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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Witch of Wellington

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In the small town of Wellington, South Africa, there lives a witch. She looks to be in her early sixties, but she has lived in her small house for as long as anyone can remember. She’s a friendly witch, though: grown-ups come to her all the time for advice on their problems. But for reasons nobody can explain, children are scared of her.

***

“I am not scared!” exclaimed Sally, “I just don’t see any reason why I need to visit the witch right now. Mom says she’s just an old woman, who doesn’t deserve to be pestered by us.”

“Chicken!” chanted the other children, and they began dancing around her with their hands on their hips and their elbows bent, making clucking noises.

Sally sighed. She was the same age as her friends, but for some reason it always felt as though she were more mature than they were.

“You can call me chicken as much as you like,” she said. “I see no reason to bother the poor woman.”

Timmy picked up the soccer ball they were playing with, and drop-kicked it over the old woman’s fence, into her yard.

“Well, there’s a reason now!” he said. “Go knock on her door and ask if we can have our ball back.”

“Maybe,” said Sally. “But now you have to go and ask for it back!”

Ben, who’d been standing next to Timmy with an amused expression on his face, said, “She’s right, Timmy. You kicked it. You fetch it.”

Sally smirked as Timmy’s face went momentarily white. His voice broke, ever so slightly, as he spoke. “Well, I’m not scared either,” he said. “We’ll see how chicken you really are, when I come back with the ball.”

With that, Timmy marched up to the witch’s front door, and rang the bell. It seemed to take forever for the door to open, and Sally wondered if Timmy would go through with it, or lose his nerve and run.

Eventually, the door did open, and the old woman stood inside it. “Yes?” she said. “How can I help you?”

Her glasses were perched low on her nose, and she stared at Timmy over the top of the frame. Timmy took one look into those eyes, and he did run. He turned around, and bolted back to Ben and Sally as fast as his young feet could carry him. Smiling, the witch stepped back inside, and quietly shut the door.

When Timmy returned to his friends, they were unable to control their laughter.

“Who’s the chicken now?” said Sally. “If you can’t handle it, I’ll go talk to her. I’ll go get the ball back.”

Sally walked calmly and confidently up to the witch’s door. She had no fear—witch or no, the woman was a person, just like anybody else. What reason should anyone have to be afraid of her?

When she got to the door, Sally rang the bell. A few moments later, the door opened. The old woman smiled warmly at Sally and said, “Why, hello little girl! What can I do for you?”

Not losing her confidence, Sally replied. “Excuse me, Ma’am,” she said, “but one of my friends accidentally kicked our ball into your yard. May I get it back, please?”

“Yes, I know,” replied the witch, “but there was nothing accidental about it.” She sighed, and continued, “Very well, come inside.”

The woman led Sally through her house (which looked like any normal-looking house would be expected to look) and into the back yard. Sally found the ball, thanked the woman, and was about to leave, when the woman stopped her.

“Just a second, Sally,” she said.

“H-how do you know my name?” gasped Sally.

“Never mind that, Sally,” returned the witch, “but I heard the way that horrid Timmy spoke to you. When you get back, you be sure to give him a message for me, okay?”

“Umm, okay.”

“You tell Timmy for me, that if he wants to act like a pig, he should look like one, too.”

Sally smiled sheepishly, then nodded and scurried away.

***

“You were gone a long time,” said Ben, when Sally returned, with the ball under her arm. “How did it go?”

“It went fine,” said Sally. “She's just a nice old lady, like I said. Nothing to be afraid of.” Then, turning to Timmy, she added, “But she did give me a message for you, Timmy.”

Timmy stared at her. “If it's about me running away...”

“It's not about that. She said I should tell you, if you want to act like a pig, you should look like one, too.”

“Yeah,” said Timmy, “and what does that mean?”

Sally's eyes went wide, as she stared into Timmy's face. His nose began flattening before her eyes, and then growing a deep shade of pink. His nostrils grew larger. His ears elongated into diamond-shaped tips on the sides of his head.

Ben looked behind Timmy, and saw a short, curly tail sprout out through his pants.

Timmy watched the two staring at him. “What?” he said.

Image: © Copyright Peter Facey and licensed for reuse under the Create Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence

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