The giant dead tree stood alone in the empty field like a big wart on the middle of one’s forehead. I was impressionable, only about four or five years old at the time, but my memory of the deformed tree is all too clear. I can still picture it, over sixty years later. I can still feel its rough bark, and hear my own screams as I tried to escape its embrace when my sneaker got wedged in its old trunk. I was trapped by its enormity; sure this looming form would eat me alive. I had believed it already ate one of my feet.

“Judy…Billy, come back! Help me!” But my sister and brother were getting further away as my heart pumped faster with fear. Why weren’t they coming back? Had the wind carried my voice in another direction? Surely if they heard my cry they would turn around. Wouldn’t they?

To make matters unbearably worse, right before my siblings ran away from me, they were sure to thoroughly point out the witch in full black garb that was circling above on her broom, like a buzzard at dusk. And, I swear, to this day, that I actually did see the ugly, bony-faced woman, as she swept the clouds with her sweeper.

I was helpless. The witch was coming and my foot was swelling up bigger inside the crevice of my keeper. Why was this happening? What did I ever do to a tree to deserve this? I’d always adored trees in my short little life, always climbed their lovely branches ascending heavenward.

Was this particular tree angry that lightning had once struck it into its deadly form 100 years ago and decided to take out its revenge on little ol’ me?

My cries went unheard, as I watched the diminishing figures of the boy and girl I once knew as my brother and sister, giggling, as I screamed their names. Being the youngest, I knew my place in their life was to be abused and laughed at, to withstand all their pranks, but this was the very worst thing they had ever done to me. This time, they had gone too far. I was so mad at them that I’d never wanted to see their faces again; but all I wished for at that moment was to see their faces one more time.

I have to admit before that day, I’d never minded their practical jokes much and being their sole source of entertainment, but being left alone in the desolate field stuck in a tree with a wicked witch headed my way.

As it turned out, my family members that I wanted to disown, came back and freed me from my impending doom. That was always the script they wrote: I was the one in distress, and they were my heroes. And, still are.