Witch Doctor

By Cora B., Iowa

2021 Write Now Winner - Grades 3 & 4

Amanda lives in an old, dusty lighthouse on top of a cliff. It has red and white stripes, and it has no use anymore. It was abandoned long ago to be worn away by winds and water. Amanda calls it home.

Amanda cackles and wears a white wig with frays of hair sticking up every which way. She is always experimenting with potions, and the townsfolk were never positive she was sane. In fact, some people called her a witch. Amanda doctors trees - in wonky and absurd ways.

Amanda put up flyers advertising her tree business. The first day she opened up shop, a little boy came in, looking around shakily. "What's the matter?" Amanda screamed. Yelling is her way of greeting people. The boy looked taken aback and his eyes grew wider. He took in the surroundings.

It was a dim and dusty place. Spiders lurked in corners, and cobwebs hung from the ceiling. Amanda was not big on cleaning.

"I-I'm Jacob, and my dog d-dug up my t-tree." He said nervously.

"Oh, psh. I can fix it. Show me the tree!" Amanda demanded.

Jacob showed her the limp, lifeless-looking thing. It was brown and fragile. Amanda glared at Jacob. "This is a sorry-looking excuse for a tree!" She exclaimed.   "Have you ever watered this tree?"

"Well...um...sometimes I forget." Jacob looked at his feet.

Amanda looked distrustfully at Jacob. "FORGET?"

"Yes." Jacob said shakily.

"Well, no matter." And Amanda dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "I have to get busy bandaging this poor, helpless little tree."

Jacob shifted from one foot to the other. "Can I watch?"

"Fine." Amanda said. "But I will help this tree before it withers up and dies! Hurry, now!"

And she raced up the twisting, winding steps of the lighthouse into a small room with a tiny bench. The whole room was overrun with bandages. Wading through a particularly large heap of bandages, Amanda set the tree on the bench. She wrapped each of its branches up nice and tight and held a thermometer against its trunk.

"Hey, don't you only use that for humans?" Jacob asked, confused.

"Both." Amanda replied. "Trust me. I have experience!"

Jacob fell silent. Amanda held up the thermometer. "98.6 degrees!" She said, sounding surprised. "Well, you apparently did something right. Although I can't imagine what!"

Jacob stood open mouthed. "My tree has a temperature?" He gasped.

"Oh yes." Amanda told him. "Now, run along. Come back to pick up your tree tomorrow. It'll be better by then."

And the town, Amanda thought, will be a pile of rubble.

Jacob left, leaving Amanda with her wicked thoughts. As soon as he left, Amanda sprang into action. "Tree, tree, come alive!" She chanted. The tree yawned, then sneezed.   It opened bright, inquisitive eyes. "Together," Amanda told it, "We will destroy the world!"

It opened its mouth wide. "But I don't wanna destroy stuff," It whimpered. "I wanna hug!"

"Hugging is a nuisance." Amanda told it sternly.

"But when I hug, I get more green leaves and I turn healthy." The tree explained. "And call me Bob."

"Bob, do you at least want to hear how we'll destroy the world together?" Amanda asked, exasperated.

"No." Bob answered stubbornly.

"You are a disappointment!" Amanda said crossly. "Don't you want to grow with a potion into a gigantic tree and be big enough to eat buildings and people?"

"No!" Bob wailed. "That isn't nice!"

"Who cares?" Amanda asked. "If the town is a pile of rubble, there will be enough room to plant more trees like you. This town never pays any attention to nature, which is why it must be a pile of rubble by tomorrow."

"I won't do it!" Bob screamed. The tree ran down the steps with its stubby little legs and out the door, right off a cliff!

"No! Bob!" Amanda yelled. She ran over and peeked off the edge of the cliff. Bob was planted in the ground. It had no mouth. Bob was just a normal tree. Amanda cried. She was so sad. She ran down the cliff steps, watered the tree, and took off the bandages. She remembered what Bob had said about hugs. Amanda hugged Bob. Bob turned green and healthy. It was fresh and looking the way a tree should look.

Amanda brought Bob back to the lighthouse. When Jacob came in the next day, she gave him the tree.

"Give it lots of hugs and love." Amanda smiled. "And call it Bob."

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