Not a Witch


            Poppy knew that she was not a witch as soon as she woke up. She spent all day at school not being a witch. She was not a witch on the winding walk home, and now that she was home again, she was still not a witch.

            Her father was out in the front garden planting pineapple tops. “I am not a witch,” she said.

            “Okey-dokey, Poppy-dee,” said her father, who was looking for his glasses. Poppy pointed out where he had planted them and went inside.

            She found her mother in the kitchen, making supper. “I am not a witch,” she said to her mother.

            “Mm-hmm,” said her mother, adding another toad to the pot. “Put on your hat if you’re going outside.”   

            She hid her hat in the cupboard under the sink and went into the backyard. Her brother was swinging a bat. “I am not a witch,” she told him.

            “Catch,” said her brother.

            She felt something warm rub against her legs and she bent down. “I am not, not, not a witch,” she whispered to Macbeth, the cat.

            “Woof,” said Macbeth.

            Poppy went and sat by herself in the attic. The sunlight fell through the dirty windows in accidental stripes across the floor. She sat there for a long, quiet time, not being a witch.

            “Poppy!” called her mother, from a long way off. “Poppy, suppertime!”

            Poppy went down for supper. She sat in her place and picked at her food.

            Her mother looked at her. Her father looked at her. Her brother kicked her under the table.

            “Ow,” said Poppy. Then she looked up at everyone and spoke slowly and clearly. “I am not a witch.”

            “Oh,” said her mother.

            “Oh,” said her father.

            “Poopy Poppy,” said her brother.

            “Well,” said her mother. “That’s fine. What are you, then?”

            Poppy shrugged. “I thought I might be a ballet dancer.”

            “What a good idea,” said her father and wiggled his fingers at her. Purple sparks rained down.

            “Or,” said Poppy, “I might decide to be a doctor. Or maybe a firefighter. Or I might be a baker. Or a zookeeper. Or a -- will you please stop that.” She put down the snake she was holding and glared at her father, who put his hand guiltily behind his back.

            “Zookeeper? Pookeeper,” snickered her brother and kicked her again.

            “Ow,” said Poppy. She felt her eyes grow wet and hot and she sniffed.

            Her mother took her hand. “Poppy, darling, you can be anything you want to be.”

            Her father nodded his head and patted Poppy’s shoulder. “Anything in the world.”

            Poppy ate a bite of supper. She felt a little better.

            “Yeah, you can be anything. Anything poopy,” sniggered her brother. “Poopy Poppy.” He kicked her again.

            Poppy dropped her fork and angrily flicked her fingers at her brother.

            Her mother sighed. “Poppy, you know the rules. No changing your brother into a centipede at the supper table."

            Poppy changed him back.

            “I thought you weren’t a witch,” said her father mildly.

            “Well,” said Poppy. “Maybe I am. I can be anything I want.”

            “Moo,” said Macbeth.