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Strange Girls - Witch
Tabitha stood with her arms folded across her chest staring smugly at the cleavage she had just exposed. As soon as she had gotten out of the car, and out of her mother’s sight, she had removed her outer shirt displaying what would have made her mother quite upset in a low, snug fitting shirt.
Her mood quickly went from smug to envious as she watched Heather practically float to her own locker. Tabitha hated the way Heather’s honey blonde hair flowed down her back in waves until it stopped at her tiny waist, and hated how her dark blue eyes lit up with sincerity when she turned to smile at Brad. Tabitha despised her even more, when Heather noticed her standing there and offered her the same sincere smile.
“Hi Tabby!” Her voice floated out happily.
Tabitha pushed off of her locker and stormed off without saying a word. Some people just did not get it, she thought angrily to herself. When she saw her chubby, pimply faced best friend, Jennifer approaching, Tabitha immediately felt better.
In the World Religions Class that Heather had been looking forward to since the end of the old semester, she stared at the contents of the book on her desk. Paganism was not listed! There was Buddhism and Taoism, which were pretty much cousins of Paganism, but not Paganism exactly and Paganism was amongst the oldest religions. Heather leaned back in her chair, trying to not show how miffed she was.
Ms. Jones juggled her way into class seconds before the bell rang. She loudly dropped her supplies on her desk, pushed her head band further back on her hair and squinted out of her glasses which had slid down her nose.
A new semester meant new students and new challenges. It was her third year teaching World Religions and she was hoping that it would go well, but with the exploding population of people turning to non-mainstream religions, not to mention the general discontent in the country, she wasn’t sure what to expect. These students were seniors and already some of them had very strong opinions.
It didn’t take long for the disruptions to start. They were three pages into the text book discussing the listed different religions, when Ms. Jones took a deep breath knowing that this question would tell her how easy or difficult this particular group of students would be.
“Does everyone think that all of the prominent religions are listed?” Her eyes slowly moved around their faces, there were a few shuffles, a couple of bored looks and than a shy hand slowly rose into the air.
“Yes, Heather,” Ms. Jones asked.
“Well,” Heather faltered and glanced down at the page for a moment, before swallowing and softly saying, “Paganism isn’t listed.”
There were some guffaws and the snorts of laughter that Ms. Jones had expected, but then a voice snapped loudly,
“That’s because the only true religion is Christianity and every American knows that,” said Tabitha Bradshaw.
“That’s not true,” Justin Sparks replied, “America was founded on the freedom of religion.”
“Yeah, and Wicca which is the same as Pagan, is a recognized religion,” Debbie Powers added.
“Oh yeah?” Tabitha swiveled in her seat staring down the very Goth-styled Debbie, “You’re the only freak that would think that.”
Clear as a bell from across the room came,
“I’m a Pagan,” Heather stated.
The class erupted! Ms. Jones waved her hands in the air trying to get them to focus on her,
“Class…class!” She took a deep breath, “If you have an opinion we will discuss it.” Most of the class had quieted back down just as the bell rang.
Tabitha quickly grabbed her stack of books and careened into Heather,
“Oops, sorry,” she spat, “I hope you don’t curse me,” the peals of her vicious laughter could be heard echoing down the hallway as Ms. Jones helped Heather gather her stuff from the floor.
Placing her hand gently on Heather’s, Ms. Jones carefully looked her in the eyes and said,
“You probably shouldn’t have said that, Heather. Some things are better left unsaid.”
Heather couldn’t believe it! Why should she have to be quiet about her faith?
“But it’s my faith, I have that right, Ms. Jones,” she stood her ground.
“Yes you do, Heather, but maybe you should keep it to yourself.”
After Heather had arrived home from school, she went straight to the back yard where her mother was tending her herb garden. Odessa looked up at the pained look on Heather’s face and instantly knew something was wrong.
“Hi honey, what’s wrong,” she approached slowly, you never know with moody teenagers how they will react.
“Oh, it’s just that in my World Religions class they don’t even have Paganism listed as a religion.”
Odessa waited a beat before answering,
“Unfortunately that doesn’t really surprise me. Although the Pagan religion was recognized as a legal religion in 1982 by the United States of America, it still isn’t tolerated by many other groups or considered legitimate.” Odessa sat down at the patio table next to Heather, “I’m sorry hun,” she signed, “the good news is that it is much more accepted than it was just 20 years ago.”
Heather looked down at her fidgeting hands in her lap and took a deep breath,
“I announced in front of the entire class that I’m Pagan!”
A thousand words came to Odessa’s mind, each fighting to form on her lips.
“I couldn’t help it, Mom! I was just so mad,” she stormed. “Why should I have to be quiet about my beliefs? If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t,” tears sprang to her eyes.
“You’re right, absolutely right, Heather, the problem though is that, some people will disagree with you and can even be ugly about it.”
Heather gulped in a big breath, trying to control her tears and emotions,
“I know Mom, hopefully it will be forgotten soon.”
Tabitha’s fingers flew over the keyboard with a vengeance! A Pagan? A Witch was more like it! What a freak! Tabitha was going to make sure that everyone knew about Heather. She posted on her social networking site and sent out an email to everyone she knew at school.
Once that was done, she hovered over the keyboard staring into the monitor waiting to see the progress of her work. She started receiving several emails back. Most of them just contained LOL or messages of surprise, a few responders felt as offended as she did. One email stood out, it was from Kristen who attended her youth group at church. Tabitha couldn’t believe it! Kristen was cool, and here she was telling Tabitha that it wasn’t their place to judge Heather and that she should leave her alone. Tabitha quickly deleted the email and went on to the read the next.
