Read by Emma Wilson
Audio edited by Jana
Story by Bertie
Illustration Adobe / Elena Schweitzer
Dedicated to Lyra, who supports Storynory on Patreon.
Hello, this is Emma, and I'm here with a story about someone very familiar to listeners of Storynory: Katie. Katie is an ordinary girl, just like me! But there is one thing that is a bit different about her. She's a witch and can do magic spells. She likes to keep that a secret, as far as possible. Katie lives with her mum, who is also a witch, and her dad lives separately because her parents couldn't get along with each other when so much magical stuff was going down. This story involves a spot of bad weather and, of course, a magic spell.
It was spring, the most magical time of the year, when everyone should be out and about smiling in the gentle sunshine, listening to the birds, and admiring the bright flowers.
But Katie and her mum were huddled up at home. Even though they had turned the central heating up high, it still felt cold in their kitchen. The wind was whistling, and the door of the garden shed was loose and slamming loudly in the garden.
"Katie!" exclaimed her mother sharply, "Why don't you lock that door before it smashes?"
Katie snapped her fingers, and the shed door closed fast. "Mum, why are you in such a terrible mood? Have you argued with Sumash?" He was her mother's boyfriend who had not quite got around to marrying her because his parents were unsure if a single mother who was a witch was a good match for their darling son.
"I'm not in a bad mood," insisted her mother. "I just don't like you being lazy."
"But mum, you could have closed it as easily as I did."
"I can't do everything you know!" exclaimed her mum, exasperated.
Usually, her mother kept a very even temper, but of course, everyone has their moods now and then. Katie went up to her room to stay out of her way. As she fell asleep, the wind was wooshing around the roof of the house, howling like a dozen witches on broomsticks. She woke up in the small hours to the sound of tiles smashing in the garden. The wind was flinging them off the roof. She lay awake, listening to the storm and thinking how powerful nature was, even compared to the most potent magic. Soon the wind died down, and the rain began beating the roof heavily at first and then more gently. The pitter-patter finally lulled her to sleep. When Katie woke up in the morning, birds were singing. She drew the curtains and saw that it was going to be a bright and lovely day.
As Katie was leaving for school, her mother said: "Hang on, darling, I'll give you a lift."
In the car, she said, "Sorry I was in such a foul mood last night."
"Don't worry, Mum," said Katie, "I expect it was the weather. It affects how we feel."
"You know," said her mum, "Sometimes how we feel affects the weather. We witches have to be careful about that. It can be difficult to tell which way round things are happening."
Later on at school, when Katies' attention drifted off in the geography lesson, she wondered what her mum had meant by that remark. Was it true that a witch's mood could make the weather? She hadn't heard that before, but it was entirely possible because people with magical powers are very connected to nature. "I know," she thought, "I'll try and make the sun come out from behind that big fluffy cloud." She concentrated very hard, but nothing seemed to change in the sky, and then she heard Mr Place saying, "Katie. What is the spot where the greatest damage usually happens in an earthquake?"
Katie processed the question for a moment before replying, "the epicentre," a word she had learned in her homework at the weekend. As she answered, the sky outside the window went very dark, and she half expected the earth to shake - but it didn't - thankfully.
When Katie got home, her mother was in the kitchen stirring the sorrel soup.
"Hi Mum," breezed Katie.
"Hello, Katie," said her mother without turning round, "I hope you had a lovely day."
"It was so, so," replied Katie because most school days were "so so."
"Well, that's nice to know," said her mother. Her comment did not seem to follow on from what Katie had said.
"How was your day at the shop?" asked Katie.
And that was when her mother burst into tears.
"What's the matter, mum?" asked Katie as she put her hand on her quivering shoulder.
After a lot of sobbing, her mother said, "Sumash has dumped me! He can't go against his parents - even though he's 43 years old!"
The news was not entirely unexpected, but her mother's pain seemed intense, and it was hard for Katie to see her so upset. She did her best to comfort her and made her a cup of calming witch's tea. Eventually, her mother went to bed, and Katie sat thinking at the kitchen table. Solomon came in through the catflap, and she noticed that he was leaving wet paw marks on the floor. "It must be raining," said Katie.
"Brilliant!" purred Solomon. "That explains why those drops of water are falling out of the sky."
"Are all cats so sarcastic?" asked Katie.
"No, it's just a special talent I have," replied Solomon.
A streak of light flashed in the sky, and a few seconds later, thunder boomed over the rooftops.
"Not a good night to be flying by broomstick," said Katie with a shudder.
It was still raining in the morning. It wasn't the soft spring rain that gently gives life to the earth while the sun plays in its droplets and paints rainbows in the sky. No, this was the hard stuff. Cold blobs of water plopped in the puddles and crept down the backs of coat collars. And so it continued. The weather followed the same routine the next day, and the next, and the next.
Of course, Katie wondered if her mum's mood was driving the weather, but she didn't like to ask because her mum always seemed to be on the brink of tears.
The following Monday, it was still raining, and somebody pushed a card through the letterbox with dread words written in large letters.
Katie and her mum lived about two streets away from the river. Their home was in a slight dip, and there was a real possibility of the river paying them a visit through their front door.
