Short Stories

Mrs. Butterfield

Mitchell Scott Karnes

“Mrs. Butterfield was the “mean old woman” who lived on the corner lot. She stayed inside the dark dreary house with her blinds always closed. She was scary, but it was the best place on the block for baseball.

My older brother and his friends played all summer long in between their “real” baseball games. I was really excited. This was the first year they let me play. I had to catch, which really meant I ran after missed pitches and foul balls since I didn’t have a glove of my own. It was okay with me. I was just glad to play. I was the only girl there.

The older kids all batted first. After two innings the score was three to two. A younger boy grabbed the bat and walked shyly up to the plate. He didn’t even see the first two pitches. Well, miracle of miracles, he swung again and hit the ball. But instead of going out into the field, it soard over my head and went crashing through Mrs. Butterfield’s back window. I stood and watched for a minute or so, wondering what I should do. After all, it was my job to retrieve the only baseball we had. When I turned to ask my big brother, I realized I was the only kid in the block left standing in her yard.

The window opened and old Mrs. Butterfield stuck her head out to see. I just knew for sure she was going to chew me out, or worse yet cast some kind of evil spell on me. But she just smiled and asked, “Did you lose something?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. My Mom always told me  to speak properly to adults, so I did, even if she was a witch.

“Come on in and get your ball. I don’t suppose you can play without one.”

Was it a trap? She ate kids. My brother’s friend Johnny said kids went into her house and never came back, especially girls. I wanted to run, but my feet wouldn’t move. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. I just stared and said nothing.

Old Mrs. Buttefield waved her arm, motioning me to the front of her house and said, “Well, come on. I can’t get under the bed myself.”

Under the bed? Was that where she put the little kids? I knew I should tell Mom first, but Mrs. Butterfield just smiled and waved me around. What else was I to do? She was an adult, and I was supposed to mind adults. “Okay,” I said. But I didn’t go the way she was waving me. I went to the side that put me closer to my house. Maybe once I was out of sight, her spell would wear off.  Just as I turned the corner, I saw my Mom. “Mom, Mrs. Butterfield is going to eat me.” 

“She’s what?” Mom asked.

“We broke her window with the baseball and now she wants me to come inside so she can eat me like she did the other little kids.”

My mother smiled. She knelt down, looked me in the eyes, put her hand gently on my shoulder and said, “Michelle, Mrs. Butterfield isn’t going to eat anyone. Who told you that?”

I knew better than to rat Johnny out, so I said, “I don’t remember.”

“Michelle,” Mom said. “Do you remember what God said about judging others?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied. “He said not to.”

“Now I don’t want you walking into strangers’ houses without my permission,” she said, “but it just so happens Mrs. Butterfield is a very nice lady. She’s just lonely, especially since her husband died this year.” Mom took my hand and walked around to Mrs. Butterfield’s house. She made me ring the doorbell. I didn’t know if Mom was under Mrs. Butterfield’s spell, but I was scared the old woman was going to eat her too; after all, Mom was a girl too.

“Well, hello,” the old woman said with a raspy voice as she opened the door. She was hunched over and had a little skinny club in her hand. My mom called it a cane, but Johnny said she used it to beat kids. “Won’t you come in?” she asked.

“Mrs. Butterfield,” my mother began, “I’m so sorry the children broke your window. We’ll replace it.”

“Nonsense,” she said. “They’re just children.” She winked at me and led us to her bedroom. Was she winking because she just lied to my mother and was going to eat us both? I was scared. We walked into the room where the window was broken, and the old woman pointed under the bed, the same bed where she hid the children. Mom nodded and nudged me gently toward the bed. I swallowed hard, got on my knees, and crawled under the dark, dusty bed. There was the baseball, right between a bunch of cardboard boxes. I got the ball, crawled back out from the bed, and told Mrs. Butterfield about the boxes.

Mitchell S Karnes