Now grandma and pop weren’t bookish. Bedtime stories hadn’t figured in Juno’s life. Pop, whose name was Bernard, did love to act out puppet shows for his only child, with glove puppets grandma made. But there were no dragons or captive princesses in his tales. The main character was always a dark little boy. His puppet wore a lock of pop’s hair in a towering cowlick. He generally came from far away in a perilous journey, mostly on a ship. Sometimes he was an orphan, sometimes he had to leave his sick mother, dirt-poor father and only surviving brother, but he always went west and had to cross a whole continent to find his piece of happiness by the shore of a new ocean. These were the kind of fairy tales Bernard loved and believed in.
Even so Juno had obviously come across the idea of witches and stuff. She’d taken no notice, like a bird takes no notice that it’s way up there in the sky, I guess. But that Halloween the world was out of kilter, and when grandma put a moon- and star-encrusted pointy hat on her little girl’s head, something stirred.
‘What’s a witch exactly, mommy?’ asked Juno.
‘Why, a witch, sweetie, is a lady in fairy tales who does Magic,’ replied grandma.
‘What’s Magic exactly?’ enquired Juno, puzzled by her matching moon- and star-encrusted broom. Nobody’d ever dreamed of asking her even to pick up a dumped toy, never mind sweep the house.
‘It’s… it’s when people in a fairy tale can make anything happen they like, even things that aren’t normally possible and that other folks can’t do, like… like turning a teacup into a bird. It only happens in fairy tales, though.’ Grandma’s last sentence was muffled since she’d gone to answer the doorbell.
There was a chorus of ‘Trick or treeeeat?’ from the porch as Juno thoughtfully opened the kitchen window and watched her dad’s favourite coffee mug fly away. It wasn’t a bird exactly, but it definitely had wings.
‘I’m a witch, mommy,’ Juno informed grandma on her return.
‘Oh, and what a darling one!’ replied grandma.
And that settled that.