Thanks to Big Dave (a.k.a. Dr. Bombay) for Inspiration
"Mm-hmm," said Darrin Stephens into his office phone at the McMann & Tate Advertising Agency. "I just made the reservations. Oh, honey, it's going to be wonderful," the adman smiled. "Just imagine . . . us . . . "
"Ten whole years," grinned his lovely witch of a wife Samantha at the other end of the call.
Samantha and Darrin Stephens were approaching their 10th anniversary, marking a decade of (mostly) blissful years together. Considering all that they had been through, the mixed marriage was really a happy one (not counting the disgusted witchly in-laws). Two gifted children, Tabitha and Adam; a good-looking house; a nice income; and a crafty businessman for Darrin's boss, who happened to be waiting impatiently for Darrin to finish his telephone call.
"Sorry, darling, Larry's here with a client. Love you," said the dutiful husband as he blew a good-bye kiss through the wire as Samantha did the same.
They both hung up before La rry Tate scolded his employee.
"Darrin, I realize that your 10th anniversary is coming up, but you have obligations to take care of with Mr. Lingston here first. At McMann & Tate, business comes first. A vacation with your wife for two weeks will-"
"Stephens, that's fantastic!" cried Mr. Lingston. "You know, I always respect a man so devoted to his marriage."
Larry Tate continued his speech. "Like I was saying, a vacation with your wife for two weeks will be fantastic! At McMann & Tate, family comes first. Have a wonderful time, you son-of-a-gun!"
The president and his satisfied client turned to leave the family man.
"Gee, thanks, Larr."
Darrin could hear the businessmen's conversation wind down in the hall.
"You know, Mr. Lingston, I can't tell you how many happy years I've spent with my wonderful wife . . . Louise."
"How many years?"
"I . . .uh, can't tell you." Tate paused.
"It just seems like forever." Darrin smirked. That son-of-a-gun.
A few weeks later at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, the Stephens were making last-minute preparations for their vacation.
"Remember, Esmeralda, if you need us, the number's on the fridge, along with how to call for my mother if you sneeze up a little mistake, and if you sneeze up a big mistake- well, I don't know what you should do then, with Endora's temper."
"I'll try to be careful, Mrs. Stephens," stated the timid maid.
"I certainly hope so," Darrin sighed. "I don't think there's such a thing as allergy insurance."
"Now, now, Esmeralda, don't fade away," pleaded Samantha to the disappearing figure. "You won't have much trouble with the neighbors, at least, even if you do sneeze up something. Luckily, the Kravitzes are on some respite right now, courtesy of Gladys's psychiatrist, so no one here has to worry about them while we're gone."
"I'll miss you, Mommy and Daddy," said little Adam.
"Me too," Tabitha agreed.
The family hugged, kissed, and waved good-bye, promising they would call and write often.
"All right, but why keep in touch with Doctor Bombay's nurse?" questioned Esmeralda.
"That's not what we meant. Besides, I think he keeps 'in touch' with his Nurse Often enough," Samantha laughed.
"Come on, Sam, we'll miss the plane!" called Darrin from the door.
Samantha gave one last look at the house she hoped wouldn't become a disaster in the fourteen days she and Darrin would be gone. Despite that possibility, Sam decided to go and enjoy her anniversary anyway, praying against hurricanes- at the beach and at home.
The starlit night found the happy couple walking hand in hand along the beach.
"No one around. Just us. No house to worry about, no work, no magical pop-ins. . . .This is heaven," Darrin smiled.
Samantha agreed in a kiss.
"My, the moon looks beautiful tonight."
"You should know."
"I meant that you look beautiful too," he clarified as gave her a peck on the cheek. "Besides, poor mortals like me are now able to get there without you-know-what." He tickled Sam's nose.
"Mm-hmm. Mortals can do wonderful things sometimes."
The long, romantic moment was interrupted only by Darrin looking curious.
"Sam, I've been thinking about that."
"How did a beautiful, powerful, wonderful witch like you fall in love with a mere mortal anyway?"
Samantha smiled. "Well, it was easy, when that mortal happened to be you."
Her husband scratched his forehead. "Samantha, I'm serious. You and a mortal?!"
