Use this spell in the aftermath of an assault on the body for physical healing and survivor’s justice. Be patient, as this process is ritualistic in nature, and therefore, time-consuming. Use the two days you call in sick to complete it. 

You will need the following supplies:

  • Five-gallon bucket with lid
  • Two gallons of bleach
  • Long-handled wooden spoon
  • Loofah (new)
  • Chopped wood
  • Paper scraps
  • Outdoor fire pit
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Shipping box

When you begin, your body will be naked, bloody, bruised. Trust yourself to look in the mirror. Allow your hands to trace the welts on your lower back and hips where a man you invited into your home after a date pinned you down. The friction burn on your right cheekbone stings. Be tender. Be gentle. Do not rush. Whisper incantations that the light within you still shines. Star light, star bright.

In a five-gallon bucket mix one part bleach and two parts water until it’s half full. Take the dress you were wearing—the dark blue one with the polka dot skirt and yellow tieback—and submerge it into the bucket using a long-handled wooden spoon. Stir a few times then cover the bucket with the lid.

Strip the sheets off your bed, pulling the corners into the center to trap and cover the bodily stains left behind. Add the pillowcases and the washcloth and the towel he used and anything else his bare body may have touched. Roll everything into a loose ball, stuff it to the bleach bucket, stir, and cover.

Light sandal incense. Fill a bathtub with steaming water and sink in low until the water line hovers at your chin. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the bottom of the tub.

Take a new loofah, coat it with rosewater, and scrub your skin raw. When you’re done, throw the loofah away. Submerge your body entirely to rinse. Conjure the mental imagery of broken chain links, assertive speech, definitive anger.

Blow out the candle. Inhale the smoke from the extinguished flame. Repeat the following incantation three times: “Saam antal bholar ho pe rit.”

Once you’re dressed in light, baggy clothing, drag your mattress to the curb and slash it with a knife as you ponder the universe in silence. The mattress is cursed now, and you don’t want to send that kind of energy into someone else’s home. Watch through the curtained window on trash collection day as the mattress is hoisted into the back of the truck and crushed, shredded, destroyed. Wish I may, wish I might.

Back inside, pour the bleach bucket into the bathtub and run hot water on full blast and full heat over the whitened dress and sheets until steam coats the walls and billows out under the closed bathroom door. The mix of steam and bleach fumes may make you feel like you’re going blind or you’re choking. It’s necessary to lift the lingering force on your covered eyes, the phantom hands on your restricted throat.

Ring out the fabric until it no longer drips and return it to the empty bucket. Dump the contents in the yard and leave them lying in the sun until completely dried. Check for moisture after a few hours and flip over if necessary.

Pile chopped wood into the firepit with paper scraps crumpled into a loose ball (junk mail and old bank statements work best) between the layers of wood. Add his two self-published novels to the stack, ignite them, and coax the fire until the flames rise and crackle. Have the wish I wish tonight. At dusk, toss the dress and the sheets onto the fire and watch it roar. Feel the heat on your face, feel mesmerized by the flames as they taunt, lick, and finally devour the fabric, his books. Send them transformed into the universe and whisper the sacred utterance, “As I will, so mote it be.”

Let the fire burn out on its own overnight and wait for the ashes to cool. Scoop ash into clear plastic bags and seal them closed. Place the bags in a box and mail it to his wife with a note that reads simply, “Ask your husband.”

Melissa Grunow is the author of I Don’t Belong Here: Essays (New Meridian Arts Press, 2018), finalist in the 2019 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award and 2019 Best Indie Book from Shelf Unbound, and Realizing River City: A Memoir (Tumbleweed Books, 2016) which won the 2018 Book Excellence Award in Memoir, the 2017 Silver Medal in Nonfiction-Memoir from Readers’ Favorite International Book Contest, and Second Place-Nonfiction in the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, The Nervous Breakdown, Two Hawks Quarterly, New Plains Review, and Blue Lyra Review, among many others. Her essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and listed in the Best American Essays notables 2016, 2018, and 2019. Melissa is an assistant professor of English at Illinois Central College. Visit her website for more information.

Photo by Christina Brobby