short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
A beautiful child presented herself to me. Okay. Let me call her a young lady, my best guess fifteen years old. She and her father were doing the grocery shopping. “Find everything you were looking for?” I asked.
She blushed. I like to catch young people in the company of adults off guard with the rote question. “Yes, we did,” she finally managed to answer.
As if a production line robot, my hands worked the items off the belt, scanning each. I bobbed my chin. “Nice shirt.”
Her tee-shirt sported a predominate surreal pentagram on a blue background, Salem Mass. toward the bottom.
“Thanks. The trip was great.”
“We had a really fun time,” her father agreed.
I held her eyes. “Test question: How many witches were burned at the stake in Salem?”
She laughed at me, much smarter than her years. “None! They were hanged!”
I winked, smirking just a little. “None. There were no witches in Salem.”
“But –” Her eyes went wide, her mouth agape. She took a breath, narrowing her eyes. Almost as one word, she spattered: “If-you-mean-witches-like-the-girls-claimed-there-were-witches-in-the-traditional-folklore-sense –”
“But, but and but!” Again, she pulled hard on the air, her eyes rolled up and to the right. “Okay. There’s like no people riding brooms and meeting Satan in the woods, and all –”
“How do you know?”
She gave me the look. “Well, duh, have you seen any woman riding ‘round on brooms at night?”
Not sober, I think, but say: “Just because you haven’t seen –”
Again, the look. “Give me one credible report!”
I shrugged. “Okay.”
She smiled. “Real witches like in folklore or not, the hanged people are just as dead, as if they were real witches.”
I cocked my eyebrow. “Thinking makes it so?”
“Yeah,” she answered smugly. “Thinking makes it so.”