Why don’t you go over and look?

You better do it fast.

She’s coming for you.

Better catch her before she catches you!

I tried.

One day after school dad was still at work and mom was getting groceries. I went across the street and stood in front of the lawn and realized I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t want to go up to the black windows. I didn’t want to sneak across the lawn, full of earwigs and things with stingers. I didn’t want to get down on my belly to look under the crack in the garage door. There was going to be some horrible thing staring back at me from the other side. I kept standing there, looking, until I heard something. One of the windows in the second floor had opened up, and the curtains were starting to shake.

That’s when I ran.

Back into my house. Back up the stairs, back into my room. I hid in the corner behind my door, pushing myself flat against the wall. I stood there until I heard mom’s car pull in. When I came down she asked if I was OK. She said I looked pale and when she put her hand on my head she said I felt clammy. She didn’t make me go to school the next morning. I stayed in bed all day. I had nightmares about the hole in the willow tree splitting open. Earwigs were pouring out of it. Running away from something that was following.

All the sixth graders kept talking about Nurse Williams and the others until the last week of school, and then forgot about it. They stopped telling me to stick my hand in the hole in the weeping willow. They stopped asking me about the house at the end of the street. They just complained about homework and final tests and who was going where for vacation.

We went up to see Aunt Leonora in Canada. I didn’t think about the witch for all summer.

A few days after we got back, Danny and me were playing with my army men in the front yard when a car stopped next to us. It was red like mom’s lipstick and there was someone who I couldn’t see inside. The window was all dark and he only rolled it down just a little. Someone inside called for me to come over but I didn’t. Then he called for Danny and Danny did, but only part way across the lawn.

The man inside asked if this was our house and Danny said yes and our mom and dad were inside. The man wanted to know if anyone lived in that house – the one down on the end of the street with all the newspapers out front. Danny said yes. I got up and said that it was a witch.

She’s got a pet demon that can turn into a bobcat.

She has a necklace made out of teeth and ears.

She has thirteen cats. She eats chicken heads.

She’s got a locket that-

Danny said for me to be quiet. He turned back to the man in the car and said it was just some old lady who lived on her own. The man inside said thanks and rolled the window down just a bit more. He had a voice that sounded funny. Like he was trying to talk through a pillow. He asked Danny if he was sure that she lived all alone. Absolutely sure? Little boys shouldn’t lie. He’d know if Danny lied.

Danny didn’t answer any more questions. He got up on his tiptoes all of a sudden and

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