When I see these seeded heads, I think of the handiwork of a witch and this leads me to another person whose talents I'd like to praise: the exceptionally talented Kelly Link whose short story about a witch in McSweeny's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales is chock full of bile, black-magic and beauty. And lucky for all of us, Kelly just put out her second collection of short stories.
So without further ado, sit back in that mini-mountain of candies which you stole through some slight of hand off of the children who came to your doorstep and enjoy...
THE WITCH THAT WOULD BE WHICH
The perversions deep within his gaze are far too much to bear for the Witch and her youthful daughter, Stella. He looks up with lust in his eyes again and again, like a bloated pig returning to a feast which is not for him. Consequently, the Witch's brains are busy searching for the right curse. An immediate punishment which can be effected in the next couple of minutes.
The trolley shakes back and forth under the weight of the pitter-patter of the rain, taking them to their destination which is three stops away.
"What do you have in your purse dearie ?" the Witch sighs and coughs to her daughter. Ever since the Witch stole Stella as a baby girl she has communicated to her in nothing but sighs, coughs, moans, throat-clearings and snorts. This is the secret language of Witches which fails to find meaning on our ears.
"A handful of pussywillow buds which I love to rub against my cheek," she sneezes back. "And a pair of ballet slippers."
The Witch smiles, reaches into her daughters purse and begins a barely audible murmur of a chant which is well hidden beneath the sound of rain.
"But what harm is there really in that look ?" the daughter clears her throat and turns her head in profile against the window of the trolley which is draped in streams of mini-jeweled raindrops. The man can see her.
The Witch, fearing for the lose of her girl's innocence, abandons her chant and quickly instructs: "At the tender age of 17, you cannot realize how terrible men are. They are disgusting beasts who want to do nothing but unmentionable things to any part of your personage."
She returns to her chant all the while concocting the man's fate in her right fist: a couple of pussywillows mixed with her spit and wrapped up in the trolley transfer of a fat man. As the Witch and Stella get up for their stop, the Witch stumbles towards the man and drops this small packet of misery into the back of his shirt. The painful hives which will break out on his body will form lips which will document his wayward ways for any female family members.
"Sorry," the Witch says carefully, righting herself to look the man in the eyes.
"No trouble at all," the man says, suddenly blushing at his previous behavior.
How dare he defile my daughter with his gaze, the Witch thinks, stepping out of the trolley, pondering her own plans for Stella and how for the girl's nineteenth birthday her waist will be encased in a tutu sized roof of her ballet school. While Stella will drag her cemented-self from place to place she will hallucinate seeded versions of her head floating high above her in the canopy of the sky. And the effigies of her head will be empty and innocent enough to float up into the clouds
And the Witch's revenge on Stella's parents who killed her cat and nearly took her witch powers will be complete.