Voodoo Love

By on Oct 1, 2012 in Fiction

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Shrine with woman's photo, magnet, coconut-shell candle and sheep's head

Maman greets me at the door. She is tiny and trim. The skin on her face is pulled tight and unwrinkled; only the thinness of its texture and the papery folds of her neck belie her age. Maman’s forehead is high; long, coarse gray hair is brushed away from her mahogany brow.

I am uneasy; she takes my hand and gently pulls me into the house’s dark interior. A Tiffany-style lamp provides the only light, illuminating a tidy pantry. Celeste appears from the hallway.

“I have met your friend, Marie Esposito; she looks too smart to need voodoo,” says Maman.

“Yes, she is smart, Maman, but she is in love with our boss Kip and needs your help.”

“Of course, and he is not in love with her. He will need to open his mind to see a new possibility,” she says.

I feel like a child as they talk around me. I am too mortified to speak; my secret now in the hands of Maman and her occult abilities.

“You know, Marie, women feel things in their heart. They crave romance. Men feel love with their eyes and organ.” She glances downward below my waist. I am blushing as Maman continues. “They like to see every part of a woman. They want to turn your body inside out and see how you look when they give you pleasure. Men like to watch a woman doing private things — washing, getting undressed, touching yourself. They want to know what is forbidden.”

“Oh, honestly,” Celeste interrupts, sensing my discomfort. “Men want friendship and love just like women.”

“Yes, Celeste, men want those things. They like illusion at first, and we provide it — but it is never enough for them. Women like things tidied up; men need to break the facade down and plunder. We are like two separate species; that’s what keeps me in business.” She chuckles.

I know all about being plundered. I discovered I was pregnant after breaking up with my boyfriend. A miscarriage, with a startling amount of blood and a solitary trip to the emergency room, should have taught me a lesson; but Maman is right, I like the idea of romance.

“We need to make Kip want you and see you as you need to be seen. I will tell you the steps to make a charm lamp.”

The three of us go into Maman’s room to see her altar. A simple table against the wall is covered in a purple tablecloth. In the center is a jar filled with daisies. Around the flowers are ceramic statues. I recognize Jesus, but there is also a figure of a black woman dressed as Mary in flowing blue robes. Votive candles are scattered over the surface. There is a bowl of salt, with an egg perched in the middle. I see bottles of oils and a skull!

In the middle of this display is a crucifix constructed from bones. The four tips of the cross are painted red and Mardi Gras beads twine around it like gift ribbons. I see a glass tank on the floor. Oh my god, the snake, I think. My eyes widen and my body pulls back as Maman takes the mesh cover off and lifts out a black snake. It is small by jungle standards — about the size of a large worm that oozes out of wet earth after a rainstorm. Its head stands erect as its body circles Maman’s wrist like a bracelet. His name is Legba; Maman strokes its head.

The three of us walk over to her daybed. When we are seated, Maman instructs me in the making of a charm lamp. I will need a coconut shell and ingredients that have qualities of sweetness and attraction; a magnet, syrup, sugar, honey, and flower petals. She tells me she can supply me with these ingredients, but I must go to a butcher shop myself and purchase a sheep’s brain. This is the essential ingredient bought with the implication that I would be purchasing the mind of the person I wish to charm. I am to pour olive oil into the coconut shell, adding a string as a wick, which I light to the god Legba, her snake’s namesake, who symbolizes heart, and to the goddess Erzulie, who represents love. I must keep this lamp lighted till I get the desired results.

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Michele A. Hromada is a special education teacher and educational evaluator. Her hobbies include reading, traveling and listening to classic rock and jazz music. Short fiction is something she loves and has been working on throughout her life. She lives on the Lloyd Neck peninsula on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband, son and her Jack Russell terrier. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Forge and Sanskrit. She is a regular contributor to Lloyd Harbor Life, writing restaurant reviews and general interest articles.

One Comment

  1. I love your story. I will pass it on to friends. I’ve always
    been intrigued by Voodoo, from afar, very afar…and I got several laughs…always a good thing. Plus, I’m terrified of snakes, and it took me many false starts to find a great guy in an orange convertible. Keep up the good work.