"Darrin, you're sounding like my mother."
"Sam, if I really wanted to sound like your mother, I'd be calling myself 'Durwood' and you a 'silly little child'."
"But I do feel that I'm entitled to some explanation," said Darrin- half curious, half wistful.
"Well, all right, but we'd better sit down," Samantha suggested, so they did sit on the cool sand. "I feel a flashback coming on."
To begin with, despite the looks of the locale, my home life wasn't exactly heaven.
"Maurice, I just so happen to realize that the young witch I caught you with was NOT a member of your 'Shakespeare Club'."
"Endora, Endora, for the last time, you didn't catch me with her. How could you have? I introduced you to her."
"After I found you red-handed. In the act."
"For once, you've said something that has actually made sense. I was in the act- of Macbeth, as a matter of fact, and my hands were covered in stage blood."
"And the 'fire burned and the cauldron bubbled,' didn't it?"
Arguments like these occurred all too often between my parents. Sometimes it was about John Van Millwood; others it was a 'Kitty Girl'; occasionally it involved planet-hopping during inconvenient moments; or maybe even who to invite to their annual Contented Covens Convention. So a lot of times, young as I was, I just wanted to pop out to a simpler place- like the mortal realm.
Sure, my family disapproved. Humans had always been biased against witches, so naturally we witches felt the same way towards mortals. Every time my mother would catch me "mortal-mingling", she'd zap me back to the Cosmos and reprimand me for even talking to the "inferior race".
But for some reason, mortals still intrigued me, though I couldn't quite put my nose on exactly why. . . .
* * *
"I'd love to find out why," said Darrin, back on the beach.
"I think you already know the answer to that," Samantha replied lovingly.
"And if I didn't, per se?"
"Then you'd soon find out."
* * *
Rollo was the kind of warlock any witch would have wanted. He had a nice cloud, a good reputation, and tenable powers.
"For you, my love," he said as he zapped up a rose for me.
"It's beautiful." I smelled it.
"Not nearly as much as you are," Rollo cooed as he kissed me. "Now, where would you like to go tonight? Venice? Tokyo? Madrid? Neptune? Just say the magic words and I'll zap us off to paradise."
"It doesn't matter to me. Anyway, I can-"
"Don't tire out your dear little nose on that. I'll take care of it."
"Well, if you insist."
We rematerialized elsewhere.
I opened my eyes to a very familiar place.
"Surprise!" exclaimed Rollo.
"New York City?"
"Yes. Endora told me about your mortal ventures and that this is one of the places you frequently come to. So, I'm going to try and find out why in the world you have a fetish for mortals."
"It's not a fetish," I defended as Rollo cast his gaze upon the Statue of Liberty. "It's just an open mind, that's all."
"Impossible. There is no way they could have made this thing without witchcraft," he declared, not really paying attention to what I just said.
"You'd be surprised. Come on. I'll show you more."
We popped out. Needless to say, the nearby tourists looked confused.
"I guess this really is a country of miracles," one shrugged.
My beau and I ended up at a department store.
Rollo examined his surroundings like a professor.
"So this is how humans get the things they can't zap up. . . ."
We walked past a display of operating television sets, showing the news, of which I explained to the visiting warlock like a museum tour guide.
". . .And this is how they know what's happening in the world."
Rollo and I stood to watch the mortal-made screens.
"You know, it's just appalling what they're doing to their own kind."
"I know," I sighed in sad agreement.
"How could you like someone who does that? And is anti-witch?"
"Not all of them are bad, Rollo. I've even met a few. Some of them are actually very nice."
"You poor girl! Endora was right- these trips of yours are stopping you from thinking straight. Let's get out of here, quick. . . ."
"But I feel fine!"
He popped us out before I could finish.
* * *
Darrin interrupted Sam's story. "Is this the Rollo who accidentally spiked your mother's drink with that love potion?"
"That's the one," confirmed Samantha, looking at a nearby seashell that somewhat resembled the fateful martini glass.
"And those 'very nice mortals' you met- was one of them me?"
"Mm-hmm. And I sure am glad of it."
"I'll kiss to that."
