I thought the whole point of the Halloween Party was to scare the children, but when Becky the librarian introduced me I realised her head was filled with half baked ‘New Age’ rubbish. It was five pm, hardly the witching hour, but the clocks had gone back, my favourite time of year and it was dark.
‘Now children,’ twittered Becky ‘I’d like to introduce you to Amelia the Witch.’
‘She’s not a witch,’ interrupted the largest child, who was taking up too much space at the front of the carpet ‘she’s not wearing black.’
Becky touched my flowing white sleeve with over familiarity.
‘That’s because she’s a white witch, a good witch.’
I suppressed a snigger.
‘Amelia loves nature, trees and flowers, she is in tune with Gaia.’
The children looked up at Becky with incomprehension.
‘Would you like to ask Amelia any questions?’
A mealy mouthed little girl shot her hand up. ‘What are you favourite flowers Miss?’
‘Oh… Belladonna, a pretty little purple flower and Foxglove, a flower of the woods.’
‘Yes, but do you do magic?’ sneered the large boy.
‘Of course, but I’m not allowed to do it on library premises because of health and safety.’
‘People used to think it was magic in the olden days,’ simpered Becky ‘but the wise women just made cures with herbs and woodland plants.’
‘Are you a fairy godmother?’ asked a child of indeterminate sex dressed as a fluffy pumpkin.
‘I think you’re getting confused,’ interrupted Becky ‘that’s a fairy tale.’
The child was undeterred ‘But Miss, can you turn mice into horses and men?’
‘I can do better than that,’ I smiled ‘I can turn naughty boys into mice.’
The children giggled nervously, but the large boy just pulled on a rubber ghost mask and booed in the face of the girl next to him, who asked when her Mummy was coming to fetch her.
‘Do you mean wild mice or pet white mice?’ asked a solemn boy child.
‘Depends how naughty the boy is; a pet mouse would be pampered and kept in a nice, safe warm cage, but a wild mouse might get gobbled up by a cat.’
‘How could you do that if you haven’t got a wand?’ said the large boy, his voice muffled by the mask. ‘I bet your magic isn’t as strong as Harry Potter’s.’
‘A sprig of yew will do,
to make my spell come true.’
‘Amelia’s a poet as well,’ said Becky ‘shall we all go to the writing corner and make up some magic poems?’
‘No, we want to see some magic.’ A tall girl at the back of the carpet stood up.
I couldn’t resist whipping out a piece of evergreen from my gown pocket, I only intended to show them; usually I need complete quiet and concentration to perform a spell. I must have focussed for too long on the large boy.
The green smoke was very impressive, strong enough to set the fire alarms off and in the confusion that followed nobody noticed that the boy had disappeared. Further panic ensued when a girl screamed.
‘A big mouse ran over my foot!’
Becky and her assistants handled the evacuation very efficiently and we were soon gathered in the car park. The initial head count revealed one child was missing and it was the other children who were first to notice the absence of the large boy.
‘Did you really turn that horrid boy into a mouse?’ The solemn boy’s face lit up.
‘Of course not’ said Becky, looking worried ‘but if she did, I’m sure Amelia could turn him back into a boy.’
‘But the mouse ran away’ piped up another child.
‘Oh dear,’ I smiled at the children ‘I can’t perform the reversal spell if I can’t see the mouse.’
My words were drowned out by the sound of sirens. If the mouse was still in the library, he would soon be scared off by firemen’s boots.