The witch has shifted.
She is staying in the sea. Her element. She lifts her tail from the water and admires its beauty.
She has a new talent. She is not turning her tail into painful legs any more. No land. But when she propels herself into the air, wings sprout with a crack. They are built like fins, unless she stays in the air. Then they grow feathers if she is cold. Beautiful feathers, blues and greens and the smokey greys and blacks of a stormy sea.
The Cave Guy is not answering any emails. But... he shows up for the Sunday building. They work on the tree boat together, easily. Teamwork. They both morph into small child selves around the tree boat and then are perfectly comfortable with each other. They still hug like they are trying to pull together into one person. She still can't crack his back. Hers sounds like a xylophone when he hugs her. "Do you want to be friends?" she says fiercely. "Yes." he answers gruffly. "Of course."
But there is no of course. He doesn't want her at the shop. She is hurt and offended, except that she is slowly understanding. His small child self only comes out when he is alone with her. He doesn't want anyone else to see that small child. And she suspects that she is the only access he has to that small child self. So he is not paying her back, he owes her money, he avoids talking about it, he probably avoids thinking about it: because he needs her. To access that small child. But no one else may witness it.
Silly, she thinks, and annoying as hell, but she copes. She stays in the water now. She only visits his rabbits and cats when he is asleep, in the very early am. Turns out he is sleeping elsewhere now. She knew long before she had proof. She is less grumpy now that it's out in the open. He does not talk about it. She gave him hell on email that he does not answer. She thinks, well, you've made your own bed. She thinks it will be full of lumps and rocks and knives and razor blades, razor wire, barbed wire and possibly murder and blood, but the last bit she thinks is lies that he and the woman are telling each other. He gets virtue from protecting her. She gets to feel protected. The witch hopes it's lies or it may end in blood. Those lies successfully drove her back into the water, so as not to be shot. Very effective, she thinks. Great way to murder the competition. Only she isn't. She is playing the long game, she is playing the hand the Beloved dealt her, she is staying connected.
Would she have walked away if he didn't owe her money? Well. She did walk away, back to the water. But now he is coming to the edge of the sea, telling himself that it is a debt of honor. That he is not paying back. Instead, he tells her, the work on the tree boat is interest that he owes. So he could pay forever if she lets him. Nice solution, she thinks, Beloved, I would not have thought of that. He will not come in her house, he won't come to dinner, he won't invite her to anything social... yet he is keeping the connection and telling himself that it is only because he owes her.
The witch swims in the delicious deeps and she practices powering up into the air, the explosion of wings from her back. She can fly farther every day and she starts flying over islands. Flying over land. She doesn't miss the painful legs. The wings are so much better....