It was the time of year that Margot dreaded. “Halloween,” she sighed.
Miss Griselda scribbled “October 31st” on the blackboard. “What day is this, children?”
A dozen hands shot up in the class for Emerging Spells at Miss Haversham’s School for Witches, Warlocks, Sorcerers, Necromancers, and Other Practitioners of the Dark Arts.
Margot’s hand wasn’t one of them. She hated—no, make that detested—Halloween with a passion unbecoming a young witch. She couldn’t stand the taste of skinned eye of newt. She was allergic to cats, black or otherwise; just seeing a pumpkin made her break out in hives. Skeletons gave her the shivers. Most galling of all, she was afraid of heights.
There was no persuading Margot otherwise. There was nothing good about Halloween and nothing good ever came from it.
“It’s the night of the Grand High Witches and Warlocks Ball,” Amy said smugly.
“That’s right,” Miss Griselda said with a smile. “And what else? Margot, do you know the answer?”
Margot slunk down in her seat. “Uhhhh,” she muttered. “We get cavities from eating too much candy corn?” She hated candy corn, too.
The other kids giggled and whispered.
“Lucinda, would you like to tell Margot?” Miss Griselda asked.
“It’s Halloween. We scare people to death and play nasty tricks,” Lucinda replied.
Margot grimaced. She was horrible at scaring people. When she tried to act all scary and bewitching, people laughed at her. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. Plus, she didn’t like playing mean tricks. It made her feel bad. She didn’t like it when anyone played mean tricks on her.
“Anything else?” Miss Griselda continued.
“The ball is where we get to show off how good we are at hexes, spells and enchantments,” Lucinda chimed. “And we get to show everyone how well we ride a broomstick.”
Depressed, Margot slunk down further in her seat. She was terrible at hexes, spells, and enchantments. They never turned out the way they were supposed to. The last time she tried to cast a spell on an unsuspecting victim, it backfired and she ended up with a big hairy wart on her nose. The broomstick riding was the worst. She always looked down and she got dizzy. She couldn’t ride a broomstick without falling off. At gym, no one wanted her to be on their team for flying lessons. Margot didn’t blame them. She wouldn’t pick herself, either.
“That’s correct,” Miss Griselda nodded. “Now let’s practice making invisible potion number 42.”
Margot wished she could make herself invisible on Halloween.
That night, Margot barely touched her dinner. She was too anxious and nervous. The more she thought about Halloween and the Grand High Witches and Warlocks Ball, the more her tummy knotted into a pretzel.
Mama Veronique touched her forehead. “What’s wrong, ma petite Cherie? Aren’t you feeling well?”
“I’m fine.” Margot sounded anything but fine.
“I’ve got the trick. How about we go for a ride later and frighten some folks out of their pajamas? It’s the perfect night for it, it’s a full moon. And to make it extra special, you can ride my broomstick,” Mommy Helena offered. “Won’t that be fun?”
Margot pushed her plate aside. “No, thanks. I’ve still got homework to finish.”
In her bedroom, Margot vented to Barnabas, her pet owl. “Nobody understands, Barnabas.”
“What’s there to understand? You’re a witch. You’re supposed to be ugly and mean and turn people into rats. ” Barnabas chomped down on a carrot.
“Of all people, I thought you’d understand,” Margot fumed. “Look at you. You’re an owl. You’re supposed to eat small, furry creatures.”
“Don’t judge an owl by its feathers,” Barnabas sniffed. “I can’t help it that I’m a vegetarian. I can’t stand the smell of burning meat.”
“How you feel about being an owl is how I feel about being a witch.” Miserable, Margot flopped down on her bed.
Barnabas flew to his perch. “Is this all because your Mom is a Grand High Witch?”
Margot grimaced. “To have one Mom who is a Grand High Witch is bad enough. But two? It’s the pits. ”
Mommy Helena was the daughter of the greatest Grand High Witch of them all. And if that wasn’t enough, her father had been a powerful Warlock. Mommy Helena loved to fly to the moon, and she could recite spells and curses in her sleep.
Mama Veronique was no slouch in the witchery department. She was the great-great-granddaughter of a legendary Grand High Witch from the Caribbean. Mama Veronique was a master at potions and enchantments and knew voodoo like the back of her hand.
When Mommy Helena and Mama Veronique fell in love and decided to marry, it had been one of the most celebrated weddings of the year. Witches and Warlocks from every continent were guests at the nuptials. It was the union of the year, the joining of two great witch clans. Everyone expected their children to be just as powerful.
“Instead, they got me, a middling witch who can’t even scare a rag doll,” Margot lamented. All she wanted to do was study bugs. Not to eat them or use them in spells, of course. She found bugs endlessly fascinating.
“Let’s face it, honey. Studying the lifecycle of a horned beetle isn’t going to get you an A at Miss Haversham’s,” Barnabas yawned.
Margot knew that Barnabas was right. She was dangerously near the bottom of her class. Another failing grade and she might not graduate with her classmates. That didn’t bother her so much. What did worry her was disappointing her parents. They were counting on her to carry on the family tradition. It was a lot of pressure for a little girl to shoulder.
