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Coveted & Cursed (a live written novel)

Chapter 1

“Mrs. Roach is a witch! And she eats roaches!”

She yelled while running directly toward my Ema and I. I already knew Mrs. Roach ate roaches. Everyone knew she ate roaches! I did feel a bit nervous at the mention of a witch being amongst us, if that was indeed the situation we faced. It was early, around 8 in the morning and A fog that had wet the ground and lurked in the trees since before dawn was whisping away, vanishing through the tree tops.

The emergency warning-welcome we received wasn’t the greeting we were accustomed to at Stepping Stones; simultaneously we started sizing up the small statured source. We were Sufficiently suspicious to say the least. The young 3 foot tall lady who was talking to us, me mostly, was in her early 4’s. What she yelled at us could be the result of a number of things I thought. “This could be a result of her going through something personal such as a ‘midlife crisis’ or a simple game of pretend gone awry”, as they often did between boys and glrls at that age.

Ema and I both knew we stood in a place where rumors, conjecture and flat out lies flourished & ran rabid, getting passed around like pink eye.

As she continued to talk Images from the wizard of Oz poisonously seeped into my head aided by my vivid imagination, bringing dark smoke into an even darker room where an evil looking green faced witch slowly stirred something mysterious in a huge black cauldron while in a trance. A plate of roaches sat within arms reach. “Why is that cauldron always so big…”, but my thoughts were interrupted. It was the same 3ft tall girl and she was still talking.

The weeks prior brought concerns we had no choice but to-address. We’ll never know who was the first to find out but one of us discovered something horrible: we had a teacher at stepping stones preschool whose last name was “Roach”. Gross.

Upon hearing roach information my short associates & I held an emergency meeting at the swing set. Nobody used the swings. While talking and voicing concerns we mainly stuck to our original lines of thought which cited her last name as a huge concern which’ we all knew we had no choice but to address

At the swing set, everyone spoke and expressed concern. At the conclusion of our meeting it seems the best course of action, we felt, was to begin a campaign of inappropriately suggestive and entirely one sided surveys combined with rumors and speculation. We set out immediately and with haste to go eat cookies and drink the juice of apples, then we began.

We began as soon as we could. The one sided suggestive surveys worked marvelously but it was the rumors speculation and lies that worked best. . After some time, perhaps half a day, someone felt it was important to embellish a few things. This is to be expected of four year olds. Naturally the conjecturing & embellishing quickly worked well with the rumors. It even prompted some to begin telling flat out lies. Before we knew it some of our constituents were admitting (for the first time ever) that Someone they knew had Actually seen Mrs roach eating roaches, perhaps ‘it was a close friend or a sibling’ but we didn’t care about that trifling detail, what we heard was good enough for us, it was all we needed to hear at the time. Someone somewhere had seen her do it. It was virtually fact in our small wise minds

At times we would express what we were thinking and feeling about Mrs. Roach, usually we were on the playground. The speeches or confessions of thoughts about Mrs. Roach typically lasted a minute or so. More often than not the talk was primarily focused on her abhorrent last name, which always got some kind of audible rise and reaction. We all felt her last name was relevant & important; this was the glue that held most of our arguments together and none of us were keen to abandoning it. Even today most scholars have to acknowledge it makes for an extremely solid logic based argument which is nearly impossible to retort.

When someone would pause from playing to talk about the potential roach eater, we would politely stop what we were doing and listen. As we would listen we would imagine our own daydreaming nightmares. The scene: a dark fusty room playing host to a disgusting roach-witch scenario starring Mrs. Roach. There she sat in our minds, feasting on roaches. I thought It must have been satisfying to her and at the same time ******

Most of us, being in our mid to late 4’s, did not want to spend our time thinking about grown ups eating roaches, or being witches. We wanted to play with toys and have fun. ‘But as one of our classmates eloquently pontificated ,“Mrs. roach is our elephant a china shop”. We all unanimously agreed nodding our small heads. She was right. We had to address this woman at the end of our row of classrooms. It was, ‘the last classroom on the block’ and it was being run by a lady name who we knew ate roaches… “Disgusting!”.

After a week or so we had thought of every possible scenario & every possible explanation. In the end sound minds & cool logic prevailed. We left play time and play pretend out of the equation and approached the situation like adults. Another meeting was called at the swing set.The information we had gathered and spread while conducting surveys & rumor spreading was significant. Her last name was Roach. She did not change her name , like grown ups can do. In fact, She didn’t seem embarrassed or ashamed of her last name being roach whatsoever , which meant she may not be embarrassed about eating roaches either. She had dark black hair & we didn’t interact with her. She room was down at the end of classrooms “the last classroom on the block!” I said while shaking my head. Lastly we had the students who knew someone who had seen her do it. They weren’t there at that moment with us at the swing but it was ok, we remembered what they’d said. Finally a vote was cast, hands shot up. We all agreed, from that moment on it was a fact: Mrs. Roach was definitely for certain eating cockroaches, “gross!”.

William Shakespeare wrote “what is in a name?” “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet”. In 1984 I had not yet heard this hog wash. If I had, I would have disagreed with him. It’s worth mentioning I disagree with him now.

The news relating to Mrs. Roach being a witch was new information and I could tell by how wide the girls eyes were & from her body language: my impromptu playground newscaster was serious. The energy was immediately elevated as more of our associates walked onto the scene. She immediately raised the status officially to the level of “super serious”, which is 4-5 levels more serious than just plain serious.

************

As my small associate began at the beginning with the details, my attention shifted towards the adults who were 90% mothers. They were discussing the recent headline: Mrs. Roach (an officially established roach eater) was a witch. If I was told what she did to earn herself this new haunting title I cannot remember. I recall feeling confused by the information & simply not understanding some of the words that were being said. I was focused on the fact that she was a witch and I wanted to know if she had a giant cauldron in her class room or if she kept it at her house & sis she have her broom, could she fly using it?

The conclusions my colleagues and i quickly came to made perfect sense to us at the time and our position on the subject still makes logical sense today. As best we could surmise, Mrs. Roach’s horrid roach consumption had to be directlyvconnected to her being a witch. We also felt strongly that her being a witch tied in directly to her insatiable appetite for consuming roaches. Obviously the two fed into each other forming some sort of morbidly disgusting symbiotic witch-roach relationship that we had no desire to fully comprehend.

********

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On this day Our parents didn’t depart one by one to go about their mornings. Today they were standing around talking in tones i could not hear but could understand, looks of seriousness & concern became apparent as they huddled closer and closer together.

I recall that day the air was crisp & dry for Florida. The sun was shining on our play ground but it seemed to be more slanted at an unnatural angle. Although the sun was shining, the light didn’t seem to touch mrs. Roaches classroom door the way it usually did. The cool air blew more leaves around the entrance and there was a silence that was not there before. Was it obvious to us children something had happened in Mrs. Roach’s classroom? Whatever had occurred, all of my classmates & myself felt deep down inside that the eating of cockroaches would have been part of it. That much we knew for sure.

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