The Witch Behind the Window

by Marcia Hindson

 

Once, upon a turning clock face, I roamed.  I planted seeds in the soft seconds, broomsticked through the moist minutes of clouds above their future boughs.  Over hours, the seeds became trees and roses, fruiting apples full of space dust and stories.  On frosty middays, I’d carve words into their flesh as they flew and fell, then harvest them to the overlooked doorsteps of halfway houses that breadcrumbed in rows between reality and happily ever after.  I chimed the sorcery of smiles, watched the surprise as children inside ventured out and bent, to discover a word:  ‘Magpie’, ‘Acorn’, ‘Gingerbread’, ‘Igloo’, ‘Catfish’.  ‘Hello’.

Then I’d go, become myth.  A shifting thing hugging hills, leaping twilights, swaddling map marks, kissing starlight.  So the apples would rot, slip their skins and words, allowing each story the space to tick out.

‘White as snow, they said, when the found her dead after the truck dumped her…’

‘Met through a dating site, apparently extremely nice.  Hasn’t spoken to her folks in forever because of that cape of bruises she wears.  Mr. Wolf he’s called, according to some old granny.  Probably take that with a pinch of salt…’

‘Two of them, just bairns, lured with ever afters and love stuff they didn’t understand.  Straight off the bridge they say, holding hands.  They were always so sweet…’

And so I retreat.  Behind unwound pocket watches, behind windows.  A witch-thing from a past that misfits its telling, hag-boned and horrified as the stories toll through the cries of midnighted children.  Little more than a gloaming ghost, caught behind the confines of fairytale expectation and cold, grubby glass.

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