Great Aunts

Danelle Witte a.k.a. Polychrome


Darrin Stephens was telling someone on the telephone, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. No problem at all. We didn't have any plans for the weekend anyway. That's fine, have a good time. Bye." when Samantha brought two glasses of iced tea from the kitchen to the living room. Handing one to Darrin she asked, "I hope that call wasn't Larry Tate leaving you with a batch of last minute work to do over the weekend." Darrin took a deep breath.
"Actually, you may wish it was Larry dumping a weekend load of work on me. That was Pop on the phone and…"
"He and your mother are coming over?" Samantha asked a little apprehensively, looking around the living room to see what needed straightening up.
"Nooo, seems that the ticket Pop bought to go around the world when he and Mom were fighting was non-refundable, so he bought another ticket for her, and well, they are going around the world together." Samantha smiled then looked puzzled at the expression on Darrin's face.
"They want us to house sit for them?"
"No, but you're close. They want us to aunt-sit for them."
"Your parents keep ants?" Samantha was completely in the dark. Darrin sat down on the sofa and took a long sip of his tea.
"Do you remember our wedding night?" he asked, not quite knowing how to explain what he had to explain.
Samantha gave him an amazed look, and then answered, "Of course, don't you?" Darrin ignored her giggle.
"Remember when you tried to tell me you were a witch and I tried to explain about people's quirks by telling you about my Aunt Madge?" Samantha immediately knew what he was getting at.
"The one who thinks she's a lighthouse?"
"She's coming here?"
"But Darrin, why did your parents decide to travel now? Didn't they realize she was coming to visit?" Darrin shook his head in sympathy.
"I know it's short notice, Sweetheart, but Aunt Madge was already on the train from Phoenix to come visit before Pop found out he couldn't refund or change their tickets. They asked me to meet her at the train station tonight and keep her here for the weekend. She's going on to visit some other friends during the week and they'll put her back on the train. It's only tonight, tomorrow and Sunday morning. My relatives hardly ever come to visit, especially Aunt Madge." Samantha couldn't resist the pleading look in Darrin's eyes. She gave him a loving smile.
"Of course she can stay with us. I'll do my best to make her feel right at home." Her husband's relieved look was payment enough for the loss of a weekend spent alone. Besides, she thought, it's time to meet more of his relatives.
While Darrin drove to the train station to collect his aunt, Samantha busied herself setting the guest room to rights. She was just shaking out a fresh sheet to put on the bed when the sheet flew from her fingers and the bed made itself.
"All right Mother, I know you're here," Samantha said to the room in general.
"I even made hospital corners," Endora proudly pointed out as she appeared on the headboard. Waggling her finger at Samantha she said, "To think that a daughter of mine would be playing maid to a lunatic is as unbearable as the thought that you married a mortal. What kind of family have you gotten yourself into, Samantha?"
"Darrin's Aunt Madge isn't a lunatic. She's just a little…quirky, that's all." Samanatha grinned wickedly at her mother, "You ought to know all about quirks, look at Uncle Arthur." Endora's spine snapped straight up, her eyes flashed.
"How can you compare your own flesh and blood to a woman who thinks she's a lighthouse?!" she demanded. "Samantha, anyone who thinks they are a lighthouse is out of their mind. Your Uncle Arthur is just…annoying." Samantha smiled at her mother and said, "Well, you needn't worry about Darrin's Aunt Madge acting like a lighthouse this weekend, the forecast is for clear skies all weekend long." And with that, she left the guest room. Endora chuckled to herself, "Not for lighthouses!", and popped out.
Madge was as different from her sister Phyllis as night is from day. She was tall, thin and had a shy smile. She greeted Samantha with the look of someone who wanted very much to be liked.
"I'm so glad you are going to spend the weekend with us," said Samantha and it was the right thing to say. Madge beamed. She allowed herself to be led into the kitchen for a cup of tea.
"What made you want to come for a visit this time of year?" Darrin asked as Samantha turned the kettle on. Madge shrugged, "I have friends that I get together with every five years or so. We've been keeping the date for a long time."
"Sounds like nice friends," Samantha said, as she poured hot water into the teapot to warm it.
"I like them," Madge answered, her eyes twinkling.
"Were you in college together?" asked Darrin, curious.
"Yes, I met Ethel and Grace when I was a freshman. We were called The Triplets because we did everything together. Took all the same classes, dated all the same boys. Sowed all the same wild oats. We had a lot of fun. Then we went our separate ways. But we always make a point of getting back together so we don't lose touch". She regaled them with several stories of college misadventures that seemed to end up with Madge having to climb a tree or a flagpole or the local water tower to rescue her friends. Then the conversation turned toward Samantha.
"Phylis said she met your mother, Samantha," Madge said evenly as she raised her cup to drink.
