Chapter 13

“Hi, children,” the Witch said, “I’ve heard so many good things about you from your mother. Would you please come into my office? I’d like to get to know you better.” Looking over her shoulder, she asked, “Do you want something to drink? Milk and a cookie maybe?” We all shook our heads no. The social worker who had driven us to the Children’s Home glanced up from behind a desk as we walked past her towards what I assumed was the Witch’s office. The first thing I noticed as we entered her office was the color. Instead of a dull cream, the walls were painted mint green, giving off a cheery and warm feeling. The room was flooded with light from a large arched window. This stood in sharp contrast to its main occupant—a contrast, I might add, that would prove to be prophetic.

Come in and have a seat,“ the Witch said. “I’ll bet you’re exhausted from your trip and from the newness of the situation.” We stood in the middle of the room, frozen by fear. “Please don’t be frightened,” she continued. “I won’t hurt you. I want to help your mother and give you a place to stay until she can get a job and find a new home for you. I’m sure it won’t be long, and meanwhile you’ll have lots of other children to play with.” She gently placed her hand on my shoulder, but I immediately brushed it aside.

“I don’t want to be here!” I shrieked.

The Witch looked at Mom and said, “I think you better go now. I’ll deal with this.”

Mom put her hand to her mouth as tears started rolling down her cheeks. “I’m sorry, children,” she murmured. “I promise I’ll come every weekend. We’ll have lots of fun and. . .”

The words stuck in her throat. She knelt to hug us and we put our arms around her neck, crying. “Mom, don’t go. Don’t leave us here,” we pleaded, each in our own way.

“I’m not leaving you. I promise! I’ll visit you all the time, and before you know it, we’ll be a family again,” she kept saying, until at last I felt the hands of Mrs. Scheidler and the caseworker pulling us apart. One of them held me in a firm grip, and as I fought to get free, Mom rose from the floor and turned away.

“I hate you! I never want to see you again!” I screamed as she walked out the door, leaving us in the care of complete strangers.