Desdemona leaned back in the wooden chair feeling the weight shift onto the hind legs before plopping back on all four with a THUD! that echoed across the living room. She stared at the glass bell jar on the table that glittered with magical sparks maintaining the contents. Her lips pursed and she pushed the stool back again. It came crashing back down, rocking her forward in her seat.
Beneath the jar was a stack of well read papers with signatures and tear stains. The pages fluttered against one of the few spells she could manage lately; she forced a magical breeze to circulate the stale air in her apartment. She had hoped keeping the jar over the papers would give her some sense of accomplishment, but it didn't change the fact that she was no longer a bride or even a wife. She was a divorcee.
And to a mortal no less.
Desdemona picked up the jar and out of pure frustration she shook it. The pulsing red object bounced around leaving small stains of sticky crimson on the glass. The sparks of light gathered about the mess and in moments it was gone, but the fist sized organ continued to beat and mock her. She wondered how quickly that bloody slab beat when Stephan's lips crushed against that other woman's. She pictured it racing as he pulled that beautiful creature close and laid her on their marriage bed while Desdemona was away working her witchcraft to help people across the globe. Mortals had countless stories about witches and warlocks, but just like her ex husband's vows, they were make believe.
Now the heart steadily beat as it sat trapped in a well of Desdemona's magic. She figured if he wasn't going to use his heart to care about his wife, he didn't need it at all. It felt empowering for her to recycle garbage. Fueled by the freedom of knowing the truth about the monster she had married, Desdemona was out in the dating scene before the ink was dry on the divorce papers. She was young. She was beautiful. She had magic. She was immortal. Men would be lucky to even meet a woman like her. They could probably even forgive the 500 square feet of living space she was left with.
That was what Desdemona thought anyway.
Each date started out perfectly. Desdemona put on her best dress that flattered every inch of her. Her black kitten heels tapped a song as she approached her table where her date was always already waiting so he could get the full effect of her approach. Not everything required magic words and eye of toad.
Then out of nowhere, like a spell gone wrong, Desdemona felt her heart wrench in her chest. Sob stories about her ex-husband dribbled from her painted lips and her shimmering eyes became salty faucets. Calories also became a dream as she ordered every item off of the dessert menu. At least her date was willing to pay for her discretions.
No matter what she did, Desdemona's mind always fell back to that horrible man she once thought she loved and the beating heart she thought might bring her peace. Having spied on Stephan a few times from her sky view on her favorite broomstick, she learned he didn't even seem to miss the organ. He continued flirting and dating and bedding every manner of female he could get his overzealous hands on. Three years were washed away because she was too lovestruck to see the truth. It took holding the man's heart in her palms to see what she really needed.
Desdemona kicked off from the table with more force than she meant and felt the back legs of her chair slip from under her. She plummeted to the floor and tumbled backwards until her head struck the legs of her cot and her night dress flopped over her face. As she freed herself, the floor trembled again with a few quick strikes from below along with a familiar muffled shout.
"Shut up, up there, would ya?" called the neighbors below.
Desdemona slammed her fists against the floor in spite of the pain and then picked herself up. The churning in her chest would only get worse if she focused on the symptoms and not the cause of her distress.
Desdemona grabbed her SkyWriter broom from the closet as well one of the stored away paper bags she used for the tubs of Halloween candy her neighbors so enjoyed. She never understood the traditions mortals made up from her religion, but she didn't fault them. She fumbled through one of her many spell component drawers and grabbed what she needed, stuffing them in the bag.
Back in the living room Desdemona stared down the bell jar. The sparks reflected against her gray eyes. For months it sat there and for months she felt herself withering away in a pit of despair. That type of control over her own heart wasn't something she should have granted Stephan, but it took so long to realize she had relinquished it. She had to take it back. Desdemona scooped up the jar and placed it in the bag, freeing the divorce documents from its weight. The fanning spell blew the freed papers across the table.
Desdemona charged to the largest window. She could just step up onto the sill and wedge herself and the broomstick through. With a click of her slippers, the broom was in the summer night air and darting across the cityscape.
Every streetlight in the city seemed to illuminate another spot where memories of past love overwhelmed her. She easily picked out the bakery where Stephan introduced her to her new favorite mortal dessert, tiramisu. A few blocks down a tall building stood out as where they shared their first kiss from the observation deck. Desdemona made a sharp turn on her broomstick to avoid the park as if the air around it were sullied and poisoned. She didn't need a reminder of the proposal that should never have happened.
