When Mona and her family move to a small town they discover some very real magic.
Halloween was near and everyone in the town knew it. Children started to come in from play earlier and adults arrived home from work before night fall. The streets were empty of most cars before the sky filled with stars and windows were illuminated with only the dimmest of lights. Televisions played softly. No loud noises, even the dogs knew better than to bark. For to draw attention to yourself was the most horrible of things this time of year. For you see this was the time witches came out of their homes on hills, in cities and forest and made mischief on the earth.
Elm Brook like most small towns had a witch. Small town witches were the worse they say. They ruled the community even though you they rarely made an appearance . Everyone knew that on Stone Hill Street at the dead end lived Ms. Alexis Minerva. She had lived in the same house for over hundred and fifty years. People made sure she wanted for little. A witch even in modern times wasn’t one to cross. Three times a week the local grocer would send one of his stock boys up to take a list off the stone and iron fence around the house. He would as best he could fill it out, then the young stocker would take the bags back to just inside the front gate and leave as quickly as he could. When the house needed repairs the mayor and town council would wait till Ms. Minerva went on her summer sabbatical and clean the yard, paint the house and make as many repairs as possible. Though it was trespassing on her property Ms. Minerva usually didn’t mind and usually sent a polite thank you note delivered by a large crow. Although once in 1934 when the house was painted an awful grey she showed her displeasure by melting the mayor with a steely glare , leaving only a bubbling pile of yellow wax that smelt of fat and sulfur, but that was always the chance you took with a town witch. Especially during the weeks of Halloween For it was only at this time did a witch leave her home and walk among mortals freely. It was their tradition.
The woman moved over the street bobbing on the wind currents as she rode side saddle
on her broom. Her curly grey hair blew in the wind and occasionally she would slow down to watch the cars. She liked cars and other mortal inventions that moved, they fascinated her and if she knew how to drive she would defiantly own one. Her black dress covered her striped stockings except for at the ankles were her shiny pointed toed buckled black boots shined.
Landing on the corner she took off her goggles with black gloves. She was obviously a older woman but the only wrinkles on her face was light crows feet and laugh lines.
“Beautiful day”, she said as if she was the reason the storm last night had suddenly stopped.
People moving along the side walked stopped but made sure not to stare at her in a manner that could be considered rude. After folding her gloves neatly she placed it and the broom into a small black purse that held far more than it seemed it could.
“Hello my chickadees”, she said to the people with a voice both pleasant and threatening.
The people nodded and went along their ways.
“Bah”, she hissed wanted nothing more than to be greeted.
“Hello Ms. Minerva”, Stan Orland walked up on his cane.
“Hello”, the witch looked at the elderly man trying to place the face, after a few seconds it dawned on her, “Little Stanley Orland”, she added.
“Far from little”, he said rubbing his balding head.
“You looked old”, the woman if anything was blunt.
“Old age does that to us”, laughed the man.
Ms. Minerva remembered him as a boy before the big war in Europe. He was but a child readying for war when last she saw him. She had given him a charm that turned many a Nazi bullet.
“Sow how are you Stanley dear”, she spoke to him as if he was still a boy.
“Fair to midlin”, he smiled
“Well at least you still know your manners”, the Witch smirked and looked at the people hurrying past.
“I guess they are afraid of you”, Stanely looked about at the fearful faces. The witch didn’t look fazed.
“And well they should be, the little gutter snipes”, it was a hiss of contempt punctuated by a car tire going out, a pedestrian tripping on a wet spot and dog doing his business on a woman’s foot.
“You haven’t changed Ms. Minerva”, said the old man with a playful smile
“I’m a witch, we rarely change”, said the woman
Stanley nodded and then looked over at the diner, “can I buy you a cup of tea?”.
The woman showed her pearly white teeth in a smile, “that would be wonderful. She loved tea and the old man seemed to be sincere. Taking his arm she was hoping she could help support him but even though he used a cane Stanley was strong and hobbled with pride.
“So what brings you back Stanley?”, Alexis
“Thought I’ll come back and spend what ever time I have left here”. Though the words were sad the voice wasn’t. It was of a person who had resigned themselves to a welcomed fate.
“Are you still with the Olson girl, what was her name…”. The witch made small talk at they made it to the corner to cross the street.
“Fran”, the man’s voice changed to that of lost, “Married her she died not five years ago”.
Ms. Minerva felt horrible for her rudeness, “I’m sorry to hear that dear”, she patted his hand softly.
