I am a Witch
I am who I am
My Path is Shadowed
It is neither black, nor white.
Yet it is both
Between the worlds I walk
I am of the Earth
Yet, I am of above, and below
I am a Witch
by Lady Hekate
Tara “Granny” Grey is the most powerful witch in Bigwood Falls on the Pacific North Coast. Which isn’t really such an achievement, as there are only four of them in the whole area. She’s also the most solitary, snobbish, grumpy, ill-tempered and uncaring you can surely find. To be brief, she has no desire whatsoever to socialize.
Not with anybody.
But it hasn’t always been that way…
Tara has a mean, scatterbrained and thoughtless younger sister, Melissa, or “Missy” as she prefers being called. She lives in Romania, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The small town of Vulturu nestled in the shadows of the Transylvanian Mountains suits her need for discretion, as no questions are ever asked about her activities as a ghost hunter and her curious aspiration to become a Zombie Master. The eccentric old lady is in constant search of true love, but obviously it is not in the graveyards she’ll find happiness.
Tara has a beautiful, headstrong grown-up daughter, Shasta. Mother and daughter never got along well, and as soon as decency allowed (or did something entirely else happen?), Tara got Shasta a new broom and literally kicked her out!
‘Good riddance, I’m better off without her anyway,’ she grumbled for prying ears to hear and closed the door to her heart, I mean, home. If you ask the old lady about the whereabouts of her daughter, she’ll probably answer that last she heard of Shasta, she was living in Chugcreek, or Bridgeport… Or was it Stadarfell? Whatever…
The Cove, the Grey witches’ home since they moved to the new continent, had stood empty for decades when Tara moved in soon after her daughter left. It was built in the late 18th century with privacy in mind, far away from civilization in the deep forests of the Cascades on the outskirts of the quaint little town of Bigwood Falls.
Even though the town is slowly expanding, the Cove remains isolated and it takes quite a while to get there, following a hardly ever used road winding through the forbidding forest. But there are barely any visitors. Even the postman doesn’t swing by anymore. It is not as if anyone ever writes…
In winter, when the trees are devoid of leaves and before the heavy snow settles on the naked branches, you can see the witch-hat styled turret – if you know where to look, that is. But the rest of the year the Cove is effectively hidden by the lush vegetation, and most inhabitants of Bigwood Falls don’t even know it exists. Which suits Tara Grey perfectly. She couldn’t be happier, living on her own with her black cat as only company.
She spends most daylight hours, and probably even the dark hours of the night, making elixirs in the attic. Her potions are the best money can buy. It’s a pity the townsfolk are too afraid to come knocking on her door to acquire some.
As every respectable witch, she’s never to be seen without her hat and she has always got her Applewood wand hidden in the pleats of her long sweeping skirt. Being a grey witch, her magic is neither dark nor white but a balanced mixture in between. Her most powerful magic is unleashed in the protection spell she uses when the moon is full.
She enjoys a good book and often reads herself to sleep late at night. If she forgets to turn off the light, there’s nobody there to argue. Not even Mrs. Brown.
Oh, have I forgotten to mention her? Mrs. Brown is the Cove’s housekeeper and she has been in the family for ages.
She cooks the most delicious meals and keeps the house clean and tidy. She’s very discreet, and hardly ever talks. That’s probably why I totally forgot about her, and also why the grumpy Grey witch can stand having her live in the Cove.
Tara Grey is not one to socialize, so it is not difficult to understand why Rayna Kaminski has remained one of her oldest friends. Yuri Ivanov and his boisterous gypsy family arrive in town when the snow is finally melting away in the spring and the mountain pass opens for traffic again. But not every year, mind you. They travel in an old-fashioned way, their brightly colored Vardo drawn by two robust piebald Gypsy Vanners.
Her old friend Rayna makes a living out of reading peoples fortune, and her family travels all over the country with their Tarot cards and a fake crystal ball. Sometimes Tara helps out with the readings. Bogey or real, it depends on the person who’s consulting. At least both old ladies get a good laugh out of it!
So she rarely leaves her house, minding her own solitary business. But if you’re awake early on Maundy Thursday, or if you decide to stay up when the moon is full, you just might see her fly past your window on her broom– but hush, don’t tell anyone. Nobody would believe you anyway.
* October picture in the MTS Calendar of 2018
And so time goes by, each day the other alike, and that’s exactly the way Tara wants things to stay.
Her small garden is filled with perfect healing herbs, edible mushrooms and beautiful flowers. Her bees deliver succulent honey and she loves collecting the ripen fruit in the orchard while her black cat Minuit* catches small rodents and other living things necessary to bring power to her elixirs.
*Minuit = Midnight in French
It is soon Samhain and the late October cold has transformed the landscape of Bigwood Falls into a lunar crispy white. The centenary cove is nestled in the large forest, its badly isolated roof covered in frost. But the morning sun will melt it away again, warming the few rooms used by the two old ladies.
The old Grey witch wakes up with a sense of foreboding this morning.
It feels as if I’ve forgotten something… something important… She slides her feet into her slippers.
‘Oh darn it! I put my left foot down first! Maybe I should just stay in bed today with a good book…’
She gets ready as usual every morning, picking out a long grey skirt among identical ones in the cupboard, and a white shirt. She struggles a little with her corset, thinking that she must either ask Mrs. Brown to help her unlatch it a little in the back, or lay off the jam for breakfast. She grimaces at the thought of just buttered toast.
The sudden sound of the doorbell interrupts her thoughts.
‘Can you take that, Mrs. Brown!?!’ she shouts, picking up her shoes.
The doorbell chimes again.
‘Mrs. Brown!!! Why doesn’t the darn woman answer the door? Tara eases into her shoes, struggling with the laces. Darn it! Must be her day off! But she never takes a day off so where is she?
Ding-dong… Ding-dong… Ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong…
The person ringing must have got their finger stuck on the buzzer, and the insisting chiming is unnerving the old witch. She fiddles with the buttons at her neck, tripping over her cat in search of her hat.
‘Now, where is it? Get out of my way, Minuit, or you’ll make me fall!’
She abandons her search and with murder on her mind she scoops the cat up on the way out of the bedroom.
‘I’m coming! Darn it!!! I’m coming!’
She hurries downstairs, trying to arrange her hair with the cat in her arms. Irritably she pushes the door wide open.
‘What now!?! Stop leaning on the darn door-’
Part I – End of Chapter 01