The Fledgling Witch

’I’m so excited, Mr Twinkles!’ Bronwyn exclaimed, scooping her tiny black kitten into her arms. Mr Twinkles purred deeply as he nuzzled into her neck, ‘Oh, I know. I wish you could come too. Maybe next year.’
Bronwyn turned back to her reflection in the mirror, gazing at her appearance critically. She was wearing her brand new hat and robe and held her Sunday best broomstick tightly in one hand. Bronwyn knew that other children wore the same type of clothes on Halloween, and that tonight she wouldn’t look any different than the children who lived in the town.
Turning away as she heard a soft tap on the door, Bronwyn called out, ‘Come in.’
Bronwyn’s mother, Siobhan, glided gracefully through the door and across to where her daughter stood in front of the mirror, her arms outstretched. Smiling brightly, Bronwyn stepped into her mother’s embrace.
‘You look gorgeous,’ Siobhan cooed softly, ‘but are you sure you want to do this?’
’I’m sure, Mum. I’m ten years old now. Lots of kids go trick or treating at my age. And, I won’t look out of place with all the kids in town dressed in costumes too. Besides, Halloween is a celebration of our people and people like us, isn’t it? So why should I miss out?’
Siobhan looked at her headstrong young daughter carefully. Siobhan couldn’t help but worry -after all, real witches weren’t accepted in “normal” society even though they often pretended to be them. Bronwyn was wise beyond her years however, and she was right.
Nodding her head slightly, Siobhan pulled out her wand and conjured up a treat bag shaped like a bright orange pumpkin.
‘Thank you, Mum!’ Bronwyn cried with delight, ‘and I promise that I’ll be very careful.’

With a wave of her wand, Bronywn reset the magical barrier that his their huge old house from the outside world and flew swiftly over the forest on her broomstick. She touched down in a park on the outskirts of the nearby town, tucked her wand in her pocket, and headed in the direction she could hear other children’s voices coming from.
Three kids that looked about her own age were gathered at the edge of the park, pointing down the road and talking about which direction they should take. There were two boys and a girl. The girl was dressed in a vampire costume. One of the boys was dressed as a werewolf and the other had a bed sheet draped over his entire body. Bronwyn suspected he was meant to look like a ghost, but he didn’t look like any ghost that she had ever met.
The trio was about to set off when they heard Bronwyn giggle at the idea of a sheet making someone look like a ghost.They turned towards the tree that Bronwyn had been hiding behind.
’Who’s there?’ the vampire girl demanded sharply.
Bronwyn stepped out from behind the tree with a sheepish grin, ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.’
‘We weren’t scared,’ the boy dressed as a werewolf replied indignantly, puffing his chest out, ‘we were just…startled.’
‘Rubbish, Max. You were scared,’ the girl snorted. Max’s chest deflated to its normal size and beneath the pasted on hair, Bronwyn saw his pale cheeks blush pink with emabarrassment, ‘What are you doing in the park on your own anyway?’ she asked Bronwyn.
‘This is my first time trick or treating,’ Now it was Bronwyn’s turn to blush, ‘I don’t come from around here, and I wasn’t sure where to start.’
The girl smiled kindly at Bronwyn, ‘You can come with us if you like?’
Bronwyn nodded vigorously. She hadn’t expected to find friendly kids to walk with this quickly, ‘Thank you,’ she said, ’I’d really like that.’
‘Well the, I’m Tatiana. This guy is Max,’ she pointed to the still blushing werewolf and then over at the boy covered by the sheet who raised a hand in greeting, ‘And this is Caleb. He doesn’t talk much. What’s your name then?’
‘Well, come on then, Bronwyn,’ Tatiana threw an arm protectively around Bronwyn’s shoulder, ’Let’s go trick or treating!’