“Nothing to be sorry about. We had a lot of good years some children and grandchildren”. His voice perked up as they moved a cross the street., “What about you any children?”
The Woman laughed to herself not from the humor of but to hide the sudden lonesomeness she felt, “No, No, Its just me and my old house” As they made it to the diner door the owner came to it to wave them off as he was closing. Upon seeing Miss Minerva his demeanor changed and quickly he fumbling for the keys and opened the door.
‘I’m Sorry Ma’am, Stan didn’t know it was you, come in” All three entered and quickly the lights were turned on.
“Thank You Ken, Me and Ms. Minerva would like some tea and maybe a slice of that famous apple pie of yours”, Stanley sat at the counter the woman did the same crossing her legs.
“No Pie for me, but maybe a slice of devils food cake cake”, the witch pointed at a cabinet behind the counter that held slices of cake chilled.
“Sure thing, just give me a sec to heat up the water. Ken Freeman went straight to work.
“So Stanley tell me about you’re grandchildren?”, The woman swiveled the stool to look at her old friend. Stanley smiled; he loved talking about three of them
“There’s Abe he’s the oldest, sixteen, Mona she’s Fourteen and TJ he’s the youngest”.
Alexis nodded, “Well I’m sure they are sweet. Are they going to be staying”.
“They rather not it seems but my son wants to keep an eye on me so they’ll be staying at least for a while.” Stan watched the man behind the counter prepare the cups of hot water and lay out a selection of tea bags.
“Here you go, on the house”, the diner owner voice held a hint of nervousness.
“No way Ken?”, Stanley reached into his pocket
“I have this one”, Miss Minerva opened her purse and plucked out a gold coin, “is this enough?”.
Ken eyes grew wide as he took the money, a golden double eagle dollar he had seen one in the museum.
“Thank you Ma’am”, quickly he placed out large slices of pie and cake.
“Why don’t you come by the house to see them, the kids would get a kick out of it”, Stan stirred his tea.
“I’m not sure if that’s a good idea”, The witch watched her tea prepare itself urged by a wiggle of her finger.
“Nonsense Ms. Minerva, I insist”, The man smiled wide.
“Well I guess a little visit won’t hurt”, the curly haired lady took a sip of the tea and enjoyed the rest of her meal and the company.
“Grandpa”, TJ ran to meet the old man at the door. He was dressed as a knight , blue tunic over grey jump suit , a wooden sword at his side. He didn’t even notice the tall woman behind him.” I thought the witch got you!”
“Well I guess in a way she did”, laughed Stanley gesturing for Ms. Minerva to enter. The boy having no idea what he meant shrugged.
“We better call Mom and Dad, they were at the Police Office cleaning up and wanted us to call as soon as you got her”, A tall young man, dark wavy hair.
“You must be Abe, you look just like your grandfather did before he went to Europe”. Ms. Minerva smiled.
“Ah Thanks”, the teenager looked at the woman. She was too old to be a friend of his parents and two young to be a contemporary of his grandfather despite what she said.
“Boys this is Ms. Minerva, Ms. Minerva, Abe and TJ”.
“Hello Ma’am”, Abe stood as his Grandfather and guest found seats and sat down.
“What a polite boy, “, The woman stat down slowly hands in lap.
“So Grandpa did you see the witch?” TJ moved to the old man’s side
“well..”, The old man was about to speak but his youngest grandson kept talking”
“I heard she’s ugly with green skin and a big hooked nose”, The boy voice slowed waiting for an answer.
“Green skin ?”, laughed Ms. Minerva. “What a funny little man you are”. Stanley breathes a sigh of relief. He had hoped his guest would not be insulted
“Actually Boys Ms. Minerva is the town witch”, Grandpa watched as his grandchildren barely acknowledge what he said.
“Sure Grandpa”, Abe walked towards the kitchen, “I got home work to finish up if you need anything just let me know. Abe was used to his Grandfathers tall tails and though he normally enjoyed them he had a book report due.
TJ looked the woman over, Yes she was dressed in black, Black dress, boots and scarf. But she wasn’t green or ugly.
“Are you really a witch?”, he asked.
“Yes I am”, Ms. Minerva reached into her purse and took out a black cigar
“Prove it”, asked the boy
“Thomas, behave,”, The old man snapped
Ms. Minerva looked at the boy, “Don’t worry Stanley I find his curiosity entertaining.”. Placing the cigar to her red lips the witch inhaled and instantly the other end lit.
