They were far into their third bottle of Martini, when the idea materialized from Josephine's cigarette smoke. Later, none of them would be able to say where it came from, and without further arrangements they decided never to speak of it.
Josephine looked at her lap, where her delicate hands lay neatly folded, like sleeping butterflies. "I c-canot bellllllieve hediddis." Her language was maybe a tiny bit slurred around the edges. She was not drunk, that she knew. Only misbehaved women got drunk. They were socializing. Just good friends talking and letting off steam.
Sara lifted her tumbler in a salute to the absent adulterer. "May his... balls freeze to a lamppost!" She still spoke quite articulate, although her brain seemed a bit slow tonight when forming words and sentences. Her skirt had ridden up her long legs, leaving something resembling a wide black belt to cover her most delicious curves. The Lasagna stains were hardly visible on the burgundy red blouse, as was the red wine they had ordered with their dinner.
Carla took a swig straight from the bottle. They had no ice left anyway. "No, he des-deserves worse. Being knott'd to the lamppost with his man junk." The black dress hid most of the flesh she had acquired over the last decade, chasing Mister Perfect and eating in cheap restaurants.
"That would be a - a hell of a job, drawing out that t-tiny prick enough for a good knot." Josephine looked at her empty glass. She felt tipsy, she admitted. And sad. And angry. All at the same. Her head was like a caroussel.
Then the idea appeared.
Fifteen minutes later everything was set up in Carla's attick. The chalk circle, the candles, rain water and a bowl of sea salt. Carla had gotten several pentagram pendants and urged her friends to wear them. They laughed a lot, flipping through grimoires which had found strange ways into Carla's possession. "Here, thisssshould do nice." Sara pointed at a page with a pretzel stick.
"Let me see", Carla read the spell carefully. "A fire demon. Yeah, we can work with that." She took a piece of paper and took notes, and meanwhile the women emptied the fourth bottle of Martini and started a fifth. They had still some more in store. Preparation was crucial.
The incense stank. Together with the cigarette smoke and the alcohol it created a magical atmosphere, where nothing seemed quite real. With surprisingly sober voice, Carla took on the invocation. The smoke thickened, and Josephine imagined seeing a shape in the middle of the circle. She glanced at Sara, who had her eyes closed and was swaying gently.
They didn't believe in all this stuff. Hadn't even believed in it when they were teenagers. Carla kept collecting things and would sometimes invite them over for tarot readings or séances, but this was reality, after all. Well, at least it helped her let off some steam. Tomorrow, she would drive home, pack her stuff and move back in with her mother. As soon as she would be sober. She heard a laugh and decided it must be Carla's, although she couldn't remember her friend sounding so sexy. Or malicious.
The couch was uncomfortable, and after only four hours of sleep Josephine was not sure if she was sober and miserable or perhaps still drunk and, apart from that, perfectly fine. She had to hurry if she wanted to be at the office in time. Traffic behaving, she might even be able to take a quick shower. With all that smoke and stuff she probably smelled like a night club.
Sara and Carla were still asleep, but the timer of the coffee maker had been set, and the smell helped with the headache. Josephine got a refill, looked down at her wrinkled pantsuit and grabbed her car keys. She would return the cup the next time they met. They should do these women things more often anyway. Carefully, she slid into the driver's seat, turned the keys and backed out of the driveway. Her home was less than thirty minutes away.
Or would have been, had it still existed. The fire brigade was swarming all over the premises, and curious neighbours lined the streets. There were paramedics as well, but they were in no hurry. Either things had turned out better than expected, or worse.
An elderly woman came running towards her as soon as she noticed Josephine's car. "Thank God, there you are! I had feared you were inside!"
"What - what happened?" Josephine's brain refused to answer that question itself.
A policeman came over. "Please drive on, there's nothing going on here."
"But - but that's my house!"
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, Ma'am." He looked at her. "You're lucky. The neighbours say they saw two people coming home last night, and they were almost certain the female was you. We're still looking for the second body." He was very young and obviously had never given the bad news to the bereaved. "I am sorry for your loss", he added, like an afterthought. Then he waved for the paramedics, made sure they came their way, and left her in her car.
Josephine looked at her house in horror. She should call Carla. This was reality, after all.