Where Readers & Writers Connect
“It’s a secret,” she smiled to herself. “They always prefer to be buried.”
He kicked at the dirt with his foot in a futile attempt to level it, much like the ant hills he so enjoyed destroying. “That’s stupid.”
She pulled him away with a gentle arm around his shoulders. “Some secrets should remain that way.” She hoisted the basket of vegetables to her hip and motioned toward the back porch of her home.
He pointed to the area where a few carrots remained unclaimed. “You forgot those ones. Look at the size of them!”
She shook her head. “Those are spoken for. It’s only polite.”
“That’s dumb. Dumb as buried secrets.”
She resumed her stride toward the outdoor spigot where she would scrub the clumps of cold earth away. “Secrets are hungry too, you know. They consume.”
“My mom says you’re a witch and that witches cast spells on people they don’t like,” he followed behind her. “Is that your secret?”
“Spells are what good witches do. They bless the ground so seeds will grow,” she corrected the brown-haired child. “Bad witches cast curses.”
He rubbed his hands together under the spigot as the cool water poured from the pipe and purposely splashed a spider which was weaving a web. It scurried away under one of the brown shingles before he could do something worse. “I’m going to dig up your secret in the garden.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she wet the stiff-bristled brush and scrubbed some potatoes clean. “That particular secret needs more than a few vegetables to be satisfied. What I’ve left in the ground is only a little snack. I’m sure it is still rather hungry and quite dangerous to dig up at the moment.”
His eyes widened. “Are you going to feed it icky things like spiders or centipedes?”
“Secrets are fickle. They pick and choose the most random of things,” she handed him two rather large potatoes. “Give these to your mother.”
“She won’t eat them,” he grabbed them from her hand. “She’ll think they’re poison. Witches use poison all the time.”
“Only the bad witches use poison,” she corrected again. “The good ones use charms.” She turned off the spigot and pointed toward his home across the street. “Isn’t it about time you go home for dinner?”
He glanced down at the potatoes and wrinkled his nose. “I don’t like these ones, they’re all lumpy. I like the ones from the store. They’re smooth and taste like cheese.”
“Then I shall store them in my root cellar,” she took them from his small hands. “Good witches do not waste what the Earth has so lovingly provided.”
“How can I tell if you’re a good witch?” He asked.
“Good witches grow things in their gardens like potatoes and corn. Bad witches grow skunk cabbage and burdocks.”
“Do bad witches bury secrets too?”
She shook her head. “Bad witches bury horrible things like grief and misery. They score the ground with an ‘X’ and hope curious little boys will dig them up looking for lost treasure,” she explained.
He glanced at her garden once more and then started off for home. “That’s stupid. I don’t believe you. When you aren’t looking, I’m gonna dig up your secret in the garden. I have my own shovel from the sandbox you know.”
“Leave my garden alone, young man,” she warned with her left index finger.
He stuck out his tongue and ran away with a laugh. She went back to cleaning her vegetables and smiled to herself thinking of the secrets he was going to tell his nosy mother about the witch next door.
The next morning she discovered two mounds in the garden and a little spade off to the side. Upon closer inspection, she admired the tiny furrows that curious little boy fingernails made in the dirt as they were dragged into the hungry ground.
She walked over to the mound and scored an ‘X’ with the tool. “Good witches look pretty and blend in so you never know who they are.” She stabbed the spade into the original mound and watched eagerly as it was pulled slowly beneath the cold earth. “Bad witches say everything you’d want to hear and never hide in the shadows.”
With a quick incantation, and a wave of her hands, she strengthened the curse which made skunk cabbage and burdocks appear as potatoes and carrots to mortal eyes and went back to tending her garden.