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They call me Witch.

If this were decades ago, they would have burned me. But we’re all civilised now, aren’t we?

So instead, they whisper.

Oh, it’s that lady who lives at the edge of the woods, just outside town. Don’t come near her, she’ll cast a spell on you. They tell their children. That’s why children run away in fear (some scream) when they see me out and about in the market.

A woman living by and keeping to herself is up to no good. They tell each other. That’s why I get random visits from town busybodies checking up on what it is I’m up to. They usually find me on my laptop, working.

She walks at night just outside the woods, she must be doing something terrible. They tell the authorities. That’s why I occasionally run into police patrolling the perimeter and giving me suspicious looks when I tell them I’m just out for my nightly walk. I’m in front of a computer the whole day, I’m trying to make up for a sedentary work life.

I dare you to go to her house and prove she’s a witch. Teenagers tell each other. That’s why I get intruders on my property, looking for incriminating things to get. They usually end up just stealing random things. I’ve had to buy a new porch decor four times in one year.

When pets started disappearing, it gave me a reprieve. It’s a new thing to talk about, after all.

When livestock started dying, the cautious looks became worried glances.

When crops were destroyed, worried glances became vicious glares.

Then the first teen went missing. Then the second. By the third missing teenager, the police has visited me twice. After some searching, they apologised and went on their way.

By the sixth, the town went quiet with fear.

No one dared talk to me. Everyone averted their gaze. Even the most foolish of teenagers refuse to come near my home.

They call me Witch.

They live in fear of me. They refuse to come anywhere near me, even the police have stopped patrolling the areas where I take my nightly walk.

Which is just as well.

I cannot protect them from the evil in the woods if the idiots keep going in there.

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