Delia left class and trudged home. The path through the woods was longer, but the others rarely took this route, and she wanted to be alone. She was teased enough at school due to her abnormality. A witch who couldn’t cast a curse wasn’t much of a witch.

Everyone in the class was able to cast a curse, but not her. A simple stumbling curse was beyond Delia’s reach. And cursing someone’s beauty? No way.

The stumbling curse was easy to remember. It was the basis for a nursery rhyme, as most curses were. For some reason, humans tried to explain things that they heard. For example,

          Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.

The witch would change the rhyme to meet current needs.

          Mary is nimble. Mary has no cares. Mary stumbles over all the stairs.

Until the curse was lifted, Mary would stumble over any stairs she attempted to ascend or descend. Even Lairs, the class clown, could work that curse.

Delia crossed the railroad tracks to find Maeve, leader of the mean girls, with her lackeys in tow. Maeve had decided long ago that Delia was the odd girl out.

Maeve grinned. “Poor little Delia, can’t even work a stumbling curse.”

“Is that the best you’ve got?” Delia had heard variations of the same taunt for six months, ever since the book on curses was handed out and she, along with the rest of the class, learned the simplest of curses was beyond Delia.

“The question is, is that the best you’ve got?” Maeve walked away, with her coven of mean girls in formation behind her, laughing.

Delia continued toward her home, relieved that all she received today was a taunting. Maeve had a tendency to practice newly learned curses on Delia.

Aunt Hazel looked up from her herb garden. “Hello, dear. Did you have a good day at school?”

“It was fine.” Delia wasn’t about to talk about her school woes. Bad enough that Mom knew. Aunt Hazel, the most powerful witch in the family, didn’t need to know what a failure she was.

“That’s good dear. I had difficulties back when I was in school. I’m glad they don’t allow bullying anymore.”

“There’s still bullying. Kids are more careful to not be caught.” Delia placed her hand over her mouth. She hadn’t meant to say that.

Aunt Hazel smiled knowingly. “Your Mom said you were having trouble with curses. I did too.”

“You?” Delia dropped her backpack on the porch. “You’re powerful.”

“Yes, because I learned my gift.”

“Gift?”

“I don’t cast curses. I cast blessings.”

“Blessings?” Delia eyed Aunt Hazel. “You’re feared because you cast blessings?”

“Yes, child. When someone needs to be taught a lesson, I don’t curse them. I bless everyone around them.”

“And that works?”

“When was the last time you saw anyone anger me?”

“Never. Everyone is afraid of you.”

“Precisely. If you’re having regular luck and everyone around you is having a blessed day, your day looks terrible by comparison.

Delia smiled. “Can you teach me?”

More flash fiction by N. R. Tucker.

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