They say a witch lives over on Elm, right on the corner in an old house that’s sort of fallen down between two towering oak trees. They say her lawn’s green and lush because of deals she’s made with the chattering squirrels that bound along its expanse with no fear of the blackbirds perched on her home’s roof. They say the rhododendron bushes flanking the house’s front steps will laugh and twitch and watch if you try to knock on her door. They say there’s a growling thing in the attic and it’ll leap out to snatch you if you’re walking by late at night.
But they also say she’s got long hair down to her knees and a kind, lined face that reminds them of their grandmothers. They say she’ll weave small charms from bird bones she’s got on hand and hair that you bring her, if you live in fear of shadows underneath your bedroom door (of your parents and their long miles of scotch.) They say she knows strange ways of walking and can keep you from running late when you’ve been told This is the last time, young man.
They say a witch lives over on Elm and Susan is shivering in front of the woman’s house, backlit by the afternoon sun and feeling none the warmer for it. She still sways in place, eyes darting from the black canvas of her shoes to the lengthening shadows on the lawn. They say a witch lives in the house Susan’s been staring at for long minutes (minutes in which a voice in her head keeps asking what are you doing, girl, what are you after,) and she’s chewed her bottom lip bloody with worry.
“Hey, what are you doing?” The voice is outside her head now and Susan screams, sharp and loud, sending a pair of crows wheeling off into the sky from their rooftop vigils. It’s her, it’s the woman they say can still your blood with a harsh bark of laughter and take the hair from your head with a twitch of her lips. It’s the – “Oh, for – hey, calm down.”
Susan stills, if only for fear, and registers the hands on her shoulders. The kind face is staring at her, lines running deep with concern and long, greying hair (God, it goes just past her knees, they weren’t lying, they weren’t,) caught by the wind, turned to shimmering ocean waves. They say this woman’s been alive longer than trees in her yard and Susan believes it, looking at the dark eyes boring into her own....Read More