Authors: amanda m lee
The Christmas Witch
A Wicked Witches of the
Amanda M. Lee
Text copyright © 2015 Amanda M. Lee
All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents
I’ve decided Christmas is the worst time of year. No, you heard that right. Good cheer? Only if it comes in a bottle (or three). Frosted sugar cookies? I prefer chocolate chip, especially if they’re fresh out of the oven. Wrapped presents under the tree? No way. I … actually, well, I’m fine with that. If you want to give me a gift you’re more than welcome to do it. Make sure it’s expensive, though. I deserve the best money can buy.
I know witches aren’t supposed to have a materialistic streak. It goes against the tenets of our faith. I’m not a normal witch, though, and I’m fine with that. I think I’m going to buy a gift for myself this year. I’ve had my eye on a snowplow for as long as I can remember, and this is the year I’m finally getting it. Just you wait.
Tillie Winchester is not just a witch. No, I’m a wicked witch. I’m fine with the label.
What am I saying?
Well, I’m not one of those evolved Wicca-loving hippies who think nature is the greatest thing in the world. I like nature, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t feel the need to worship trees or whisper sweet nothings to flowers. They can’t hear you, people. You make yourself look like idiots when you do it.
I don’t get the froufrou robes and sparkly, dangle earrings. In my day witches didn’t have a problem being evil – and were proud of it. We certainly didn’t try to hide our nature behind crystal balls and pastel tarot cards. No, witches in my day were tough and terrifying. That’s how I helped raise my three nieces (despite my sister’s insistence that they were good girls). Those poor girls got mixed messages their whole lives. My teachings didn’t technically work where Winnie, Marnie and Twila are concerned – but I have a whole new generation to impart my wisdom to.
Speaking of little witches, I need to find the terrible trio and get them moving. You know when three girls under the age of ten are quiet that means they’re generally up to something. When the three devils – I mean darlings – who live under this roof go quiet, though, the mischief can literally blow up in our faces.
Now, where should I look? The house is far too quiet. That means they snuck out … again. They are really starting to get minds of their own.
It didn’t take me long to find them. The sound of Clove’s incessant whining drew my attention to the far side of the house. I watched them for a few minutes without giving away my presence. It’s always better to know what your enemy is up to before they ambush you.
What? They’re kids, but they’re smart kids. I worry that one day they’ll be able to outsmart me. By that point I’ll probably be suffering from dementia instead of foot-in-mouth disease, so I won’t know they’re beating me. That’s something to look forward to.
“We have to do it this way,” Thistle said, tucking her shoulder-length dirty blond hair behind her ear. She sat cross-legged on the cold ground, her cousins Bay and Clove mimicking her as the trio formed a circle. I have no idea how they weren’t frozen to their cores. “It’s not going to work unless we’re sneaky about it.”
I sometimes think Thistle has too much of me in her. Twila, her mother, is the sweetest of her sisters. She’s also the daffiest. Thistle has her mother’s kooky sense of style but my penchant for evil, and she may be smarter than the lot of us rolled into one.
Wow! That’s a terrifying thought.
“I think we should tell them the truth,” Clove chimed in, her black hair glossy under the winter sun. She’s always the Pollyanna of the group. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll lie if she has to. It’s never the first thing that comes to her mind, though. Her first suggestion is always sweet and innocent. She balances Thistle’s malevolence. Well … some of the time.
“We can’t tell them the truth,” Thistle scoffed, making a face. “If we tell them the truth we have nowhere to go when they tell us no.”
“How do you know they’ll tell us no?”
“Have you even met our mothers?” Bay asked, her fingers working the ends of her blond hair. She has an insecure streak that manifests in weird ways. Talking to ghosts doesn’t help. Oh, yes, she can talk to ghosts. I can, too. It’s a difficult gift and Bay struggles to get a grip on it. “They’re not going to give us what we want unless we trick them into giving it to us. Thistle is right.”
Thistle puffed out her chest. “I told you. I’m always right.”
“You’re not always right,” Bay snorted, letting go of her hair. As the oldest of the trio, she and Thistle grapple for the title of bossiest. What Thistle doesn’t realize is that Bay often lets her win because that gives her a better position when they delve into the next fight. Thistle might be ridiculously smart, but Bay often outthinks her.
“When am I not right?” Thistle challenged.
“Last Christmas you told us that if we had bigger stockings Santa Claus would have no choice but to leave us more presents,” Bay reminded her. “Did we get more presents?”
Thistle scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. “No.”
“Did the longer stockings start a fire that almost burned the house down?” Bay pressed.
“I hate you sometimes,” Thistle muttered.
Bay rolled her eyes and ignored her fiery cousin. “I think we need to trick them into getting us what we want, but we need to do it in a way that’s not as … horrible … as what Thistle thinks we should do.”
Well, this is getting interesting. Whatever they want, it’s something big. I wasn’t particularly perturbed by that realization. They’re kids. Christmas is for dreaming big when you’re young. These three had been morose for months, so I’m almost willing to bet their mothers give in and get them whatever they want if it assured of smiles Christmas morning.
