Appearances Are Dead On

Genevieve was a very homely old woman, shockingly homely, with wide, pink, and stinking gaps between her misaligned teeth and white hair that trailed over her scalp in wisps and tatters. One of her eyes was milky with cataracts and the other twitched continually. Large black hairs grew from her nose, both bursting from her nostrils and curling from the bridge. A soft, furry, and dark moustache grew and hung slightly over her rubbery, fleshy lips. She had a hump in her back and a limp; she walked only with the aid of a cane. She wore loose, ill-fitting shirts. These, combined with her tortured posture, swung free to reveal her withered, shapeless breasts. She was hard of hearing and nearly blind, and sidled forward until she touched the person with whom she wished to speak. Children and animals were terrified of her, and even grown men and women would turn pale and tremble if they chanced upon Genevieve coming along the street at night.

She lived in a high, narrow house with few windows and a pervasive, disquieting odor. Her lawn grew wild and weedy and brambly. Her face would peer unseeing and malevolent from the upper windows on new moon nights. Many a young man and woman walking past her illstarred gate would press tightly together and fall silent. One boy nearly a man, or man just barely, did not fear Genevieve, or not so much, for he was her grandson, her apple, and he was called Bud, although his name was Arthur. Through no dint of deep-seated familial loyalty could Bud force affection for Genevieve’s withered frame, but the mind within he cherished as much as he might. She took him into her ways, and showed him the glowing metal and the sparking poisons that were hers to give, how to sicken, how to curse, how to blight, how to bend. She taught him the two hundred and fifty-six names of the greater demons, and the one hundred and twenty-eight Thrones that oppose them. For Genevieve was a witch, and a powerful one, and dark were the days of her prolonged youth, and shuddersome the deeds that coated all invisibly her palsy hands. And all of this Bud learned well, and marvelled at, and grew and swelled in his pride.