The busy buildings faded away underneath the broom's path, replaced by longer, brighter houses and family businesses. Desdemona spotted a complex with identically designed two-story homes, but for as many times as she had visited over the years, she knew where to go. She guided her broom down into the sea of white painted houses until she was steady outside of a window with bland curtains drawn tightly. She reached for the pendant around her neck, a small bronze key with a heart shaped ruby piercing its handle, and with a quick incantation it slid free from the chain.
Desdemona pressed the key to the window frame and heard a tiny click as it gave way to the charm's power. She gently pushed aside the lefthand panel, remembering how the right side squeaked terribly when she would leave after a passionate night. Desdemona drifted inside, steadying herself on the windowsill and floating to the thick carpet of Stephan's bedroom. Already she was bombarded with painful memories and regret. She wanted to throw the heart down and stomp on it or slash it with a razor. Every fiber of her being said to run with it and make him suffer even if she had to do the same.
Desdemona took a steadying breath just as she heard soft snoring from the plush bed covers. Suffering any longer for someone else's misdeeds was out of the question. She unloaded the bell jar onto the nightstand beside Stephan's slumbering form. Then she withdrew a brass plumb bob, an eye dropper with snake venom, and a piece of chalk.
With only one more moment of hesitation, Desdemona began to draw a pastel design on the headboard. She touched the tip of the plumb bob to the eye dropper with the snake venom and she let hang over Stephan's chest. Gravity forced a pearl of venom to cling to the sharp brass tip, but it never dropped. As the chalk outline began to glow, and bits of the dust leapt from the drawing, the plumb bob started to swing and grow warm.
Desdemona carefully eyed Stephan's face as it screwed up in his dreams. She couldn't will the spell to hurry or something might go wrong with the transfer. It was difficult enough to get the stupid thing out; she didn't want to be stuck with it.
Behind her, the bell jar also let off a small glow as it rattled on the nightstand. The heart within it was tipped around, but the magic that once cleaned its mess was now evacuating it from the jar. The sparks clung to the flesh like so many fireflies and began to press into it. Desdemona felt the pieces of the spell coming together to reattach what her plagued desires had stolen. The power left the tiny hairs on the back of her neck standing on end and her skin was flush with goosebumps. The heart was shrinking as it collapsed into a pocket within the jar in order to reappear within Stephan's chest.
A sudden popping sensation in her belly made Desdemona flinch. The spell stopped singing and the pieces stopped meshing together. The witch froze as her ex husband tossed and turned in bed, little lights twinkling against his chest until they faded too. His brows unfurrowed and a slight smirk fell across his lips.
It was a familiar look to Desdemona, but she used to call it confidence, which she was told was very sexy in a man. Now she wanted to slap the look off of his face. More importantly, she wanted to know why the spell failed. The gently beating heart was back to its full size and the jar surrounding it was pristine.
Desdemona pulled a small notebook from her bag and flipped through the pages until she found the information on her transfer spell. She had all of the components she needed as she did a mental check list. The recipient was in place and complacent. The ingredients were properly measured and distributed. The focus of the spell was intact.
Desdemona chewed on the tip of a lock of her dark hair as she fretted over what was wrong. She stared at all of the pieces and her eyes lingered on the beating heart. A worrisome thought struck her and she grabbed a gilded monocle from her spacious bag, squinting at the breathing muscle.
It had a story etched across it like every heart did. This was a story of hopeless romanticism and dreams of being swept away in love. This was not the story Desdemona had ever seen coming from Stephan. He was calculated and driven by success, something else that she once found endearing.
The heart wasn't his.
It was stolen from someone else who had fallen for his tricks. Looking closely at the story she resembled, she saw tales of a plush carpeted bedroom and nights of passionate love and headboard grabbing. The heart had felt the glee mixed with fear as she snuck out of a window, certain to push only the right panel aside.
"You stole her heart," Desdemona said to no one. "You never intended to keep it and you passed it off like a used book. You don't even have one of your own."
The raging fire in her chest quelled as she looked upon Stephan's blissful sleep. He couldn't purposefully harm her or that poor girl he used in his games. He didn't know how to feel enough to want to harm others. He simply followed his body's wants unlike regular people. There wasn't a heart to guide him so he stole others' without thought to the consequences.
Desdemona unhooked her pendant and laid it on the nightstand beside the jar with the steady heartbeat. It had been the first gift Stephan bought her. She swore to never be without it just as she vowed to always be with him. Perhaps it could serve as a reminder that actions do have consequences.
She couldn't return the heart even if she wanted to. That would be up to him and if he could let another woman suffer as she had. There was nothing left to do, but to move forward. Desdemona took her broom and pushed the window open. She heard a slight stirring and mumbling from the bed, but she took a seat, shot off into the air, and never looked back.