We were driving out of the neighborhood to take Mary to preschool when Anna piped up in the backseat.
"Can we see the witch?"
"What witch?" I asked. It was October but to my knowledge none of the neighbors had done much in the way of Halloween decorations yet, save a large inflatable pumpkin structure and a couple of signs. (I need one that says "Trick or Treaters welcome, stay the hell away, politicians and Jehovah's Witnesses.")
"The witch," she said simply, and I assumed I had just missed it.
"Honey, I have no idea what you're talking about," I said.
"It's a scary witch," she elaborated.
"Mary, do you know what she's talking about?"
"She saw a witch at someone's house," she said, which didn't really help.
"I want to see the witch," Anna insisted as we neared the preschool.
"Anna, I have no idea where it is," I said. "When we drive back home, point it out to me so I know what you're talking about."
"Okay," she said.
That agreement lasted through Mary's drop off and until we were in the car, now heading merrily towards Dunkin Donuts for a coffee (me) and munchkin (Anna).
"Where's the witch, Mommy? I want to see the witch!"
"ANNA. I HAVE NO IDEA. WHERE. THE WITCH IS," I said.
"Drive by it and I'll show you," she offered.
"Is it near our house?" I tried in vain.
"I don't know," she said. "It's just a witch, that's all."
I scanned the street. I saw nothing that remotely resembled a witch. She had just spent the day with my mother in law that prior weekend, maybe she knew. I called her. No answer.
"Mommy, I want to see the witch!"
We obtained coffee and drove away, Anna still asking about "the witch." I called my husband.
"Hon," I said. "Anna is going on and on about a witch. Do you have any idea what she's talking about?"
"Yeah," he said, and I nearly drove off the road in surprise.
"Thank God," I said. "Where the hell and what the hell is she talking about?"
"It's a scary, scary, scary witch!" said Guess Who.
"It's on the way home from the train station," Tim said. "We saw it after you dropped the girls off to me yesterday and I drove them home." (For explanation, we've been doing the "passing in the night" routine as I have been doing run crew for a production that just went up this weekend. I'd drop the girls off to Tim as he got off the train and take his car to make call.)
"Great," I said. "Where?"
"Um..." he said. "Maybe near the high school? Or near-" and here he named a landmark that is a good five miles away from the high school.
"That doesn't help," I said. I had been so close.
"Mommy, what about the witch?" Anna insisted.
"The witch is asleep!" I said.
"Nice cover," Tim put in.
"Well, you're no help," I said.
"Yep," I said. "She's asleep right now. Daddy will take you by her on the way home from the train tonight!"
"Why do you hate me?" Tim asked, probably wishing he'd never answered his phone to begin with.
"Don't worry," I said, "It's somewhere between High School, Random Landmark and home. You'll be fine."
We got through the day with Anna only asking about the witch every time we drove in the car, or saw the car from the front window, or saw another car pass by. Finally it was five o'clock and time to get Tim off the train, and we headed out the door, drove down the road, and eventually passed Random Landmark, next to which was a home, a home we had passed earlier but at which someone had evidently come home since, as a hideous, large, inflatable lawn structure now hovered by the street.
"Anna, quick, look out your window!" I said. "IS THAT THE WITCH?"
"YES!" she said. "It's scary!"
"But that's the witch? You've seen it?"
"Yes, that's the witch! She's awake!"
"Um...yes," I said, continuing on to make the train.
"Can we drive by it again?"
Not five minutes went by.
"Mommy? I want to see that scary, scary witch again. Can we drive by it?"
That was last Wednesday. I have heard about this witch every time we get into the car, or someone else gets into the car, or an errand is mentioned. Sometimes we drive by the house and it's not inflated, which prompts requests to go back later and "check."
I don't know what I'm going to say when Halloween is over. Let's hope for a garish, inflatable Santa to keep peace on earth this holiday season.