The Witch of Lark Street
NOTE: Merry Christmas Eve to those of you who celebrate it. In celebration of the holidays, enjoy this Christmas-themed short story, courtesy of yours truly.
TW: Mentions of death
It was a beautiful Christmas morning. The sky was bright and blue, and overnight a light blanket of snow had covered the ground. Families walked through the park, laughing and smiling and playing, celebrating the season together.
But for Jackson Greene, it was not a beautiful morning at all.
He flew down the stairs, swinging around the end of the banister and landing on the wooden floor. He sped over to the door, throwing on a thick coat and wrapping a scarf around his neck. He was almost out the door when a hand blocked his path. He looked up to see his father looming over him, glaring. “Now where do you think you’re going?”
“Uh, I’ve got a thing,” Jackson said, shifting his weight uncomfortably.
“And what is this ‘thing’ that might be so important that you won’t spend Christmas morning with your family?”
“I forgot to get a gift for mom,” the young boy whispered, glancing down at the ground.
His father’s eyes widened, and he shook his head. “Jackson that is very irresponsible.”
“I know! I’m sorry, I just forgot!”
“You’d better hurry. Here, take some money with you.” Jackson’s father crossed over to the kitchen, fishing his wallet from a coat draped over a chair. He pulled out a few dollar bills and handed them to his son. “Be back soon, we’ve still got to open presents here.”
Jackson took the money. “I’ll be quick.”
“That’s my boy,” his dad said, ruffling Jackson’s hair. “Now go get something special for your mom. I’ll keep things under control here.”
Jackson nodded severely. Flicking his scarf out behind him like a cape, he threw the door open and hurried out onto the busy street.
He had decided that he’d get his mother flowers--some nice, pretty pink ones that she would love. It’d also explain why he was out this morning. It was the perfect gift.
He had just thought of this, actually, when he spotted some beautiful pink roses in someone’s yard. They were absolutely perfect, and he had actually started to walk up to the porch before he realized who the yard belonged to.
That house...it was 6423 Lark Street. And that meant the owner was...the witch.
Since he had first moved here, Jackson had been told of the house and its owner. It first started four years ago, when he was playing in the park with some friends.
“Why does that house not have any Christmas light?” he had asked them, pointing towards the building. It was dark. In fact, it was the only dark house on the whole block.
“That’s 6423 Lark Street,” his friend had said, like that meant something.
“So the witch lives there,” he said. Jackson had just looked confused. “The witch. The witch of Lark Street. Haven’t you heard of her?”
“We don’t go near there,” his friend said. “The witch hates everything that has to do with Christmas. The lights, the songs, even the children. If she sees us she’ll cast her spells on us and chain us to the fridge and cook us and feed us to her cats.”
Jackson gulped. “That sounds…”
He nodded. “Why does she hate Christmas so much?”
His friend shrugged. Who knows? It’s not like any of us have gotten the chance to ask. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get fed to any cats.”
Jackson nodded. At the time, he had thought it was something his friend had made up to scare him. But the longer he spent here, the more it seemed to be true.Every group had different stories about the way that the witch killed her victims. But one thing remained certain--6423 Lark Street was a place to be avoided.
Jackson definitely didn't run away from the house because he was scared, no. He just had places to be. He hurried down the street towards the main part of town.
But when he got there, he found that almost every single store was closed. He should have expected this--it was Christmas after all. But he was running out of time and he couldn't go to his mom empty-handed. But it looked like he'd have to.
Dejected, Jackson started on his way home. His head was hanging so low that he almost didn't notice the flowers again, in the witch’s yard.
They would make the perfect gift for Mom, all he had to do was get them. He could run fast; if he was quiet he would be in and out of there in less than a minute. No one had ever ventured into the property before. But if she can get those flowers for Mom...he’d have to be the first.
Jackson took a breath, readying himself. Then as fast as he could, he bolted to the rose bush. Hands lying, he haphazardly started tearing flowers off of their stems. He was so focused on getting out of there that he didn't notice the figure creep up behind him
“Now just what do you think you’re doing?” a voice asked. Jackson froze in terror. A hand seized him by the back of his collar. “Young man, tearing apart people’s flower gardens isn’t very polite, now is it?”
Jackson tried to voice an apology, but it came out as a terrified whimper. “Oh come with me,” the witch sighed, and she began to drag him inside. She was surprisingly strong, and Jackson gave little resistance, already accepting his fate.
Inside, the witch released him and crossed over to the kitchen. Jackson eyed the fridge and gulped. He wondered if he would be chained there for days, or if the cats would get impatient and start to eat him early.
