I did not know why I parked by Pendle Hill. I had no particular attachment to the place. I certainly did not believe in witches and that made it all the more surprising when I met one.
“Hello,” she said. “How’s things?”
“OK,” I said. “How about you?”
“Not bad,” she said. “Fancy going for a spin?”
“I think I’ll leave it”
“Go on, I won’t bite. Do I look like a witch or something.”
I hesitated. I was in a difficult position, reluctant to offend her, especially if she had powers
“Yes, you do. It’s the way you ride your broomstick,” I said.
“O that! It’s just a prop, an affectation.”
“It works.” I said.
“Of course, there’s no point in having a fake. Come on, in for a penny… “
“If I don’t go will you put a spell on me?” I asked.
“Already have,” she replied.
I knew it was true. A silence developed; a shuffling nervous one on my part, a serene confident one on hers. Finally I asked the question.
She told me it was an open spell, an invitation to step out of myself, not quite into another world but into a sub-domain within the world. It was an opportunity to experience something very different; to indulge myself in an adventure. I was being given the chance to take a chance.
And that I did.
At this point I should say that she was not, in terms of looks, a stereotypical witch. She was a honey, a peach, as fresh as a summer daisy in a verdant meadow. What is more, she had élan.
“Thanks, that’s lovely, your quite a fit side of beef yourself,” she said.
I was shocked. Astonished.
“I did not say a word,” I said.
“Not out loud,” she said.
“That’s not fair.”
“Tough,” she said. “By the way I’m Gerrubgargrebulbig.”
“You’re joking!” I said.
“Yes,” she said, “I’m Susan actually.”
She was certainly a player. The thing is I like to play too and this time I was prepared. I cleared my mind, put up my defences, and told Susan I was Clarence Clive Montague Coulomb-Smyth. She looked quizzically at me, one eyebrow raised. She held her gaze, I maintained my poker face. Her gaze continued, as did my resolve. She persevered, hoping to wrong foot me. Now both eyebrows were raised and her head was slightly and endearingly tilted to one side. Then the disarming smile arrived, which I resisted.
“That’s not your name. You’re trying too hard to keep a straight face, it’s a real giveaway.”
“I’m David,” I said, in delayed defeat.
“David and Susan. Sue and Dave. Both have nice rings to them.”
“Indubitably,” I said.
As we got on the broomstick I asked her if we would have to take off our clothes, she being a witch and all.
“Don’t push your luck Sunshine,” she replied, “I never disrobe on a first date.” There was a pause.
“Unless I want to,” she added. A wry, some might say coquettish, smile came to her lips.
We sat astride the broomstick, Susan in front with me behind, my arms around her waist. From time to time I leaned forward, holding her a little closer, my head nestling on her shoulder. She did not seem to mind.
Flying on a broomstick is a strange experience made ethereal if your companion is a witch and magical if the witch is delectable and in your arms. The ride was not precarious. Indeed, I always felt secure as if an invisible force was protecting me. We flew over the varied countryside around Bowland, sometimes above the clouds, sometimes just under them, sometimes only a few feet above the ground. We flew over sparse moorland, lush valleys and systems of patchwork quilt fields. I waved to people but got no response. I asked if they could see us and Susan replied that it depended on how open minded they were.
We stopped for refreshments. Susan carried the broomstick into the café and no one reacted. As we were leaving a little girl came in with her parents and pointed at the broomstick but no one took any notice of her gesture. Later we passed over a small private airfield.
“Perhaps we’ll get mistaken for a UFO,” I said.
“This OBJECT has NEVER been UNIDENTIFIED,” Susan said, a little miffed.
“Getting touchy, feathers ruffled?” I said.
There was a sudden jolt on the broomstick.
“Careful you don’t fall off Sunshine,” warned a voice from the front.
The afternoon turned into early evening and the evening into dusk. We ate at a local inn. This time it was an old man who saw the broomstick. He was curious and looked us over before nodding. We nodded back. Through the night we walked the moor land and the quite, dark streets of some of the hamlets. We studied the stars from ground and air. We went to secluded places to be alone, the darkness embracing our private enlightenment.
Next morning we watched the dawn, breakfasted, flew some more and went shopping, hand in hand, for trinkets we did not need but bought anyway. We ate a hearty lunch then returned to my parked car. It was early afternoon.
Twenty-four hours had gone by. One of the many extraordinary aspects of our journey together was its strange duality. We were able to participate in the world and remain observers detached from it.
I asked if we would meet again and Susan felt sure we would. I will complete my permanent move to the area soon and wait with hope of being together again with my bewitching Susan.
Malcolm is a former world pinball champion and has played in many tournaments in Chicago. He worked as a safety consultant in China, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Sudan, Libya and the UK. He is his mum’s full time carer.