The leaves of all the trees tethered to the branches rustled as the autumn wind blew with a gusto. They looked heavenly in their myriad shades of orange. All the farms in the town of Longville were resplendent with pumpkin patches. The season of fall was warmly welcomed by everyone. It was the day of Halloween. The children were brimming with excitement.
Peter and Chloe had a hard time deciding which costume to wear.
“You sure look like a funny clown. With all the face paint, no one will even recognize you,” said Chloe to Peter.
“And you are a scary witch. But your broom looks very funny. You can probably use your broom to rake leaves along our way,” teased Peter.
“Ok! It’s almost dark. Let us get ready for trick or treating. Look! Our friends are already waiting for us,” said Peter peeping out from the window.
Peter and Chloe stepped out from their homes. Their friends were dressed in a variety of costumes.
Jason, the eldest amongst all the children carried a map with a few houses highlighted.
“Jason! Why have you highlighted these houses?” questioned Peter.
“These residents always distribute the best treats every year. So we always go to these houses first,” replied Jason with a wink.
“That sounds like a great plan.”
“And why have you crossed out this house near the river?”
“Don’t even dare to mention that house. An evil witch lives there. Though I’ve never seen her myself, rumor has it that she uses magical powers to transform children into creepy creatures. Don’t you go anywhere near it.”
“Thanks for letting us know. The house seems very mysterious.”
“Guys! Now let us start from this house on the left. They give those huge bars of chocolate and unlimited tootsie rolls,” instructed Jason to all the children who had assembled.
The children had a great time visiting all houses. Every house that they visited was decorated in the best possible manner. The carved Jack-O-Lanterns that were placed on the porch of those houses seemed warm, friendly, and welcoming.
Their bags were overloaded with candies, chocolates, ring pops, sour patches, and freaky eyeball and spider collectibles. It had been almost two hours of trick or treating.
“Ok Guys! I think it’s time we head back home,” said Jason.
All the children nodded their heads.
As they began heading back, it began raining. The children pulled out their umbrellas.
Chloe was having a difficult time opening her umbrella.
“Hey! You all go ahead! We will join you,” shouted Peter. He tried opening it with all his strength.
After some struggle, the umbrella popped open.
But, a street dog that had been sleeping was jolted awake by the sound of thunder and began chasing Chloe.
“Run Chloe! There’s a dog chasing you,” screamed Peter.
Chloe panicked and began to run. Peter followed his sister.
As they were running, they did not realize that they were heading towards the forbidden house near the river.
“Quick! The gate of that house is unlocked. Let us go in and lock it from inside. The dog wouldn’t be able to come past the gate,” said Peter.
Once they went in, the dog was unable to chase them. But it stood barking at them. They hoped to go out once the dog left the place. However, the dog didn’t seem to budge from its spot.
“Peter! Isn’t this the forbidden house? I’m really scared. What if the witch boils us in her cauldron?” asked Chloe sounding worried.
“Come on! I don’t think any of it is true. Witches don’t exist,” said Peter, trying to lighten up his sister’s mood.
All of a sudden all the lights in the house went on. The smell of pumpkin pie wafted through the air. The house glimmered.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Peter sniffing.
“Peter! Yes. But don’t you remember what Jason said?”
“Come On! Let us peek through the window to see who lives inside.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Peter and Chloe walked quietly and went close to the window. As they peeked inside, they could not believe what they saw.
A huge chocolate fondue stood as the centerpiece on the dining table. Cakes, muffins, truffles, gumdrops, pumpkin pies were stacked beside the centerpiece along with pasta, pizzas, noodles, rosemary chicken, spaghetti with meatballs, and roasted potatoes.
In a corner of the room, they saw an old woman sitting in a chair, knitting a sweater.
She was wearing a crisp cotton gown, her hair was tied neatly into a bun and she did not look anything like a witch.
“She’s a sweet old grandma,” said Peter.
“You are right,” said Chloe, a little too loud.
The old woman stopped knitting after being alerted by Chloe’s voice.
She called out to them and said, “Hey little ones. When did you come? Would you like to come in and give me some company?”
She opened the door and gave them a warm welcome.
As soon as they entered the doors bang shut. The house now turned gloomy and dark. An intolerable stench from the rotting food on the dining table seemed to choke them.
Peter and Chloe were shocked at the sudden turn of events.
Instead of the old woman, there stood a witch with a sinister smile.
“Ha-ha! You are trapped kiddos.”
“So you are a witch. Why did you lure us into the house? We haven’t done anything wrong,” said Chloe.
“Little children are greedy brats. All they care about is delicious food that can satisfy their sweet tooth.” The witch’s voice bellowed in the air.
“Why do you say that?” asked Peter.
“A few decades ago I used to be a good witch. Children used to love me. I possessed a secret potion that could make delicious food appear in seconds. Every year, I used to invite all children home and offer them a sumptuous meal. However, one Halloween night while I was busy, a few children stole a bottle of my magic potion and ran away. They were unaware that the potion would work in a dastardly manner if not accompanied with the right incantations. Those greedy brats were unfortunately transformed into rats. One of the children happened to be the Mayor’s son. The Mayor had the whole town believe that I was a wicked witch. They cut all services to my house. They even pelted me with stones and imposed false allegations upon me. I spent several nights and days shedding tears for a mistake that I never committed.
So…I decided to turn evil and punish every child who came anywhere near my house”
“Hmm! So you were not bad after all. What happened to you was very unfortunate but should that be the reason for you to turn evil?” asked Peter.
“Nobody would believe me even I were good.”
“But did you ever try to win back your goodwill?”
“I don’t think that is ever possible.”
“It is if you still have any goodness left in your heart.”
“I guess I do. What exactly do you want me to do?”
“There are a few orphaned children in this town who find it difficult to be accepted into foster homes. The orphanages are already full. I think you can offer such children a loving home to grow up.”
“Actually that’s a wonderful idea. But who will bring them here?”
“Leave that to us. If you let us go, we both will convince our parents and try to bring in the orphans here. My father is quite influential. He will figure out something. But, we need a week to make it all of this happen.”
“Ok! I shall let you both go. But I hope this is not one of those nasty plans that was devised just to escape from here.”
“No! It’s a promise.”
The witch let them go.
Peter and Chloe hurried back home. They narrated everything that had happened to them and urged their dad to give a second chance to the witch. After a lot of pondering their dad agreed.
The next week, Peter, Chloe, their dad, and a few orphans went to the witch’s house. The witch gave them a warm welcome, treated them with a sumptuous meal. She turned all the rooms in her house child-friendly and decked up the house with a lot of toys and books. The orphans were very excited to have found a new home.
“I’m happy that I won everyone’s trust after all these years,” said the witch happily.
“I’m glad these children found a new home. You are indeed a good-hearted witch,” said Peter.
And, from that day, the house that was once forbidden came to be loved by everyone in the town. As for the magic potion, the witch always kept it hidden so that it did not fall into the wrong hands.
Picture Credit : Pixabay
This story was first published in Penmancy.com