My brother and my friend, DW, were driving me to meet a female relative. We passed the trailer park, the front of which was covered with shelves lined with used books for sale. All I could see were rows and rows of books. We backtracked to it, and I picked up a book — something I would never read, probably by Clive Cussler — but didn’t pay. When we left, I asked my brother and DW where they had paid. “Up the steps at the side of the building,” they said. I had seen it and knew I should have gone there, but I thought I would return later.
After what seemed like endless hours of driving, I asked where we were. Although it looked like a small town, I guessed that we were in St. Louis or Kansas City. My mother and DW looked at each other significantly, as though I were very wrong and they were very pleased about that, so I looked around again. We were in a declining small American town — with antique stores and diners, and a look and feel of being out of touch with time. It could have been anywhere. There was no frame of reference, and suddenly I became afraid. I no longer trusted my brother or my friend.
It was after dark when we rendezvoused with my relative, who proved to be a witch. She was high up in the country sky and cast sparkling red and green bolts to the ground. When I saw her closer up, she consisted of a shadowy form with a sparkly red patch and a sparkly green patch. I was terrified. I was expected to hug her, which I did very reluctantly. I was afraid that if I touched her I’d become a witch, too. Then I began to wonder what a witch is.
My brother said some strange, Latin-sounding words to us, which I interpreted to mean, “The less said, the better.” As if the hug had not been bad enough, my words would give her even more power over me. It was not as easy as I thought to stay silent, but I did. After a while, to my horror DW started to talk about nothing. Didn’t she understand that she was endangering us all? The shadowy figure driving seemed to perk up at the words. I was doomed and now damned, I was sure.
Inside, I fretted about the book I hadn’t paid for.