Cynthia: The North Carolina Witch Who Cursed My Family - Part 2
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Cynthia's Second Spell
Photos - Cows photo by Dany de Vylder on Unsplash - Fog photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash - Photos Altered by Deb Trotter
Excerpt From Part 1
This is it," Cora said, dropping into a chair by the old wood table, "this is what Cynthia meant when she said I'd be sorry."
CYNTHIA REMOVES THE FIRST SPELL
Cora and Margaret sat at the old wooden table in the kitchen. They wanted to throw the bloody eggs away - to get them out of the house and out of their minds as quickly as they could. But William needed to see the eggs when he returned from the mill, so they settled on placing the bowl and eggs outside on the front porch.
Normally, the two of them would have already begun making bread, but without eggs that was impossible, so Cora sent Margaret to their nearest neighbor, three miles away, to borrow enough eggs to make a few loaves of bread.
"Just tell them you accidentally dropped the eggs this morning. Don't mention what Cynthia did to our eggs. We don't want to start a panic in the neighborhood," Cora told Margaret, who took a basket and set out right away. It would take her five hours to get to the neighbors and back.
Cora was waiting on the porch when William returned home from work. She showed him the eggs immediately. He examined the bloody yokes and sighed.
"Well," he said, "it looks like we have trouble brewing. I'm sorry this has happened, Cora. I'll speak with Cynthia in the morning on my way to work. You'd best stay out of this, if possible."
So William set out the next day to confront Cynthia, and oddly enough, she agreed to remove the curse on the chickens. For a week the chickens laid perfect eggs - large eggs with big, beautiful, yellow yolks, highly prized among the mountain folk. But the Cooks could barely taste the eggs, much less eat them. Margaret jumped at every little noise, and one night Cora's hands trembled so that she dropped a china plate which shattered on the floor. Something bad was coming, they could all sense it. They knew their good fortune would not last.
Almost exactly a week later, when Cora was hanging clothes on the line in the early morning sun, Cynthia showed up at the Cook's house, this time with Mayro on her shoulder. Once again she asked for Todd's help. And once again Cora refused, "Couldn't you use Davis?' she asked Cynthia. "He's the oldest and much stronger than Todd."
THE SECOND SPELL
But Cynthia only wanted Todd, and once again she pointed her finger at Cora and whispered, "You'll be sorry, Missus. Mark our words. If ye won't let Todd work fer
us, you'll be sorry. When ye wake in the morn, yer cows will give bloody milk."
After Cynthia left, Cora tried her best not to let her fear get the best of her, for how would the family fair without their own milk? But she knew Cynthia's second curse upon their family was just the beginning of a big battle to come. When William and Davis arrived home from work late that afternoon, Cora told them what had happened.
"Oh, William. What are we gonna do?" Cora said, twisting her hands together, "We can't let her have Todd. But if we don't, what will become of us?"
"This is blackmail, plain and simple," William said. "You're right. If we let her borrow Todd for the day, she'll have us under her thumb for the rest of our lives, and we just can't do that. We'll deal with this tomorrow."
Early the next morning, the whole family gathered in the barn. Davis picked up a pail, sat up his milking stool beside Sweet Bess, their prized cow, and began to milk her as the whole family gathered around. It took only ten seconds before they knew the spell had been cast. The milk was as red as Cora's roses outside their front door. Blood red.
Davis rose from the stool and turned to face his family, "So, are we going to Cynthia's home again today?" he said, eyes on his father.
"There's nothin' else to be done, That's it, I'm afraid," said William. He turned to Cora and Margaret, "I'm takin' the boys with me and we're a' headin' to Cynthia's. right now"
Cora grabbed his arm. "Leave Todd here, William! For God's Sakes, leave Todd here with me."
William stared at her. "You know I can't do that Cora. What kind of man will he be if he can't face a family problem?"
Cora shook her head, "This is worse than a family problem, William, and you know it." But William could not be persuaded, and he left for Cynthia's house with Davis, Todd, and Benjamen.
At last, the four Cooks reached Cynthia's home. It was a tiny little one room structure made of wood and overtaken by vegetation. An uprooted tree slanted to one side, while stringy vines twisted around the floor and the front door. It was in such poor condition it was hard to believe the house was still standing.