"She did? I-I mean, yes, she did meet Mother. Briefly." Samantha wondered what her mother-in-law had been telling Darrin's family, but couldn't think of a polite way to ask. She didn't have to.
"You don't have to look so concerned, my dear," Aunt Madge soothed. "I would never believe a mother of someone as sweet as you could be so outrageously eccentric. Phylis has always been the excitable type. Always seeing things that aren't there." A rumbling sound, very faint, went unnoticed by Madge and Darrin. Madge set her cup down.
"Now if you children will excuse me, it is well past my bedtime!" Darrin led the way to the guestroom while Samantha tidied up in the kitchen.
While Darrin was in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, Samantha sat brushing her shining blonde hair, hoping her mother hadn't been eavesdropping in the kitchen.
"Yoo-hoo!" came a faint call from downstairs, and then a very large thud.
Samantha raced down the stairs to the living room to find Aunt Clara sitting in the fireplace, the dust cloud not yet settled around her. Quickly, Samantha helped Clara up and began brushing the ash off her favorite aunt.
"Aunt Clara! What a wonderful surprise! But what are you doing here so late at night?" Clara wobbled for a moment then found her bearings.
"We-we-well, I just s-saw your mother, dear, and I thought I'd b-be-better warn you."
"Warn me! About what?!" Samantha asked sharply. She looked up at the ceiling listening for Darrin. Clara leaned over so she could whisper, "She's planning on making it rain. Thought you might want to know." Immediately there was a blast of wind in the Stephens' living room that nearly ripped the drapes from the rods.
"Clara! If there is one thing I cannot abide, it's a stool pigeon!" Endora's voice preceded herself into the room. Endora appeared with fire in her eyes. Samantha stepped in front of Aunt Clara, protectively.
"Now Mother, you leave Aunt Clara alone. She was just…"
"I know what she was doing," Endora said with a malicious smile, "but it's too late! The storm is on its way!" With a sharp wave of both hands, Endora disappeared just as the first crack of thunder shook the house. Samantha looked up at the ceiling and groaned, "Oh my stars!". Darrin came hurrying down the stairs, buttoning his shirt back up as he went.
"Samantha! Did I hear thunder? Oh, hello Aunt Clara. What are you doing here?" One look at Samantha's face and he added, "It always so nice to see you,". Samantha gave him a "that's better" smile and then got to the point.
"Aunt Clara came here to warn us. Mother's brewing a storm." At this moment, they heard the creaking sound of something or someone on the roof. Darrin gave Samantha a panicked look and yelled, "The window! She must have climbed out the window!" The three of them hurried out the front door and into a downpour.
"WEEEE-OHHHHHH!" howled Madge as she stood on the roof and turned first this way then that way. "WEEEEE-OHHHHH!" Samantha grabbed Darrin's arm.
"We've got to get her down from there! Do something before she gets hurt!" Aunt Clara had opened her brolly over herself and Samantha. Darrin ran to the garage to find a ladder.
"WEEEEE-OHHHHH!" Madge blared into the storm. Her voice was high on the "WEEEEE" and dropped low for the "OHHHHH". Aunt Clara and Samantha looked at each other helplessly, and then started to giggle inspite of themselves. They straightened their faces the minute Darrin reappeared with the ladder. He managed to climb up to where Aunt Madge was standing, but could not get her to leave the roof with him. She started to struggle so hard that he was afraid they would both fall. Turning to his wife, he shouted over the wind, "I think you are going to have to get her down with a little…" he grabbed his nose and wiggled it back and forth. Samantha rolled her eyes then twitched. Aunt Madge vanished from the roof. They hurried back into the house. Madge was dripping her way down the stairs.
"Where am I? I have to get back outside! I have to warn the sailors, I have to warn them!" she looked like she was about to cry. She turned to the door. Darrin looked pleadingly at Samantha and said "Do something!". Samantha snapped her fingers at Aunt Madge who immediately froze in place. Raising her voice, she called, "Mother, I demand that you appear before me!" Endora appeared, chortling on the valance in the corner of the room.
"What did I tell you Samantha? Nutty as a fruitcake! You'd better get out of this family before what's his name there snaps too." Darrin's lip curled back and he made a fist. Endora just laughed at him.
"Endora, when are you going to keep that big beak of yours out of our business!" he snarled. Samantha gave him a warning look and then turned to Endora.
"Now Mother, you stop this right now! Everything would have been fine if you would have just left well enough alone." Endora looked sulky.
"How can you be angry at me? I'm the one Derwood's family is calling eccentric, I'm the one whose good name is being raked through the mortal mud. And I am not the one who is dripping all over the carpets because the sailors need warning! I'm only being concerned about my daughter's welfare," she pouted in an injured voice.
Clara nudged Darrin and said, "She sure has a funny way of showing it," to which Endora merely hissed. Samantha finally had her fill.