On Friday, Katie was due to have dinner with her dad and his girlfriend, Bianca. Normally she cycled up the hill to the university area where he worked and lived. As it was pouring with rain, he came to pick her up in the car.
"Awful weather we've been having," he said as he turned the windscreen wipers onto fast speed.
"Yes, awful," agreed Katie.
"How's your mum been? "
"A bit down," said Katie.
"Anything in particular?"
"Just the weather," said Katie. She thought it would not be discreet to tell her dad all about her mum's heartbreak over Sumash.
When they reached her dad's flat, he put his key in the lock and said, "Things are a bit chaotic at the moment. I'm in between offices, and I've had to stash my equipment at home until I move into the new place."
Katie soon saw that the corridor was full of boxes. In fact, there were boxes piled up in all the rooms, even the bathroom. Katie knew that most of them contained all sorts of magical equipment. Although her father had no powers of his own, he investigated the supernatural in his job at the university. He was a professor of paranormal studies.
She noticed jars with labels such as "wind-dried flowerpecker dung" and "burnt donkey hoof clippings "in the kitchen.
"I hope that Bianca knows not to throw them into the stir-fry," joked Katie. Bianca was her dad's girlfriend.
"Fortunately, her cooking is very conservative," said Dad, "But the other day, she knocked over a jar I had stored on the bathroom shelf, and it smashed. I'm a little concerned that some magical powers might have escaped."
They went into the sitting room with their tea, sat down in comfy chairs, and he told her a story.
"Back in the day, when I was courting your mother, I persuaded her to take part in an experiment. I wanted to see if she could change the weather purely through the force of her magical willpower. Throughout history, people have accused witches of causing droughts and floods. She didn't want to try at first - she seemed to think it was not ethical. I told her that it was all good in the name of scientific enquiry."
"Eventually, she agreed, but she warned me that I might regret it."
"We were on a country drive, and I said something that upset her - a tactless remark about witches - and she started to boil and rage at me. I know it's hard to imagine, but her anger was out of control. Almost immediately, the sky went dark, there was a clap of thunder, I swerved the steering wheel, and the car ended up in a ditch. Fortunately, we were not severely hurt, and a kind farmer pulled us out with his tractor. "
"Another time, we went to a university party, where she was chatting to a history professor. He made a joke, and she couldn't stop laughing. She went on giggling for an hour, and we had to leave. It was a warm, beautiful evening, almost tropical, and the sky was full of shooting stars as we left the house. You might think that was lovely, but here's the problem: it was a Christmas party."
"So eventually, we agreed to put the experiment on hold. It was all too much trouble. Your mother helped me fasten up her spell in a crystal jar. It stayed there safely these past twenty years. But because of this office move, I brought it home and left it on the shelf in the bathroom. Bianca knocked it over when she was cleaning her teeth, and it cracked open on the floor. With all this terrible weather we have been having, I just wondered if it might have got back to your mother."
"Hmm," said Katie. "I think you might be on to something there, Dad. I'll ask mum about it."
Later on, when Dad drove Katie home, the roads in town were starting to look like rivers. In one dip, a giant wave splashed over the windscreen. Katie wondered, "Did my mum's emotions really cause this"?
When they reached the house, her dad pulled on his green wellies and carried Katie across the flooded front garden. Her mother opened the front door and laughed, and for a brief moment, the rain seemed to stop before continuing the downpour.
When they were in the kitchen, Katie explained how Bianca had broken a jar and released an old weather spell.
Her mother sighed and said: "I should be angry, but actually it's a relief to know what's going on. I felt like somebody had put a spell on me, but I could not understand who would do such a thing. It turns out that it is my own spell. Now I know what to do."
In the morning, when Katie woke up, she lay awake for a while before she realised that the birds were singing loudly. She peeked through her curtains and saw a glistening street with a rainbow stretched over the sky.
"Mum! Mum! "Katie called out, "You broke the spell! The sun's shining!"
But when Katie saw her mother on the landing, looking sleepy but happy in her dressing gown, she learned the truth. Her mum said, "Actually, darling, I haven't broken the spell yet. The thing is, Sumash sent me a sweet text message, and I had simply the most relaxed sleep and lovely dream. That is probably why the weather is so much better."
"That is fantastic news," said Katie. "You know how I want you to be happy, mum. But please do break that spell as soon as possible before he sends you a message the makes you annoyed. We don't need any more rain for a while. "
"You're right, Katie. I shall, I promise, just as soon as I get to work. But oh! what a lovely day it is! "
And that was the story of Katie and the Weather Spell, written by Bertie, and read by me, Emma for Storynory.com. I'm delighted to dedicate this story to Lyra, who generously supports Storynory on Patreon. Her mum, Alycia, tells us that Lyra loves the Katie and the Bertie/Beatrice stories on Storynory. She listens to both every day. Thank you, so much Lyra.
And I also would like to mention that Bertie has written a book called Undercover Robot, my first year as a human. You can buy it in paperback or in electronic version such as Kindle. There's also an audio version read by somebody called Emma Wilson. Hey, that's me!
For now, from me, Emma, at Storynory.com,