I barely looked at the mug, but that was enough to send it falling out the cupboard on to my kitchen floor. I'm not usually clumsy but sometimes, when I'm upset, accidents happen."It didn't smash!" Vicki 's shocked reaction suggested that was further reason for her to be angry with me.
Usually I'd have joked about how lucky I was, but she was in no mood to hear about my good fortune. "Of course it didn't, I've got cushioned flooring," I said.
"No you haven't!" She reached down, "Oh! I could have sworn they were real tiles."
"Perhaps that's not the only thing you've been mistaken about?" I asked.
"It isn't," she snapped. "I thought we were friends."
"We are," I said, hoping it was still true.
"Then why charm yourself into the job I wanted?"
"You wanted the promotion?" I probably sounded as surprised as Vicki had about the mug. I knew a few others had applied for the job, but thought the main reason they'd done that was to prevent it going to someone from outside. That's caused problems in the past.
"Why wouldn't I?" Vicki demanded.
Because she wanted to have babies and be a stay at home mum. She hadn't actually said that, but I'd been so sure it was what she really wanted... Oh dear, what had I done?
Everyone else had congratulated me on the promotion, saying I'd be perfect for the role, but not Vicki. Her look had said she'd like to burn me at the stake. Later she'd barged past me hissing, "I'm on to you."
The words had made me shiver. Although she couldn't know for sure, it was possible she'd guessed the truth. Because of that, and because I didn't want her to stay angry with me, I'd used my persuasive powers to get her to come to my place after work and talk about it.
She'd followed me home, accepted my offer of tea and sat on one of my kitchen chairs, just as she'd done many times before. Everything was going fine until I dropped the mug and broke the spell.
"You lead a charmed life, Tina."
She's said things like that before and I've managed to laugh it off. Not this time.
"You always have all the luck," Vicki continued. "And if it doesn't come naturally you fix things so you get what you want. I know what tricks you played to get promoted."
"Tricks?" That's not the word I'd have used.
"It's pretty obvious how you got round Mr Roberts. He's always looking down our tops."
She thought I'd slept my way to promotion? Thinking it might be better if she believed that, I just shrugged.
"Maybe you got away with it this time, but you better watch out – what goes around comes around."
She was right about that. I could have pointed out that insulting the person who was just about to become her new line manager wasn't a good idea, but I didn't. There's no way I'd use my power to hurt her, I'd much rather patch up our friendship.
"I'm sorry you're upset over this," I said, "I honestly didn't think you were bothered about the promotion."
Vicki looked into my eyes for a moment, "If you say so." She didn't sound totally convinced, but I felt she wanted to believe me.
Conjuring up positive vibes, I made her tea in the mug I'd dropped.
"Perhaps it's the mug which is lucky, not me?" I jokingly suggested.
"Could be." She gave a brief smile, "Having to get jiggy with lecher Roberts isn't exactly lucky."
"No." I shuddered. That man was going to be my immediate supervisor and he was truly awful, but I really couldn't do to him what he deserved.
Vicki's face wobbled and I hoped she was going to laugh over the idea of me seducing the horrid Mr Roberts, but instead she started crying.
"Come on, tell me what's up. It's not about the job, is it?" I coaxed.
Between sobs, she told me I was right about her not wanting promotion; and why.
"All I want is a baby."
I learned her doctor had said, although it wasn't entirely impossible, the odds were against her.
"I did apply for the job, but only because I thought having a career might somehow make not having a family less painful. It wouldn't have helped and you'll make a much better manager than me."
Incredibly relieved that what I'd done hadn't been an awful mistake, I hugged her tight.
She hugged me back, "Sorry, Tina. Of course you wouldn't have done what I said... with Mr Roberts. I don't know what came over me."
I did. "Hormones?" I suggested, "Some women do get emotional at, you know, that time of month."
She stared at me, "But it isn't ... well, it is, but I'm not ... Oh my god! Do you think ...?"
Vicki rushed off to get a pregnancy test, leaving me very, very relieved. And absolutely determined never ever to interfere in anyone's life ever again.
As soon as she'd gone I reversed the spell on my kitchen tiles. I never did like that cushioned stuff, but at the time it was all I could think of to explain about the mug. Some people say tiles are cold but that doesn't worry me.
The myth about witches' feet not touching the floor is true. So is the one about all our deeds coming back to us threefold.
© Patsy Collins
Winning Story: Contest #7
The following stories are the Outright Winning Entries for the Monthly Short Story Contest
March 2020 onwards