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Trick or Treat

by tusker 

Posted: 28 October 2009
Word Count: 684
Summary: For Keith's Halloween Challenge

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For three years running, on Halloween Night, two lads hammered on her door. ‘Trick or treat,’ they’d shouted. On the first occasion, Ella offered them a bag of sweets.

‘We want money.’ The taller lad pushed his face up close to hers. Refusing at first, but after threats of vandalism, she gave them fifty pence. Sneering, they asked for twenty pounds. Afraid, she gave into their extortionate demand.

The following year on Halloween night, she didn’t answer the door. ‘We know you’re there!’ they shouted through her letterbox. ‘It’s forty quid or we’ll burn your bungalow to the ground.’

From behind the door, Ella told them in a tremulous voice, ‘I’m calling the police!’

‘They won’t get here in time,’ one of them threatened.

So Ella handed over forty pounds, money she’d put by for her electricity bill. When the older lad snatched the notes from her hand, he warned her to keep her mouth shut.

On the morning of this third Halloween, desperation drove her to leave her home and head towards Pennant Lane. As she walked towards a cottage tucked behind a high, hawthorn hedge, she mused upon the strange and reclusive woman she was about to visit, unannounced. Some locals claimed Miss Witherspoon was a witch and could turn sane men mad. On hearing those stories, Ella used to laugh and reply that witches lived only in fairy tales.

Reaching a gate almost concealed by rampant ivy and flapping Wood Pigeons, she pushed it open and stepped up to a black door. The door opened to reveal a deep lined face. ‘I knew you were coming,’ Miss Witherspoon said. Surprised, Ella stared at the stooped elderly lady. ‘Don’t stand there catching flies. Come in.’ Wordlessly, Ella entered a cosy sitting room where a log fire blazed in a large, stone fireplace.

‘Cup of tea?’ Miss Witherspoon asked. Ella nodded, unable to speak. ‘Make yourself comfortable.’ Miss Witherspoon disappeared through red velvet curtains and from the kitchen the sound of rattling cups could be heard.

‘Now tell me your problem.’ Five minutes later, Miss Witherspoon sat in her rocking chair by the fire.

Ella, sipping hot herbal tea, sat on a similar rocking chair, facing Miss Witherspoon. ‘I heard you are a…’ She stopped.

‘A witch?’ Ella nodded at the prompt.‘A white witch, that’s what I am. I don’t put curses on people. I don’t have a broomstick or a black cat.’ With the mention of cat, a white feline wandered into the room. ‘This is Blanche.’ Miss Witherspoon let her pet jump up onto her lap.

‘A couple of lads demand money from me on Halloween nights,’ Ella explained. ‘I’m desperate and terrified.’

‘So you want me to turn them into toads?’ Amused dark eyes twinkled. Ella smiled a self-conscious smile and felt rather foolish.‘I’ll make up a potion for you. When they come to your door, tonight, drink every single drop of it.’

‘Will it work?’

‘Ask your neighbours. They’ve had no trouble since my help,’ Miss Witherspoon replied.

‘Why didn’t my neighbours mention it? They know what I've been through.’

Miss Witherspoon laughed a gentle laugh. ‘Who’d want to admit they’ve colluded with a witch?’ Ella had to agree.

That night, when her tormentors hammered on her door, Ella drank the liquid that tasted vaguely of elderflower. Almost immediately, a sudden surge of strength and confidence seemed to flood through her body, her veins. Now or never, she thought, answering the door at the fifth pounding.

'Go away!’ she ordered the pair, amazed at the strident power in her voice. ‘Leave or you’ll be sorry!’ Open mouthed, the lads stared at Ella and as they stared, Ella sensed herself growing in height as if she was towering above the pair of them.

Glaring at her protagonists, she noted apprehension wipe away their expressions of greed and disdain. Then, with a quick glance at one and other, they turned and ran down her path, slamming her gate shut behind them.

Surprised and elated, Ella began to chuckle and, for a moment, she thought she heard Miss Witherspoon chuckling with her.

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Comments by other Members

M. Close at 16:07 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Yay!!! Bullies are no fun. A nice light tale, with a happy ending. Made me smile. Well done.


tusker at 16:39 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks Mike.

I'm afraid Halloween does bring out the bullies.


Prospero at 18:52 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
I believe in the North they call Halloween 'Mischief Night' which is just an excuse for vandalism.

Good story with a happy ending.



tusker at 19:05 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks John.

But was Ella's courage due to sorcery or was it all in her mind?

Answers please on a post card.


Findy at 19:14 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Lovely story Jennifer, liked it very much.

Hmm - I would say a combination of both Jennifer


tusker at 19:26 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Quite right, Findy. Glad you enjoyed it.


jenzarina at 19:27 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
I'm choosing that the tea was just normal elderflower tea and it was her own confidence that intimitated the bullies. That's a good sort of magic. And it's best not to underestimate the power of a nice cup of tea.
A lovely story.


high, hawthorn hedge

I'm not sure you need a comma in here.

Bunbry at 20:51 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
Nice work Jennifer, I'd like to think it was confidence, not magic, that drove the lads away.


librarygirl at 22:58 on 28 October 2009  Report this post
I am with Jen all the way on this;

'it's best not to underestimate the power of a nice cup of tea.'

I thought it was very brave of Ella to even drink the potion! I was unsure how her drinking it would effect or change the boys but it all turned out well in the end.

The dialogue was good, though I am used to seeing it in "speech marks" not 'quote marks' though I notice a few people write it differently on this site.

Great story though. Nice job Jennifer.

tusker at 07:51 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks Jen.

I'm a comma mad person. Must get off the addiction.


tusker at 07:58 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks Liz.

Some could call it the plaecebo effect. (is that the right spelling?)

Mind over matter? Bullies will bully those they consider weak and timid.

Elderflower wine is delicious too. My Gran used to make bottles of it and she believed in the power of natural herbs etc. Distrusted modern medication. She lived to a good old age.

When I wrote for women's mags, they liked the 'speech marks' so it's a habit. "thought marks" were these.


tusker at 08:01 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks Nick.

It's trying to bolster confidence and bravery that can be a bit daunting.

These days they have courses on confidence building but old fashioned ways might work too.


Laurence at 09:59 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Good old Ella, so pleased she stood up to the bullies even if she did need a small potion to bring her inner courage to the fore.

Loved the descriptions and the gentle but effective conversation with Mrs Witherspoon [distant realtion of Wetherspoons??]

Thanks for the read


tusker at 15:32 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Thanks Luarence.

Ah, maybe there's a connection to the other purveyors of liquid.


V`yonne at 17:06 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Aw and I always welcome my trick or treaters - never dawned on me they'd be anything but innocent little kiddies - now I'm terrified and reaching for the tea! Good one Jen

tusker at 17:29 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
You must hve the sweet ones up there, Oonah.

Here, there are a few older ones that cause damage, if not given money. Egging properties, cars etc. So we give to stop the damage.

One retired vicar hubby knows, has his bungalow egged annually. He caught hold of a lads jacket, last time, and it tore. The mother called the police!!! Poor old guy had to pay for a new jacket!!!

The retired vicar is in his 80's and frail. Makes me boil.


M. Close at 02:08 on 30 October 2009  Report this post
big points to the vicar for being spry enough to even get close enough to the kid to catch him!!

tusker at 10:29 on 30 October 2009  Report this post
Yes, Mike but it cost him money and was left rather shaken at the attitude of both mother and police.


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