Hamilton, Ontario

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The Witching Hour

By Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Emily Jane Hills Orford ghost stories “It has nothing to do with Halloween,” Mom explained. “Or witches. Well, not really. It’s the void in the afternoon that hangs like a loose thread between coming home from school or work and the dinner hour.” “Oh!” I said, not too sure I understood.

I had been home for about an hour, restlessly moving about the house, not knowing what to do. I tried a few, “I’m bored,” comments and ended up with the task of peeling potatoes for supper. “When you’re finished there, you may set the table for dinner.” Mom was intent on keeping me busy. Just then my brother walked into the kitchen. “I’m hungry.” “No snacking. It’s almost time for dinner,” Mom scolded. “There’s nothing to do,” he complained. “Go practice the piano,” Mom suggested. “I already did that.” “Is your homework done?” “I’ll do it after dinner.” “Do it now and then it’s done,” Mom said. “Then I’ll have nothing to do after dinner,” my brother argued. “I’ll find something for you to do.” My brother grumbled and trundled off to his room. “The witching hour,” Mom grumbled. “It happens every afternoon about this time. No one knows what to do and they think they’re hungry, but they’re not really. Just wishing for dinner time. That’s all.” “But it’s not Halloween,” I argued. “That was last week.” “It doesn’t have to be Halloween to make it the witching hour,” Mom explained.

My sister made her appearance. “This isn’t the witching hour. That happens at midnight and it’s connected with spo-o-o-oky supernatural events.” Mom wasn’t about to back down. She crossed her arms, something she only did when she was ready to stand her ground, and planted a look on her face that barred disagreement. “You come home every day between 4 and 4:30. Your father doesn’t appear until 6 or after. You’re restless and you don’t know what to do. You’re not ready to launch into homework or practicing.” “And, of course, we’re not allowed to watch television,” my brother interrupted having stormed back into the kitchen to join in the family discussion. keep reading “You think you’re hungry, but really you’re fidgety and at loose ends,” Mom continued. “You mope around, demanding this and that, getting into arguments.” “Like the one we’re having right now?” my brother challenged. “Exactly,” Mom agreed. “It’s what I describe as the witching hour, when the devil’s work takes over common sense. It’s like we’re all cast under a wicked witchy spell of idle hands that are the devil’s tools. Now I can always find some chores for you to do.” That did it. Everyone scattered. “I have a book to read for English class,” my brother muttered as he made another stormy dash up the stairs to his room. “I think I’ll practice some more,” my sister scurried away. “I’ll set the table for supper, Mom,” I offered. “Then I’ll go read my book until supper.” “Idle hands are the devil’s work. This is more like the witching hour than the middle of the night.” I heard Mom mutter under her breath as I scurried to finish my task.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford has published several books, creative nonfiction stories mostly about her family. Growing up in Toronto, then Hamilton and finally London, Emily-Jane has lots of family stories to warm the heart. In her most recent novels, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” and “Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure”, the author returns to her roots and the fond memories and dreams, growing up in a haunted old Victorian mansion in London. For more information about the author, check out her webpage at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca