Grandmother Isabelle never learned to bake. Other old women on the block were well loved for the cookies and cakes they handed down, smiling, from their wide and well-swept porches. The children ignored the missing teeth and the doughy cheeks in order to receive the extra desserts.
Grandmother Isabelle didn’t have a porch. She lived in the back room of her daughter’s house, and had her own door with its own lock and its own matching key, different than that off the main door. She spent her days watching soap operas. Her daughter and her son in law invited her over for lunch on Saturdays, but she didn’t often go.
The children thought she was a witch. Grandmother Isabelle decided, one Halloween, to go out dressed like one, but no one recognized her then. After Halloween, she went to the sales isle in the grocery store and bought cheap spiderwebs and cauldrons and pre-dribbled candles. She set them up outside her doorway, and waited for the kids that sometimes dared each other to tap on her window at night.
The first time it happened, she shined a green flashlight at them. The second time, she put a skull mask in front of the light. The third, she tried an evil cackle – the children ran away so quickly that they didn’t hear the fit of coughing that resulted.