"Mother, please stop this storm so we can all go to bed. I'm tired and if you are so concerned about me, you'll do as I ask so I can get some sleep." Endora considered this for a moment and said, "Well… all right, all right. I'll do it for you, Samantha, not for him." Bringing her hands slowly up above her head, Endora chanted, "Storm of fury, storm of might, cease your raging, but just for tonight!" With a wave of her hands, the storm was gone and so was she.
Samantha popped Aunt Madge back up to the guest bedroom, before realizing that Darrin might object. He didn't. He looked relieved. Aunt Clara began to gather up her brolly and bag to go.
"Well, children, I've done my duty. I must be off," Samantha pushed Darrin aside and took the bag from Clara's hand.
"It's too late for you to be out on a night like this! You are spending the night with us Aunt Clara, isn't she Darrin?" Darrin, too tired by all the night's activity to object, nodded his head with a "why not" look on his face. Aunt Clara beamed at them.
"Oh, I was hoping you'd ask me to stay." She followed Samantha up the stairs and Darrin fell in after her.
The next morning was bright and clear until Aunt Madge made her way downstairs. The minute her foot touched the living room floor, the heavens opened up and the thunder rolled like a bowling alley.
"Mother!" exclaimed an exasperated Samantha. Darrin ran for the ladder. Samantha joined him on the roof, persuading Madge to come down with the lure of a new wick for her light. Once inside the house Samantha had to put Madge back into a state of suspended animation.
"Do you mind if we move her to the kitchen so she won't drip any more rain on carpet?" Sam asked Darrin. He shook his head and moved to pick Madge up when she disappeared. Darrin turned to his wife and said, "Saaam!"
"You said I could move her," Samantha pointed out to him.
"You said, 'We'!" he replied aggravated. Samantha put her arms around his neck and explained, "You gave permission and I moved her-you see? We!". Darrin gave a surrenduring chuckle and kissed his witch wife. Then they went to the kitchen to decide what to do about Aunt Madge.
"What did your family do when she got like this?" Samantha wanted to know. She leaned against the sink, trying to think of a solution.
"They moved to Phoenix, Arizona," Darrin said in a defeated tone of voice.
"Well it IS very dry there," Aunt Clara remarked as she joined Darrin and Samantha. She smiled at the two of them. Samantha giggled, Darrin gave Aunt Clara a weak smile and a nod.
"Sam, can't you stop this storm?" Darrin asked desperately.
"Uh, uh, this is Mother's spell. Only she can undo it. Do you want me to zap your Aunt Madge out of the deep freeze?" Samantha was concerned; normally Darrin didn't want her to use her magic.
"Y-y-you know, I-I think you sh-should find out wh-what makes her climb the walls, I mean the roof, in the f-first place," Aunt Clara declared. Darrin looked at her blankly, but Samantha knew what she meant.
"Aunt Clara, that's it! If I can get Aunt Madge to tell us why she thinks she's a lighthouse, maybe we can find a way to stop this permanently!" Samantha stood up and began to walk around Darrin's dripping aunt. First, she twitched her nose to dry Aunt Madge's nightgown. Next she began to pass her hands over Madge's head while reciting her incantation.
"From the darkest parts of the subconscious mind, I beckon the reason, I beckon the rhyme. Give me the story of rain and thunder, tell me the truth while Madge is under!" With a wave of her hands, Samantha made the spell take affect.
Slowly, Madge began to speak. "When I was in college, Ethel and Grace and I went to a nightclub for the very first time. The show that night was a hypnotist called Melvin the Mesmerizer. He asked me to come up on the stage as one of the volunteers from the audience. He hypnotised me and made me act like a lighthouse. He said everytime it stormed, I should warn the sailors. Then he woke me up. I was supposed to go back up on stage again later in the show, but he got drunk and the manager threw him out of the nightclub. After that, I started warning the sailors when it rains." Madge fell silent.
"Oh, oh," said Samantha with a worried look on her face.
"What's the matter?" asked Darrin.
"I can't fix your aunt," Sam said helplessly. "You see, sweetheart, this is hypnotism , not witchcraft. I don't know how to take away a post hypnotic suggestion." Darrin threw his hands up in the air and said, "This is great, just great! My aunt has spent most of her life as a lighthouse all because some drunken sot didn't finish his job! What are we going to do? Your mother is making a monsoon and we can't keep Aunt Madge like this all weekend! Can't you do anything?"
"Weeeellll..." Samantha bit her lip, thinking. "I suppose we could try to find another hypnotist to finish the job." Darrin looked hopeful.
"I'll make some calls to the local talent agencies and see if there are any hypnotists for hire!" He hurried out of the room to make the calls. Aunt Clara walked around the frozen form of Aunt Madge and tsked.
"You know, she'll catch her death if we leave her in just that until tonight." And before Samantha could stop her, Clara had performed a spell intended to put Madge into some dry clothes. Madge ended up in an Eskimo's fur parka.
