The Cast: Mrs. Halverson (?!?!), Myself (terrorized), The Witch (pure evil).
Her hate-filled, evil eyes stared straight through to my soul—and ended it.
Mrs. Kim Halverson was probably the most influential teacher I ever had. She was one of those kinds of encouraging teachers that just affects you, ya’ know? Now, I know I accidentally tried her patience more than once—not on purpose, seriously. She had short, curly blonde hair, and a smile that lit up the room. And her eyes had a sparkle about them that just made you feel bad whenever you misbehaved.
She read to our 6th-grade class all the time. We learned so much that year. In fact, when I got to college and a professor asked if any of us had heard about Plato’s Cave, I was the only one to raise my hand. He asked where I had learned about it. My response was, “Mrs. Halverson. 6th-grade.” Yeah, that blew his mind.
Real quick, we need to take a little side trip. Hang on.
So, for many years I have become fascinated by the human mind. Why it does what it does—regarding memory, emotions, mental connections, and that sort of thing. It’s those connections that are truly fascinating to me. Like, let’s say you just ate a lot of food while at the carnival. Then, you go on one of those rides that does all the fun loopty-loops. Your stomach flips, and it flops, and then you puke all over the place, when you get off the ride (hopefully). And, for some strange reason, it tastes like apple pie. Now, you didn’t eat any apple pie. You didn’t even have any apples—that you recall. Yet, your momentary spiritual spew to the carnival gods tasted like apple pie. The result: You don’t eat apple pie for years (or ever again), because if you do, it will remind you of that terrible vomit moment and you do not want to connect apple pie to a prayer meeting with your commode.
For whatever reason, our minds make connections that sometimes will affect us for the rest of our lives. And while I will always hold Mrs. Halverson in the highest regards, what she did over 30 years ago still haunts me to this very day (albeit, not as much as it did for the first 20).
Okay, back to our tale of terror: It was only a few days before Halloween, and as was typical, the festive [mean] spirit of 1980-something fall was running rampant. Tricks and treats were already showing up. Halloween pranks were all over the place. And of course, scary stories.
Often, as my 6th-grade class would do school work, Mrs. Halverson would read to us. It was her way of controlling us. We were addicted to her reading of stories. That woman had a hold on us kids. We were story-time addicts just waiting for our next fix. We would beg and plead with her to read to us while we worked. One kid even got down on his knees and begged her to read, we needed to know what happened next! It would have been pathetic to see from the outside looking in. But, she would often relent and read to us. However, she always had her one condition: We be quiet and work. And, so we did. But, Heaven help that stupid kid who ruined reading time… (it was never me, FYI)
On this particular day, Mrs. Halverson thought it would be fun to treat us to some special, spooky stories, since Halloween was just a few days away. Ooo. A special reading time. Nice.
Mrs. Halverson read a few different short Halloween tales of witches and werewolves, ghosts and haunted cemeteries. And, over the years, as I have taken part in some spectacular spooky story sessions, nothing got to me like one of the tales that she read to us that day.
The details are long since beyond fuzzy. Personally, I believe it to be trauma related. That story froze my very soul. One minute, the tales were cute and entertaining, the next, I wanted to curl up with my blankie and cry for ‘mommy’. I don’t know what it was exactly. The topic. The way it was read. The writing of it. Whatever the case, I was crying on the inside so much that my emotional tears filled my bladder and I wanted to wet myself from fright.
I have tried—over the years—to find it out. Discover the tale to unfold the mystery of why it wrenched my being so out of whack. But, alas, no. I never have. I have told of this tale multiple times, and everyone always says, “Well, tell me about it, maybe I have heard of it.” They never have. It may be because I cannot recall enough of it to matter, like a bad Google search. Whatever the reason, I believe I may never have closure.
For those who may be extra curious about what this horrific literary masterpiece is, here are the facts as I recall them (seriously, I think trauma has blocked it out in attempt to save me): There was witch. The time period was early colonial/pilgrim era. A wolf was involved—it may have been a werewolf or believed to be a werewolf by those in the story. The main character was a colonial/pilgrim girl with fragile emotional issues. The wolf trapped her in her kitchen by running around her while she stood on a stool and screamed for help. The girl was found on her kitchen floor, bitten. There was a witch (I know a said this already, but it’s important to remember).
As the tale was told, I slowly began to stop working. Careful to keep my head down, and provide the appearance of dutifully laboring on my assignment, I just wanted to crawl under my desk, suck my thumb, and let the fear-tears run down my cheeks. I don’t know why it affected me so, but it did. I had no choice but to count down the minutes until school was over and I could go home. Home, to comfort and safety.