By then, Samantha and Darrin's voices were the only ones heard on the beach. Even the seagulls had quieted down for the night, leaving just the rolling waves and occasional chirping to be the background for- well, Samantha's background.
". . . in fact, after we bumped into each other-"
"Yeah," Sam giggled. "And after we became good friends, I had the feeling that fate had drawn me an unusual card. . . ."
* * *
I decided to go to an expert on men to help me with my love life.
"Serena, can I ask for your advice about something?"
"Sure, Sammy. What's buggin' you?"
"My problem is- well, that I'm torn between two men," I replied.
My cousin scoffed. "Why's that a problem? I'm torn between more than a dozen men and I love every lovin' second of it!"
"I don't think you understand. How do I choose?"
"Well, if you MUST choose," announced the coquette, "it's easy. Just pick the fella who's better in- "
"Never mind, Serena, I'll sort this one out on my own."
"Don't worry, Cous. Someday, when you're as beautiful and alluring as I am, you won't have to worry about pet-ty lit-tle prob-lems like that anymore. Remember: 'It's not the men in your life that count; it's the life in your men.'"
"Thank you, Mae West," I said, deciding that I'd find more useful information at Aunt Clara's.
"Oh, pinsticks and fiddlefeathers," stuttered the dear old woman, searching frantically around, not noticing that I had popped in.
"Hi, Aunt Clara, I'm sorry for coming on such short notice."
"Oh, hello, Samantha, I'm so glad you're here. You see, I seem to have misplaced a mountain lion I zapped up."
"A mountain lion?!"
"Yes. I was trying to paint a picture of it for Ocky, and the minute I turned around, the mountain lion was gone, and in its place was a cougar!"
"Um, Aunt Clara?"
"I knew Ocky would have loved that painting too. It's a shame. A real shame that I can't paint it now. Ocky adores regal things like mountain lions."
"But Aunt Clara- "
"Terribly naughty of that cougar to trick me into thinking that he was my mountain lion, so I zapped him away."
"Aunt Clara, I think I know why you can't find your mountain lion. You zapped it away."
"I did? Dear me, I can't even remember things I've zapped! It's finally happened. My memory's going," she fretted.
"Now, don't you worry, because it's not. Aunt Clara, the mountain lion and the cougar were the same animal."
Her eyes widened. "That impish cat! He must've tricked you too!"
I gave up on the subject and moved on to my problem.
"Aunt Clara, the reason I popped in here was because I wanted to ask you something. About my love life."
"Here's some advice: Whatever you do, don't try to paint him a picture."
I stifled a laugh, but then went quickly back to being serious.
"You're my favorite aunt, and you're one of the most understanding witches I know, so I'd like your advice on a problem."
"Well, to begin with, Rollo and I haven't been quite the same. I mean, he's the same, and I'm the one who's moved on. I'm not that happy around him anymore, and I don't know why. There's no doubt that he's a great warlock, but getting whatever I want to get, going wherever I want to go, living wherever I want to live. . . .The whole thing seems to have lost its charm-" I paused. "Listen to me- a witch denying her own heritage. What's wrong with me?"
Aunt Clara put a loving hand on my shoulder. "There isn't anything wrong with you, Samantha. Now, I know that my own powers aren't what they used to be, and so I've even had to do a few things the mortal way, like picking up things, putting on clothing by hand, or even walking to places. And when I do, the strangest thing happens- I feel proud of myself. I accomplished something the hard way."
"The hard way . . . like a mortal." My mind flashed back to the department store. 'This is how humans get the things they can't zap up. . . .'
"Yes, like a mortal. Despite the faults in their world, most humans are very honorable for that . . . doing things the hard way, I mean."
Aunt Clara may have seemed dense to anyone else, but I knew that she had wisdom and common sense in her that rivaled King Solomon.
"So that's why I'm not so happy around Rollo. He can give me anything in the world and beyond, but it wouldn't mean a thing! It would be nothing to him. Aunt Clara, can I ask you another question, if you promise not to tell anyone?"
"Of course. What are favorite aunts for?"
"I met a mortal man a while back in New York City, and I fell in love with him." I resumed what might have been my death sentence in a meek voice. "Is that a bad thing?"
