Drawing of a black dress with red trim, a witch's hat, old-fashioned black buckled shoes, a straw broom and a wand. Caption reads: "She bought the whole costume, down to the clunky, silver-buckled shoes.

Witch short story by Iris Carden

Settle in dear reader, while I tell you the strange tale of Ellie, who put on a costume and become someone else entirely.

Ellie had seen the new shop on her way to school. It was called “Magique Mystique” and had witches’ costumes, brooms, cauldrons, and all other kind of witch paraphernalia.

Being a diligent student, and a wider reader, Ellie knew witches hadn’t really been magical at all. They had just been women who were punished for not fitting in with the patriarchal culture of their day. She didn’t know how many customers Magique Mystique would draw, but it was nice to think of someone celebrating women who had been ostracised.

Women, in whatever era, who claimed their power, were enviable in Ellie’s mind. She never felt any power of her own. Ellie wished she could defy the powers that ruled her life.

Like the long-past witches, she was also ostracised in her culture. Her culture being the school community. All her life she’d been a target for bullies, and ignored by the other girls. Perhaps that was why she was so well-read for her seventeen years of age. Books had never mistreated her yet.

When Kirsty invited her to the halloween costume party, Ellie was surprised. She’d never been invited to one of Kirsty’s parties before, and Kirsty was dating Ben, the biggest bully of them all.

Ellie surprised herself by accepting the invitation. She knew there was probably something horrible planned for her, some new and awful way to humiliate her, but she couldn’t give up the tiny seed of hope that perhaps Kirsty actually wanted to be her friend.

There’s a lesson here dear reader: never trust a serpent to be anything other than a serpent.

Ellie knew exactly the costume she wanted. She went to Magicique Mystique, and there she found a long black dress with red trim and a red tied belt. A witches’ hat with the same red trim. An old-fashioned straw broom, a wooden wand which wasn’t quite straight, and even clunky, silver-buckled old fashioned shoes.

The cashier told her the red trim was for senior witches, novices wore all black. Ellie laughed and said she be a senior witch for the night.

As the cashier carefully wrapped the wand in tissue paper, she said, “Be careful where you point this and be clear in your intent.”

Ellie laughed it off. It was a prop, a toy, and had no real power, after all.

When Ellie arrived at the backyard party, she found her classmates dressed as ghosts and ghouls, monsters and witches, but none had a costume anywhere near as authentic as hers. She was glad she hadn’t just gone to some lame costume shop and bought whatever they had.

Her authentic-looking costume made her feel somehow more confident, more sure of herself, more powerful.

Ben approached her. Inwardly she groaned, then steeled herself for whatever was coming.

“I always knew you were a witch,” he said. He emphasised “witch” in a way that made it obvious he meant a similar, rhyming, word.

“And I always knew you,” and here she pointed the wand to emphasise the “you”, “were a toad.”

Then it happened. There was a sudden blaze of light, too bright for anyone to see. It was over in a moment, and Ben’s clothes lay, seemingly empty on the floor. As everyone’s eyes adjusted to the normal light again, the clothing moved slightly, and a fat cane toad crawled out.

“Ellie, what happened?” Kirsty asked.

Ellie turned her head slowly toward Kirsty. “What year is this?” she asked

“It’s twenty twenty-two,” Kirsty said in a voice that suggested it had been a stupid question.

“Twenty twenty-two,” Ellie repeated. “I’ve been gone three hundred and seventy-six years.”

“Ellie, what are you talking about?”

“I don’t know this Ellie you speak of. My name is Agatha. I was executed in sixteen forty six.”

“You were, what?”

“I was hanged by Matthew Hopkins, the Witch Finder General.”

“Ellie, you’re crazy.”

“Crazy? Perhaps Ellie is, but I am not.”

She sat on the broom, kicked off against the ground and flew into the night. After centuries, she had much to learn about the world. Perhaps she’d let this Ellie back from time to time to help her learn what had changed. Perhaps she would not.

Aggie Waters was a senior witch, and she had her wand back now. She did not need help from the weak girl whose body she inhabited.

And so dear reader, we leave Ellie, wherever she has gone. Her costume is indeed incredibly authentic, and has given her so much power. It’s a pity she’ll never know about it. As for the shop Magique Mystique, no-one ever saw it in that place again. But it will appear dear reader, because Aggie Waters misses her coven.

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

While you’re here…

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


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