Autumn in New Orleans: A Flash Fic

How did I come to live in a forest looking like a freak with Betty McLean, leaving school, friends, and family behind?

Well for starters, the red-gold leaf was as big as my face. Which is why it was kind of bad it stuck to my forehead, nose, mouth, chin like glue. I wrestled with it, and you’d think I’d have won easy-peasy on account of it being a tender sugar maple versus a boy, but it wouldn’t budge. I think I had a panic attack – certainly, it was hard to breathe, and I soon hated the taste of crisp bitterness and dirt mixing with saliva. I bashed into other trees in the national park (I’d gone for a picnic and wandered off), seeing blue stars behind my lids, none of which helped either. Falling in a heap, crying and a-shivering seemed the only thing to do.

That’s when the coven found me.

I should have expected something of that nature, living in New Orleans and all, but usually they’re fake new agey types rather than, you know, actual witches. These ones prodded, the wood bristles of their broom poking into my arm and chest as they whispered.

That’s when one drew my hand in hers, kissed the inside of my palm (I later learnt that meant ownership, that she’d sealed me as personal property). “What’s your name, kid?”

“Troy,” I said, “and I’m thirteen, which is old enough to fight if I have to and young enough my parents will come find me if I’m not home by dark.”

“Why is there a leaf on your face, Troy,” she snickered. “I bet you’re no crash-hot fighter with that obstructing your vision and your parents won’t want a leaf-boy for a son neither.”

She had a point. “It won’t come off,” I said, looking at my feet.

“No,” she said, way too calmly. “We’re trying a new enchantment. Good to see it worked. It’s more interesting than rats, rabbits, or a pumpkin, don’t you think?”

“If it’s all the same to you, miss, I preferred being a boy, and I’m getting mighty dizzy and sick in this darkness. I’d be much obliged if you’d help a kid out.”

She placed a cool finger to my leaf, muttered an incantation, carefully ripped the waxy cells so I had eye and mouth holes. “Will that suffice?” The other witches cackled around her.

“As I said, miss, I was really hoping to get back to straight homo sapien.”

“But you see, I need a new familiar, and you crashed right into our circle.”

That’s how I came to live in a forest looking like a freak with Betty McLean, leaving school, friends and family behind.