Edna Sharrow

Words and photographs by Paul McAuley

1.

Edna Sharrow was born in Glastonbury on All Souls Day, 1876. Claiming to be the last true black witch, she became a supporter of the Nazis in the 1930s and fled her homeland after a failed attempt to turn the gold reserves of the Bank of England into iron pyrites.

She survived the last days of Hitler's bunker and kidnap attempts by the KGB, the CIA, and Mossad, returned to London in the 1960s, and drew a circle of protection around herself in a ground floor flat in Essex Road, Islington.

She's been there ever since, living on spiders, woodlice, and pallid tendrils of ivy that curl through the rotten courses of mortar of the kitchen wall. A few weeks ago, a young crack addict broke into the flat, hoping to find something he could sell for his next fix. Edna patched the broken pane in the front door with cardboard charged with a sly charm. An open invitation to another desperate chancer.

She'd forgotten how good fresh meat tasted. After another meal, she'll be ready to go back into the world.

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