"Samantha, dear, that's wonderful!"
"You're not shocked?" I was surprised.
"Well, is he kind?"
"Is he single?"
"Ever since he broke up with his fiancee."
"Is he handsome?"
"Is he good to you?"
"He's funny, passionate, sweet, and considerate."
"Does he have an unattached uncle around my age?" she laughed. "The boy sounds wonderful to me, Samantha. And as your aunt, I know that you deserve the best."
I beamed. "And it doesn't even bother you that he's mortal?"
"Not a bit. But more than likely, it will to your parents," she cautioned.
"They're just going to have to accept it," I stated triumphantly, though I knew deep down that they probably wouldn't.
"Does he know that you're a witch?"
My heart sank. "No, but I'm afraid that if I tell him, I'll lose him."
Aunt Clara looked at me knowingly. "I trust you, Samantha, and I have a feeling that whatever you decide to do, it will turn out all right." She smiled.
"Oh, thank you so much! For all of the insight, the understanding, everything!" I jumped up and hugged her.
"It's the least I could do. Now, to get back to my painting," she said, standing upright and putting her arms out in front of her.
"And for the painting, a little fix-up:
A big cat appeared before her.
"That's fantastic! Aunt Clara, it worked!"
"No, it didn't. Oh dear, I'm the dumbest witch of all. Now I've popped up a puma."
As I zapped out with a new mission in mind (and a smile on my face), I wrote a mental note to get Aunt Clara a dictionary for Christmas.
* * *
". . .and that's it! Aunt Clara ended up with a Funk & Wagnalls, Rollo ended up with the only blot on his record with women, I ended up with you, and Ocky ended up with a tiger picture to avoid confusion. And we all lived happily ever after. Mostly."
"All I can say is Wow, what a story," Darrin declared, holding Samantha close. "I always did like Aunt Clara- she was the only one of your relatives who didn't intentionally make my life miserable."
"That's my favorite aunt for you!"
"She did it unintentionally."
" Darrin! After all that- "
"Relax, honey, I'm kidding. She was right. Even if I have to slave away under a boss like Larry Tate, I do it because I love you."
"And I love you. And I'm glad I made the right choice about mortals, funny though they may be."
Walking back to the hotel, Darrin gave her the same look he had given her before she started her story.
"Sam, I've been thinking about that, too."
"Darrin, I'm tired. Don't make me start another story tonight," Samantha joked.
"This time, I'm the one doing the talking, so don't worry. This is something I should have said a long time ago."
"That I, Darrin Stephens, hereby grant the lovely witch Samantha Stephens full permission to use her Natural Talents of Witchcraft whenever and wherever she wants to."
Sam nodded her head in approval. "I have a declaration to make as well."
Darrin, still in role-playing mode, replied to the request in royal fashion. "Proceed, dear lady."
"I, Samantha Stephens, hereby accept the statement with gratitude. But since the statement has a clause in which the subject may use her Witchcraft whenever and wherever she wants to at her disposal, I hereby choose to only use my Natural Talents when the situation calls for it."
Darrin, stepping out of character, hugged his wife. "Even without my little speech, that's always happened anyway, hasn't it?"
"Darrin, I already told you- I prefer doing things in the everyday mortal manner. It just means more."
"ABNER!!!" shrieked an all-too-familiar voice from one of the hotel balconies.
"What the. . . ."
"This can't be happening. Of all places, why did Gladys's respite have to be here?!"
"Abner! ABNER! She just admitted it!"
"Would this be a situation calling for a twitch?" Darrin asked Sam.
"Abner, wake up! Mrs. Stephens just admitted she's a- zzzzzzz. . . ."
Mrs. Kravitz was slumped in a slumber over the railing.
"Nice work," complemented Darrin.
"Thank you. Now that that little unexpected event's over, how about we go back to our room and call to see how Esmeralda and the kids are doing at the house."
"Marvelous idea- at least if we still have a house. And after that, you can try out Serena's method of deciding who's the best man."
"Sounds good to me. But I don't know; it seems like a wasted cause, considering that I married the man already," Samantha teased.
"So love is stronger than witchcraft."
"Oh, please. I've always known that."
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