“I was living in Grinnell,” said Alex.

The witch smiled and took his hand. “I’ve been told that you just make these stories up.”

“No,” he protested. “It’s just that I lived there for so long and always in the same two block area so — ” he fumbled for the words — “I got to see a lot of weird things.”

The witch didn’t say anything but the orphans streamed past them on the way to the playground.

“But, like I said, I was living in Grinnell, and they cut down all the trees except for the occasional oak tree and in the summers –“

She smiled, sadly. “Oh, of course. Scorched earth.”

“It was more than that, I mean, yes, scorched earth, but it got so hot that you could feel the trees that should have been there. I couldn’t go outside without a bottle of Gray Goose.”

“How did that help?”

“Oh. Gray Goose is delicious.”