“Because I’m cursed, John.”
Daisy sat on the front porch of her family’s big white house with her friend from school, John. She pushed herself back and forth in the swing using her toe, which was just barely touching the wood of the deck. Her arms were crossed over her blue overalls and a single strand of her curly black hair hung down over her eye. John was sitting with his legs dangling over the edge of the porch. He was wearing khaki shorts and a short-sleeved button-up shirt with the top two buttons undone, due to the heat. His own hair was growing damp from sweat on his brow, his perfect comb-over beginning to sag down to his forehead. He smirked at her when she said that she was cursed.
“There’s no such thing as curses, Daisy,” he stated. “Even preacher says so. Says they’re just made up to scare people and God wouldn’t allow such evil to be within people’s power.”
“Preacher hasn’t been paying attention to the evil people can do,” Daisy said, thinking of her history lessons.
“Sure, people can do bad stuff. I ain’t stupid. But they can’t do magic and whatnot. That’s all just made up stuff to give little kids scares.”
“All made up stuff came from something real. Can’t have rocket spaceships without rockets first. And curses came from something, too. Even if it’s not a magic spell someone did, the idea of curses came from something real. And whatever that is, that’s what I got.”
“I didn’t take you to be the superstitious type.”
“Like I said, can’t be superstitious if it’s real.”
John laughed. Daisy got annoyed. She stood up from the swinging chair and hopped down from the porch. She pointed to the edge of the large yard where a row of purple flowers lined the inside of a wooden fence. The fence ran around the house to the backyard, the purple flowers following suit the entire length. Daisy’s house was down a lonely road, on the outskirts of town where the rest of her classmates lived, so there was nothing but open grass in the front and woods in the back on the other side of the fencing. John had ridden his bike all the way over to see her, even in this heat.
“You see those flowers? The verbenas?” Daisy asked, jabbing her finger to emphasize where she was pointing. John nodded. “My Granny always planted those. Said they’d keep the witches away. Then my mom planted them when Granny couldn’t bend over like that anymore. Now she’s teaching me how to plant them and care for them.”
“To keep the witches away?” asked John, expressing his disbelief.
“That’s right,” said Daisy as she stuck her hands in the pockets of her overalls. “And it works.”
“Is that right? So no witches have ever shown up?”
“Well guess what? I don’t have any of those flowers planted at my house, and no witches have ever shown up there, either.”
“What’s your point? You’re not cursed.”
“My point is that I don’t think that you are, either. I think that you’re doing that because someone told your granny to do it, probably her own granny, and since you’ve been doing it and no witches show up, you think it’s been working.”
“Except that I’ve seen the witches,” said Daisy. This gave John pause.
“What do you mean? I thought you said that no witches have ever shown up.”
Daisy didn’t know why she was opening up to John, but she decided that she was going to tell him something that she had never divulged to anyone outside of her family.
“They come at night,” said Daisy. “I said no witches have ever shown up, but I meant to say is that they’ve never crossed the verbenas. Not even using the path where there’s a break. They show up and pace around outside on the street or in the woods on the other side of the fence. They’re people, but they’re not people, you know? They’re tall and bony and don’t have any clothes and have this weird, low, blue glow about them. Worst things I’ve ever seen.”
John didn’t speak for a moment, then he smiled and laughed. “Aw, you’re just tryin’ to scare me. You’re thinkin’ that I’m a born fool, aren’t you?”
“Shut up,” Daisy said. John fell silent, her voice carrying a weight that demanded it. “The rest of my family can’t see ’em, but they believe me that I can. My Great-Granny could see ’em, too. She had to fight them, ya see. She used a whip. A charmed whip. Blessed, you see, but not by no priest. By something deeper, of the earth. My Granny couldn’t understand it, so couldn’t explain it to me. But she got me that whip when I started seeing the witches. Now I sleep with it in my bed in case one of them breaks through the verbenas to other side.”
“But none ever have, right?” asked John, unsure now if he believed her or if he was humoring her.
“None have,” said Daisy. “But one night, I went and I got me one.”
“You did what?”
Daisy smiled, fiendishly. “I saw a couple of them skulking around outside the fence in the trees. Trying to see into the house, see me or mine. Dunno why they keep doing that, nothing changes for them to see, but I decided that I had had enough. I pulled on my boots, grabbed my Great-Granny’s whip, and I went and introduced myself.”
“Well,” said Daisy, suddenly excited to be telling the story she had never shared before, “I get to the fence and they’re looking right at me. Their black eyes are locked on mine, their cracked faces turned to the side like this.” Daisy cocked her head and stooped slightly. “I yell at ’em to get the hell out of here and not come back but of course they don’t listen. They just keep on starin’. So I hop the fence and crack my whip. Nothing happened, though. They ain’t scared. In fact, now that I’m over they seem to be feeling bolder and take a step forward. But I ain’t scared, either. I been practicing. So I walk towards ’em, my whip in hand, and they do the same, start walking my way. When they get closer, I crack that whip at one’s face. It hits her right in the eye and she starts screaming. The whip gets hot in my hand and her blue glow turns red. The other one screams and comes running at me so I crack that whip at her, too. Hits her right here-” she poked John in the chest-“and she howls and turns red like the other one then she falls. I swing the whip at the first one and catch her right”-she moves her hands to encircle John’s throat without touching it-“around the neck and it holds. It grows hot, scalding hot, in my hand but I don’t drop it. Her color goes from red to white and then she goes black, like coal, and she crumbles away. The other one gets up and makes a break for it. I tried to catch her but thirty feet out she ups and vanishes. But I tell ya, I bet she told all her witch friends not to mess with me.”
“…so they haven’t come back?” John asked. Daisy paused, then realized her hands were still at John’s throat. She brought them to her sides, then to her pockets.
“They do, but they’re further out, now. Scared.”
“What do they want?”
“I dunno. Me, my family, I guess. Want to use us as vessels or something or other, granny says. Guess we’re special. Cursed, like I said. Doesn’t matter. They’re not going to get the chance. I’m gonna kill ’em all.”
They stood in silence for another few moments, John digesting the story Daisy had just told him, Daisy wondering if he believed her. Finally, he spoke.
“That’s a hell of a story, Daisy. I should be getting home,” he said. “My momma’s gonna be wondering where I am for supper. I’ll see you at school tomorrow.”
“Bye,” said Daisy, not surprised by the response.
She watched him hop on his bike and pedal through the break in the flowers and down the road. He’d probably tell the entire school tomorrow, get everyone to laugh at her, and she’ll be an outcast. It didn’t matter. Her family had been dogged by these witches for far too long. It had gone on for generations and it was going to end with her. Tonight, if there were witches in the woods, she was going to get her Great-Granny’s whip and make sure that they knew not to come back ever again. And if they did, she’d repeat the message until it stuck.
Thanks for reading! This was a writing prompt from Pinterest:
“My Granny always planted those. Said they’d keep the witches away.”
This was fun to write. I like Daisy and I think that she’ll give those witches hell until they leave her and her family alone. But is it a simple matter of cracking her whip? Or will she have to do more, a lot more, in order to truly be rid of the curse? Hmmmmmm.
Anyway, thanks again for reading. If you enjoyed this, please like it, check out my other stuff, and give me a follow here and on Facebook to get more stuff!