A hex is a hex

FICTION

What to do if you accidentally hex yourself.

Words by & illustration by Bill Crisafi


TEACHER
Let me ask you, a broken leg doesn’t just go away on its own, does it?

STUDENT
Well, no, but uh-

TEACHER
So why do you want to ignore this? When did this happen?

STUDENT
I don’t remember, maybe a week…

TEACHER
A week ago? Jesus, that’ll make it easier to break.

STUDENT
What, really?

TEACHER
No. I can’t believe you waited this long to tell me. When it happens to me I drop everything until I reverse it.

STUDENT
So you used to accidentally hex yourself too?

TEACHER
No, I get hexes put on me by other people like everyone else.

STUDENT
Oh…

TEACHER
Although it’s only happened to me a couple of times in my life. My worst hex experience was given extra weight by how unexpected and skilfully administered it was. I was late for a meeting in my building and I had just caught the lift. A woman was running towards the doors asking for us to wait. I hadn’t the time to wait, so I rudely ignored her and prodded the button to close the doors. She caught the doors on time despite this, and turned to me and asked if I was deaf. I told her that I wasn’t but that I had simply chosen not to listen to her at that moment. To that she said, ’I bet you’d hate it if you actually were deaf’. I had nothing to say to this. I went to my meeting and forgot the exchange entirely. The next morning I woke up deaf. That’s it.

STUDENT
(blinking and frowning)

The woman in the lift did that?

TEACHER
Yes, and she probably wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t so rude. That’s lesson one. Lesson two is, even though being deaf is quite debilitating, all it took was a day of good solid research to reverse it. The hex was particularly harsh not only in its effects but in how difficult it was to remove. The first thing that struck me was the specificity of it; which is to say that normally when you remove a hex, you are probably asking something like ’can you please make it so I can hear again’, whereas her hex required me to ask something more like, ’can you please remove hex X that was put on me by person Y’. So in order to do that, I had to know who she was. Discovering all this made the hex all the more impressive; she put it on me after knowing me for less than two minutes.

STUDENT
But why is that-

TEACHER
I feel that this would be a good time to start writing things down. It’s impressive because of its specificity. To hex someone you don’t just point and say ’get the guy with the brown leather bag’ – it’s just not that simple. You could easily get the wrong person which is how you managed to get yourself. She put it on me, and not only did she do that, she also managed to make me forget it was her. Before I could even find out it was her. Does that make sense?

STUDENT
No.

TEACHER
Okay, that’s fine. Get out your pen.

STUDENT
(spends far too long looking for a pen)

TEACHER
(sighs and hands the student a pen)
Anyway, when I told you my story I said that I had forgotten the exchange entirely, but I didn’t mean in the way one might with an insignificant event in a busy day – I mean I actually forgot it entirely – almost entirely. When I woke up deaf it didn’t take me long to reach the conclusion that I’d been hexed. What I normally do in this situation is – write, now – is attempt to re-trace everything I have said and done working backward. This can take the form of a simple list. For instance: wake up; go to bed; brush teeth; get undressed, and so on. The key is to write down every detail so that you might pinpoint any possible instances where the hex could have been placed, or what could have triggered it. In my case I found nothing out of the ordinary except that my memory was fuzzy in the time between entering the building and reaching the meeting room.

STUDENT
So you’d even include details such as ’used lift to get upstairs’

TEACHER
No, I wouldn’t use detail like that at all; I’d get into more detail than that. You cannot afford to skim over anything. I wrote something like: entered building; looked at watch; walked to the lifts; called the lift second from the left; entered lift. And that’s where it got fuzzy, which was the main clue.

STUDENT
If you forgot what happened, how were you able to tell me the story?

TEACHER
Because I broke the hex.

STUDENT
Oh.

TEACHER
Instead of trying to remember what happened in the lift, I tried to remember feelings. This takes a lot of concentration so I don’t expect you to get it right away. I replayed everything leading up to the lift in my head to try and take myself back and what I got was frustration but also, oddly, satisfaction. This probably most likely came from the quip I made about not being deaf but just choosing not to hear her. I was a smug little cunt back then. Anyway, once you remember the feelings it starts to feel a lot like remembering a dream. I eventually recalled a woman and could almost picture her. I certainly could remember her anger. It wasn’t an obvious raging anger which made it all the more noteworthy. And, now that I think about it, her anger was probably so restrained because she had already decided, in that moment, that she was going to put a hex on me.

STUDENT
But if that’s all you had, how could you figure out who she was?

TEACHER
Well let’s add up the clues so far: I knew I had been hexed into losing my hearing. That’s powerful enough to grab attention on its own. When I attempted the basic removal it was clear I had to be more specific, which suggested even further skill from the practitioner who put it on me. Finally, in re-tracing my steps there was a part of my day which was noticeably foggy, which means that in hexing me, the practitioner also removed something from my memory to cover their tracks. All three of those things together speak loud and clear: someone very talented and experienced had put this hex on me. That means they are very likely to have a reputation. So I turned to the books.

STUDENT
How did you know what kind of person to look for?

