Ann and Gwyneth 3

Gwyneth almost screams from a sudden, painful contraction. She bites her lip. She groans. Ann watches her intently.

ANN: You can scream.

GWYNETH: I don’t need to scream. I’m in control I don’t need to scream!

ANN: That’s it, girlie, let it out.

GWYNETH: I DON’T NEED TO SCREAM I’M IN CONTROL OF MY BODY I DON’T NEED TO SCREAM.

ANN: Tell me. Tell me.

GWYNETH: I AM HEALTHY I AM PURE I AM A GODDESS I AM A GLOWING BEACON OF LIGHT I CONTAIN THE UNIVERSE I AM A GARDEN AND GARDENS ARE PEACEFUL I DON’T FUCKING NEED TO SCREAM.

Gwyneth screams. There is blood on the floor. Gwyneth crouches, clutching her abdomen. Ann goes to her, wraps her arms around her. Ann dabs Gwyneth’s brow and guides her gently to the floor. She smiles.

ANN: That’s it, sweet. Now, push.

Gwyneth pushes. She screams. Ann smiles.

ANN: You’ve got it now, love. You’ve got it now.

Gwyneth births an Apple. Ann takes a bite.

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Ann and Gwyneth 2

ANN: Oh no? My mistake.

GWYNETH: I’m doing my breathing. I’m in control of my body and life. I’m the goddess of the universe that is me.

Ann raises her eyebrows.

ANN: A goddess would be free to scream. If there was pain. If she wanted to scream.

GWYNETH: I don’t want to scream.

Ann shrugs.

GWYNETH: Where is my doula.

ANN: I’m here to help, love.

Gwyneth grits her teeth. Deep breath through the nose.

GWYNETH: You’re not helping.

Ann rubs Gwyneth’s back. Her touch is soothing. Gwyneth leans into it. The pain passes. Gwyneth leans back. Ann dabs Gwyneth’s head with a damp cloth. Ann lights some sage on fire and waves it gently around the room.

ANN: What’s her name?

GWYNETH: Apple.

ANN: Unusual.

GWYNETH: It’s gender-neutral.

ANN: It’s…?

GWYNETH: Good for a boy or a girl.

ANN: She will bear fruit. She will be sweet but also bitter, sharp but also soft,

Gwyneth opens her eyes. She really looks at Ann.

ANN: A good name.

Ann and Gwyneth 1


Ann is Ann Boole, 1695 midwife. American. A witch? Gwyneth as in Paltrow. Gwyneth is hugely pregnant, surrounded by linen. She paces. She breathes. The light is soft. Gentle music plays. Gwyneth grits her teeth. She dabs her forehead with a cloth. Sweat. Dab.

ANN: You’re doing well, sweet.

GWYNETH: You’re not my Doula.

ANN: I’m here to help you bring her into the world. That’s what I’m here to do.

GWYNETH: I don’t know the sex.

ANN: Oh no? Not a girl?

GWYNETH: Maybe a girl.

ANN: She’ll tell you what she is soon enough.

Gwyneth grits her teeth against a contraction. Deep breath through the nose. It passes.

GWYNETH: My doula is supposed to be here.

ANN: You can scream if you want. Don’t have to hold tight like that on my account.

GWYNETH: I don’t need to scream.

Ann wets a cloth with warm water from a bowl and dabs Gwyneth’s forehead. Gwyneth closes her eyes.

A Witch in Dialogue with Gwyneth (part 2)

ABBEY

Our daughters will be afraid but they will pretend to be unafraid for fear that their very fear will give them the look of knowledge.Their daughters will be unafraid but they will whisper secrets in the night. Their daughters will look around and see a world without secrets or knowledge or memory and they will feel cold and t hey will fear only more of the same. Their daughters will sleep and when they scream the men in their beds will ask why and they will say they do not remember but they will remember just enough to make them know how much we have all lost. Their daughters will run naked and screaming, and instead of fearing and hating them, men will call their rage disease and treat them by slicing them into pieces until their silence is empty and other women will pretend to laugh. Their daughters will actually laugh.

GWYNETH

I’m sure if I just breathe for long enough, I will go back to the moment I first felt like a woman, before the moment I first felt like it was possible to die. I’m sure if I think with enough serenity about wide open spaces, my face will become smooth and my body will become aerodynamic and my mind will be able to move freely from the present to the past to the future and I will be whole and I will be everyone.

A Witch in Dialogue with Gwyneth (part 1)

ABBEY

We were powerful once. They didn’t recognize it as power because it hurt no one, but we were so strong. We protected women we saved their children we healed their bodies and their minds. We ate good bread and brewed small beer. But we became afraid. After me, they will all be too afraid.

GWYNETH

I want you to refresh your body and mind. I want you to take a deep breath and count to fifty and feel the breath in your nose, out your mouth, until you are in touch with your pores and you can feel yourself reverse-aging. This may take awhile. Don’t rush it.

Gwyneth and Abbey close their eyes and take a deep breath.

And One More Thing About Witches

Am I a witch? Am I a woman? Are witches women? Are witches people? Are witches powerful? What is power? How does a witch become powerful? Is it the same way a woman becomes powerful? Is it possible for a witch to become powerful or is she only a witch after she has become an un-powerful woman? Is it possible for me to be a woman who is a witch who is powerful or is every thing that I can be separate from every other thing? Who created the categories and who gives them meaning and who enforces the meaning and how do I change the meaning if I don’t know whose meaning I’m taking hold of? Do I want to change the meaning or do I want to take the meaning in my hands, polish it with my warm breath and a soft cloth, press it to my chest until it’s absorbed by my skin, until it is me and I am it and no one can know the meaning of the word “Witch” until they know the meaning of me?

Some Types of Witch Stories

Stories About Witches That Are Actually About Men

The Crucible. Macbeth. Stardust. Chronicles of Narnia. Harry Potter. The Blair Witch Project. The Witches. The Chrestomanci Chronicles.

Stories About Witches That Are Actually About Women

The Wizard of Oz. Wicked. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Bewitched.  Charmed. Hocus Pocus. Practical Magic. The Craft. Halloweentown. Witches of East End. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. A Mirror for Witches.

Stories About Witches in Which the Witch is Not a Human

Macbeth. Stardust. Chronicles of Narnia. The Witches. The Blair Witch Project. The Wizard of Oz.