darrin were instantly transported to another dimension, a place that would seem brand new to him, but which Samantha would know they'd visited before. Her life with Darrin effectively went into cosmic re-runs, and although she was sad about leaving her children and grandchildren behind for a while, she looked forward to re-living everything all over again.
As the smoke dispersed, Samantha's eyes slowly adjusted to the familiar surroundings. She was sitting in the honeymoon suite of a hotel from long ago, and everything was exactly as she remembered it. She glanced down and admired the pretty lace peignoir she was wearing, and she smiled contentedly when she caught sight of her lovely youthful reflection in the mirror. "Oh my, that's ~much~ better!", she giggled. She knew that at any moment her husband would enter the room with champagne, and it suddenly occurred to her that she needed to brush her hair...
"How does it feel to be here signing the seventh book in your Cynthia Octofish & Friends series?" the reporter queried as a cameraman zoomed in on the pretty blonde's face.
"I can't believe it!" Tabitha Stephens replied with an engaging smile. "It seems like only yesterday I was writing the first book! Back then I was raising my twin sons while my husband, errr...I mean my ~ex-husband~...was out touring with his band. I started writing and illustrating the stories for my kids, and it just sort of took off from there."
"What inspired you to create the Cynthia series?"
"My dad had a long career as an advertising executive and graphic artist," Tabitha answered quietly as a bittersweet look came upon her face. "He gave me great input on the design and look of the characters. His agency even did the first book's ad campaign. He was thrilled to help out, and I was delighted for the chance to work closely with him. He's retired now, and um...err...off traveling with my Mom."
She paused for a moment, lost in her thoughts. She missed her parents so very, very much, and she was finding it difficult to adjust to their absence. She took comfort knowing they were safe and happy and that she'd see them both again one day, but it would take time to get used to not being able to pick up the phone and call or pop in for a visit whenever she felt like it.
"Your books are very popular with both parents and children," the reporter said, snapping Tabitha out of her reverie. "How do you feel about that?"
"The response to the books has been phenomenal," she replied, her expression brightening again. "Cynthia Octofish is a character I just love! I actually created her when I was a child playing with my little brother, so we go back a long way. I'm delighted that others are as fond of her as I am, and I'm honored that people enjoy my work."
"What's next for Cynthia Octofish?" the reporter asked.
"Well, my kids are always giving me great ideas. My seven year-old daughter, Cassandra, especially, now that my boys are teenagers. I'll soon be launching a line of Cynthia Octofish toys that I'm very excited about...and I'm considering an amazing offer to turn the books into a television cartoon series."
"And what's next for Tabitha Stephens?"
"Who knows!" she laughed with a shrug. "I'm right in the middle of moving into my parents old house. They, uh...recently gave it to me when my divorce became final, so I'm just trying to get my three kids settled and all of our belongings in place. It's a whole new life for us, and I'm really looking forward to it! So, we'll have to wait and see what the future brings. Right now, though, I've got some books to sign, and some adorable little readers to meet!"
Tabitha gave a jaunty wave to the assembled crowd, and dozens of children immediately rushed towards her. They were each holding the latest edition of Cynthia Octofish & Friends, and Tabitha smiled warmly as the first book was presented to her to sign. She knew it would be a long, hectic afternoon, but she really didn't mind. After everything she'd been through in her life, there was no place she'd rather be than where she was right now.
"Allisandra, don't be rude!" H er arms filled with grocery bags, Myra Groober scowled at her daughter as she unpacked the back of their mini-van in the driveway of 1163 Morning Glory Circle. Her seven year-old daughter Allie, all knock-knees and red curls, was standing on the edge of their lawn and watching intently as moving men unpacked a truck and carried furniture into the house across the street.
"It's not polite to spy on the neighbors!"
"But Mommie, you spy all the time," Allisandra whined, pushing her glasses back up her nose.
"That's different," Myra replied curtly. "I do it from behind closed curtains where no one can see me."
"Don't you wanna see who's moving in?" Allisandra asked hopefully, enticing her mother into joining her.
"Yes...but we'll watch from inside. Now, help Mommie carry in the groceries and then we'll peek from behind the living room window."
"Oh, goodie!" Allisandra squealed as she grabbed a grocery bag and ran towards the front door. "Are you going to use the bino-curlers?"
"It's bino-CU-lers, dear," Myra replied, correcting her daughter. "And the answer is yes. Something fishy's going on over at the Stephens house...I haven't seen Darrin and Samantha in weeks, and we'll need to find out who that furniture belongs to."
