If I asked you to describe a witch I know what you’d say. Long pointed nose, warts or moles, a slightly hunched back, pointy shoes with a cape, long fingernails and possibly crooked teeth. Why you’d ask? I would say, it is because everyone knows that witches are creepy when they are old and strangely enchanting when they are young. Of course they carry the mark of the spider, a black cat as a pet and some would even say they are crazy, but most important to their nature is a need for adventure and a desire to share those adventures. That desire is what brings us to this story!
Crazy Aunt a.k.a Crazy A-nut
The labels strange, crazy, a nut, witch and more often come up when people talk about Gwen. Although none of them are very nice names Gwen didn’t mind. She fancied herself to be a nutty witch.
True to form, she lived alone in a tiny wooden shack with her grey and black cat named Basket. Her shack was on the edge of an old pond and that was surrounded by big old trees. The few people who were brave enough to travel down her dirt road often found her by the pond collecting snakes, toads and lily pads. In fact, that is exactly what she was doing when she meet Mr. and Mrs. Sun.
The Suns were lost one night on the way home from a friend’s house when Mrs. Sun’s labour pains started. The combination of unfamiliar side roads and a dark night found them lost. Tired and frightened Mrs. Sun pointed to the shack and grabbed her stomach. As they walked toward the front door of the shack a rustling sound to the right caught their attention. Gwen emerged from the shadows with a cloth bag that was moving of its own accord. “Inside with both of you, “Gwen ordered. “That woman is going to pop and we can’t have that happening on my porch.”
Things happened to quickly after that, Mr. Sun phoned for an ambulance while towels were tossed into a waiting cauldron of boiling water. There in the shadow filled shack, by the light of one burning candle, Ethan Sun was born. The ambulance arrived shortly after the birth, the driver was flustered from his attempts to find the shack. They took mother and child to the hospital; both happy and healthy. The strange woman in the shack was not forgotten but the open invitation the Suns gave her soon was.
Mr. and Mrs. Sun had come home from the hospital to find a beautiful dark wood crib on their porch with a green silk ribbon on it. They never questioned its appearance and Ethan settled into it comfortably. Everyone just assumed the other had given it as a gift and so nobody bothered to question it out loud. Time moved on.
A-nut and the crib – how it all began
Ethan’s crazy Aunt Gwen, who wasn’t really his aunt but more of a woman who simply decided to assume the title and role, had gifted him the crib after marking it for adventure and thus marking Ethan for many unusual and exciting experiences. To the normal observer, especially Ethan’s parents, his crib was just a regular dark wood crib with average round bars and an average bed bottom. So, nobody except Gwen could really understand why at age seven Ethan insisted that the crib remain a permanent fixture in his room.
Now back to Gwen.
When Ethan was barely one year old his parents let him home with her while they went out to dinner. A-nut Gwen, true to form, showed up in black tights with long burgundy dress over them. The dress had the air of a witch’s cape to it because it was split up both sides to mid-thigh and had a big black spider pin clipped to the top of the v-neckline. When Ethan’s parents opened the front door to greet her she had her hood up making the shadows on her face frightening. Ethan’s parents wondered for a moment what they had been thinking as they watched the shadows dance in the wrinkles of Gwen’s face as if they were alive. Crazy pieces of hair blew out from under the sides of the hood even though there was no breeze. Gwen cackled softly and pushed the hood down instantly transforming her image into a friendly, almost enchanting, lady.
Ethan watched in silent fascination from his crib as his parents left him with this thin but menacing woman. She snapped her fingers as she approached the crib and she looked younger as she reached to pick Ethan up. She held him out at arm’s length inspecting him. “Oh, yes Ethan you will do just fine. I can see courage in you boy. But your adventures must wait a bit longer. For now we must put you to bed.”
Gwen placed him in the crib. “I must apologize for my manners. I am your crazy Anut Gwen, and child that is spelled A-N-U-T. I think you will find that suits me better. I am going to help you have some adventure and learn your magic as befits a young prince; a prince who is going to save our world. Please don’t be afraid, but watch this closely.” With that Gwen dropped to the floor and crawled under Ethan’s crib. Her whole body disappeared, it was an amazing trick for an adult to hide completely under a crib! There was some banging, a loud yell, some smoke followed by lightning and sparks shooting out from under the sides of the crib and a faint smell of chocolate chip cookies. Then it went quiet. Ethan watched, his big brown eyes alive with wonder. Gwen crawled out from under the crib looking tired. “Sorry child the door was stuck, hasn’t been opened in centuries and of course the house elf wasn’t expecting company and there was a bit of a disagreement about the drag…err what kind of cookies to make. Gwen passed him a warm chocolate chip cookie and smiled. “Everyone knows that you are now the key holder for the door under the crib and they will be expecting you when you are ready. There now child, sleep.”
Ethan’s eyes slide shut. That night his dreams were filled with magic and wonder.
By Shari Marshall – 2019