“I guess I’m going to have to put my big witch pants on,” Margot finally decided.
In school, Margot studied until her brain hurt. Cheap parlor tricks came easy for her classmates. She certainly wasn’t ready to turn water into a sparkling refreshing beverage, but as long as she could do the basics, she might be able to squeak by. Unfortunately, Margot soon discovered that even mastering the basics was difficult.
She practiced her enchantments on a frog, but the creature simply hopped away, unaffected.
She cast a bad luck spell on Mrs. Dudley, their next door neighbor. Instead, Mrs. Dudley won the lottery. Ugh.
Then Margot made a potion using eye of newt. (Yecch. It was the worst thing she had ever tasted). But did she turn into a goat? Nope.
She tried scaring some little kids, but the minute they started bawling, Margot felt guilty. She ended up taking them to the park and buying them ice cream.
As for a riding a broomstick, she got as high as the roof and promptly threw up her dinner.
Finally, the day that Margot loathed arrived. Halloween.
Margot stood in front of her mirror, dressed in an ugly black frock and a pointy hat. “Ariana Grande would not approve,” she huffed.
“I think you look cute, but I’m an owl. What do I know?” Barnabas chirped.
In Margot’s hand was a big fat red juicy apple. She cleared her throat: “Hexin’ and vexin’ is what witches do. I’m as rotten as this apple, so woe to you!” Nothing happened to the apple or Margot.
“What did I tell you? It’s hopeless!” she squealed.
Mama Veronique and Mommy Helena came in, dressed in their worst witch outfits. “Oh, don’t you look frightful!” Mama Veronique exclaimed.
“I do?” Margot didn’t feel frightful.
“Now go have a good time playing tricks. We’ll catch up with you later at the Grand Ball,” Mommy Helena handed Margot her broomstick and shooed her out.
All the ghouls, goblins, and zombies in town were out collecting treats. Some of them were so scary they frightened Margot. “Some witch you are,” she mumbled.
Margot spotted a kid dressed as a blood-thirsty pirate with a phony peg leg grabbing all the candy from the porch of a house.
“I’ll fix you,” Margot giggled as she waved her wand.
“AARGH!” the pirate screamed as the candy worms in his hand turned into live, squirmy ones. His peg leg fell off and he ran down the street in his bare feet.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Barnabas hooted from his perch on a branch.
“He deserved it. He wasn’t sharing.” Margot crept under a bush.
“What are you doing?” Barnabas followed her. “Don’t you think it’s time to go to the Grand Ball?”
“Shh!” Margot kneeled and retrieved a magnifying glass from her dress. She peered at the ground. “I don’t believe it. It’s a Brazilian Treehopper.”
“But we’re not in Brazil,” Barnabas pointed out.
“It doesn’t know that. Just look at it. It’s one of the ugliest bugs in the world!” Margot couldn’t believe her good luck. Halloween wasn’t such a dud after all.
Margot was so mesmerized by the Brazilian Treehopper that she lost all track of time. It wasn’t until she heard the chimes from the clock tower at Miss Haversham’s that she snapped out of her trance.
“The Grand Ball!” Margot raced as fast as her stubby legs could carry her. She ran so fast, she couldn’t even feel the sidewalk.
Margot arrived at the school just as the Ball was ending. Her classmates were congratulating each other and showing off their medals and ribbons. She could see Mama Veronique and Mommy Helena speaking to Miss Griselda. Margot’s tummy dropped.
Barnabas swooped by her. “I didn’t know you could fly this high.”
Margot was confused. “What are you talking about? I’m not—“She looked down and saw the lights down below. “You’re right. I am flying!” Everyone was pointing at her.
Margot landed by her parents and Miss Griselda. “I’m sorry I’m late,” she said, contrite.
“Apologize for what? Don’t you realize how high you were flying for a middling witch? You broke the school record.” Miss Griselda pinned a medal on Margot’s dress.
“I did?” Margot said, bewildered. “But how? I’m usually so nervous. ”
“I think I know.” Mommy Helena hugged Margot. “It was thinking about doing it that got you nervous and anxious. You were trying too hard. When you allowed yourself to relax, it just came to you naturally.”
“Like all great Grand High Witches,” Mama Veronique beamed with pride.
“So I can be a witch and study bugs? Cool!” Margot exclaimed.
Mama Veronique whispered in Margot’s ear. “I love bugs too.”
That night, after her parents had tucked her in bed, Margot snuggled up with her wand. “So, Barnabas, I guess I’m a witch after all,” she said sleepily.
“That’s fine. Just so long as you don’t make me eat mice,” Barnabas replied, equally tired.
Illustrator Daniella Batsheva watches a lot of monster movies and likes learning about European History during her free time. Daniella started drawing at a very young age and would challenge herself by copying the characters she watched in cartoons. She attended college at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and received a degree in illustration. She now works with horror film festivals, kid’s clip art and apparel companies in Los Angeles.