Change

And I don’t know –

and I can’t know –

Where this path will take me.

But we never do,

that’s the thing.

Sometimes there’s a bomb,

    or a gunman,

    or a Tower—

and your life shatters

and the boats scatter

and everything you had

goes out with the tide.

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Wendy the Witch

Wendy was a witch. And not a good witch, either. Good witches are beautiful, usually wear white or palest pink, and are quite taken with body glitter and small white kittens. Bad witches are, well, ugly. They love toads, toadstools, and slime. People say they have forked tongues, or tongues like knives, or that they will give you a “tongue-lashing,” but this is metaphorical, rather than actual.

Wendy was a bad witch, the baddest of the bad – cross-eyed, gimpy, with a tongue she wielded like a samurai sword, expertly, with deadly force. But somehow Wendy got it into her head that being a bad witch, especially the baddest of the bad witches, was, well, not good. So she cast a spell, as any witch can do. And the spell was to make her seem like a good witch. Like the best of the good witches. Her hair, once raven black and as fine as a spider web, turned yellow, long, and thick. She exchanged her black cape and pointed black shoes for white tulle and white ballet flats. And her tongue – her glorious, finely-chiseled tongue – she cut out. Not literally, but figuratively. The spell she cast coated her throat with molasses-thick, honey-sweet words. Where once she croaked, now she cooed. Where once she spoke her mind, now she only spoke what would please.

Wendy became the Best of the Good Witches. Good witches everywhere told her how they admired the change, how much better it was to be a good witch than a bad. For a while, she believed them. She liked how they praised her, how she felt as though she belonged among all these white and pale pink witches, sparkling tiaras in their thick, fair hair. But she found, after a while, and to her very great surprise, that she wasn’t happy. She missed black. She missed smelly things, like dirt, and henbane. She missed toads, and cackling, and she started to hate having to be pretty all the time. But most of all, she missed her tongue. She couldn’t even speak her unhappiness, because it would upset her newfound friends, and this the spell would not let her do. So she did what any able witch, good or bad, could do – she uncast her spell.

Now Wendy is again the best of the bad. Her tongue has severed many an oversized ego from an inflated sense of self-worth. She plays in the dirt, has bad teeth, bad breath, and a wicked sense of humor. Best of all, she is happy. That’s what every witch deserves.