Like her late-Aunt Gladys, Myra's voice took on a screechy tone when she was excited, and she'd also inherited her Aunt's tendency to snoop, among other things. Tall and slim and with her red hair streaked blonde, she was still attractive at 40...if one overlooked her bug-eyes and weak chin. Recently divorced, she'd moved into to her Aunt Gladys and Uncle Abner's house a year ago when she found out she'd inherited it in her Aunt's will. She liked the neighborhood and had immediately thrown herself into becoming a community leader in the P.T.A., the Girl Guides, and coaching her daughter's kickball team. The only thing that bothered her was the strange goings-on across the street, and her Aunt Gladys had told her hundreds of stories over the years about how peculiar the Stephens were. Of course, no one had believed her, especially near the end when she went certifiably gaa-gaa and claimed that witches lived at 1164. But Myra had always dismissed her Aunt's dubious claims, but after witnessing a few odd events over at the Stephens's house herself, she was starting to wonder if their was perhaps a grain of truth in the old lady's delusional ravings.
"Look, Mommie, a car!" Allie shrieked when they reached the front door, pointing as a blue sedan pulled up and parked across the street.
"Don't point!" Myra grumbled as she fumbled to open the door with her keys. "It's not polite!"
Across the street, Tabitha stepped out of the car with her daughter Cassandra. Spotting Myra and Allie across the street, she smiled and waved as she clasped her little girl's hand.
"Crap! They saw us!" Myra griped, and then she turned around and waved back.
"Wave to our new neighbors, Cass!" Tabitha said cheerfully. "I haven't met them yet, but your grandmother told me they're related to the older couple who lived there before."
Cass waved and Allie ran towards the curb.
"Stop!!!" Myra screeched, causing Allisandra to freeze in her tracks and Tabitha and Cassie to wince.
"What have I told you about looking both ways and making sure it's safe?" Myra fumed as she put down her grocery bags and stomped over to her little girl. "What's the matter with you? Do you want to get run over by a car?"
"No, Mommie," Allie pouted, pushing her glasses up her nose again.
"Sorry about that," Tabitha called. "I didn't think she'd try to run across the road like that."
"Oh, that's all right," Myra answered insincerely, forcing herself to smile. "You know how kids are...they never listen!" Myra grabbed Allissandra's hand, made a point of looking both ways, and then carefully led her daughter across the street to Tabitha's car.
"You're Mr. and Mrs. Stephens's daughter, aren't you?" Myra asked, extending her hand in greeting.
"Yes," Tabitha replied as she shook Myra's hand. "I'm Tabitha, and this is my daughter Cassandra." Cassie smiled shyly, her pretty face framed by long golden locks.
"Hi," Cassie said softly.
"HI!!!" Allie shrieked, excited to meet a new friend.
"Allie! Don't yell!" Myra barked, scowling at her daughter once again.
"Cass, why don't you take Allie inside and see if you can find some of your toys to play with," Tabitha suggested helpfully. "But be good and stay out of the moving men's way".
"Alright, Mommie," Cassandra replied.
"Oh! And no 'funny stuff'!" she added as an after-thought, discreetly touching her finger to her nose.
"I know, I know!" Cassandra sighed, and then the two little girls ran inside the house.
"She's such a handful," Myra offered, smiling wearily.
"Kids will be kids," Tabitha replied with a shrug. "You're Mrs. Kravitz's niece, aren't you?"
"Yes," Myra answered. "I inherited Aunt Gladys's house and decided to move in. Speaking of which, are you moving into the neighborhood, too?"
"My mom and dad have been nice enough to let us stay here," Tabitha explained. "My ex-husband and I agreed to sell our house during our divorce and split the proceeds, so here we are!"
"Oh, you're divorced!" Myra said with a bright smile. "So am I. Congratulations!"
Tabitha laughed. "Well, it wasn't quite like that," she explained. "We're still friends and it was all very amicable. My ex is in a rock band, and he's always on the road. He's a great guy, but it just didn't work out, unfortunately."
"Oh," Myra replied, her smile vanishing. "Mine was a louse. A dirty, stinking, rotten, cheating louse."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Tabitha said sympathetically. "They're not all like that, though. Maybe you'll meet a nice one some day."
"I'd rather get kicked in the head by a horse," Myra snorted.
"Oh, dear!" Tabitha giggled, surprised by Myra's sharp tone and negative attitude.
"Where are your parents?" Myra asked, quickly changing the subject.
"They've gone away on an extended round-the-world tour," Tabitha offered in explanation. "They, ummm, won't be back for a few years."
"That's funny," Myra said suspiciously. "I didn't see them leave, and they didn't say goodbye. I was over here all the time snoop...errr...borrowing cups of sugar, so I got to know them quite well!"
"The trip was one of those last minute things," Tabitha replied vaguely. "They left very early in the morning, otherwise I'm sure they would've said goodbye."
All of a sudden a loud crash came from inside the house. Tabitha jumped, startled by the abrupt noise.
"I wonder what that was?" she said worriedly as she started to walk towards the house.
"Allie!" Myra stated with annoyance, stomping behind her. "It was probably Allie!"
When they reached the door, Tabitha's mouth fell open with shock. An open cardboard box was at the bottom of the stairs, and her very best china had spilled out and lay broken on the floor. Hundreds of shattered china pieces were scattered about, and the entire dinnerware set was ruined.
"Sorry, lady," a burly moving man said sheepishly as he ducked out the door. "But the little red-head ran in front of me!"
