The Witch of Northcote


Georgia. Aged 8.

I hold my breath when I pass number six. It smells like wee and cat litter. There’s always a fat orange moggy who brushes past my leg. The witch lady is inside. I see the curtain twitch and her long nose. My Mum phoned the council because of the odour and the rubbish. I bet she drinks blood and eats babies. Boils up frogs and herbs in a giant pot. I bet she likes to strip the flesh from childrens’ bones, fry it on the stove and gobble it up in a sandwich.

Meryl. Aged 55.

I’ve forgotten how to speak to people. Tom left fifteen years ago when I couldn’t give him children. I talk to myself and my voice squeaks, like the winder on a jack-in-the-box. The cats follow at my calves—they need me. At night they curl around my head on the pillow, their tails swish soft against my cheek. I read my books and the words take me to other places. I imagine beauty, warmth and companionship. I sleep. In my dreams I am young, my teeth white and straight, my limbs supple. On waking, my eyes are gritty. The cotton of my black dress is stiff with sweat and dirt. I eat from cans as the phone shrills. It’s the council. They pound on the door. I’ll be taken away soon. Everyone thinks I’m mad. I hear children playing outside and it is a spark of joy in the dark. I ask myself, what is left?

Northcote Leader. June 2016. Page 12.

The woman, aged 55, was found sitting on a couch in her squalid flat by a neighbour. The cause of death is unknown and an autopsy will be conducted on Monday. She had been deceased for two weeks, her eight starving cats gathered around her.


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