Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Which Witch? - A to Z Challenge - The Letter W

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
April 2016
This month I will be participating in the “Blogging from A-Z Challenge” 
What is it?
Blogging every day.  It begins on April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until I finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.   The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day.

There was an old woman who lived on the outskirts of our small town.  "Out in the sticks" is how we referred to that area. There were all kinds of rumors about the old woman.  The main one was that she cast spells and practiced unusual rituals.
Gosh, I haven't thought about that woman in years.  Her name was Mrs. Strega.
My friend Cookie called me yesterday.  Cookie and I grew up together in that small town.  I moved away years ago.  Cookie still lives there,  in the house that she has lived in her whole life.
We stay in touch, speaking on the phone every few weeks.  We visit each other twice a year.    In February I go back "home" and in August, she comes up north to my house.
Yesterday, when we spoke, Cookie asked me if I remembered the old woman.
"Of course," I said.  "How could I possibly forget Mrs. Strega?"
"I don't know if you knew this, Lynda, but the old woman left an unusual will."
I did remember my mother telling me something about a will, but I didn't remember the details.
Cookie filled me in.
Apparently Mrs. Strega owned about 100 "out in the sticks" acres.
"Developers were always trying to get her to sell some of it off," Cookie said.
"Anyway, she left the property to a distant great nephew, something like that," she said.
"Mrs. Strega and her nephew had some kind of an agreement.  There was a stipulation that if the nephew didn't come to live on the property withing ten years, he could dispose of it as he saw fit."
Anyway, Cookie said that the ten years was up and the nephew sold the property to Clarke Developers.
"There are going to be at least one hundred new homes," she said.
"I hope the developing doesn't start until after my next visit," I said.
After we hung up, I remembered the encounter Cookie and I had with Mrs. Strega.
Despite our parent's admonishments, we were always venturing "out in the sticks".
Each time we went, we got a little braver and closer to Mrs. Strega's house.
The house was a one room cabin.  There were four windows, one in the front, one on each side and one in the back.  All the windows had black oil cloth coverings.
The cabin was in the middle of a thickly treed area.   There was a clearing of about 25 feet all around the house.  Along the side of the house was a neatly kept herb garden.
This one day Cookie and I got all the way to the edge of the woods.  We hid behind a big old oak, peering around the trunk to see if we could catch a glimpse of the old woman.
Mrs. Stegra came out of the cabin.  She was bent over and leaned on a crooked stick.  She had long gray hair, and a big nose with a wart on the end of it.  I swear she did.  She wore a black dress and black shawl.
"The only thing she is missing is a pointy hat," I whispered to Cookie.
I don't know how she spotted us, but she did.   Maybe she heard me.
She yelled out, calling us by our names.  I can still hear her raspy voice.  To this day, I don't know how she knew our names.
"Come here!"
In shock, we froze.
"Come here, now!"she yelled"
We timidly came out from behind the tree.  I was trembling.  Cookie told me later that she was shaking like a leaf and felt like she was going to throw up.
We slowly walked towards her, arm-in-arm.  When we reached her, we stood in front of her with bowed heads.
"Listen, girls, I'm out of bread and low on milk.   Do you think you could run to the store for me?"
We both jerked our heads up at the same time, and dumbfounded, we looked at each other and then looked at her.
She smiled.  She had warm brown eyes.
I stammered, "Sure Mrs. Strega."
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a little black leather pouch.
Opening it, she took out two ten dollar bills.
Her hands and fingers were so riddled with arthritis she could barely hold onto her cane.
I reached for the money and she took my hands into hers.
They were surprisingly soft.
Her face was close to mine.  Her hair hung loose and brushed my cheek.  I caught a whiff of a scent of peppermint and eucalyptus.
I wondered if witches were supposed to smell like that.
We never did go to the store for her.
In fact, that was the last time Cookie and I ever went "out in the sticks".
I feel regretful about Mrs. Straga.  I'm sure she was just a lonely old woman.

Nah, none of that really happened.

Straga - Italian for Witch.
Although the above piece is purely fictional I do happen to know a Wiccan.  Funny thing is, her aroma is peppermint and eucalyptus.
I guess even witches shop at Trader Joes.

                     Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner with Peppermint and Eucalyptus


  1. Your fictional story reminds me of how careless we can be with older people and especially when we are young. We don't even think about the fact that we may someday reach that age and be lonely. The story touched me.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    1. Yes, Pat, that's is the point of the story. I'm so happy that the message came through. :)

    2. This was a fantastic piece of writing, it totally sucked me in and I really thought it had happened until it got right to the end! I think every kid at some point assigns some poor old lady to be the local "witch", daring each other to get closer to her house!

    3. Thank you Debbie! I was hoping to fool at least one person :)
      I think you are right, about kids and old ladies.
      Although I don’t feel like an old lady, chronologically I do fall into that category and have a new found empathy.

  2. That's a good reminder to be kind toward those it is too easy to overlook. In Salem there is an Italian restaurant called Strega. Good food and even better atmosphere.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

    1. Thanks. Makes sense to have a Strega restaurant in Salem.

  3. I met a Wiccan through my writer's group several years back--perfectly friendly and outgoing person.

    1. Yes, the Wiccan I know is just that, friendly and nice. She recently got married in where else? Salem Mass. on Halloween, of course.

  4. You had me with the story until the end when you said you didn't go to the store for her. Knowing what I know of you, I would have found that hard to believe that you would have just taken the money and not done the errand :)

    very good story though; very believable!


    1. Aww, thanks, Betty. You’re right I would have gone to the store for her.

  5. It sounded so true to life. I guess there are those kinds of witches around. I hope they have lovely lives.

    1. Aww, that's so nice to wish them lovely lives.

  6. Fictional though it may be, there are Mrs. Strega's in practically every small town, I think. There is something about elderly women who live alone that captures the imagination especially of kids.

    And I LOVE the smell of peppermint and eucalyptus, but then I've been called a witch more than once. :)

    1. Perhaps the fairy tales that we tell our kids has some influence on their perception of older women.

      LOL at the last sentence!

  7. LOL! You had me with the story. My grandma was a WITCH! She didn't wear a pointed hat either. And there are those who won't agree with me. But, she was a Witch. Oh wait, maybe it was the 'b' word instead!!