Tabitha and Allie peered from around the kitchen doorway, their mouths agape at the broken dishes.
"ALLISANDRA GROOBER!" Myra yelled as she barged past Tabitha. "YOU COME OUT HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND!"
Allie slunk slowly down the hallway, tugging on on a lock of her curly red hair. "Sorry, Mommie," she lisped apologetically.
"Don't say sorry to me, you klutz! Say sorry to Mrs....um....errr..." Myra looked at Tabitha helplessly, not knowing what to call her.
"It's Stephens," Tabitha said. "I went back to my maiden name."
"So did I," Myra smiled quickly in recognition of their shared experience before glaring at her daughter again. "Now say sorry to Ms. Stephens! And you can forget about that new bicycle you wanted...by the time I pay to replace these broken dishes, you'll be in high school!"
"Sorry, Ms. Stephens," Allie stated, as she dejectedly looked at the floor.
"Oh, that's all right," Tabitha said with a gentle smile. "Accidents happen! They're just old dishes...I'm fairly certain my insurance will cover them."
"Well, that's very nice of you," Myra said as she grabbed Allisandra's hand. "We're going home NOW before you do any more damage here, missy! And I can see we need to have another little talk about looking both ways before you go running around like a chicken with its head cut off!"
Myra led Allie out the door and then stopped and smiled over her shoulder. "Nice meeting you!" she chirped cheerfully.
"You, too!" Tabitha smiled as she moved to shut the door.
"Honestly, Allie! What's the matter with you?" She could hear Myra griping as the door closed. "Do you want to get run over by a dirty, smelly MAN??!!!"
Tabitha sighed as she turned to stare at her broken china. Cassandra walked down the hallway and joined her.
"Those were my grandmother Stephens's dishes once upon a time," she said wistfully. "I just haven't got the heart to throw them away. I guess there's really only one thing I can do..."
"Oh-oh, Mommie!" Cassandra giggled, knowing what her mother was contemplating. "Mustn't twitch!"
Tabitha smiled and bent down to look her little girl in the eye. "Sometimes big witches have to use their magic," she explained, hoping her daughter would understand. "But that doesn't mean little witches can twitch their noses whenever they'd like to. Do you understand what I'm saying, Cassie?"
"You're saying mommie's going to do a no-no!", she giggled, eager to see her mother's powers at work.
"Yes," Tabitha sighed as she stood up. "Mommie's going to do a no-no!" With that, she put her finger to her nose and gave it a quick twitch, causing the dishes to promptly reassemble and fly neatly back into the box.
"That's better!" she said, bending down to pick up the box. Just then, there was a knock at the door. Carrying the box in her arms, Tabitha walked over and turned the doorknob awkwardly.
"Allie lost a barrette," Myra Groober announced as she strode in. "I thought it might be over here." She paused and looked at the box of pristine china Tabitha was holding in her arms. "Weren't those dishes broken a few minutes ago?" Slack-jawed and bug-eyed, she stared at Tabitha with disbelief.
"Well, ummm...it's like I said: I've got good insurance!" Tabitha explained, the words sounding false to her own ears. She grimaced slightly and then smiled, hoping that Myra wouldn't detect her nervousness.
"'Good insurance', huh?" Myra muttered suspiciously as she continued to stare at Tabitha and backed towards the door. "And I suppose you know Santa Claus personally!"
Reaching the door, she turned and ran towards her house.
"Like mother like daughter," Tabitha chuckled as she watched Myra from the open door. "'Oh, my stars', as your grandmother would say!"
"Does that mean I can twitch, too?" Cassandra asked.
"We'll talk about that when you're eighteen, young lady", Tabitha said with a smile. "Now, please shut the door and help Mommie put away some of these things. Your brothers will be here in an hour or two, and we've got to be all unpacked and settled in by tonight."
"Isn't it your birthday tomorrow, Mommie?" Cassandra asked.
"Silly Mommie!" Cassandra giggled. "How old will you be?"
"In human years, I'll be forty", Tabitha sighed, hating the cursed number with a passion. Here she was, on the verge of middle-age, divorced with three kids and starting over again. Her life certainly hadn't turned out the way she'd expected it to, and she wished her mother and father were around so she could have a good cry and vent all her angst.
"Now...back to this mess!" Tabitha announced, changing the subject before it depressed her even more. "We've got to get everything put away before Frankie and Reece get home. Look at all these boxes and crates!"
"Just twitch it clean!" Cassandra suggested mischievously. Tabitha started to laugh.
"You sound just like your great-grandmama! Some days I think I should've named you Endora!"
Just then, the familiar sound of dis-embodied laughter echoed through the ethers. Tabitha stopped and looked towards the ceiling.
"Well, it's true," she called out with exasperation, knowing her voice could be heard across the stratosphere. Cassandra got her naughty side from you!"
Endora's silvery laugh chimed through the air once again, and then slowly faded away into the distance. Tabitha smiled, and then began to unpack the first box.
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