School began shortly after the egging incident. We had just started middle school, so for the month of September, we had bigger things to worry about than a witch. Around Halloween, though, Mark and Adam started bringing the witch into more and more conversations. It impressed girls.
Some time in early November, Mark missed a weekend basketball game. When he showed up to practice on Monday, some guys started joking that he’d seen the witch and had to be hospitalized.
After practice, Adam and I were waiting for Mom to come pick us up. Adam asked Mark what happened, but he brushed us off.
“Did you see the witch?” Adam asked. I stayed silent.
“Where did you see her?”
“I didn’t see the stupid witch,” Mark said.
“So what happened to you last weekend?”
“Look, I just don’t want to talk about it, okay?”
Mark walked off just as Mom pulled up. In the car, Adam said, “He definitely saw the witch.” I said nothing.
“What are you guys talking about?” Mom asked. She seemed a little annoyed.
“Nothing,” I said. But then I thought I’d better prove my innocence. “Adam thinks Mark saw the witch last weekend “˜cause he wasn’t at the basketball game.”
“Oh really?” Mom said. “Did you know that Mark’s grandpa died and his family went to the funeral last weekend?”
We were struck dumb. Adam’s smile faded. For a second, I got really sad. I almost choked on a sob. But then I came to my senses. It happened to Mark, not me, I repeated to myself. It happened to Mark, not me.
Unfortunately, it was going to happen to me. And it was going to be worse.