The bumble bees were busy gathering pollen from the fragrant honeysuckle flowers. Shiny black snakes slithered across the dead leaves looking for mice to fill their empty stomachs. Birds were collecting twigs and soft pieces of cotton left from the previous crops to make a new nest. Water rippled down the small creek behind a small wooden shack. Ivy wound itself around the chimney providing hiding places for creeping spiders. Handmade straw brooms stood in the corner of the back porch waiting to be used. A slight breeze carried the smell of food cooking and a crackling voice could be heard in the distance. So deep in the forest that no one dared to venture sat the home of a wicked witch. Wilma kept to herself and was seldom seen by the town’s people nearby. Rumors were Wilma would use her powerful potions on any trespassers and they would never been seen again.
“Hey diddle diddle the cat played the fiddle!” Wilma sang in her high pitched voice. “I’ll work and toil from dust to dawn but no one can know what is in my kettle!” She continued. “I’ll spit and I’ll chew but no one can brew… like the long fingers of Wilma the Black Widow Witch.” She laughed as she spit a brown liquid from her wrinkled mouth.
She was cooking a brew in a round black pot that sat up off the ground on four legs. She stirred a little then turned to add frog eyes and legs. “A little of this and a little of that and I’ll have a brew that will add legs to the cats.” She sang as she bent to add another log to the fire. Her lean body stood tall against the deep forest trees. Her long gray hair hung loosely around her thin shoulders. Wilma was not a large woman and stood taller in her black pointed toed shoes. So pointed were they that she could corner a rat and kill him with the toe of he shoe. One had to be very quick to outsmart Wilma the black widow witch.
Above her head in a tall oak tree sat an owl with large forward facing eyes. His flat face had a hawk-like beak that was razor-sharp. It wasn’t often that he came out during the day because he was most active at night. His feathers were dull gray and black making it hard to see him among the trees. Wilma had taken a fancy to the owl and named him Otis. She watched as he rotated his head almost all the way around. His black big eyes locked into place made it necessary for him to turn his head to see right or left. She admired the way he would dive suddenly from the sky and silently use his sharp talons to grab his food swallowing it whole before he landed firmly. His unique hooting sound made a very lonely sound as it reverberated from the rocks and trees.
On the porch sat a family of black cats. They licked their coats until they glistened in the sunlight. They always made sure they were home when Wilma prepared the ingredients for the pot. Now and then she would throw them a scrap of meat from a toad or a morsel from the snake. She made sure not to feed them too much for she wanted them to help her keep the rat population at a minimum.
Inside the house was a bed with four tall posts. She had filled her pillows with bird feathers and enjoyed sinking down into the middle of the cotton filled mattress she had made herself. Farmers had no idea she had pillaged their cotton fields when the cotton was ripest. She made trip after trip after midnight dragging sacks of cotton back to her house so no one would know she was the culprit. She figured they would certainly not miss the few bags she needed.
An old black cast iron kettle sat upon the hearth by the fireplace. A cup of tea was always in order at night before she kissed the day goodbye.
There was no electricity and she liked it this way. A few glass lanterns provided light necessary and a stack of wood was kept piled next to the fireplace. It was one big room with no doors inside. A wooden table and two wooden chairs made up the kitchen furniture. The wall was lined with bottles of all sorts and sizes. She had collected them along with her dishes from things people had discarded or things left in abandoned houses. One hand-carved rocking chair sat beside her bed. A stack of quilts lay near the bed and her clothes hung from nails she had hammered into the wooden walls. It wasn’t pretty but it was home for Wilma.
She observed the sunlight seeping through the cracks in the wooden logs used to make her house. “I think this house may be about due for some mud packing!” She said to the cat that had followed her inside. “I’ll have to get busy and get that done before cold weather comes again.” She mumbled. “I do wish I had not been left with everything to do myself!” She exclaimed in a harsh tone of voice. “I have yet to find a man worth his salt on this earth!” She spewed. “You would think out of four men at least one would have been worth keeping. Instead I had to turn them all into toads!” She huffed. “They are toads with lots of warts!” She giggled showing her toothless gums.
Just then a brown toad hopped across the floor. “You go ahead and hop Fredrick. You and the other knots will be hopping for a very long time!” She rolled her green eyes at the sight of the amphibian still in her shanty.
“I guess you can tell Charlie, Timothy and Daniel that I meant exactly what I said. You all should have listened. Men just never try to please a lady. You selfish breed!” She rattled on walking quickly past the toad.
Now Wilma was unaware that a nest of arachnids had moved into her quaint living quarters. This particular spider is often called the Black Widow because it has two red dots on its back or sometimes an hour-glass shape in red on its belly. Black Widow female spiders are one of the most poisonous of spiders. They hide under things hoping to not be disturbed. This time they had chosen one of her black shoes as a neat hiding place. Dust covered the tops of them for she only wore them on special occasions and she had not had a special day in a good while. So the spider decided to creep inside and lay her eggs.
The black widow is a ruthless spider for when she mates with the male spider she will eat him for her dinner. Once she has laid her eggs, she will protect them with all of her power including the use of her sac filled with venomous poison. Many people have died because they never checked their shoes before putting them on. She covered the tiny eggs with a special silk wound around them to keep them safe and so they grew daily.
