“Well, well, well. This is new. But I guess there’s a first for everything.”
Startled, Damian spun around to face the owner of the voice.
Just a little further down the river where he stood, a lady was meticulously arranging her shawl so her bare shoulders would be covered; she was wearing a bare-shouldered dress. Raising her head, she gazed directly into his soul. “It doesn’t work that way.”
Damian frowned. “What doesn’t work that way?”
“Your wish. Unwittingly or not, you have found me to grant your wish. But I don’t have the power to rewrite the past, for I have a limit of interference.”
Damian’s frown only deepened before his eyes widened into realisation. “You are who everyone calls ‘The Witch’! The one who grants wishes.”
The corner of her mouth twitched in suppressed mirth. “Legend in living flesh. Although there are some who would call me by less flattering names.”
“If you can’t change the past, then what about the present?” he hedged, his mind already working on a different version of his wish.
“Oh?” The Witch drawled. “Are you sure you won’t regret your wish?”
The resolute look on Damian’s youthful face was enough an answer, but the Witch, with wisdom beyond anyone, let the silence hung between them to affirm his determination.
“No, I won’t! I want to relive that last day I saw my wife! Forever!” Unable to bear the silence, he finally roared.
Unfazed, the Witch lazily raised her hand to point across the river. “There, once you enter the waterwheel house, there’s no turning back,” The Witch warned.
Damian whipped his head in the direction she pointed and saw, for the first time, a waterwheel house. All that time he was there, he had never noticed it before. And he realised that somehow, they were across the river, standing in front of the house. The waterwheel was stationary.
The door creaked open, as if to welcome its owner. It was dark inside.
“As long as the waterwheel of that house spins, you’ll repeat that same day when you last saw your wife. And everything, I mean everything, remains unchanged,” she explained.
“Yet you still wish to go through with it,” the Witch raised her eyebrow. “Aren’t you casting a net into water to fish not for the moon but its reflection?” It was an observation, not a question.
Damian shrugged. “At least I’ll be happy,” he replied with a faraway look in his eyes. “If there is heaven, it will be reliving that same day. Exactly how I want it to be. That’s my wish”
Again, the Witch gazed thoughtfully at Damian. “What you think of as heaven is actually hell.”
Damian did not answer. The Witch seemed to stress on something during their exchange but Damian could not put his fingers on it; he was also too pre-occupied with his thoughts. Before the Witch could say anything else, Damian walked through the doorway of the waterwheel house, into the darkness.
The door swung close and the wheel, without warning, started to rotate. It had begun.
But the Witch shook her head sadly. “I tried to warn you. Time has corrupted you and twisted you in unimaginable ways. You shouldn’t have made that wish.”
It was too late. Damian could not hear her words; he was already experiencing the seventh loop of that day, when he walked into the house only to find his wife with the town’s sheriff.
They were both naked on the sofa in the living room.
In blind rage, Damian grabbed the fireplace poker and started to go after the sheriff, with every intention of killing him. Then he intended to claim his wife as his again, never to be apart. But that day always ended in the same way three hundred years ago - his wife, in sheer panic, grabbed the sheriff’s gun and shot Damian. Twice.
And because he wished to relive that day all over again, he could only watch helplessly from his body as they mutilated him in an attempt to cover their murder and their affair, dumping his body parts into the river.
The very spot where Damian’s spirit and the Witch met.
“You’re indeed still young and hot-headed when you died. That man you wanted to kill so much with your bare hands has been dead for a long time. Even their grandchildren are dead,” the Witch only shook her head before she raised her face to the sky.
“In a world as vast as ours, there bound to be many inexplicable events. They are what we call supernatural events. You could have made a wish to leave behind your anger and be reborn. Instead, your irrational fixation has cost you your chance at redemption,” she muttered to herself.
The Witch then lowered her head to stare at the waterwheel house again before waving her hands, turning it invisible so no one could intrude upon Damian’s space.
Damian’s wish to repeat that fateful day would be honoured.
Originally written for The Junction on Medium.