Just a Dash
I live in a small town huddled in the Northern Appalachians. The town this time of year, in the summer, is very sultry. The fog hangs over like an invisible cloak. Nobody ever ventures here nor trespasses. It doesn't run through a highway or any major routes.
My name is Jo. I'm sixteen. I go to Hogwarts Wizard Academy. It's called a "wizard academy" but technically there are elves, hobbits, werewolves, and hillbillies. We're very welcoming but only certain classes of wizards are part of the elite. Wizard Academy was founded by L. Trent. I was sitting at the bus stop daydreaming as usual. I did not know why our special private school was founded by someone as random as L. Trent. What did the "L" stand for?
"Why can't it be founded by someone interesting like the Rolling Stones?" I pondered. L. Trent was really the guy who founded Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton, New Jersey used to be a safe haven for Salem refugees. But how would I know? I don't pay attention in school like a cow doesn't drink its own milk. I pay as much attention as a bat does in morning history class.
But this was just juicy enough to snap me out of my pondering:
Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley were having a friendship fight!
"Ron, you're not by B.F. F. F. F. anymore." I heard Harry say, snapping me out of my invisible reverie.
"Fine, I'll just join Slytherin." The conversation was brisk, without any compromise. Ron was talking with a blond-haired Slytherin with French braids now.
I heard the blonde Slytherin gossip, "I heard witchcraft is going on in this town."
"Yeah right, Harry said that's rubbish, but good point; what does he bloody know?" I was still waiting at the bus station for school to start. I usually didn't like to get in the middle of everybody's drama. Who knows what damage I could cause? I'm usually the peacemaker when it comes to my own friends' problems, but witchcraft, oaths, and allegiances--especially involving Slytherin--was tricky business. Let me tell you just one more thing about myself: I'm separated from the norm. Even in a school as isolated as ours, everybody was alike in supernatural ability but I wanted to stand out from all the rest.
Everyone had pets like owls, toads, and rats, but I was the only pig owner. Squiggles, my pig, had a problem with running off without permission. Farm animals should be easier to train, I thought. Nobody stopped me from spacing out. The neighbors were too caught up in there own dialogue and dilemmas.
Then Squiggles ran across the street! My attention swiveled to Squiggles, as I saw him sniff a spooky, abandoned, and cadet blue home. It was much too plain and the windows and doors were boarded up. I agreed with Squiggles. Something suspicious grew there like the vines trickling out the windows. Could that be where the witch lived? That close to school? Hmm…maybe she or he moved. Maybe a pedophile lived there? I daydreamed again.
Oh yeah, my pig! "Squiggles, come back here!" The hog sniffed under the foundation of the old, Victorian home. I surmised that Squiggles smelled the witch, but a sneaky wolf lurked around the curb. I bolted after my pig, and I flew us safely over the chain-linked fence of our only fancy institution many acres and furlongs (yes, I flew!). So, I didn't know why we needed buses. That part of of school I can't comprehend.
This was getting scarier by the minute. Wolves and witchcraft? Did I want to get out of this dream? No; I wanted to put this black magic or rumor of it to an end! I felt like Dorothy. Especially since nobody needed a car and people grew their own food. In the safety of school, I had time to daydream about whether I wanted to intervene or not. If I wanted to help people, and the witchery does exist, it was my only path.
Afterschool, I was walking with my friend Darla on a dirt road when we heard a reporter was visiting this town only known as Hogwash.
Great, a reporter in town…exciting, but I wonder if this puts us on the dark side of the map. Will people find out about Hogwash? Will that be a good thing?
"Darla, let's head east. I betcha that reporter found some clues for us!"
"No, let's head the opposite direction. That house gives me the heebie-jeebies." Darla was a bit eager. Not only did the house give me the creeps, but now so did my best friend.
"I suppose we'll get more done. I revel you're thinking!" Darla loves being a leader, sometimes a bit too much.
Darla and I passed this young lady's house. She lived by a clear pond and she was watering her garden. The vegetables looked wilty.
I remember my parents said there was a curse coming over the crops. Supposedly, the witch wants her crops to be the only ones in town growing! Who could be that selfish, especially in cozy Hogwash? Was this the witchcraft which we speaketh and that which spread to other towns by some sly snoop?
Once inside, the ceiling was huge, except it possessed a dark, Middle Aged quality. There were many paintings of people, maybe saints. Darla and I proceeded into another room where the first thing I saw was a Jesus painting. I stopped dead as if my feet were cement.
But I could barely remember as my consciousness and amnesia brought me back to the present. I want to know what happened! But I keep waking up!
Was this witchcraft upon my feet? No, I just woke up in my room covered in wood paneling in Amish style. The doctor said getting some rest was the best way to regain my memory. Darn, who is the witch? How did the townspeople find out about her? These questions I am left to make-up as I daydream on this foggy day. Most people think fog is icky, but I think fog is magic. The next night I had the same dream. It left off exactly where I wanted it to.
So, what happens next?
I heard footsteps coming.
"Darla, do you think"-
"You don't know what I was going to say. I just wanna talk to her before"
"Come!" Apparently, we had different ideas of finding clues. Either that, or she sensed what I did when I froze—impending danger.
We flitted out the back door, across the backyard, and into the field. I tripped after I heard a gunshot.
"Darla, don't be a coward. Wait up!" Darla was heading toward the Ever Hidden Woods.
"Coward? I don't wanna be the talk o' the town, come!"
"What do you mean…?"
The quiet, soft, and mild mountain forest was our haven for now. Maybe we didn't come back with as much clues as I planned, but some things were revealed. We rested on a moss covered log decaying on the spongy pine needle floor. The air was dewy and sweet for now. People were shouting in the distance. But, the rest of the noise came from the sound of cicadas humming.
"From my Nancy Drew readings, I learned it's always best to clear one's mind by communing with nature," I advised.
"I sorta feel like my life is a story right now," said Darla.
"Me too…I'm not sure I want my parents to find me sneaking around for criminals, so don't tell anyone, Darla, swear?"
"Swear on my life and the lives of the other villagers." After we caught a few violent breaths, we started out again.
Standing on the edge of civilization, I started to get worried, like we were treading circles.
"Hey! I thought you knew the way to the road." I yelled.
"Okay! I've been around these woods time and time," she explained tersely, "it should be a cinch. I always sneak out. Just turn your pretty head around."
"Told ya it was the road."
"No, no, not the road—it's another old creepy home!"
"Jo," her voice was shaky, "that wasn't there before."
My eyes were bewildered and globular.
"Okay, Jo!" Her voice was intense. "Let's dodge this big, old cabin."
I nodded, made a dash, kicked up the most dust I have ever inhaled, and headed the direction we came.