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Annual Poetry Contest

Annabelle Upon the Hill

By Lisa Frola  Sorrento, FL
2002 Contest: First Place

Here's a strange story, I hardly dare tell about an old woman. Her name Annabelle.
An odd little woman. She lived all alone. On the top of a hill. In a house made of stone.
She kept to herself, never wandering outside. So the townspeople thought she had something to hide.
The neighbors all gawked. The neighbors all stared. But to talk to poor Annabelle, nobody dared.
Because to her home they were never invited, "She must be a witch!" the townfolk decided.
They said she cast spells by the light of the moon, while laughing out loud like a crazy old loon.
There were whispers of monsters and goblins and things. And then came the tale of old Annabelle's wings!
"They sprout from her back every Halloween night!" Cora Blass swore and then passed out from fright.
Rumors were spread. People shuddered with dread. She was blamed for the sick.. She was blamed for the dead.
They said she could call on the devil at will. They said he drank tea at that house on the hill!
They shivered and quivered, if her house they should pass. She'd just smile to herself, as she'd peer through the glass.
She'd shake her head slowly. Her eyes full of knowing. She found it amusing, this fear they were showing.
But one day that fear reached a feverish pitch, as they gathered and screamed out, "We must kill the witch!"
"Billy's dog died. Half the town has the flu! We know it is her! We know what to do!"
So up the big hill a bunch of them stormed. Like bees 'round a hive, the onlookers swarmed.
When they reached the front porch, the door swung on in hinge, causing even the bravest among them to cringe.
Eeking and creaking, it opened up wide, like a big, giant mouth that might suck them inside.
They drew in their breath and waited to see what awful thing lurking beyond there would be.
But out on the porch old Annabelle tottered. She didn't seem angry or scared or bothered.
She smiled so politely, her head slightly bowed. Then slowly she looked up and took stock of the crowd.
She said, "Why do you do this?" and looked from one to another. "I'm just an old woman, just like any other."
"I keep to myself, but is that such a crime? I read and I knit and I nap to pass time."
So realizing how foolish they'd been all along, they apologized humbly and said they were wrong.
"Go back to your homes and worry no more," Annabelle told them and then closed the door.
She exhaled a tiny sigh of relief. The nerve that they had was beyond her belief!
Glad to have cleared up that whole ugly mess, she patted her hair and straightened her dress.
She returned to her parlor. She returned to her tea. She returned to the devil with his cup on his knee!