“Proof enough”, The boys grandfather gestured at Alexis.
“I don’t know I bet a magician could light that stinky thing”, grumbled the buy.
Ms. Minerva blew a smoke ring, “ Well Dear, what would you like me to do to prove it.?”.
“Thomas, be careful what you as k for”, warned the grandfather,
TJ stood in thought remembering everything he heard about witches. He had never seen one even though he had heard there was more than few in the city he grew up in.
“Ok, if you’re a witch turn me into a frog”, he challenged.
Grandfather face went pale as he looked at the witch, she patted his hand again
“Don’t fret,, I’ll just do it long enough to prove a point” she whispered into his ear.
Taking another puff off the cigar Ms, Miss stood.
“Well dear you if you insist”, her hands traced a circle in the air and her fingers started to glow with blue lighting. TJ’s eyes grew wide with fascination
“Wow He uttered”, just before Ms. Minerva pointed at him.. Lightning danced from her fingers striking the boy who in less than a second shriveled and shrank till all that was left was a small green frog on top of a neatly folded knight’s costume.
“Abe help!”, Mona called out as she stood on the steps mouth wide in fear.
Ms. Minerva turned to see the girl and though her first instinct was to make her tongue vanish she opted to be a good guest and snapped her finger to turn TJ back into a boy.
“Cool”, called out the ten year old now back in costume.
“What’s going on?”, Abe stood at the Kitchen door. Frustrated that his studying was once again disrupted
Mona searched for words and her breath and after a few seconds spoke, “That lady turned. TJ into a frog!” she exclaimed.
Abe looked at his sister then his brother who wasn’t remotely frog like.
“Right and I’m the king of France”, Abe started to turn to return to his studies, “Look I’m trying to study so refrain from freaking out again, ok?’
Look there’s been a misunderstanding, “Grandpa tapped his cane”.
“I know what I saw”, Mona.
“Maybe I should go”, Ms. Minerva headed towards the door looking embarrassed.
“No you don’t have too”, Before the old man could say a word the woman was gone only a quickly fading black haze marked her ever being there.
“Mona, she was so cool, you scared her off with your big mouth”, Called out TJ.
Abe stood stunned. “Grandpa what’s going on?” The sixteen year old moved quickly to where he saw the woman vanish, looking for anything that would make what he saw make more sense.
The Old man explained all he could to the children. He made sure they knew Ms. Minerva despite her reputation was actually very kind hearted to those who treated her with courtesy and respect.
“So maybe we should tell mom and dad how nice she is”, TJ was now eating a cookie under the watchful eye of Mona.
“No we can’t tell your parents she was here, they won’t understand and it’ll cause all sorts of trouble”, Grandpa steely glare made all the children know he was serious about protecting his friend..
“That’s cool with me, they way I see it was a big misunderstanding and since Halloween is over its not like we’re going to see her again anyway”, Abe stood to stretch.
Mona looked at TJ like Abe he had dark hair like their dad but here’s were a coppery red like their mothers.
“Fine, TJ looks Ok and I think Grandpa is right about Mom and Dad not understanding”
“Of course I’m fine, I was only a frog. “TJ looked at Abe, “It was kinda fun:”
“Yeah right”, The older boy walked past his brother patting him on the shoulder and headed up stairs.
TJ was about to say something else but decided to remain silent.
TJ had decided on his plan action before going to bed. He would go visit Ms. Minerva and apologize for the trouble he cause. When morning came he acted as if nothing had happened and ate breakfast with nary a word. Abe and Mona were equally silent about last night and all Grandpa would talk about was how nice it was to be back in his home town. Dad dressed in his Police Chief uniform started a conversation about how Halloween was uneventful. A few people had reported seeing the witch but except for a flat tire there was no real trouble caused.
“I heard this Witch was a real firecracker Dad”, Chief Orland
“Well maybe she’s slowing down in her old age”, Grandpa smirked
“I thought witches don’t get old like us”, the kids mother sat at her chair as she spoke. Like Mona she had red hair and sparkling blue eyes.
“True, Why when I was in the war the Brits had a witch working for them over a thousand years old. Although she was starting to show her age. Could barely walk I hear.
The Chief took a bite of his Waffles then looked at his father, “This one here, I hear she’s about 200 or so, young by their standards”.
“She doesn’t look that…” TJ spoke but Mona shushed him fast. If their parents noticed it
They didn’t show it. The meal went on as usual, afterwards Grandpa volunteered to clean up so the kids could get to school and the parents to work.