As Megan wove sprigs of lilac into Bella’s black hair and then pinned her veil in place, she asked: “Bella, remember the witch and the red string?”
Bella was hooking pearls into her ears, but she stopped for a moment as memory overtook her. Megan and she had been friends their whole lives. One spring day, Megan’s mom had bribed Megan’s big brother, Stefan, to take the girls to the ice cream parlor. They passed the witch’s house on the way.
Peeling paint and rotted gutters had festooned the ancient Victorian behind the low juniper hedge, and all the neighborhood children believed a witch lived there. The three had stopped and looked up, Megan with a delicious shiver. Crows flew out of a nest by the chimney, cawing loudly.
“I dare you to go ring the bell,” Megan liked baiting her older brother, Stefan, to do things that got him in trouble.