refuses to come over. I know what I know. The woman is a witch. She even looks like one. Seriously. She's got wild tangley hair and a hooked nose like something out of a fairytale and she is mean but it's not those things that makes me know she is a witch it is her eyes. They are full of evil. It's like the devil looking at you.
Just yesterday she was walking out to her mail box in the ugly house coat she always wears and Sister Bloom's daughter Megan was getting her mail which is next to it and the witch starts telling her to go away and starts waving her arms like one of those conductors with the wild hair on Bugs Bunny and shoo shooed her away. And now what! I'm supposed to hometeach her? Man that just ain't right. She even has a black cat.
Mom says she is a sad old bitter lady who has had some bad breaks and that's what makes her so contrary. But she is a witch. After Deacons when the Bishop told me to stay after and said I was getting switched partners so my little brother who's just coming into the Priesthood can hometeach with my Dad. I said OK. And I was OK until he said I would be with Brother Winsome. Oh man I could scream. He is one odd duck. When he shakes hands with you it's all soft. Mike says it's like a fish but it's not. A fish is tough muscle and is hard to hold onto. Bro. W's hand is all squishy like shaking the hand of the Pillsbury doughboy and it's kind of gross and his fingernails are yellow and long too so it's creepy. He has like five hairs he combs over his fat toady head and that itself is always shiny with beads of sweat and gross. So anyway we are going next Sunday and the bishop wants us to try and activate her. So it's me and Winsome out to activate the witch. But I know there ain't a hope of that. You can't go feasting with the devil and expect to come back to God easy as that. I know a lot about witches. I played John Proctor in Crucible at the Jr. High last year and to get ready I read up plenty on witches to get ready. The library had lots of books on witchcraft and I spent plenty a night scared and uneasy after reading some of those books. But I would say I know plenty that folks around here don't. She is a witch.
So today we go over to her house. It was more normal than I thought. There were some old pictures of two soldiers in uniform staring into nothing like all soldier pictures do you know with a flag in the background maybe her sons or brothers I guessed. Also there was a bowl of hard candy. A piano with stupid figurines on it. I was thinking she must keep all her witch stuff down in the basement. At least when she came she was in some normal clothes. A T-shirt and Levis. If she had worn that mothy housecoat I would have puked. I'm pretty sure it stinks although I'm not getting close enough to check.
Bro W asked if we could start with prayer and she said no because she said she did not see eye-to-eye with God. Do you need more evidence she is a witch?
Well I just glared at her. Daring her to do a spell on me. She knows I know she is a witch. He gave his lesson out of the Ensign and I kept staring at her knowing if you stare down a witch they can't get no power over you.
Well Bro W weren't so lucky. She excused herself for a moment to get something started in the oven and I wandered over to the soldier pictures and took off the back quick. I pulled the picture out of the frame while Bro W kept looking at the Ensign and lo what did I find? They had some advertisement for some camera store and they were thin like magazine paper not like photo paper. They were fakes.
I sat back down and after she came back I asked her flat out how come she had store bought soldiers hanging in her room. Her mouth started to shake and she got all crocodile teary and mumbled something about them being MIA and she never had their real pictures so put these up as a reminder. She saw I was not being fooled. So she nods at her cat.
All of the sudden Bro W goes all stiff. Then he gets all lanky and loose and stretches and starts licking his hands. And her cat? It starts looking all around. It holds up its paws like it can't figure them out and starts moving its mouth like it was trying to speak and meows are coming out. It looks at me, then her, then me again. Then it just tips over passed out cold. I had not a doubt that the cat and Bro W had switched souls.
She let out a cackle and said boy you want to see what's in my oven? I ran and ran. But not before throwing a glass of water on her to see if she would melt like in the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. It didn't work. And now I'm grounded because Bro. W won't back up my story but says he fell asleep and woke up when I tossed the H2O. She is a clever one that witch next door. And aint' no doubt she's a witch. We eye each other suspicious like now when we see each other across the lawn. We both know there is power in secrets. And we are at war.
Steven L. Peck is an Associate Professor of Biology at BYU. His novel, The Scholar of Moab (Torrey House Press), was named the AML best novel of 2011, and was a Finalist for the Montaigne Medal. His horror novel, A Short Stay in Hell (Strange Violin Editions), and middle grade novel The Rifts of Rime (Cedar Fort Press), were published in 2012. His poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award. His speculative work has appeared in a number of journals. More about his work can be found at http://www.stevenlpeck.com/index.html .
Join us for a discussion of "Kayden Abernathy's Journal Pages 35-37 Partially Recovered from the House Fire" here.