So, I asked Charlie for his vote. He said no.
Or, more precisely, he said "not yet." I asked him what more he wanted me to do, and he said he'd let me know. I just don't know what to do with that. I finally got up the courage to ask him and he basically said no. I suppose he'll get around to telling me what to do next one of these days. I can't even imagine what ridiculous challenge or test it might be, and now all I can do is wait for it.
I asked him right after I got back from work on Monday, and I didn't have anything particular to do afterwards other than wander around disconsolately, so that's what I did. I meandered on down towards the Martin House and then beyond it, towards the sugar maple rows along the entrance way. The leaves are just starting to turn--still green, for the most part, but it's a paler green, and a few are starting to yellow a little on the edges.
There, I met Kit coming the other way, as though she's walked off campus and was just now coming back--which is plausible. The school is on good terms with our neighbors and she might have gone visiting, and the Lake is close enough to make a pleasant walk in nice weather. As she came out from the shadow of the big trees, her red hair caught the sunshine and lit up. A grasshopper who had been singing on the roadside stopped at her nearness and she stepped away so as not to bother the animal. The cicadas buzzed thinly in the trees overhead. It still feels like summer.
She saw me, greeted me, and I guess noticed that I looked upset. She asked me if I was ok.
"I guess so," I told her, seriously. "I asked Charlie for his vote and he said not yet."
Even as I said it I realized I shouldn't, because Kit uses every available opportunity to put Charlie down, and that's not what I wanted from her. I closed my mouth as though I could take back the words. But Kit just smiled a little.
"Yeah, he does that," she said. "You'll get it."
And we settled ourselves under the nearest sugar maple, our backed against its ridged bark.
"Everybody and their mother's asking for votes this week," Kit said, after a bit. She sounded tired.
"Yeah. I've just been talking to Joy about Eddie."
"Eddie's not your student, though, is he?"
"I'm his music master, but he's had my vote since Beltane. No, Joy wanted to ask me about her vote."
"I'm kind of involved."
Kit is the occasion of Eddie's spiritual growth. Like me, he has a serious, longstanding, and obviously hopeless crush on her, but he's working with Joy to transmute that attraction to devotion and let it teach him.
"So, you know?"
"I always know. I wish I didn't."
I opened my mouth to speak, she looked at me, and I closed it again. She still looked tired.
"Daniel, you know why I flirt, don't you?"
"I have some ideas. I'm not sure if they're right. I know you're not...serious."
"Oh, no, definitely not. Look, people are going to be attracted to me, and I'd be a pretty poor witch if I couldn't play with that, affirm that. It's a part of life I want to be able to encourage, y'know? But you're supposed to see through me to the Goddess behind me--eventually so, anyway. When students make it personal with me...I'm flattered, of course, but, I wish I didn't know."
I didn't know how to respond, so I asked how Eddie was doing with it.
"I shouldn't be talking about this with you."
"No, you know what? Screw it. You're almost one of us, anyway. He's doing fine. He...treats me like a real person, you know? That's what a lot of people don't get--they see the Goddess in me, or they see their fantasies in me, but they don't see me. They don't realize there's a difference. They miss the woman for Woman. Like, I want them to find the Goddess in me, or the priestess-teacher, or whatever archetype they need to encounter right now, but I don't want to feel like they're choosing me-as-a-symbol over the real me, you know?"
"Kit, I'd choose the real you," I told her, and meant it.
"You're a good friend, Daniel," she said, and squeezed my hand.