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My fingers trembled so much that I dropped the invitation. Then I looked in the mirror and decided that I looked terrible, even these bags under my eyes and shaggy hair. And then I limped onto the balcony to smoke.
Smoking did not calm me down, besides, I remembered that I give it up and I put a thin cigarette out in a pot with cactus. The thorns scratched my fingers, I screamed, swore and went home.
And this limp. Why did I pull my ankle exactly this week? How will I go? And if I do not go – it will offend them, of course! And then, no one in my life ever sent me invitations on paper with embossed floral patterns, written with a fountain pen and lying in a beautiful narrow long envelope, with patterns too. Just like I am an English queen, or the star of the cinema.
Although from the witch you can expect even something more than this.
That his mother is a witch, Michael told me two months after we met. I told him then that it was not good to call his own mother like this. To which he laughed and said that she really was a witch. In the most direct sense. And he added that the witch was not just her, but the entire female half of their family were witches.
And yet I had believed only after a personal acquaintance with Dahlia Reims. We met in a cafe. His mother was a tall brunette in her fifties, with a severe look on her face, in a pink suit and a pink hat with feathers. Michael introduced us to each other. And when he called my name, he said:
“She is ordinary, mom.”
And what was after this! His mother got up, her eyes glittering at me - I immediately believed that she was a witch, and I thought, now she burns me on the spot. But she turned her gaze to the striped umbrella over our heads, grunted something, the umbrella suddenly turned into a huge pelican, it snapped a huge beak to my face, then flapped its wings, swept the cups off the table, rose into the air and flew away.
Mrs. Reims said through clenched teeth:
“Nice to meet you,” then turned and left.
I could not calm down for two weeks. What a nightmare! His mother hated me at first sight! But Michael said:
“If she hated you, she would turn not an umbrella but you into a pelican. Although,” and he, you see, even grinned! “rather, not in a pelican, but in a ... frog, for example, or in a ... caterpillar ...”
“Enough, enough!” I screamed then. “I understood!”
Then I asked - what about men in their family? He shrugged.
The acquaintance took place four months ago and since then there has been no sign from Michael’s kin. And there is suddenly an invitation! Personally from Dahlia Reims! “For a family dinner”! Well, who officially invited to a simple family dinner? Probably, this is a dinner for some solemn occasion - a birthday, a wedding anniversary or something else, I don’t know. For example, to celebrate that one of the older sons got a prestigious job.
Michael has two older brothers. And their wives – both! – are witches. And he had found me, you see.
Okay, when Mike come home from work, I ask him what the reason. Maybe we need to buy a gift. The dinner is tomorrow already.
Michael was surprised, Michael was confused, Michael ruffled his hair endlessly and repeated like an idiot:
“Why did she?”
“You yourself said that she reacted quite normally to me,” I said, worrying.
“I said, that she didn't hate you at all.”
“Well then,” I said, “may be she decided uh ... that it was time to change her attitude.”
“What - yeah?”
“And this is alarming.”
“Is it dinner for some special reason?” I asked, when he became more sane.
“I don’t know. Looks like just a dinner.”
“And do you often have such a dinner party arranged?”
“Based on mood,” he answered vaguely.
Apparently, the mood of his mother. I did not ask further.
The invitation indicated that dinner would take place at two hours and thirty minutes. We left early in the morning in order not to get stuck in traffic jams, and plus I told Michael that they may need my help in preparing the dinner, and cooking together brings together.
Michael mumbled in response to this, that mom won’t get her hands dirty in the kitchen. I asked:
“How it is? Do you have uh ... servants?”
“No,” he smiled. “Many cousins, nieces and daughters-in-law.”
“All the more so! After all, I’m, too, uh ... almost ...” I said.
We were going to get married for the New Year.
“Well, yes,” Michael said only.
The village was located two hours from the New York. We drove into the village, and I turned my head, looking out where the house of Michael's parents was. Judging by his remarks, it was a very big house. But we drove through the village without stopping.
“Our estate is further,” said Mike, “beyond the village.”
“The estate ...” I repeated automatically. Damn, are they very rich?
Mike never talked about this. And we lived in my little apartment in Queens.
The estate ... And I have cheap jeans and a simple checkered blouse. Just in case, I had taken a knitted cardigan, which I knitted myself from different colored threads, composing them according to inspiration. It turned out very interesting and original. Perhaps it would be better for me not to pull it out, even if it snows.