William walked towards the house, stopping about a hundred feet from the front door.
"Cynthia!" he called out. "Come on out, I want to talk to you."
"We hear ye," Cynthia shouted, "come on up to the house."
"No. You come out. Else, I'll come back with some more men. I already have my sons with me."
"Is Todd with you, then? We needs to see em."
"Yup. Todd's with me. But don't give him no never mind - just come out now, or we're a' leavin.' And when we come back, we won't be coming alone."
The front door creaked, slowly swung open, and Mayro flew out faster than William could blink. A few seconds later Cynthia appeared.
"Having a little fun back home, are we?" she teased, clapping her hands. "How'd the milk taste this mornin', eh?" Cynthia cackled, stepping off the porch towards William.
William was madder than a hornet at a bonfire, but he wasn't about to let Cynthia know.
"You'll be takin' yer spell offa my cows. Now." William said.
Cynthia smirked, "Or what, Mister?"
William took a few steps closer to Cynthia and pumped his fists to control his anger, "Or I'll head to the mill, and then all the men that I gather up - every single man at the mill - will follow me down here. That's what," he said. "You may be strong, but you ain't that strong, I'm bettin.'"
Cynthia strode towards William, her body bent and crooked. She stopped and lifted her arm. Mayro flew to her side, landing on her arm with a flourish.
"No," she said, "Reckon we ain't that strong. But a woman like us ain't afeared of much. Ye oughta know that by now, Mister."
"What do ye want, Cynthia? If'n it's Todd, he can't be spared. It's autumn, and a man needs all his sons fer workin' and gatherin.'"
"We know bout the harvest, an we reckon you do need em. He's a fine, good boy, tis true. We don't mean em no harm."
"If you don't mean him no harm, you can take yer spell offa my cows."
Cynthia raised her arms, and a fast wind rushed past. Mayro rose into the air and flew past them, then around the Cook men in circles.
"We's done," Cynthia said, lowering her arms as the wind disappeared. "Ye won't be havin' no more trouble with yer cows."
William stood beside his sons and waited. He wasn't sure what else they may have to fear.
"We knows Todd ain't comin' to help, but we mean to say goodbye to yer sons, if'n you'd be abliged." Cynthia said, without a hint of anger in her voice. "It would mean a lot to an old woman like us. Never had no chillren. We's sorry the madness took us over."
William hesitated. Maybe she really was sorry. And there was no doubt she had taken a shine to Todd. What harm could it do to allow her to see him? He motioned for the boys to come and stand beside him.
Cynthia walked over to them and shook Davis's hand, then Benjamen's. When she came to Todd, she put his right hand in her left palm and stroked it, then put her fingers over his right thumb and rubbed it gently. It seemed an odd gesture to William, but he let it go. She was gentle with him, after all.
"We're sorry we won't be seein' ye, young Todd," she cooed, still rubbing his thumb, "we'll dream 'bout ye an' yer folks in the night. Ye must stay a good young man, hear us?"
"Yes'am," Todd answered, embarrassed. He quickly pulled his thumb from Cynthia's fingers and stuck his right hand in his pocket.
With that final exchange, the Cooks set off. William and Davis for the mill, Todd and Benjamen for home.
After ten minutes on the road back to their house, Todd stopped in the middle of the road.
"What is it, Todd?" said his brother. "Did you forget somethin'?"
"Nah. I'm just a little warm is all. I think I'll take off my shirt." Todd removed his shirt and threw it over his shoulder. But the further he walked, the hotter he felt. Once again, he stopped, this time complaining to Benjamen that he was feelng hot. So the two of them sat down on a log on the side of the road.
"Maybe you're a fixin to get sick," Benjamen suggested. "Yer lookin' mighty puny."
Todd shook his head, "It ain't like that exactly," he said, running his fingers through his black hair. "I dunno."
"Todd!" Benjamen said. "Your thumb. Look at yer right thumb!"
Todd lifted his right hand to examine his thumb. It was swollen and as red as fire.
To Be Continued Monday, October 26 2020. Come and join us for Part 3!