I bite the corner of my lip and avert my eyes. Fear of pain has come and gone. He asks me what I have done. My answer is nothing. He raises a hand with his fingers spread. I watch as his extended arm draws a shadow across half of my face and my left shoulder. He forms a fist, crushing the brilliant afternoon light once in his hand. I do not blink but shuffle around some spit in my mouth, setting my jaw. My hard, resolute stare is mirrored in his hazel eyes, my hazel eyes. He turns and spits to his left, just inches from my new sneakers, the ones he bought yesterday. He hammers his fist down, the air brushing the tip of my nose, and gives me a look of disgust. Then he straggles up the driveway and into the house, limping like a broken horse from a long day of backbreaking work.
My gaze reaches down both sides of the street, searching for a neighbor who has been watering his flowers too long or has gone out to the mail and has paused in front of the box, forgetting what she came for. Nothing. I relax my muscles and step into the shadow of the side of the house, allowing it to engulf me. These kind of days make me wish it would fall down on me, like in the story, because the house never really falls down on the witch, does it?
No, we dream about it falling on the witch. Wish for it. But how can a house fall on a witch who isn't crouched in the bushes hiding from something or pulling at a weed? Witches don't hide and they don't garden. Houses fall on the people who hammer them and mend them, trying to keep them together, not the ones who break them. Dorothy might have made up the shoes thing and embellished with the poppies but she was right about one thing. There's no place like home.