Posted on September 9, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair9.9.2014 Journal Prompt Photo by Rennie Ellis September 9, 2014: She was like that. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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They say she is a witch and that she cooks up spells in her kitchen. They say she talks to crows and wasps and spiders. They say she gives only the appearance of living alone and that she holds the souls of lost lovers hostage in her bedroom and that is why she never opens her curtains.
Her name is Margaret and she looks harmless enough. She dresses in loose fitting skirts and shapeless cardigans and she always stops young men to ask them to light her cigarette. She stopped me once and she asked me my name and she asked if I had a light. Then she took my hand in hers, held it tight as never letting go, and she fixed me with her eyes, as though she was looking into the very heart of me. Then she said I should write.
That was years back and she is older now and smaller and I hear her coughing or clearing her throat all the time and still she stops young men and she makes strange pronouncements on what they should be. She said I should write, and for years I didn’t and now I do. Maybe it was something she said or something she saw in me, I don’t know.
And cats follow her step, skipping after, almost. And they know her and they rub themselves against her legs and they turn their faces to her, like flowers that follow the sun, and they call out their adoration of her. She carries a wicker basket in which she keeps a jug of fish mash covered with a damp cloth. And small cracked plates of no value she has in the basket too and an old silver spoon that has lost its glister. She feeds all the cats in the neighbourhood and that is why they love her.
She is from another time, a time when a silver shilling dropped into the pram of a newborn was something for luck, and children did not step on cracks in the pavement for fear of broken backs, and spilled salt was thrown over the shoulder to blind the devil. She talks in riddles and rhymes and she laughs to herself and so they say she is a witch chanting charms. Except there’s a man drinks alone in Bertie’s bar and he’ll tell you a different story if he’s deep enough in his drink – not too many words in what he says, but a story of sorts.
Pretty as a filmstar once, he says, and he has a black and white picture of her folded into his wallet that he’ll show you as proof. The picture is all creased and yellowed, and it takes a little imagination to see the girl in the crumples. Margaret, he says and his voice is all soft as prayer when he says it, and so I believe it is a picture of her as she was once and I believe she was beautiful.
‘There wasn’t a boy for miles around who didn’t believe they was in love with Margaret, but none of ‘em came close,’ he’ll tell you. ‘Not like I did,’ he says. ‘Near enough for kissing and touching and bewitching. Lifted me up and set me down again, all inside a week, and I live that week over and over in my head, and I don’t mind that I do, and that’s the spell she cast over me.’
And didn’t she say I should write, or maybe she said I must write. There is a small difference between ‘should’ and ‘must’, and maybe there’s more of her magic in ‘must’. And so I write now, and spiders run fearless across my desk, and wasps press at the window to be on the other side of the glass, and there’s a fidgetting crow sits in the tree outside and it cocks its head and fixes me with a black glassy eye as if it is watching what I do.