Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24: When I was 8 . . .

When I was 8, I saw a witch
sitting atop the window
in my bedroom. It was dark so
I wasn't sure she was there,
casting a spell, her gnarled fingers
curled to grab my dreams.

We carved pumpkins that October
with the large butcher knives
that slipped when you least
expected it.

I was a ghost then,
trick and treating up the lane,
filling my pillowcase with treats,
candy corn my favorite.
Our friends, three little boys,
changed costumes and went another round
and another. Three times.
Not a lucky number.
That was the year their father died.
That was the year
I became a ghost.

Halloween Witch (Daily Record and Mail UK)
Today's prompt from Octpowrimo asks us to go back in time to when we were 8 years old.  Sometimes I think it will take my whole life to heal from what happened when I was 8 and 9 and 10. So I give you this Halloween story instead.

In looking for an image (Google search) of a child in a witch costume, I was stunned by the difference between advertising in the west (happy kids in outlandish costumes) and the reality that children accused of witchcraft face everywhere in the world and especially in Africa. Even though we all must face our own inner demons, if we are tenacious, we can overcome them. Not everyone can.

To read what others have written for today's prompt from OctPoWriMo, go here.
To read about witchcraft around the world, go to Wikipedia's fascinating and troubling article.


  1. Beth - your story is so powerful and your poem, not only beautifully constructed but also quite poignant. Thanks for having the courage to continue to face those demons that hovered so intimately to you at 8, 9 and 10. Big hugs!

  2. "Not a lucky number" So well done.

  3. Powerful, Beth! Love these lines: "her gnarled fingers
    curled to grab my dreams."

  4. Candy Corn was my favorite too... Thank you for being brave and sharing your healing on the page.

  5. I like the use of reoccurring imagery: gnarled fingers, slipping knives - always think of cut fingers with that visual, three boys/three times around, was a ghost/became a ghost.

  6. Oh, those carving knives! I was always afraid of them, still am. This is a great Halloween poem, images of candy and costumes mixed with knives and dark magic. Excellent.

  7. your poem was irresistible

  8. Brought me memories of my recurring witch dream when I was about 7. Thank you. xoA

  9. A very powerful collection of words to paint a picture in the lines between them, almost. I share a painful childhood... this prompt has revealed we are not alone.

    As for witches around the world... I knew of it, I cannot abide how children must suffr, even now.