She beckoned at a log and they sat woodenly, clinging to each other.
“Tell Mama Maggie,” she croaked.
“W-well,” JoAnn’s mouth was dry. She swallowed and started again. “I made a mistake. I heard you might help me, uh, erase the past.”
“Child, I cannot turn back time.” The woman shambled over to the fire and stirred the cauldron's contents slowly.
“No. I mean, I think I’m pregnant. And I don’t want to be.”
The witch’s eyes swiftly settled on Cal.
“No, it’s not his.” JoAnn scooted a way from him, suddenly self-conscious. “It’s this guy, who is a real jerk.” JoAnn’s voice got angry, clipping her words at the end.
“Come here girl.” JoAnn stood on shaky legs and Cal let her go. He sat helplessly as she neared the old woman.
The witch touched JoAnn’s lower abdomen. Her stooped body froze, her eyes rolled back in her head, and her voice went hoarse and scratchy, “This is the prophesied one! The demon who will bring about the hamlet’s demiiiiise!” She fell to the ground stiffly.
JoAnn screamed and the two teens took off running not even caring which way they went.
The old lady chuckled, got up, dusted herself off, and gathered their forgotten flashlights. “Needed me one of these.” She threw the cat carcass toward some trees to her wild pet, a wolf, lurking beyond the firelight.
Cal and JoAnn were completely out of breath when they made it out of the woods somewhere on old Blue Hickory road. The pavement was a river of calm and safety. It was as if the shoulder of the road were an invisible border between the wild, untamed forest and civilization. They stooped over, hands on knees, panting.
“So,” Cal swallowed, his mouth was completely dry. “What do we do now?”
“She called my baby a demon!” JoAnn got out between gasps for air.
“She’s crazy, JoAnn; INSANE! She accepts offerings of dead cats.”
“Her eyes rolled to the back of her head, Cal! She was freaking me out. I’m STILL freaked out. I have a demon inside me!” JoAnn paced back and forth and began chewing her thumbnail.
“Well what do you want, an exorcism?” Cal was exasperated.
JoAnn scowled at him. Then a thoughtful look crossed her face. She lowered her thumb. “How about a priest? There’s a big Catholic church in Worthington.”
“How about a hospital, Jo. You need some psychiatric help.” Jo swung at Cal, but he easily dodged. “Or how about the ‘morning after’ pill?”
“I think it’s too late for that.”
“I don’t know. Maybe we could ask.”
JoAnn paused. “You’d do that for me? Go with me?”
“What are friends for?” Cal smiled.
“Just walk me home.” JoAnn sighed, a grin playing at the corner of her mouth.
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