It began subtly at first. Tarot card readings at PTA meetings. The Runes cast before deciding the dates for a bake sale. The Girl Scout troop making protective sigils out of yarn and popsicle sticks.
Raised an agnostic sort of christian, Layla suspected she should be more upset by the subtle indoctrination, but everything else about the school and neighborhood is fantastic. It was walkable, with an organic grocer who carried so many types of ethnic food and other products, several restaurants, a couple coffee shops, even two pubs. The schools were fantastic. When they moved in, Alicia had been lagging behind a bit in math, and Adam in reading. Without any hesitation or qualms, tutors had been assigned to catch them up. The neighbors were all very friendly, and a very diverse group.
"What's a little witchcraft between friends?" she'd joked to Jeff after the PTA meeting with the tarot reading to judge the best approach to the Harvest Festival. "Seriously, though. So people are a little, idiosyncratic, it's great. I've made so many friends, and none of the usual mommy wars nonsense. The kids all play outside together, and even when there are fights, the parents work with the kids to resolve it. I fucking love it here."
Jeff had been noncommittal that night.
Shortly thereafter the hang up phone calls had started. Nothing as cliche as lipstick on his collar, or coming home smelling like perfume, or even working late.
It was a trainer at his gym in the old neighborhood. A former neighbor had called to ask how she was doing with the split, and said she'd seen Jeff and his new girlfriend out at dinner the at La Isla Manana.
Layla dropped the phone, and sank to the kitchen floor, thankful it was still during the school day. Her old friend asked if she was ok, over and over.
"Knock, knock!" Genevieve, her next door neighbor, stepped in the back door. She took one look at Layla's stricken face, and picked up the phone. "Hi, this is Layla's neighbor Genevieve. She looks like she's had a bit of a shock. Can we call you back later?"
Immediately the voice on the other end of the line started stammering apologies.
"She will call you back. Promise." Genevieve hung up the phone and dropped to her knees next to Layla. Layla looked her in the eyes.
"I don't know what to do." Tears welled up, spilling onto her cheeks. "I, I gave up everything, my career, everything to be the housewife he said he wanted."
"No use crying over spilled milk now, sweetheart. You have some choices to make." Genevieve stroked Layla's hair back from her face.
"I know." Layla took a deep shuddering breath.
"You have been very tolerant of all our witchy habits." Genevieve smiled. "You weren't raised to it, but you could learn. You have choices." As she spoke, several other of the neighborhood women came over, each stepping carefully over the threshold of the back door.
"What choices?" Layla looked around as more women came in. Attia started a kettle heating and rummaged for tea and mugs for everyone.
"Well, you can choose to kick him out." Rosa, standing by the refrigerator shrugged.
"Or you can bewitch him to love only you." Ilsa, still by the back door, smiled. "It's skirting the edges of black magic, but I like to live dangerously."
"Or you can try couples' counseling." Cherie grinned, going through the cupboards to pull out a brownie mix. "Doesn't always work, but sometimes."
"Only you can decide what's right for you." Genevieve smiled. "We had your geneaology run before we agreed to you buying the house. Your great-grandmother was a hedge witch of some note. Any of us would be happy to teach you the Craft, in whatever flavor calls to you. But most importantly, you don't have to do this alone. Now, Rosa and Michaela have volunteered to take all the kids to a surprise pizza party, so you don't have to explain anything until you've had some time to think."
The kettle whistled, and Attia carefully handed her a mug of milky tea.
"Chamomile, I hear it's soothing." Attia wrinkles her nose as Layla looks up at her. Layla knew she never drank anything but coffee or water.
"Attia, why aren't you at work?" Layla blinked up at her.
"This is more important." Attia sank cross-legged onto the floor in front of Layla in her DKNY slacks and Anne Taylor blouse. "You've been fantastic, and we all want to help."
"Ok." Layla closed her eyes and sipped her tea, then coughed.
"I may have slipped a little brandy in." Ilsa leaned against the wall. "Now, why don't we go through the pros and cons of each approach, shall we?"