Children and animals know, and they do know. Life and people are seen with extreme objectivity, and then they tell it like it is. The façade worn by angel or demon alike, counts for nought beneath their gaze. Both child and beast will keep a distance and a wary eye about them when such things are encountered. Animals may hiss and spit; charge perhaps. Children will scream, run, or remain glued to one spot, pants and a single sock dampening as a result of encountering any of those three, and yet due to these responses, life and generations have continued.
Around morning tea time any number of years ago, Agatha McGuire, aged six and three quarters, an age when the ‘three quarters’ is still a defining part of being, had found a woman standing in her front yard. The woman, which she most definitely was, was old. Old in the mind of time lost, not old in the manner of grandparents; however, to grandparents, they would have called her ‘middle aged’, or ‘in her prime’. Yet, Agatha knew that she was older than the tales of the Pharaohs she had seen in her elder brother’s Angus’ book club books, purchased after hours Saturday morning catalogue scrutiny .
The woman, who Agatha saw through her mind’s eye as ‘The Lady’, was swarthy on first glance; changing to heavily sunburned when second glances caught up.
‘The Lady’ was dressed in the cliché garb of a witch the likes found within children’s illustrated versions of fairy tales over the centuries. Scar’s and wart’s, creases and crags making her long and narrow pointed face the face of the first ever nightmare in the history of bad dreams. Moonlighting as clothing, the rags she wore were filthy and much patched, dragging along the muddied ground with every rolling bow-legged step she took. Her back resembled a question mark. More closely, the foul malodorous stench oozing from her slid over all the hag encountered, its rank grotesqueness clinging to bodies as flies cover the dead. Her voice, a cold agonising susurration from the crypt.
‘The Woman’ however bore garments of the kind associated with those of a more bohemian nature. Long dark skirts and colourful blouses; tresses of her mid length raven hair fell beneath her shoulders, giving her the impression of a cliché nineteenth century Romani. Both beautiful and handsome, she bore elegant chiseled and sharp features, without an excess of flesh, her slightly over largemouth appearing larger than it really was being enhanced further by her extraordinarily red lips, setting off the whiteness of her teeth and the pinkness of her gums.
‘The Lady’ on the other hand, and whilst the very same person as ‘The Woman’ Agatha had encountered in the front yard of her old and slightly run down cottage, was scrawny and haggard; no more than a skin covered animated corpse. Lank thinning metallic grey locks clinging to her greasy face. The face misery forgot.
‘The Woman’ had a lithe appearance. Not the athletic appearance of a prepubescent boy, as is the trend these days, rather the litheness and shape of femininity. Breast and hip far from wanting. Both were oft the cause of a father’s increase in pulse; and more than one grandfather’s palpitation.
Squaring her small six and three-quarter year old shoulders, Agatha said simply “you shouldn’t be in our yard”.
Whilst coincidence does not exist, the illusion of it crept upon over the hag and the girl; a black cat with white sock, tummy, and nose stalked forward across the small shaggy green lawn still damp from the night, sneaking out from beneath an unidentifiable and equally unloved shrub, to rub fondly against Agatha’s skinny white leg. It then sat beside her right bare foot, fixing the lady with an unblinking feline stare.
‘The Lady’ rasped, “Stinking cretin, who are you to question me?”
‘The Woman’ said in silken tones, “a fair statement beautiful child, why do you say such a thing?” Both cat and child hearing only The Lady.
The Lady screamed as she saw Agatha for who she truly was, beyond the image of a tawdry child. Through the fog of the true form of the Amazonian warrior, Agatha’s natural, yet concealed form, raise a wand, pointed and cast a spell of instant death.
And that was the end of The Lady and The Woman in Agatha’s yard.
I’ve still got a headache, that was a crap yarn, and I can’t even drink cider. Bollocks. Click the picture above.
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