It's 14 degrees F. out tonight. I think that's just ridiculous. At least it didn't snow any more. I have been thinking about posting something I started writing about 5 years ago in a few segments. The thing about doing that is that it might be annoying to everyone because I wrote myself into a corner and I don't know how to finish it. It's supposed to be a children's book - aimed at pre-teen girls, I guess. I have no idea if it's too childish for kids that age. I've just been stuck and I'd like to finish it and I'm hoping that if I put it out there (and maybe get some feedback?) it will motivate me to move past being stuck. So even though a big part of me thinks it's a bad idea I guess the fact that I'm typing this means I'm going to ignore intuition and start posting it. It's not that long. I don't know how many days it will take - 5 or 6 probably - because I haven't looked at it in a while.
So with that garbled intro, I offer Installment 1 of
Amanda and the Cookie Witch
Katherine E. Rabenau
Hagatharinda Grynch cackled her Wicked Witch of the West laugh and dropped a couple of large mushrooms into the big black pot on her stove. "So, you're selling cookies, are you? What makes you think I'd want to buy any?"
The small girl standing in her kitchen door was only slightly daunted. "Well, they taste really good. And they're for a good cause."
"Good cause, eh? And what, pray, is this 'good' cause, my lovely?"
Er, Girl Scouts, ma'am."
"And just what's so good about Girl Scouts, dearie?" Hagatharinda had lapsed into her Hansel and Gretel witch voice and demeanor, and she was playing it with full intensity, waiting for the child to react. This one was tougher than most. "Well, dearie? Do sit down and tell me about your lovely Girl Scouts. How about a nice glass of milk and a piece of cake? Put some meat on your bones. You're very small."
"Yes, ma'am, I am. The other kids make fun of me for that."
"I see." Hagatharinda paused briefly and looked more closely at the girl. "I see. Hmmm. And what might your name be, young one?"
"Amanda, ma'am. Amanda Crane."
"Ah, a fine name. A fine name. Do you know what it means?"
"No ma'am. I thought it was just a name. I didn't know it meant anything. Does it?"
"Indeed it does, child. All names mean something and a name can have great power. The name Amanda comes from Latin and means 'Virtuous in thought and action, worthy of giving and receiving love.' What do you think of that?"
"It sounds very nice, but I'm not sure what it means, really. I like the part about love, though."
"And well you should." Hagatharinda smiled to herself as she poured a large glass of milk and cut a very large slice of gooey chocolate cake. "Here you go, Miss Amanda. Eat up."
Hagatharinda watched quietly as the girl polished off her cake.
"Thank you ma'am. It was very good."
"You're welcome. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to look into your eyes, child. Eyes tell worlds about a person, you know."
"My mother says I have pretty eyes."
"Well, she's right, but I'm talking about a deeper kind of prettiness, child. Do you think you can hold my gaze? Look straight into my eyes?"
The child nodded yes and shyly met the old woman's keen gray eyes with her deep blue ones, surprised that she felt no real discomfort under Hagatharinda's intense stare. In fact, she realized suddenly that despite the woman's rough talk and odd manners, her eyes seemed wonderfully deep and wise - and kind, even loving. And suddenly Amanda felt a sense of peace and joy so intense that she blushed and looked away.
Hagatharinda smiled quietly and lightly touched the top of Amanda's head. "You were well and truly named, child. You have much to accomplish in this life and if you would like, I will teach you about some things you might not learn in a schoolroom. I will show you how to touch the heart of the Universe and where you will discover the greatness of your own soul. I will teach you that there is nothing small about you, Miss Amanda. This is very fancy talk, I know, child, but I think you are capable of understanding it.
Amanda nodded silently.
"Now, tell me about these Girl Scouts of yours."
And that was how Amanda first met Hagatharinda Grynch.
As she was leaving, Hagatharinda told Amanda that she looked forward to seeing her again, but that she should ask her parents permission to come visit with her. Amanda's heart sank at that. Everyone avoided Hagatharinda and made fun of her, though, to tell the truth, Amanda thought most of them were a little afraid of her. But Hagatharinda's eyes were twinkling and she simply said, "Don't worry. It will be ok. Take these special cookies as a good will offering."