Summer passed quickly and the cool air moved into the deep woods giving a chill to the mornings. Wilma had picked berries and dried them in the sunshine for the winter months. The walnut tress and pecan trees had yielded buckets of fresh nuts. Bottles of herbs were filled to help her overcome colds and flu. Special red peppers hung from strings all along the walls adding a splash of color to the dull dwelling.
Fall was not too far away for the leaves had begun to turn shades of yellow, red and orange. Wilma wrapped herself in a shawl she had crocheted herself. Its long tassels hung nearly to the floor when she sat in the rocking chair. The fireplace had been cleaned and fresh logs burned slowly. Wilma began to chant one of her special rhymes.
“Rat a tat tat and screech goes the door
I hear footsteps across my floor.
Darkness thick surrounding me
Veiled in black no one can see
Eerie scratches upon window panes
Witches potions sprinkled on candy canes.
Creepy black spiders dangle from cobwebs in the hall
Wisp brooms tied with burlap string large and small
Witches straddle brooms and ride through the night.
Be careful and lock your doors real tight.
Tis another Halloween a witches delight.
I’ll catch YOU this Halloween night. “
Her eyes widened and a wicked smile spread across her wrinkled face. A short willow stick protruded from her mouth a trick she had learned from other witches to brush her teeth.
Halloween was coming and it was a time for Wilma to dress up and ride through the valleys.
“I absolutely love bewitching people who think there is no such thing as devils and witches.” She cackled.” It makes my job so much easier if they think I’m not real. I can just sneak in and get what I want from any ones house.” She smirked giving a nod to the cat.
People were busy choosing just the right size pumpkin to make their jack-o-lanterns. White sheets hung from tree limbs inviting the witches season. The cool wind blew through the tall pine trees.
Wilma was dreaming of all the things she would get from the ignorant people’s houses. Her spirit was high and laughter filled her as she joined all the other witches on a midnight ride. It was the night before Halloween and the witches were making sure they had all their potions and spells prepared. The midnight ride was a magical time for Wilma but not as special as the night to follow.
“My tall pointed black hat and my tall black shoes will make me look exquisite tomorrow night! Next year I will have to have a new coat for mine is getting a bit worn.” She mumbled “I will also have to brush the dust off my shoes just before I leave on my Halloween night ride!” Her eyes searched the room looking to be sure her shoes were just where she had left them.
What a night it was. All the witches gathered in the woods and shared their secret stories. The midnight air was filled with cackles. The fire burned brightly until just before daybreak when they all gathered up their things and disappeared leaving no trace of their meeting.
Wilma woke to a dismal day. There was a mist in the cool air and the earth was wet.
“Mercy it is cold today!” She exclaimed. “I’ll just throw on a few more logs and get my fire going. Today is the day for me to rejoice. All Hallows Eve is our special time of the year. I’ll have to braid my hair, put oil on my skin, and be ready to leave before dust.” She grunted as she pitched several logs on the fire. Sparks flew up the chimney and onto the hearth where she stood.
It wasn’t long before the small dwelling was as cozy as could be and the spider waited.
The sun broke through the clouds about noon pleasing Wilma.
“It’s still cool but at least it is not raining. I’ll eat some lunch and then get dressed. I’ll need to take a short nap before I leave for the ride. I want to be full of energy so I’ll need food and sleep!”
She puttered around the small lodge getting everything ready. Sitting before the mirror she began to put on layer after layer of makeup on her face. Special oils were used to make her look younger and prettier. She sprayed Patcholi and Lavender all over herself so all the warlocks would be enchanted by her fragrance.
“Well I do look much younger!” She exclaimed taking one last look in the mirror. “Now I can just put on my clothes and rest in my rocking chair until time to go!” It wasn’t long before the squeaking sound of the rocker lulled her into sleep.
Time passed and the sun lowered in the darkened sky.
“Oh my goodness I have wasted far too much time.” She gasped as she looked outside of her window. “My shoes are dusty and need to be cleaned but I’m running ever so late! I’ll just dust them off with my broom once I am outside. I’d rather not have this dust in my house!” She stuck one foot and then the other into the dusty black shoes and began to reach for her riding broom. As she walked onto the porch she stopped suddenly.
“Gracious something is wrong here!” She cried violently. “There is something in my shoe!” She quickly kicked off her shoes and noticed a huge black spider with two red dots on its belly slowly emerge from the empty shoe.
“Oh no, this cannot be.” She screamed loudly. “I’ve been bitten by a poisonous spider!” The skin on her foot was red from the bite and had already begun to swell. She grabbed her chest thinking she was having a heart attack. Little did she know the small black spider had injected her with a vast amount of poison? You see the spider thought Wilma was intruding and would harm her eggs. The only way the spider had of defending herself and her eggs was the large amount of venom on her back. She gave Wilma a massive dose!
Halloween night came. The witches were riding high in the sky but Wilma lay cold and lifeless upon her front porch. Just after midnight four toads hopped out from under Wilma’s house into the cold dark night. Within minutes David, Timothy, Fredrick and Charlie stood looking at each other. You see Wilma’s spell upon each one went something like this.
This man is not deserving of me.
My beauty he has failed to see.
From a brown toad’s eyes his eyes will cry.
A toad he will be until I die.
The spell only lasted until her death. They stood looking at Wilma’s body lying on the porch, turned and walked into the dark night.
It has been told Wilma’s body was never found. It has also been told witches are not real. What do you think?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question: Why are we suppose to shake our shoes before we put them on?