Tommy crept round the corner till he could see her. He’d been dared, but he was still going to be real careful. No need to be getting on the wrong side of old Maggie. Hell, even his father was real careful round old Maggie. The funny thing was that his mother and his aunts seemed to really like her. Talking about old Maggie always made them smile, but Tommy decided on caution being the best approach.
Maggie always wore black – long, flowing dresses, with those funny lace up boots and gloves without fingers. Even in the summer. In the winter she had this big old cloak she wore. It had a huge hood – kinda like the one little red riding hood had in the fairy stories, only it was black of course.
Folks said they heard her be talking to herself as she walked into town and so kept a wide berth. Animals seemed to like her well enough though – dogs would walk over to her all quiet-like for a pet on the nose and cats would rub themselves against her legs. The boys’d heard tales of her helping out with horses who’d gone crazy too.
Each year at the village fair, Maggie’s pies were the stars of the baking stall. All the women bought raffle tickets in the hope of winning one. Tommy noticed that when they got a winning ticket. his pa seemed to push the pie round his plate with his fork. Usually his ma would get all riled up about wasted food, but she’d just laugh and split it between the rest of them, afore shooing his pa away from the table.
Today was the day before the village fair and Maggie’d been baking pies. They were set out on her kitchen table right by the big screen doors. He’d been dared to grab one and make a run for it. The prize was being allowed into the secret club with the older boys. If he brought one of Maggie’s pies to the clubhouse, that’d be his ticket in.
Tommy hadn’t been worried till the night before. He’d overheard his pa talking to his ma on the porch after he’d gone to bed. His pa was asking her not to buy tickets for one of Maggie’s pies this year. Turns out all of Maggie’s husbands had died after eating one of her pies. Rumour was that half her herb garden was for cooking and the other half would kill you. Seems her husbands didn’t know which was which.
And now Tommy was worried, ‘cos neither did he …
© Debra Carey, 2018