“Would you like some tea, young man?”
Jackson glanced up and saw the witch, kettle in hand. He was sure that the tea would be laced with some deadly poison, and he shook his head furiously.
“Are you sure? It is quite cold out there.”
“N-N-No thanks,” Jackson stuttered.
“Alrighty then, more for me,” the witch cackled and Jackson shrunk back further into himself.
The witch went about making her tea, humming some quiet, dark tune to herself. She poured herself a cup and sat at a small wooden table in the kitchen. Then, she looked up at Jackson. “Well, have a seat.”
The last thing he wanted was to get closer to the witch, but he doubted he had much of a choice. He crossed over to the table and took a seat, sitting at the very edge of his chair.
“Now tell me young man, what were you doing disturbing my garden?”
“I-I-” Jackson trembled.
“Well don’t be shy, just spit it out.”
“I’m sorry I just--AH!” Jackson yelled as something fluffy brushed against his leg. He looked down to see a large gray cat, butting its head against his chin. He jumped up onto the chair, curling both of his knees into his chest.
“Oh don’t mind Floofy, he just wants attention,” the witch said.
But Jackson hardly heard her. He was staring down at the beast, who had rolled over onto its back. Would this be his end? Would this terrifying creature be the object of his destruction?
“Mrow?” Floofy said, batting at the leg of the table.
“Now, you never answered my question,” the witch said, peering down at him. “What were you doing in my garden?”
“I’m sorry it was a mistake I just needed to get a gift for my mom--not for Christmas or anything--and uh I saw your flowers and I thought that I could grab some and I’m so so so sorry.”
The witch frowned at him. “Talking someone’s flowers without asking is not very polite,” she said. “Those were my wife’s favorite, and they cannot be easily replaced.”
“I am SO sorry.”
The witch looked down at him. “You look like a fit young man.”
Jackson just whimpered, wondering what recipe she was thinking of using him for.
“I’ll make you a deal. It’s Christmas, and it’s been so very long since I’ve had any decorations up. If you help me, I’ll let you go with a bouquet of my roses.”
Jackson looked up, confused. “You’re...you’re not going to chain me up and feed me to your cats?”
The witch cackled. “Of course not, why would I do that? My cats eat much finer meat,” she said. Then she must’ve noticed Jackson’s expression because she followed it with, “I’m kidding.”
“But I thought that you hated Christmas.”
“The opposite, actually. I adore Christmas. But after my wife passed, I just don’t have the ability to decorate like I used to. But now I have you. So, what do you say?”
Jackson glanced at her, wondering what he had gotten himself into. “Deal.”
“Perfect! Come with me, I’ll show you where everything is.” The witch led him into the garage, where she pulled out boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations. Looking at all of them, he realized that it would take him all day to finish decorating.
“Get to work!” the witch said cheerfully. “I’ll be here if you have any questions.”
So, Jackson started. He decorated the entire house, setting up Christmas trees, hanging lights outside, laying out decorations. Every once in a while, the witch would comment on what he was holding. “That’s the name of the first cat I ever got” or “I got that ornament when I was a little girl, younger than you, even” or “My wife always loved those multi-color lights. I hated them. Aren’t they such an eyesore?”
At first, Jackson was shaking in fear. But as he went along, he started to see the witch as less scary. He even laughed with her a few times. Maybe she wasn't as bad as everyone made her out to be.
By the end of the day, the sun had set, but the entire house was decorated beautifully. The witch helped Jackson make a bouquet of the flowers, wrapping them up in a ribbon.
“Thank you for your help today, Jackson,” she said, handing them over. “It gets ever so lonely being stuck in that house alone. I hope you won’t be too scared to stop by again.”
“You’re welcome. I hope your mom loves the flowers.”
“She will,” Jackson promised. “Goodbye! Merry Christmas!” Throwing a hand up in a wave, the boy stuck the flowers under his coat and bolted towards home.
His father caught him on the street, yelling, “Jackson! Where have you been? I’ve been searching all over for you.”
“I had to get mom’s gift,” Jackson said. He held up the bouquet. “Look how beautiful they are.”
His dad sighed. “Yes, they are very nice. Now let’s go give them to mom. Come on, your sister is waiting.”
Jackson climbed into the car and sat in the backseat. They reached the small little cemetery just as the stars were starting to spread across the night sky. Jackson and his older sister both bolted up to the grave where mother lay. His sister set the small heart necklace on the stone, and Jackson laid out his flowers.
“Merry Christmas mom,” he said, giving the stone a small smile. “I hope you like them.”
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