A Special Treat
The manor sat at the edge of the small town, where the wind whispered forgotten secrets to the leaves, and the chilly air felt like a freezing hand on the neck. Anxious mothers frequently told sleepy children that a wicked witch lived within the cemented walls. The shadow of death and loss lurked at the porch, discouraging wayward children from knocking for treats.
She would never have gone there if her ears hadn’t been ringing from the slap. “Get out of here! Don’t you dare come back to this place!” But her starving stomach redirected her steps from the threshold of the orphanage to the cobbled streets. When the smell of hot chocolate wafted through the air, she found herself turning automatically to the mansion. She told herself that it was the ghost of Halloween that made her step to the door, press the doorbell gently, and look expectantly at the old witch.
“Come to trick or treat, my dear? Such a realistic homeless beggar!” A bag of candies trembled as the witch fumbled through it. She found a heart-shaped candy with an emaciated wrapper and pushed it through the girl’s mouth.
The sugar burned through her veins, scorching her throat and constricting her words into unintelligible sounds. Her fingers grasped weakly at the rotting wood of the threshold, her knees twisting into an impossible angle to keep her from collapsing. Even when something twisted in her stomach, she welcomed the pain more than the hunger.
“Murderer,” she whispered weakly to the witch, unable to meet her unnerving gaze.
“Accurately guessed.” The witch grinned, handing her another candy to taste.