The Witch Within
by Katie Oxford
A few weeks before my Godchild’s fourth birthday, I received a phone call from her Mother. Christine said, "Sara wants to have a Wizard of Oz party...will you be the Witch?
"How fun!" I exclaimed, "Of course I’ll be the Witch...what do I need to do?"
Christine said that she’d provide the costume, wig, warts, etc. that all she really wanted me to do was just, "inhabit," them.
"Sure," I said. "I’m delighted."
The only other time I’d performed for children was for HISD second graders when I received cat calls in the opening scene. Little did I know that underneath my failed Forest Fairy character lurked another woman, wonderfully wicked.
Now came a second chance to perform only this time, there would be no tutu, no tip toeing, no Tinker belle types here. With the Witch, I could go places, I thought, get down and dirty, be as wicked as I wanted. I’d have to study and prepare, though. Full of excitement, I ran off to the nearest Blockbuster for The Wizard of Oz.
Once home, I immediately plugged in the tape. I skipped over to the Witch’s opening scene, fast forwarded to her others, paying particular attention to her last scene in which she was destroyed. That evening, I got in the shower, not knowing that a whole new life was about to begin.
It was incredible! Who would have guessed that from an invitation to a four year old’s birthday party, that in that shower, I was going to make the most amazing revelation? The Witch was within me! Her voice welled up from deep inside and came out clear as a bell.
Over and over again, I cackled long and hard, the echoes from the shower growing louder. Through the glass door now foggy, I could see the dogs looking up at me with an intent stare. The Witch went on. With water cascading over me, I rehearsed her closing scene.
Moments later, my husband appeared. Standing in the bathroom doorway in his boxer shorts and T-shirt, he said, "Katie-belle, what in the world are you doing in there?" With confidence growing, I released another cackle, then opened the shower door and, with steam bellowing out from behind, and my head dripping wet, I cried, "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?"
With two weeks of practice under my belt, I arrived at Sara’s birthday party, primed. Christine helped me into the all black costume from Frankels. She painted some green goo on my face, even arms, glued on the warts. We teased the wig and then stepped away from the mirror for one last check.
"My God, Katie," Christine said with concern in her voice, "You think maybe you
look too real!?"
But it was too late. The Witch had taken over. I’d done what Christine had asked me to do. The costume, the warts, the wig. I was "inhabiting," them all now. Holding my
broom stick in the air like an Olympic torch, I ran from the room....
Being wicked was wonderful! Even adults looked startled as they held a protective arm over their child. With every passing minute the cackling voice became more real, my pointed index finger more powerful. Kids scattered in all directions, some to the safe quarters of their Mother’s backside, some to the nearest tree. One little group of girls ran to the bathroom screaming, slammed the door and locked it. Barely ten minutes into the party, I realized that I had to do something else and quickly. I leaned over to a little guy in glasses and whispered in my normal voice, "Now, you remember the one thing that destroys the Witch, don’t you?" I paused, making a gesture toward the swimming pool. The little boy’s face lit up. He gasped for air, then ran off toward the pool.
Having power now, the four year olds went bezerk! With wild abandonment, they ran to the pool again and again, scooped their plastic buckets and cups and screaming with delight, emptied them out onto her Evilness. I melted down onto the pebble patio more than fifty times until my knees hurt. The Witches voice, once all powerful, wilted into small, squeaky, whimpering moans.
That party was ten years ago and the Witch today is wonderfully alive and still wicked.
Occasionally I’ll get a Mom who comes up to me at the grocery store and says, "Excuse me, but weren’t you that Witch at Sara Baskin’s birthday party?" That Witch inhabits me whenever necessary, and it’s amazing just how handy she can be. Imagine trying to quiet down some rambunctious kids while car pooling or better yet, at bedtime.
To my friends who’re anxious about attending school for the first time, I like to remind them of their secret weapon. "Now remember, even if it’s a teacher, who you gonna call if someone’s mean?" Seeing those small faces go from worry to wonderment is when witch’s work is most satisfying. Course I’ve yet to receive such a phone call, and have no game plan for if and when I do. But I’m not worried. The Witch is within.
Katie Oxford..a writer living in Houston, Texas, presently working on a memoir. Contact Katie.