TEACHER
Well come on, look at the clues. She didn’t get me right away; she wanted it to be really hard to remove; she didn’t want me to know it was her-

STUDENT
Would anyone, though? If you hexed someone surely you wouldn’t want them to know it was you?

TEACHER
I don’t know, it’s never has simple as that. You might not care. It might not matter. If I hexed you into becoming totally obsessed with say, painting your fingernails blue, you wouldn’t care if it was I who made you that way because you would be too busy caring about your nails, not breaking a hex. But in my case I had to know who it was in order to break it. Also, and this is something we haven’t touched on enough, she made me go deaf, damn it. That’s serious.

STUDENT
Quite a disproportionate reaction for what you did.

TEACHER
Exactly. And once I’d got to that conclusion it was all very clear.

STUDENT
So who was it?

TEACHER
Well, I’m not just going to tell you, am I?

STUDENT
But how would you even get that your hex was the work of revenge if you couldn’t even remember what happened?

TEACHER
Because I’d remembered the feelings. I knew someone was angry at me so I knew I must have done something. This woman is exceptionally sneaky. And she’s a fan of humour, too; she practically told me I would go deaf and then made me forget it. She has a reputation. You should know this; you just read about her in chapter 7.

STUDENT
Oh wow, she’s that famous.

TEACHER
Yes…

STUDENT
This is probably as good a time as any to tell you: I haven’t gotten to chapter 7 yet.

TEACHER
(touches a hand to his face in frustration)
Right, okay…

There is silence while the student thinks.

TEACHER
You do know this. Remember: the hex grossly outweighed what I did to her.

STUDENT
Sounds like The Witch of Distance.

TEACHER
Yes, exactly. But that’s just her stupid nickname. Do you know her real name?

STUDENT
No.

TEACHER
Fine. Well, good enough, I suppose.

STUDENT
What’s her real name?

TEACHER
(hands student the textbook) That will take you ten seconds to look up.

STUDENT
(quickly finds the name) Oh yeah. Melinda Warren. It’s good to know both names though.

TEACHER
No… no, it’s isn’t. Nicknames are just names people make up when they don’t know someone’s real name. Just learn and use real names from now on. Then you only have to learn one thing and everyone will know what you’re talking about. So, Melinda Warren: what has this story taught you about her?

STUDENT
That she’s unnecessarily mean.

TEACHER
Mean, maybe. But certainly not unnecessary. She’s recognised as rather brilliant in the wider magical community.

STUDENT
Why?

TEACHER
Because one of the perks of removing her hexes is remembering, quite perfectly, how you met her and how you wronged her. This is something which is part of her style; it’s the reason why she told me I’d hate it if I were deaf before she made me go deaf. She does an amazing job at covering her tracks, and if you manage to break her hex she rewards you with telling you why she did it in the first place.

STUDENT
But she sounds awful. She makes people go deaf for sport.

TEACHER
She really doesn’t. I mean, I was quite rude to her.

STUDENT
But you said yourself that her hex grossly outweighed-

TEACHER
She’s more careful than that. Her hexes are there to send a message or teach someone a lesson. Another great thing she manages to achieve is knowing when one of her victims has broken her hex.

STUDENT
So she can do it again?

TEACHER
No, don’t be ridiculous. I’m not still deaf, am I?

STUDENT
Oh right…

TEACHER
She could never hold a grudge over someone who manages to break one of her hexes. She would also never make someone go deaf if she knew they couldn’t handle it.

STUDENT
Are you saying she wouldn’t have done it if she knew you couldn’t break it?

TEACHER
No, she still would have done it, but not as bad. If it were you she probably would have done something very non-threatening and made it so I would forget how to tie my shoes or something.

STUDENT
But how could she tell in such a short space of time that you were experienced enough to break something so tough?

TEACHER

That one I cannot explain. That’s why she’s so impressive. When I broke the hex she contacted me and asked if she could shake my hand. It was a very proud moment for me. And it taught me that if I insisted on being a rude, self-important prick, I should expect to be hexed.

STUDENT
I hope it never happens to me.

TEACHER
It probably will. Which is why this lesson is so important. Let’s start writing your list.

STUDENT
So I actually have to write the list? I just thought that’s what you did. Isn’t there a quicker way?

TEACHER
What – quicker? A day, a day – that’s all. Just a day and all of this will be over. You’re so impatient.

STUDENT
But-

TEACHER
Oh, sorry. You must have a quicker way. What is it?

STUDENT
Umm…

TEACHER
Wait, I forgot. I’m the one with years of experience and you’re the one with absolutely no experience. Maybe let’s just do it my way?

STUDENT
Okay…

TEACHER
This list is all about you. You love that sort of thing, no?

STUDENT
Okay, okay.

TEACHER
What did you do before you came to see me?

STUDENT
I left the house to come to see you.

TEACHER
No no. More detail. What did you do right before coming through that door?

STUDENT
(nodding)
I knocked on the door

TEACHER
And before that?

 

lights fade to black

 

THE END

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Georgia Iacovou is an artist who’s approach to making is that of making collections and indexes. She has self-published a number of books, one example being a series of books which attempt to explain and analyse the lyrics of Nirvana songs.

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