Burn the Witch

Amelia Cotter

                        Whenever my father speaks of my mother’s rage problem, he is sure to mention that her
mother was also a bitch. Her mother is the reason why all of the children on that side of the
family—my mother, her sister, and three brothers, one lost to suicide—turned out the way they did.

                        My grandmother was a pilot when she was young and flew light aircraft. I have a photo of
her from the 1940s standing proudly next to her plane. She was a dreamer. The story my mother
tells is that my grandmother was also poor and deemed unworthy of marrying my grandfather. My
grandfather is remembered by the family as a war hero who was shot in the head on D-Day,
survived, and earned a Purple Heart.

                        They lived in a modest neighborhood outside of Washington, D.C., and had almost eight
children together, as good Catholics did in those days. And she was a good housewife, too, raising
the five who survived.

                        My grandfather worked long hours at a grocery store and he drank. He kept a secret bottle
under the front seat of his car at all times. His doctor told him for years that if he didn’t change his
lifestyle, he would have a heart attack.

                        He had two. The one that killed him sent him falling off the bed in the middle of the night
into a dresser. My mother was 16 years old and recounts—to this day, almost every time I see
her—walking into the pool of his blood on the bedroom floor and cradling his head as he lay dying.

                        He left my grandmother with their five children (one of whom had already fought in a new
war in Vietnam) and no money. Later in her life, my grandmother dedicated a poem to my
grandfather about how all she had ever wanted was to be with him. She never recovered from him
leaving them too soon, and neither did they.

                        She lived with my parents for a little while when I was a baby, and cared for me while they
worked late nights. She died when I was five in a nursing home.

                        Whenever my father speaks of my mother’s rage problem, he is sure to mention that her
mother was also a bitch. Her mother is the reason why all of the children on that side of the
family—my mother, her sister, and three brothers, one lost to suicide—turned out the way they did.

Amelia Cotter is an author, storyteller, and award-winning poet. Her books include This House: The True Story of a Girl and a Ghost, Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, and Breakfast with Bigfoot. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in journals like Barren Magazine, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, tinywords, and many others. Amelia is a member of the Society of Midland Authors.

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