Velma's 13th Halloween
In case you haven't heard Episode 62: Inciting A Hallowed Riot - the official Samhain Special for the podcast - I have included the short story I wrote for the end of the show. It's from the tales of Cauldron City, some short stories I've written. If you listen closely, you'll notice some names of your favorite podkin included
Love and Lyte,
Love and Lyte,
There is a town very close to yours, though you may not have heard of it, called Cauldron City. You may not have heard of it, because there are spells and enchantments that keep out non-magical people. Cauldron City is full of witches, and they were all preparing for the biggest Halloween ever. Unlike other Halloween celebrations, this one was extra special, because it was the 13th Halloween for a very special witch named Velma Nightshade.
What you must know is that a witch’s 13th Halloween is her most special, because that is when she learns her special magical skill that sets her apart from every other witch in Cauldron City. Witches aren’t allowed to fly on their brooms until they learn their secret skill. But, this year, on her very special 13th Halloween, Velma the witch was stumped. Every other witch in her class at Bruja Academy had learned their special skill already.
The Friday before Halloween was Show and Spell in Mrs. Gillian’s class. She always started Show and Spell with her own magical demonstration.
“Today, class,” she started, “you shall share, whether it’s changing boys into toads or flying through the air, your special power that’s yours alone, and sets you apart from every Maid, Mother, and Crone.”
And with a few lines of rhyme, and a flick of her wand, Mrs. Gillian turned her desk into a beautiful black horse.
“This horse,” she sang, “is my magical trick. I can change anything to horses lickety-split!”
The class went around the room with each witchlet showing off his or her special power. First there was Kathleen who waved her hands over dirty old rocks and turned them into beautiful, sparkling jewels. Everyone clapped. Scarlet made the whole classroom very happy when she revealed her talent was making cheese appear out of nowhere. Mojo was next. He took out his wand, waved it around, and made beautiful music play through the air. The twins, Fuego and Luz, went up and made fire appear out of nowhere and put on a juggling show with flaming torches.
It went on like this for a while. Sparrow turned her hat into a bird. Oraia transformed herself into several beasts all while reciting Shakespeare. Chris disappeared and reappeared throughout the room. Saturn turned her wand into a stack of pennies, but she couldn’t turn it back. Nobody is really sure what Cory’s specialty was supposed to be, because he just started going around yanking out people’s hair and laughing maniacally. (Emy and Essa both had to be sent to nurse Mo to have their hair regrown.) Then, it was Velma’s turn.
Little Velma the witch pulled down her hat, hoisted up her belt buckle, and dragged her wand to the front of the class. She giggled a little bit, nervously looking around the room. She didn’t want to tell anyone she hadn’t figured out her magical specialty. First she tried to turn her wand into a cat, but its tale caught fire from a candle on Mrs. Gillian’s desk and it popped back into a wand. Try as she could, the wand didn’t so much as sprout a whisker when she cast the spell again. She tried to turn a pencil into a flashlight, but it turned into limp spaghetti. She tried everything! Velma the witch was so nervous that she couldn’t even turn paperclips into chainmail or markers into microphones.
Mrs. Gillian looked down with a kindly puzzled expression and said, “Why don’t we break for recess, my pupils, while Velma has time to gather her scruples. Some witchlets must pause to work out the kinks. So let’s give Miss Nightshade a while to think.”
Velma waited until all the other students left the classroom, then she burst out the back door of the schoolhouse. Crying and frustrated, she fled into the Witchy Woods that surrounded the schoolyard. Witchlets weren’t supposed to enter the Witchy Woods without a teacher present, because there were rumors some tricky beings lived in there. No, we’re not talking about werewolves or vampires or mummies or zombies. No witch in her right mind is afraid of any of those. In fact, in Cauldron City, werewolves, vampires, mummies, and zombies were right at home. We’re talking about Faeries!
Faeries are tricky little magical spirits. They look sweet and innocent, especially because they’re only 5 inches tall, but sometimes they like to play tricks on witchlets. They tangle their hair when they’re not looking or lead them in the wrong direction if they’re feeling naughty. But, very often enough, faeries are very nice to everyone as long as you’re polite to them.
Velma didn’t care where she was or about the faeries. She just wanted away from the schoolhouse and away from Mrs. Gillian’s classroom!
Who cares about some dumb ol’ special magical secret, she thought. So what if I can’t juggle fire or pop from here to there! I don’t want to do that anyway!
