Let me tell you the story of The Witch.

It’s 3rd grade. I’m in the advanced reading class, which means that come Reading Time, I have to grab my bigass reading binder and lug it down the hallway to another teacher’s classroom (let’s call her Ms. D).

A bit of background: I am not fond of Ms. D, nor is anyone else. I remember her being very blunt (almost aggressive) at times, and I don’t think she actually ever taught us anything.

Anyway, today Ms. D says we’re reading another boring short story. It’s one of those three-page packets everyone dreads, the kind that’s been photocopied so many times it’s barely legible, held together by three staples in the left margin so we could clip it into our reading binders. We get together into our reading groups and get to work.

We’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

The brand new teacher’s aide, never before seen by any of us, walks into the classroom and plops herself down directly at my table group.

“You guys can call me The Witch,” she says.

That’s it. That’s her introduction. Nothing else. Just “You guys can call me The Witch”.

Three baffled eight-year-olds look up from their reading packets and stare at her.

The Witch doesn’t take notice of our confusion. “Let’s start from the beginning,” she continues, reaching for a spare packet.

The three of us look at each other, and at her. Her intrusion is unwelcome. All of us are already at least halfway through the packet and, being nerds, are not eager to read aloud.

She asks who wants to read first. There are no volunteers. The Witch selects one boy (we’ll call him B) as her first sacrifice. B begins reading the first paragraph, quite nervously. The Witch appears to be satisfied. All is well… until B reaches an unfamiliar word.

He stutters for a moment and then he stops. The Witch, if I recall correctly, tells him to sound it out. B tries for a few seconds, but can’t manage to pronounce the word (I’ve forgotten what word, but it was fairly long). Meanwhile, The Witch is getting a bit red in the face. She snaps at B, telling him how he should say it. He tries again, but struggles to make the right sound come out.

The Witch loses it.

She snatches her packet up from the table and throws it at the poor kid’s face. The Witch screeches, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?”

The classroom goes dead silent. Twenty-six pairs of eyes land on The Witch. Poor B is shocked and looks like he might burst into tears.

Mrs. D’s response? Absolutely nothing. She turns back toward the group she’s helping and continues reading where she left off, as if her aide hadn’t just thrown an object at a third-grader’s head and screamed like a pterodactyl on cocaine.

Slowly, the rest of the class follows her lead and resumes reading their packets aloud, albeit quietly, as if any noise could set off the nuclear warhead of a woman sitting 10 feet away.

The Witch picks her packet up from where it had landed on the table and opens it again.

“Now,” she says. “Where were we?”

We never saw her again after that class.


Soon after this happened, I found The Witch’s face on a “For Sale” flyer outside a house near my neighborhood.

She was a real estate agent. Very successful. Retired now. I still see her around town.

Nobody, not even the people who were in that class, believes me when I tell this story.

Am I hallucinating?

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