Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Memoir: The Witch

When I was six years old we lived in a small town in Utah called Green River. My older sister and I would play all around on our property that encompassed our home and my grandmother’s home. In the furthest corner of our property sat a two-story house which had not been lived in for many years. The house looked abandoned with all the windows broken, paint worn off, even the roof seemed to sag just a little. Inside was worse, in one room there were springs left from what use to be a mattress, paint was peeling off every wall and debris covered the floors. It was obvious kids had been in there because the place had been vandalized. Cupboard doors hung off the hinges in the kitchen, walls had holes kicked in them, and there were even traces of animals. It was an awful sight, yet still we loved to sneak inside what we called the haunted house.

It wasn’t really haunted but we would make up stores to scare each other. Our favorite was a woman in a white dress staring out of the upstairs window...just staring. We were told never to play in the house because it was dangerous. That of course made sneaking into the house even more thrilling. Eventually they tore the house down and our haunted house was no more, but we still have the memory of woman in white.

Even better than the haunted house was a much smaller home that stood next door. A ditch ran between the haunted house and the smaller home, another fascination for kids to play near. The ditch was another forbidden area, yet we still seemed to wonder near it from time to time. We dared venture close just to see how long it took the witch to come out of her house hollering at us to get away from water. We never understood why she cared – as far as we were concerned she was the witch from Hansel and Gretel. She was always after children and cackled just like a witch. We heard she had a little boy of her own that drowned in the ditch. Her sorrow turned bitter and now she hated all children or at least that was our story.

I recall seeing her a few times in town. She had the same cackle in her voice even when she spoke to adults. To a child her voice was frightening, if I had been an adult way back then I would still be afraid. She drove a big car and although she looked very small behind the wheel I thought she looked terrifying. She always drove to the same building late in the afternoon. When I learned the place she went to was a tavern, I just knew she was there drinking away her sorrow over her lost son. That wasn’t the case at all- she owned the establishment!

To this day I have never found out why her voice had such a shrill to it. As a mother I understand why she was concerned about our safety as any parent would be when it comes to fast moving water. This of course means nothing in the eyes of a child. As far as we were concerned she was the witch that lived at the end of the street.