Winter’s Witch

In a wild wind, I shoveled scoops of sandy snow. As I stopped for a gulping breath, I spied a wrapped-up lady pushing bulky mukluks along the sidewalk. Thin and straight she was, in a salt & pepper coat, and she stopped for a second to watch me throw snow over shoulder.

Walked up to me, she did, as bold as a crow, and I stopped once more, grateful for a borrowed breath. Thinking to be handed a church pamphlet, or to be asked for spare change, I thought to look into her face (half covered by a flying black scarf). I could not see whether she smiled, nor could she see mine, as we both resembled masked bandits. She had bright eyes like grey asters, and when a shock of her long hair freed itself in the wind, I thought it witchy and confused with nettles.

She reached forth with a mittened hand, petting me on the shoulder, and laughed an odd laugh, like a chicken’s cluck. When she pulled her scarf down enough to speak, I saw a sharp nose and a thin-lipped smile. “You’re a good ‘un”, she said, and her aster eyes searched mine. “Yah. A good ‘un.” Once more, that papery smile, and then she patted me again and turned to go. A peculiar feeling welled up from inside me, and I dropped my shovel and made to take her hand. “Are you alright?” I asked.

All that came was a weary nod and then the chicken cluck laugh, and my witchy friend disappeared into the snowfall, just like a winter’s dream.

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