Heather had no idea what she was walking into when she arrived at school on Tuesday morning. The hallway was buzzing with activity and before she could comprehend it, she was being pointed at and laughed at. Josh Anderson whom Heather knew attended the after school bible studies group held up a very detailed illustration of a woman, who looked a lot like Heather, being burnt at the stake. Keeping her eyes down, Heather moved to her locker. Standing across the hall way Tabitha watched her and smiled maliciously,
“Witch,” she said barely above a whisper.
“Excuse me?” Heather said moving closer to Tabitha.
“I said Witch.” Her eyes lit up, enjoying the hurt that was clear on Heather’s face. “I called you a Witch.”
Heather didn’t know how to respond.
“Whatever,” she muttered closing her locker door.
By the time lunch had come around, Heather had been shoved ‘accidently’ by several students, including males. She had been called a Witch and a Bitch, freak, heathen, savage and numerous other insulting names. At lunch someone threw an empty milk carton against her head. She didn’t know whether to be frightened or pissed and could not believe the close mindedness of some of her classmates. She had decided that in her World Religions Class she would set things straight.
The volume of the class was high as Ms. Jones waited for the bell to ring. After the previous afternoon, she was even more unsure of what to expect today than she had been yesterday. Her eyes moved over to Heather who sat at her desk with a determined look in her eyes, her back up straight with her hands lying calmly on her desk.
As soon as the bell rang, Ms. Jones told everyone to be quiet and pull out their text books. She didn’t miss seeing the spitball flying towards Heather, or the quietly mumbled, “Witch” either.
Heather’s hand went up in the air as she confidently stood up,
“Ms. Jones, I would like to say something.”
This was unanticipated, but Ms. Jones figured it couldn’t do any harm.
“That’s fine, Heather,” she answered nervously.
Heather cleared her throat and turned to face the class.
“Yesterday I said that I am Pagan. Today many people seem to have a problem with that. I’ve been called a Witch all day. Just so you know, the word Witch, means wise one. I’ve been called a freak, heathen and some names that I cannot say in front of Ms. Jones,” there was a soft chuckle to that. Heather took a breath and continued, “Pagans worship Nature. We do not curse people, or sacrifice babies or animals. We believe that all creatures both large and small deserve our respect. We also believe in Karma, which basically means that everything you do, good or bad, comes back at you.” She stared down the completely silent room before sitting back down.
Mr. Jones was surprised at how easily that had settled that. Tabitha on the other hand was seething. How dare her! Did she really think she could just explain it and make it okay?
Although, Heather had received a few stares and a chuckle was thrown her way here and there, what she had said seemed to have worked. What the class didn’t know was that she had been terribly nervous and shaking inside when she had spoken her little speech.
Tabitha paced back and forth, with her arms crossed over her chest in front of her boyfriend, Jimmy, and his best friend Richard. They were busy doing nothing but watching her walk.
“Does she really think she can get away with this?” Tabitha turned her blazing brown eyes on the two guys. “Exodus 22:18, ‘thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live.”
Jimmy glanced at Richard for a quick second before approaching Tabitha.
“Tabby, there’s really not much we can do about it.”
Tabitha spun around so fast that she nearly ran into him.
“Yes there is! It is our job as young Christians to ensure that she sees the error of her ways!” she roared at him loudly.
Richard spread his hands and intervened for his buddy,
“Well what do you suggest that we do?”
Tabitha resumed walking again, appearing to be deep in thought. When she stopped, a wide smile filled up her face,
“We could beat it into her. I mean obviously we can’t kill her, but we could knock her around a little.”
“Whoa,” Jimmy stepped back, “I’m not beating up on no girl!”
“You don’t have to. You just have to hold her so that I can.”
When Jimmy still didn’t appear convinced, Tabitha pressed her body against his in an embrace, her warm breath running over his neck,
“Please, Jimmy, do it for me?” She batted her eyes at him watching the indecision on his face before she pressed closer making sure her breasts were rubbing against him.
“Okay,” he sighed, “But I’m only going to hold her for you, I’m not going to hit her.”
Tabitha gave him a deep kiss than softly whispered,
“That’s all you have to do.”
An hour later, the three of them stood on Heather’s door step waiting for someone to come to the door. Jimmy was nervous and Richard had convinced himself that he had just come along for the ride.
The door opened slowly and Heather stared at them with uncertainty. She was home alone and something about them being at her door, with Tabitha smiling, sent her instincts into red alert. She kept the screen door between them and herself.
“Hi Heather,” Tabitha started to say, “Look I’m really sorry about the last few days. I guess---I guess I just didn’t understand.”
Heather looked her up and down,
“And you do understand now?”
Tabitha looked down and then smiled,
“Well I don’t understand the Pagan thing, but I do understand that it’s not my place to judge you, and I’m sorry that I did.”
She was lying, Heather could tell. However, if Heather just accepted the apology maybe the rumors would die down and school life would return to normal, not to mention some of the really nasty emails and comments she had received on the computer. She opened the screen door and stepped out before saying,
“Okay,” Heather hesitated, “thank you then.”
“Hey I want to make it up to you, why don’t you come hang out with us?” Tabitha invited.
Before she could think to stop herself, Heather answered with,
“Oh I can’t, my parents aren’t home right now.”
“Oh really?” Tabitha nearly smirked, “Well than, can we come in?”
Heather saw the immediate change in her eyes and stepped back.
“No, I don’t think------,” Tabitha rushed in through the door followed by Jimmy and Richard.