"Aunt Clara!" Samantha exclaimed, exasperated.
"Well, y-you must admit, she's n-nice and warm now," Clara replied. Samantha could never stay mad at her favorite aunt for long. Twitching her nose, Sam zapped Aunt Madge into a dry bathrobe and then went to see how Darrin was making out with the talent agencies.
"I have some good news and some bad news. The Amazing Amanda is in town and will see Aunt Madge privately before her show tonight."
"Oh, Darrin! That's wonderful! What's the bad news?"
Darrin's shoulders drooped. "We have to take Aunt Madge to the nightclub to the Amazing Amanda's dressing room." Samantha tilted her head and said, "What's so bad..." thunder interrupted her. "Oh! We can't drive Aunt Madge to the nightclub frozen! We'd never be able to explain!"
"And as long as your mother's storm is raging, we can't wake her up." finished Darrin.
"I could zap Aunt Madge into the club from here and..." but Samantha didn't finish because Darrin was shaking his head.
"You could zap her there all right, but what are you going to tell Aunt Madge when you wake her up?"
Darrin plunked down on the sofa and remarked, "It's too bad we can't take Aunt Madge's subconscious mind to the nightclub and leave the lighthouse at home."
"That's it!" Sam exclaimed excitedly.
"What's it?" asked Darrin. Samantha sat down beside him.
"We'll take Aunt Madge's mind and leave the rest of her at home!" Darrin looked scandalized,
"Now wait a minute, Sam! I was just being sarcastic!" But Samantha ignored him as she called for Aunt Clara to join them. "We'll take Aunt Clara to see the Amazing Amanda and just before we knock on the door, I'll switch Aunt Madge's subconscious for Aunt Clara's and the Amazing Amanda will do the rest! I can even give her a memory of being very sleepy all day so we don't have to wake her up before then." Darrin got up and began to pace.
"I don't know Sam, this sounds awful risky." Samantha asked Darrin, "Any riskier than your Aunt Madge climbing on the roof for the rest of her life?" Darrin gave in. Aunt Hagatha was pressed into service to stay with Aunt Madge, mostly because this was a rather unusual spell to witness even if it was from only one end.
Later that afternoon, Darrin and Samantha drove Aunt Clara to the Mango Mango Club. They were shown to the dressing room by the club manager.
"Amanda is expecting you, " he said and then excused himself to return to that night's preparations. Samantha checked to make sure no one was looking and then began the incantation,
"Within, without..." then Clara interrupted her.
"What Aunt Clara? We've got to get this done fast!"
"If I'm going to think like Darrin's aunt, d-don't you think I'd better l-look like her too?"
"Oh! You're absolutely right, Aunt Clara!" Samantha gasped. She twitched her nose and Clara assumed the appearance of Madge complete with appropriate evening wear. Clara/Madge smoothed down her dress and said, "That's the fastest diet I've ever been on!" Samantha smiled and sent Darrin to watch for anyone coming. Then she turned to Clara/Madge.
"Within, without, these ties that bind. From Madge to Clara transplant the mind!" A wave of her hands and Samantha took a good hard look at the woman in front of her. Clara/Madge looked around her curiously.
"Where are we?"
"We're at a night club, Aunt Madge. Darrin got us a pass to see the headliner before the show. You slept all the way here. Darrin! We're ready!" Samantha knocked on the door and they entered. An hour later, as the three of them walked out into the rain to the car, Clara/Madge held out her hands and said, "I just love the rain, we hardly ever get any in Phoenix."
Back at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, Samantha froze Clara/Madge just inside the front door before she could make it to the kitchen to see her real self there. First Samantha changed Aunt Clara's appearance back to normal and then reversed the mind switching spell. Sam remembered to zap the evening clothes onto Aunt Madge too. They spent the rest of the night playing cards and the two aunts hit it off famously.
"I must have slept most of the day away," Madge remarked when it was time for bed, "I don't feel a bit tired." Clara elected to stay up with Madge for awhile longer and brought out her doorknob collection. "What a wonderful hobby!" Madge exclaimed. Darrin and Samantha left the two dears admiring the collection and went to bed.
A week later, a card arrived in the mail from Aunt Madge. Samantha waited until Darrin came home from work to read it. He opened it and read,"Dear Darrin and Samantha, I had a wonderful time visiting you, thank you for the hospitality. I decided not to go back to Arizona just yet, thought I'd catch up with Samantha's Aunt Clara in London next week. We are going to go doorknob hunting. Love, Aunt Madge"
"How do you like that?" asked Darrin amazed. "Looks like our aunts are becoming fast friends."
"Well, it doesn't surprise me," said Samantha snuggling under Darrin's arm, "All the nicest people in your family like witches."

Danelle Witte (a.k.a. Polychrome) can be reached at


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