If she smiles at you then you die within a week and nobody remembers you. She buried her whole family in the back garden. She’s a witch and casts spells on everybody in the neighbourhood. She catches children who get too close to her house and eats them, that’s why we never see her bringing shopping home. She’s really old but doesn’t age, she’s looked that way since our parents were small. She’s sick and if she touches anybody then they will be sick too. She’s crazy from being alone so long. 

There were plenty of rumours. Some of them I had even repeated myself. It wasn’t just her. There’s ten tin who is called so because he lives at number ten and has a metal plate in his hip – the rumour was he was in a gang and got shot but he got his revenge by killing each member of the rival gang, despite the rumour of his hardcore past he now walks the street in his underwear screaming whenever we knock his door and run. There’s Mr and Mrs Beefy at number 33. Real name Beeson. We call them Beefy because one year they got really fat. The same year their children were seen for the last time. Obvious answer is they ate their kids. Most of my friends favourite is Colin Cod-eye who lives in the block of flats round the corner. He’s a grown up but acts stupid and tries to be our friend. Our parents tell us to stay away from him. We always see him buying rude magazines from the shop and we joke that he’s got cross-eyes on purpose to see all the pictures at the same time. He’s not my favourite though. The lady at 54 is. 

She had been there alone for as long as any of us could remember but some of our parents told us that her mother used to live there. Mrs Finch was the mother’s name, but she died a few years back. The daughter, who lived there now, was called Louise or Leanne or something. She wasn’t friends with any of the adults, didn’t send any Christmas cards to her neighbours, had never even been seen in the local shop. 

Maybe she was a ghost? The ghost of the old lady that used to live there? Then why was she young now, do ghosts go back to a younger version or do they stay old? 

These were the conversations my friends and I were having lately. Usually these conversations were initiated by me. I could never put my finger on it but something drew me to her and I just had to know more. 

One day we were playing football on the green, just over the road from her house. We were playing doubles which basically means everybody partners up and all the teams of two are on the pitch at the same time. When one of your team of two scores you’re through and you wait on the side until a team is eliminated, then the next round starts. My team was through and while we were waiting I saw the lady at number 54, Miss Finch I guess, putting her bins out. I found this odd as the bins didn’t have to go out for another two days, I knew this because that was one of my job’s back home. I heard someone shout “Heads!” meaning a ball was flying through the air at risk of hitting somebody but I just didn’t register. I was too busy staring at her. With a slap that echoed down the street I took a football clean to the side of my face and stumbled to the ground. Over the ringing in my ear I heard a few people ask if I was okay but mostly there was laughter. I stood back up, slowly, acting as if it didn’t hurt when it really did.

“What were you staring at?” Asked one of the girls

“Nothing” I answered

“Is that the witch?” Another joined in

“Did she have you under a spell?”

“He was in a trance”

“I bet it was a love spell”

“Bobby and the witch, sitting in a tree…”

When I looked back towards her house she wasn’t by the bins anymore, my eyes moved to her front door and there she was looking straight at me. I felt myself jump in shock slightly but that was nothing in comparison to the pain in my head. I told the girls to shut up as I turned back to the game of football and asked if it was the next round yet. 

Later that day I exagerrated the truth slightly, telling the boys that the reason I was staring was I saw something funny in the witch’s bin. I didn’t want to oversell it by saying I saw a dead body or there was a trail of blood so I told them it looked like a hand but it was probably nothing. This got the reaction I wanted. Some of the boys daring others to check it out with one or two standing bold announcing they’ll go and look, that they weren’t scared. 

It was starting to get dark and knowing this was the last hurrah of another day of adventure we decided that three of us would sneak up to the drive of her house and check out her rubbish. It wasn’t the most daring feat as her bins were practically on the public path. We only had to step on to her gravel driveway and lift the lid of the bin but still it took three of us and our approach was slow and full of unnecessary anxiety. Upon reaching the bins the youngest of our trio was made to open the lid which he did eventually swiftly followed by him running back on to the path behind us. There was certainly a smell of old meat but a quick look told us this was chicken or beef or some normal food, not a child. I leaned over and saw a notebook nestled between a couple of letters. I couldn’t make out what it was so I reached out but as I did a light flicked on and my remaining partner in crime pushed me towards the bin, directly in to the line of fire, hastening his escape. You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your slowest friend apparently. Traitor. Despite my heart beating out of my chest I grabbed at the notebook as I knocked the bin over. I shoved it, along with assorted rubbish I accidentaly grabbed, under my t-shirt as I turned and ran, leaving the thud of the falling bin behind me.

After checking over my shoulder I continued my run back to my friends on the green with a smile on my face. Brave explorer returns, certainly braver than my two compatriots. All of my friends, barring the two that returned shortly before me, were laughing uncontrollably with a couple actually rolling on the floor. Apparently it was the street light that flicked on and caused the three of us to collectively shit our pants. 

Find part 2 here