Copyright is held by the author.
ANNA ENTERS the kitchen and sits at the table. A flutter of brown moths trails her like welcomed guests. Most days Anna takes Honey Creek Parkway home from school, taking comfort in the solitude, a welcomed respite from the petty playground
cruelties of her classmates, the daily trials associated with being a White Witch.
Anna drops her backpack onto the floor and brushes back her hair, revealing eyes set too deep and a crooked, angular face. Her teeth are small and sharp, feral and grey. My Anna is beautiful, but only to me. To her classmates, Anna is ugly — a
crime they must punish.
If only her classmates knew that without Anna’s healing spells they would be succumbing to leukemia, Hodgkin’s, polio, meningitis, and all of evolution’s little perversions. Without Anna’s protection spells, the same cretins would be molested in their homes by loving family members.
“Anna, did you have a good day at school?” It’s a cruel question, but today I see a flicker of light in her eyes.
The moths gather and spiral into Anna’s cupped hands. She whispers an incantation and, with a puff of yellow smoke, the moths transform into a bouquet of colorful butterflies; they circle Anna twice and depart. A smile of delight graces
Anna’s face — my child of empathy.
It is empathy that separates her from the mortal children, and mortal adults, including myself. She feels the fears and pain of her classmates greater than she feels her own. It is because of this empathy that many White Witches die before reaching adulthood. To escape their suffering, many will take comfort in the needle, in drink or, worse, in the arms of cruel men.
Anna opens her pack. I expect her to finish her homework before the weekend, a compulsive trait I suspect she inherited from her birth parents. Instead of her fifth grade reader, though, she holds up a glistening blue, wet ball of squirming fur with a protruding head no bigger than the tip of my thumb.
“Anna, what have you conjured for us today?”
Anna grins, sets the creature on the table, and reaches back into her pack. This time she pulls out her reader, a two-inch thick paperback of short stories for advanced students.
The “ball” haplessly wobbles. Its black eyes dart back and forth. A pool of urine trails from what I assume is its backside. “Anna, your friend appears distressed.”
Anna raises her head, and the light in her eyes now blazes. “I had a wonderful day,” she says, and before I can respond she raises the book above her head, clutching it with both hands, and slams the book onto the back of the creature.
The creature explodes; its insides and exterior bits paint Anna, the table, and my face with its fleshy palette.
Anna stares up at me in cold defiance. “That was Brad.”
“Brad, your classmate? The one who calls you—”
“Yes, that one,” she says, daring me to go further. I must.
“Anna, a White Witch doesn’t harm those they are supposed to protect, even Brad. His parents are going to…”
A collection of chirps and squeals interrupts me. I gaze down at her backpack. “Anna, no!”
Anna sheepishly smiles and lifts her pack onto the table. She unzips its secondary pouch. A dozen or so smaller but similar creatures tumble onto the table. “I’ve been a bad girl,” Anna says without a hint of regret. She picks up one of the critters, a pinkish one, and promptly crushes it. Its head pops off like a cork, and plops onto the floor.
“That was Trinity,” she says.
I don’t understand what has happened to my kind-hearted little girl. Maybe there is a breaking point for even the most empathetic of hearts, and when that heart turns…
Anna hands me a red one. “You try.”
I pause. “Is this what you want?”
“Yes,” she says, eyes burning with want, “very much so.”
I crush it.Joy or John or Taylor drips onto the table.
Anna claps her hands.
I pick up another one. Before snapping its neck I say, “You know, we’re going to have to move.”
She doesn’t care, nor do I. Anna is happy.