The four of them got along really well from the first moment. Bronwyn was overwhelmed with happiness at being able to walk around the town afely as herself, and also at having kids her own age to talk and play with. They skipped happily from house to house. Adults would come to their doors with a handful of treats and smile pleasantly, complimenting the four of them on their wonderful costumes. Bronwyn grinned widely each time she heard that, wondering how pleasant they’d be if they knew she was a real witch – even though she was only a fledgling still learning to use her powers.
The full moon had risen high above them as they walked along the last block of they had intended to visit. Their treat bags were almost overflowing and all of them were getting tired. Max stppoed abruptly as the last house on the block came into view. The house had lost all of its paint, shingles had fallen from the roof, and the garden outside was so overgrown that the front footpath could barely be seen.
’I’m not going in there,’ Max whispered urgently, ‘It looks really creepy.’
‘Stop being such a scaredy wolf,’ Tatiana teased, ‘The front light is on. What if they are in their waiting with their treats and nobody came because they were too scared?’
Caleb spoke up for the first time, ‘Tatiana is right. You can’t judge a book by its cover.’
After a few more complaints, Max finally relented and the four of them made their way carefully up to the front porch. The sagging boards creaked ominously beneath their feet. Tatiana reached up to grab the tarnished brass knocker, but just as her fingers brushed over it, the double doors swung inwards with a crash.
‘What do you want?’
All four of them jumped as the elderly woman with bushy grey hair and wild eyes, stepped out onto the porch, swinging a rolling pin she held in one hand into the palm of the other threateningly.
‘T…tr…trick or treat?’ Max stuttered nervously.
‘No treats for children here,’ the old woman screeched, ‘only tricks. Now get off my property!’
‘Alright, Ma’am,’ Tatiana held up her hands as if fending off the woman’s bad temper while all four of them backed slowly off the porch, ’We’re sorry we bothered you. We’re going now.’
‘Not fast enough!’
The old woman suddenly released her hold on the rolling pin. It went flying through the air on a collision course with Tatiana’s head. Thinking quickly, Bronwyn pulled out her wand and yelled ‘Freeze!’
Instantly, the rolling pin and the old woman who’d thrown it became as still as statues, the rolling pin hovering in mid-air. Bronwyn’s three new friends stared at her in amazement.
‘You…you’re a real witch!’ Tatiana cried.
Caleb took a small step backwards and Max clapped a hand to his mouth.
Tears of anger and disappointment sprang to Bronwyn’s eyes. Without a word, she sprang on to her broom and flew off into the air. Down below, she could hear her name being called. She saw Tatiana, Max and Caleb running alon the street below her, waving madly at her. Behind them, she could see the old woman snapping back to conciousness, shaking her head in bewilderment as she watched the rolling pin fall to the ground before looking around for the children that simply appeared to have vanished.
Bronwyn soared higher still, willing her broom to fly faster. As she reached the park, Bronwyn heard the flapping of material close behind her. Caleb was floating over the treetops, reaching out to grasp the end of her broomstick. Surprised, Bronwyn lost control of her broom and began to fall. Caleb caught both her and the broom and lowered them gently down into a soccer field below them where Max and Tatiana were already waiting, looking up anxiously.
As Bronwyn’s feet hit the ground, Tatiana rushed over and hugged her tightly.
’We’re so sorry, Bronwyn. You just surprised us, that’s all.’
‘Yeah,’ Max agreed, ’We’ve been so worried about our own secrets that we never considered that you had one of your own. I really am a werewolf. Tatiana really is a vampire. And Caleb…well I guess you already know about Caleb.’
Bronwyn turned to look at Caleb who was pulling off his sheet. Beneath the sheet was a real ghost of a boy, solid yet somehow looking as though he was made of silver clouds.
‘And that’s why I keep saying you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,’ Caleb grinned.

©Alison Pearce 2009

The Fledgling Witch

Alison Pearce

Logan Central, Australia

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Artist's Description

This piece was inspired by Coppertrees Halloween image Trick or Treat written for the Halloween collab challenge currently running in the Challenge Cafe group.

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