Things had been rough for all three of them ever since their fathers left. They didn’t do it as a unit. Jack, Bay’s father, was the first to go. His relationship with Winnie deteriorated quickly and before either of them realized what was happening the relationship was officially over. He said he couldn’t take my meddling. I told him to stuff it. Life goes on. Winnie can do better.
Warren, Clove’s father, went next. There was no surprise that his marriage to Marnie imploded. They were too different when they married. Those differences only grew in scope as the marriage progressed. Frankly, I was surprised they made it as long as they did. They’re both too bossy for their own good. I hate that in a person. Bossy only works for me. All others pale in comparison.
Finally, Teddy walked away from Twila after a particularly obnoxious argument. That one surprised me. Teddy and Twila are both bohemian spirits. Teddy thought Twila’s scattered nature was adorable when they met – and even when they married. It grated over time, though, and Thistle’s attitude didn’t help. Teddy wanted to take a firmer hand in raising their daughter and Twila was a “live and let live” mother. Still, I thought the marriage would last a little longer than it did.
Ever since their fathers left Walkerville, though, these three rugrats have been more pouty and petulant than sweet and cute. Personally, I never thought they were that sweet – and that cuteness factor comes and goes depending on what they’re plotting.
Seriously, though, what are they plotting? It can’t be good. It never is.
“I just want a puppy,” Clove complained. “I think if we ask they’ll get it for us. Why do we have to lie?”
A puppy? We already have seven people living under one roof. Sure, it’s a relatively big roof and we’re down from the previous ten we had under it a year before, but come on. I had to put a stop to this, and I had to do it right now.
“You can’t have a puppy,” I announced, flouncing around the corner and resting my hands on my hips as I regarded the three tyrants in training.
Clove appeared shocked at my appearance, while Bay looked mildly concerned. Thistle merely narrowed her eyes.
“I knew you were eavesdropping,” Thistle muttered.
“I’m an adult. It’s not called eavesdropping when you’re an adult.”
“It is so,” Thistle charged.
“It is not.”
“It is so.”
“It is not.” I swear, these kids bring out the worst in me – and that’s saying something.
“Whenever you listen to people who don’t know you’re there and you’re not part of the talking, that means you’re eavesdropping,” Thistle snapped, jumping to her feet. “Tell her that’s true, Bay.”
Bay was slower to climb to a standing position. At just less than five feet, I’m tiny. Clove is going to be diminutive like me. The other two are already almost as tall as I am. It’s frustrating. How can I yell at people who are taller than me? Oh, what am I saying? I always find a way to do it. My late husband was almost a foot and a half taller than me and I yelled at him all the time – and that man was a saint. Three hellions should be no problem.
“I don’t think it matters,” Bay said, knitting her eyebrows. She has a pragmatic streak that irks me. I wish she would let loose and go crazy sometimes. She doesn’t have to be wild like Thistle, but if she yelled and screamed a few times she might be heard above the constant Winchester din. “She knows what we’re doing and she’s going to work against us.”
It was my turn to narrow my eyes. “Why do you think I’m going to work against you?”
“Because you always work against us,” Thistle interjected, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Why do you think that is?” Getting a feel for these girls is like swimming in quicksand. Whenever I think I’m getting somewhere the bottom falls out. Something told me that was about to happen again.
“I think Aunt Tillie is looking out for us,” Clove sniffed, pushing herself up to stand, but still partially hidden by her bolder cousins. “She loves us.”
Goddess help me, I do love the little rascals. I also hate them sometimes. I can also tell when they’re trying to manipulate me with kindness, and that’s Clove’s best talent.
Thistle snorted. “She doesn’t love us,” she said. “She wishes we’d never been born.”
“You take that back,” I snapped, wagging a finger in Thistle’s face. “That is not true.”
“She doesn’t hate us,” Bay said, grabbing the back of Thistle’s coat and hauling her away from me. I think she worried I would curse her or something. “She likes to mess with us. There’s a difference.”
“Not in my world,” Thistle said.
Seriously, there are times I want to grab that little imp’s lips and pull and pull until … .
“Don’t you think a puppy would be a nice Christmas gift for us?” Clove asked, changing the topic to something safer. “We would take care of it. We would walk it and feed it.”
“We would name it Tillie and whack it with a rolled-up newspaper,” Thistle suggested.
“I’m going to make sure you don’t get anything but a lump of coal in your stocking if you don’t shut your mouth right now, Thistle,” I warned, glaring at her.
Thistle is never one to back down. “And how are you going to do that?”
“I’m going to tell Santa to put you on his naughty list,” I answered, not missing a beat.
“Santa isn’t real.”
I stilled, surprised by Thistle’s declaration. I knew the girls didn’t believe in Santa Claus anymore. Well, for the most part. They were at delicate ages. At nine, Bay definitely didn’t believe. She was sensitive enough not to ruin it for her cousins, though. Clove was less sure. She was afraid of the possibility of ticking off the big guy, though, and she hedged her bets. Despite her age, Thistle is the worldliest and calls things like she sees them. Still, Santa is the best thing about Christmas. Well, him and the food.
“What makes you think Santa isn’t real?” I asked.
“Because we all know Santa Claus is something parents make up so they can bully kids into being good all year,” Thistle replied. “He’s like the Boogeyman.”
“I’ll have you know that Santa Claus is real,” I countered. “I met him.”