"Yes, ma'am, I will, but what if they say 'no'?"
"Well, we'll worry about that if it happens, child, but I have a good feeling about it. You head on home now. Thank you for a lovely visit."
That evening at dinner, Amanda mentioned her visit to Hagatharinda and how nice she was and how she had invited her back to visit again.
"That weird old biddy?" her father had snorted. "Not bloody likely. She probably wants to cook you up in her cauldron and eat you."
"George! Really!" Amanda's mother had tried to sound disapproving, but she couldn't help giggling. "But really, Amanda, honey, she is a bit odd, don't you think?"
"Well, I did, but she's really very, very, very nice. She even gave me milk and the best chocolate cake I ever ate and she ordered four boxes of Girl Scout cookies even though she makes her own. She just did it to be nice because she said Girl Scouts sounded like people trying to do something good. Oh - and I almost forgot - she sent some cookies to have for dessert."
But Amanda's father was unmoved. "I don't care how many boxes of cookies she bought or even how nice she is. People think she's a witch and no daughter of mine is going to spend time with some weird old woman. You'll be a social pariah!" His face had gotten very red as it did when he got excited.
"Purreyeya?" Amanda didn't know what that meant.
"Nobody will like you. They'll start avoiding you like they avoid her."
"But she's very nice. They shouldn't avoid her. Although I think she does it on purpose, being a purr - whatever you said."
"I don't care if it's on purpose or not. You're not going over there and that's final."
"I told her you wouldn't let me come, but she said not to worry. And she even sent you a bag of cookies for dessert. I think that was awfully nice of her. Can I at least go tomorrow and tell her that you won't let me visit? Just so she won't worry or anything? Please?"
Her parents looked at each other and then nodded yes. "But just for a few minutes," her father added.
The rest of dinner was quiet. Amanda picked at her food unhappily and felt terribly disappointed - in her parents and in Hagatharinda who had all but promised that it would be ok.
But then the strangest thing happened. The rich, sweet aroma of Hagatharinda's cookies slowly began to fill the room and seemed to radiate peace and love and contentment.
Mr. Crane was the first to notice. "Those cookies smell fantastic, Amanda." "Heavenly," Mrs. Crane chimed in. "You say Mrs. Grynch makes them herself? If they taste as good as they smell . . . Oh, they do. They're wonderful! Do you think she'd give me the recipe?"
Amanda rather doubted it, but she nodded an enthusiastic yes, anyway. "You could ask her, mother. She's very nice."
"Well it was very kind of her to send these lovely, lovely cookies."
And her father agreed. "Perhaps I was being a bit harsh. I mean anyone who can bake something that tastes as good as this must be pretty special. You thank her for us and tell her we are agreed to let you visit her from time to time. But I don't want you neglecting your studies or your other friends, is that understood?"
Amanda beamed. Hagatharinda had done it. There must have been magic in those cookies to change her father's mind. Nothing ever changed his mind about anything once it was made up, but tonight it was like a miracle. It was a miracle. Amanda was more curious than ever to get to know the mysterious Hagatharinda Grynch.
Her mother brought her one of Hagatharinda's cookies with a glass of milk and she nibbled it thoughtfully while her parents read her a bedtime story. And as her father and then her mother kissed her good night, she fell immediately into a deep and restful sleep. And her dreams that night were something quite special.
Some things I'm grateful for today:
- Angel and Tara Grace
- a clean litter box
- garbage put out
- my camera
- my big Publisher's Sweepstakes win
- my Bose sound system
- my new Powershot camera with lots of pixels & zoom
- my new clothers dryer
- my 22" Vizio flat screen TV
- indoor plumbing
- my comfortable desk chair
- my awesome mattress
- my fuzzy robe
- yogurt and cottage cheese
- pink clouds
- blue skies
- kind neighbor who clears my snow
- my cane
- my red chair
- legs that carry me
Have a Magical Day