They pulled the sledge of bones over up to the old playing field as the winter light faded. The sledge of bones. Dad had named it that, as they upwrapped it under the tree, and they laughed at the mouldings down the side of the body.
Keith had never been to the playing field, being too young for that school. Nigel, his brother, was playing the leader. It was their time for exploration, the time when Dad slept in his arm chair and Mum did the washing up or took more valium. Today was the first snow since Christmas, and they were determined to enjoy the new toy.
“Race you to the tree!”
Keith looked confused, but soon chased after his brother, catching up as the weight of the sledge slowed his run. They stopped, laughed, and looked about them. The field was quiet, screened from the traffic by a line of trees. They stood by the tree.
“You know this tree is haunted. There was this old witch and..”
“she was hated by everone in the town. They hung here, here, from the branches.”
There was just the slightest gust of wind, enough for the branches to sway gently.
“And if you come to the tree after dark, they say that she will GET YOU!”
Distracted by his own shouting and the poor light, Nigel didn’t see the small dark stain across his brother’s trousers.
“She wouldn’t get us, would she?'”
“Of course not.” A different voice. A girl. Neither of them had seen her arrive.
“Who are you?”
The girl looked at them, but was mute. She smiled.
“I said who are you?”
The girl mouthed something.
“Its all pretend. The story. Ignore him.”
She looked at Nigel. Keith stared at the ground between his brother and the girl.