Velma the witch walked for a little ways and finally came to sit down on a tree stump. What she didn’t realize was that she had sat on a tree stump in the middle of a mushroom ring, and everyone knows that if you sit in a mushroom ring, you’ll see faeries!
Suddenly, Velma the witch began to feel much better, and she stopped crying. Looking up, she noticed a very pretty faery with long, black, curly hair wearing a dress made of tiger lilies and fall leaves.
“Hello little witchlet!” said the faery. “My name is Aine. What’s yours?”
“My name is Velma,” said Velma, “ and I am…um…so pleased…er…to make your acquaintence…um…I hope you don’t sneeze?”
The faery named Aine giggled. “Why do you sound so funny?” she asked.
“All witches must rhyme; it’s what we must do. But I have a hard time with it…er…koo koo kachoo.”
“I wasn’t sneezing,” said Velma with a sense of despair. She didn’t have the heart to try and rhyme. As hard as she tried, there were just some times when it didn’t make sense for her to say things in rhyme. Like when she asked Mrs. Gillian to go to the bathroom. How many words rhyme with restroom? she thought. Most of the time she said, “Mrs. Gillian, please, I need to go to the restroom. Because, in the whole school, it’s the best room.” To which the twins, Fuego and Luz, always gave a drum crash: Ba dum bum CRASH! Everyone in the class always laughed, and Velma didn’t like it. Thinking about all of this made Velma start to tear up again.
“Oh sweetie,” said Aine, “don’t start crying. Look. Show me some magic. We’ll figure this out together.”
Velma the witch stood up, rolled up the sleeves on her robe, pulled out her wand and aimed it at the stump.
“Bibbledy, babbledy, bobbledy bump! Grow an apple from this stump!” The faery giggled and hid her face when the tree, instead of growing an apple, turned into a rocking chair.
“Aaaghh!” Velma said with disgust as she threw up her hands. “I give up!”
“Well,” said the faery, “you’ve got the right spirit, and you definitely have some magic! Look on the bright side: now you have a rocking chair!”
“But that’s not what I wanted! My magic never does what I want it to do.”
“Magic doesn’t always work how you think it’s going to work, but it’s definitely not going to work right if you don’t tell it what to do.” The faery floated over to a nearby honeysuckle vine. “If I wanted to grow an apple, I would look at the vine, concentrate really hard, and say, ‘Grow an apple!’”
With a wave of her hands, the honeysuckle vine magically grew an apple!
“Hey! Let me try!” Velma raced over to the honeysuckle vine, took out her wand, and said, “Grow an apple!”
Much to the delight of Velma the witch and Aine the faery, the honeysuckle vine grew a big, juicy, perfectly red apple. It didn’t light on fire or turn into a pile of paperclips. It just stayed an apple. Velma picked it up, took her curved knife that she kept tied to her belt, and sliced it up to share with Aine.
For the next hour, Velma and Aine practiced and practiced until, finally, they heard the school bell signaling the end of recess. Velma packed up her spell leftovers, which included two rocking horses, 7 ice cream cones, a few rabbits, and a beautiful, new, black witch’s hat. Then, she waved goodbye to Aine.
“Can I come back and see you again?” asked Velma the witch.
“Of course!” exclaimed Aine. “You can come back tomorrow and I’ll show you how to turn into a bee!”
Velma smiled all the way back to Mrs. Gillian’s class. When everyone had taken their seats, Mrs. Gillian rapped her wand on her desk and said, “Now that we’ve all eaten and played, maybe Velma would like to give her display.”
Velma confidently rose from her seat, went to the front of the class, and - without using her hat, her book, or her wand - she pointed at her pencil and loudly said, “Turn into a popsicle!”
And it did.
The whole class was completely silent, until, after a long pause, everyone burst into applause!
“How did you do that?” Mrs. Gillian asked. “Rhymes are what’s needed to change this to that.”
“Not always,” said Velma, who was pleased as punch. “While rhyming might work for you, I just don’t need it to make magic!”
Soon, word spread all through Cauldron City that magic didn’t always have to rhyme. Velma the witch became famous for her discovery! Everyone at the Halloween bonfire cheered for Velma that night as she was given her very first magical broom. She and all her classmates took to the night sky, happy that they had each found what makes them unique.
And that is how Velma Nightshade, the little witch in Cauldron City, celebrated her 13th Halloween.