When the bell rang, I was gone. I moved so fast you would have thought that the wolf from the story was after me. My two friends, Miles and Chris, had to hurry to catch up with me. As the three of us walked home, Miles and Chris joked and laughed about the day as normal—I was more quiet than normal. I was shivering from fright, but blamed it on the cold (this was Montana in October people, it’s cold, and snowy). They bought it. Eventually, the three of us parted ways and I walked up the walkway to my front door. Peace and safety, at last. Then I opened the door and screamed at what I saw.
Remember a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about how my mother would ‘haunt’ our home. Yeah. At the start of every month, we would decorate for the month. October was no different. In addition, my mother was always on the look-out for something new to add. She didn’t always buy at every season. She wasn’t one of those crazy decorating nutters. But she wouldn’t turn down a special something extra, if she found it. Earlier that day, she had found it. And put it on our entry room wall.
Upon entering this home, you stepped into a large entry way. It was big and spacious enough to greet company, but by its design it blocked the view into the rest of the home (you didn’t have to clean up, even though we did—every week). Also, parallel to the entry area, ran a set of stairs, coming up from the basement. The top of those stairs ended in front of the barrier wall that ‘hid’ the rest of the home. That being said, whenever I entered my house, I always looked in the same general direction to see if anybody was home. I looked toward the wall section at the top of the stairs. That area was the entrance to the upstairs family room and access to bedrooms. That’s where people would be. That’s also where the witch was placed. My mother’s newest acquisition.
This witch was posed in motion. She had the typical pointy hat and black robes. Her flesh was green and warty. She had a long nose and chin. Her position was arched to the viewers left, as she stirred her cauldron with what was probably her broom, and the fire below it heated her sinister concoction. The smoke and steam rose up and to her left. This all added to the illusion that she was moving—and alive. The witch smiled in a wide, evil cackle. And her eyes… They saw right through you.
I swear it.
I screamed (inside). I was to terrified to make an outward… Word. Sound. Anything. The witch from the story had found me. She had come to my home. Somehow, she knew how scared I was and followed me home, snuck inside (not hard, she’s a witch), and put herself in a place where I would have to see her everyday, multiple times a day. And worse still, she was looking right at me. I swear it. Her eyes were staring into my very soul. Sure she was only a cardstock wall decoration that was over five feet tall. But she was alive. I knew it. She knew it. And she knew that I knew she knew it. I was dead.
My room was downstairs. I would have to pass by the witch to get to my room. Sure, I could jump the railing and hit the landing on the stairs, then run to my room (I know that because that’s exactly what I did that day). But I couldn’t do it in reverse. I could not jump the six-foot distance from the landing, over the railing, and into the entryway. I would have to see that witch everytime I came up the stairs. Every. Time.
Over the next days before Halloween—and the end of October—I found ways to not look at the witch, even though every time I turned the corner on our stairs she was looking right at me. Her eyes followed you, everywhere. I swear it. In fact, that’s one of the reasons my mom bought the witch—and put her where she did. Because you would see her right as you entered the house, and her eyes followed you.
I got creative in not going upstairs if I didn’t have to. When I got home, I would collect any possible thing I would need, and then go to my room for the rest of the day.
Oh yeah, that witch tripped me, once. She did. I swear it. I got to the top of the steps without making eye contact with her, and just as I reached the top, I looked up, accidentally met her gaze, and that’s when she hexed me. I stumbled and fell, hit my head on the coffee table and dented it (my head, not the table). I swear it.
Fortunately for me, we moved and I never had to have my soul bored into by that witch ever again. Or so I thought.
As time passed, so did the hold that that witch had on me. I would ‘help’ mom decorate for October so that I could suggest places the witch might hang that would be viewable to company—but out of my line-of-sight.
I know it’s silly, but everytime I see that particular witch, she gets to me. Even if it’s just for a split second. She still gets to me. Over the years, I have spotted her hanging up or for sale, off and on, here and there. A couple years ago, I saw her for sale in a Walmart. She was folded up to save space (it was always part of her design—each year I would store her face-down in hopes she would suffocate and die), but her face was visible. And as I passed her by, she watched me, still.
For this tale, I endeavored to find a picture of The Witch from all those years ago. My mother has long since rid herself of her decorations. The witch is lost somewhere in my sister’s storage, or it is gone to the dump. Regardless, I tried to recreate her—as best as I could recall—for you, dear reader, to try and help you understand why I hated that witch so much.
If you don’t understand why I can remember all the details about the event, but not so many about the witch, then I don’t know what you’ve been reading for the past few minutes. That thing terrified me. I did everything I could to NOT look at it. Of course I don’t remember much about it! Think people!