When you’re desperate, it’s a short hop from a harmless manifestation ritual to a full-blooded, black magic Split them Up spell. As I told you: I was desperate.
My boyfriend had left me three months back. I’d known it was coming, and rather than walking away with my dignity intact, I’d chosen to cling on until the bitter end, watching the whole thing unfold around me like a car crash in slow motion — from which only one of us walked away. And that was with someone else.
I took to my bed and stayed there for a long time. It wasn’t just my heart that hurt; my whole chest cavity, my spine, the small bones in my feet and wrists ached so much that the pain sometimes took my breath away. I was tormented, through drifting days and sleepless nights, by visions of my ex and his new ‘person.’ These images were so clear that I felt my adrenaline spike in response, that fresh tears spilled, that heat and rage built inside me until I wanted to throw a match onto the wide world and watch it burn. And when a mutual friend ‘couldn’t help’ but message me the news that my ex and this individual were in North Wales for a week for his birthday, and that this individual had booked a helicopter flight over Snowdonia to celebrate, I nearly threw up.
As I said — desperate. You live long enough in a state like that, a bottle of vodka and a few handfuls of pills start seeming like a rational combination.
But instead, I came across manifestation. You might have heard of it. I had, but didn’t really understand it; I’d never been interested in that sort of thing enough to find out, to be honest. But lying there in my fetid bed, surrounded by empty crisp packets and scrunched up tissues, when a pop-up appeared on the screen suggesting I read an article entitled, ‘Manifest Your Person Back in Two Weeks,’ I became very interested indeed. The idea is that we’re all energy. In a nutshell, match your vibration to the thing you desire, it can’t help but come to you. Sweet, right? So I practiced it for a day or two. Managed to haul myself out of bed.
I was still crying a lot, and apparently, that can mess with your vibe. And when nothing happened, when there was no call to tell me he’d broken up with this new ‘person,’ and to confess his undying love for me, I looked online again, at more sites offering manifestation techniques, at more meditations to ensure the return of one’s ‘specific person.’ And on one of these sites, I found a link. A little one, innocuous as links go; a pop-up advertising ‘Powerful Split Up Spells – Success Guaranteed or Your Money Back.’ There was some part of me that knew I shouldn’t touch that link with a bargepole; that was the same part of me that had told me to ditch the relationship a long time ago, and to get my stinking self out of bed and grow a little self-respect.
I ignored it. I’d become a pro at that.
So I clicked that link, and got carried to a site specializing in spells that would cause relationships to flounder, marriages to fail, friendships to fragment. For just £55, I would be sent the spell to cast, and if my ex-person and his new bit hadn’t split within thirty days I would get a full refund. Of course, I bought the spell. Of course, I felt like a prat. But I also felt excited. I felt, for the first time, in control of the situation.
I only had a couple of days to wait until the thing dropped through my door. During that time, I got showered, tidied the flat, and generally sorted my shit out. If I’d been thinking clearly, I would have seen that this was actually textbook manifesting practice — I started acting like the person I wanted to be, and so I started becoming the person I wanted to be. Except that what I was thinking was along the lines of how I wanted to look as together as possible once I’d separated that bitch from my man and he’d come back home to me. I don’t think that’s really aligned with the ‘bliss’ vibe.
I sat on my sofa, a brew sending up wisps of steam on the table in front of me, and tore open the small padded envelope carefully. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what fell onto my lap. Which were two tiny clay figurines and a single sheet of paper.
I carefully picked up the little blank-faced figures; they had rudimentary lumps for heads, arms, and legs, and one of them had the merest suggestion of breasts. I put them down softly next to my cup and then unfolded the paper. Written on it in a looping hand in red ink were four lines of script. I’m not going to write out those words here, for reasons that will become obvious. At the bottom of the sheet, typed, was the simple instruction: ‘Place the figures together as you chant these words, and, when the incantation is done, bury them on opposite sides of your garden.’ That was it.
I’m going to admit to you, my faith in the thing took a hit then. But I’d come this far and was fifty-five quid lighter, so there was nothing to do but carry on, I decided. The instructions said nothing about time of day or phase of the moon or whatever, so I thought I’d just wait until it got dark and give it a bash.
Lighting a candle seemed like a good idea, so I did that. I turned off the lights and put on some music, very quietly. I took a few deep breaths, and began by placing the two little figurines in front of me on the floor where I knelt. In the dim room, a shaft of mid-winter moonlight fell through the window to splash, spangled, on the parquet floor.
Suddenly, the atmosphere shifted. I can’t describe it to you any better than that, but I felt a sense of solemnity as I took the folded sheet from my pocket and smoothed it flat on the floor beside the clay poppets. I took another breath and began reading the words aloud; as I spoke each line I allowed images of my ex to unspool in my mind, I let the pain bubble up in a bitter blister of jealousy and rage, and as the final word left my lips, I felt two hot tears slide down my face.
When the pain had dwindled to embers, I caught up the figures and went into the garden, sliding my feet into wellies but not bothering with a coat; I welcomed the frigid air on my cheeks and forehead. I had prepared for this next part earlier in the day, and just had to drop a poppet into each of the two small holes I’d already dug at opposite ends of the garden, and then trowel soil over them. As the last handful of earth fell in a dry shower over the blank face of the ‘female’ figure, a cloud scuttled across the moon, darkening the grass and undergrowth and, the thing being done, I went back into the house then, lay down on the sofa and fell instantly into obliterating sleep.
When I woke it was dawn. Or at least, I judged it to be from the thin light making the sky visible through the windows. The candles, unattended, had pooled to puddles of wax that I knew would be all hell to get off the parquet later.
The paper with the spell lay there, too, like a piece of evidence for a crime I’d committed in a dream. I felt sick, and my head hurt as if I’d drunk a bottle or more of wine, though I hadn’t touched a drop.
Groaning, I reached for the telly remote, and flicked on the box. The news came on in a burst of skull-splitting light and noise. I sat up. The news anchor was reporting on a helicopter crash in North Wales. Snowdonia. My hand drifted to my mouth.
The anchor cut to a reporter at the scene. She was interviewing an eyewitness, who’d arrived just moments after the crash. The woman was ashen, her eyes wide and glassy.
“I understand that on board were a couple who had booked the flight as part of a birthday celebration. What did you see, when you arrived?’ asked the reporter.
‘First I saw the helicopter, all tangled up. Part of it was on fire. And the bodies. A pilot, a man, and a woman.”
I felt my gorge rise.
“It must have been a harrowing scene…” prompted the reporter.
“The bodies,” the woman repeated. “The couple… they weren’t whole. Their heads, their arms…”
The reporter tried to cut in, but before she shifted the boom mike, it picked up the woman’s final words in a fading whisper, “the bodies of the man and the woman…they were in pieces. Totally split up.”
Melanie Smith is a writer from Gloucestershire, UK; her fiction appears regularly in magazines and podcasts, and her short story, ‘The Unfolding,’ has been selected to feature in the forthcoming special issue, Women Destroy Retro Science Fiction to be published by The Were Traveler later this year.