Faced with retiring to 1000 piece jigsaws, and pottering in the garden until her heart stopped Nanna Carruthers chose bewitchery.
She chose bewitchery because the clients paid, the hours were good, and it gave her the chance to make money travelling.
“Come out you tramp!,” the reedy voice screeched through her letterbox. “I´m going to trash your poxy home, you see I don´t.”
Nanna Carruther had sold the bungalow she shared with her late husband, bought a motor home, and began her adventures moving from campsite to campsite across the coast working as a freelance witch. At home she had been simple Nan who packed biscuits in Boden and Boden biscuits but free from family, she became The Uncanny Nanna.
“Come out, you bitch,” said the voice.
Was this really the same woman who sang Elaine Paige numbers at the campsite´s karaoke night, Nanna thought to herself.
Business had been good. She made money travelling from site to site putting curses on traffic wardens, hexes on garden moles, and finding lost lottery tickets. Well business had been good until Mrs. Henderson and her husband came along asking for a love potion. She had warned them it wasn´t suitable for those with high blood pressure but they hadn´t listened. Mrs. Henderson had been married to Keith for 40 years. She had come out to ask the other residents when the ambulance stopped at the Henderson´s plot. It was from them she found out that Keith spent most of his free time playing games of darts with his buddies in a local tavern.
Through the net curtain, Nanna saw Mrs Henderson huffing and puffing in a pink flannel tracksuit. She looked like she was auditioning for a panto as one of the ugly sisters. The second she thought it, Nanna tutted at herself for being so mean.
“I have contacts you know. You won´t get onto another camping site in this county. Just you see, you´ll be blacklisted for miles around.”
Nanna knew she would have to come out sometime even if it was to disconnect her camper van, sign off at the office, and drive away. The threat of possible expulsion from the camping community was making her nervous. At 68 years, travelling out of her trading circuit was too much pressure. The potion was only meant to make him feel the pangs of first love for his wife again. How was she to know true he´d end up in the hospital.
“Did you hear me?” said Mrs. Henderson again. “Come out and face me or I´ll swear a brick with your name on it is coming through one of those windows.
Nanna gulped. Looking outside, she could see Mrs. Henderson messing around at the bottom of her caravan. The woman had been the first to welcome her to Hooky Mews camp site, and introduce her to all its residents. Now, magic and a multiple bypass had come between them.
Seeing Mrs. Henderson lofting the brick in her pink flannel tracksuit decided Nanna.
“Stop,” said Nanna. “I´m coming out.”
All this from an article on witchcraft in the Reader´s Digest. Nanna Carruthers cursed the magazine. It didn´t mention anything about angry menopausal woman knocking down your door. Threats of legal costs, Bankruptcy, and eventual penury were not a key feature of the article she read.
Outside, Nanna shuddered. Mrs. Henderson had a mean look on her face. The article had given lots of good advice but it hadn´t mentioned how to deal with dissatisfied customers.
“Mrs. Henderson,” said Nanna. “You can´t expect a 65-year-old man to make love like a youth without it having some effect on his heart.”
The meek lady had a very intent look in her eyes as she hefted the brick in her arms. Then she dropped it.
“I told him I didn´t want him to change. It would have been nice but I don´t miss it much,” said Mrs. Henderson. “Did he listen? Heck, no. Stupid fool.”
Mrs. Henderson burst out crying, “It´s all my fault and now he´s in a ward and I´m too scared to see him.”
Nanna went over and put her arms around Mrs. Henderson.
“There´s no reason to be afraid,” she said. It sounded like the right thing to say.
“I don´t want to watch him die,” said Mrs. Henderson sobbing.
Nanna could feel the weight of Mrs. Henderson crushing against her shoulder.
“If you want I can come along,” said Nanna. The head came off her shoulder and Mrs. Henderson looked into her eyes.
“Will you?” she said.
Nanna nodded. “And if you like I can bring a bag of herbs – Ginger, Rosemary, and Lemond Balm.”
Mrs. Henderson froze.
“Don´t worry I´m not going to cast a spell. I´m just going to make him a cup of tea. Now come in and let´s talk it out over while the kettle boils,” said Nanna. “I figure my Thermos can hold enough hot water for the three of us.”
Mrs. Henderson relaxed and the two women headed off into the caravan together.
“I forgive you, you know,” said Mrs. Henderson as they sat around the stove.
“I know,” said Nanna. “I know, and I´m grateful.”
This knowledge didn´t help her pay her bills – the little her pension gave her – but it was enough to get along with.