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Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Snapdragon graphic novel on a lime green background with a stick wand on top

Snap’s town has a witch and there are the typical bullshit stereotype stories about her; however, the rumors also say she eats pets and Snapdragon, holding a leash, intends to find out if that’s true. Snap sneaks into the house which looks rundown, if not abandoned. Plants are reclaiming the porch that runs the full length of the front and the surrounding lawn is thick with thorny vines. Looking through the screen door, Snap sees Good Boy asleep on the floor. Rushing in, Snap picks up Good Boy and when she does, she sees a bandage wrapped around his middle. Behind Snap is the tall thin shawl figure of the witch. Through gnarled teeth, she tells Snap she is eating the dog piece by piece.

Snap runs out of the witch’s house, catches her foot on a thorny vine and falls over hard. She turns and shouts at the witch that she is a liar and is not afraid of her. This somewhat impresses the witch who seems more like a genial old woman than a scary consort of Satan. The witch concedes, she has not been eating the dog bit by bit, she found him hurt on the side of the road and patched him up before sending Snap off. She thanks the witch as she leaves. 

That night, Snap tells her mom she found Good Boy before giving her a hug and asking about work. The next day at school, Snap is looking at the scratches on her hand from the fall at the witch's house. Nearby, under a tree, a bunch of kids are being gross and poking a dead opossum, so Snap goes over to tell them to stop. When the opossum starts shaking (maggots? natural release of gas? ghosts? playing dead?) one of the jerks pushes Snap toward it and she lands hard. Screaming that she’s eating it, the jerkoff bullies run away. Well, except one who comes over to check she’s okay, but Snap just hisses at him and runs off to the witch who she notices is sporting an eyepatch. 

Inside a crate Snap is carrying are baby opossums, she thought the witch could help them like she did Good Boy. The witch ushers Snap inside explaining the babies will be independent in a month's time but Snap can look after them at her house until then. Inside, the witch's house has many jars filled with weird and wonderful things that look like animal parts which distracts Snap. When she turns back to the witch, she has ditched her long black robes in favor of a cat Meowdy! t-shirt, Bermuda shorts and green crocs and introduces herself as Jacks. Jacks will keep the baby opossums and show Snap how to look after them in exchange for help…

Snap heads home, finds a note from her mom with clear instructions to walk Good Boy, do her homework and go to bed. Snap takes Good Boy for a walk and runs into the boy who checked on her before, Louis, who is sitting on his roof to avoid his big brothers. Louis apologizes for earlier saying he didn’t want to mess around with the dead opossums and gives Good Boy a good pet. Good Boy only has three legs and Louis asks about it, so Snap tells him the witch ate it and they get into a playful argument about her actually going to the witch’s house and they end up bonding over The Witch’s Hill movies. That’s when Louis’s brothers come out acting all tough and embarrassing, but they call Snap a weird one and she doesn’t like it so she quickly heads home. 

The next morning, Snap is up, dressed, has breakfast and is out the door to Jacks’ house. When she arrives there is a note on the door directing Snap out back. Jacks is back in witchy garb next to a wheelbarrow. Jacks directs Snap to bring the wheelbarrow and says she’ll show Snap how to feed the opossum babies after The Collection. They go deeper into the woods until they come upon a dead animal. Jacks stops, takes a knee, widens her arms before clapping her hands once and pronouncing “wake up.” Jacks then shovels the animal into the wheelbarrow. It must smell pungent as Snap pulls her T-shirt over her face. They continue to collect dead animals. 

Eventually, Snap asks what the heck Jacks wants with all these dead animals, to eat them? for spells? Jacks shows Snap an animal graveyard where she lets the animals sit until they’re just bones… the next part she’ll see in the house where there is also tea! Snap slurps an iced tea and stares at a coyote skull on the table. Jacks puts the skeletons back together and sells them for a lot of money. So Jacks isn’t a witch but an entrepreneur with a weird niche business. But what’s the clapping about? Ignoring her, Jacks takes Snap to the opossums.

Later that day, Snap and her mom are at the bookstore and she’s telling her mom about her volunteer work with Jacks. Snap sees a book called Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates which the bookseller tries to dissuade her from buying pushing cute books about animals instead, but Snap’s mom is a Badass Queen and supports her daughter’s interests and buys her the book. By the time Snap and her mom get home, Snap has her nose deep in the book and is spouting off interesting facts. Over dinner, Snap’s mom tells her she isn’t raising an antisocial and she wants her to make friends and invite someone over. 

Snap invites Louis over to watch scary movies, and while Snap is really into the movie, Louis is terrified, but he says really loves them! Snap isn’t scared of “silly fake movies” but real monsters, which leads to Snap telling Louis the story of the monster that has stalked her family for generations, One-Eyed Tom [fade to black and white]. Snaps Gran was the first to see it one foggy night and she got lost, the windows of the car kept frosting up. In the mist, she was sure she saw something. When she got out of the car, her flashlight died, and then she saw it moving closer in the dark. A strange animal with one eye and a loud… alley cats screaming interrupt the story at this point, oops. Back to the story… One-Eyed Tom got closer and closer before Snap's gran ran back to the car and drove off, refusing to look back. Anywho, goodnight Louis, have a safe walk back home! 

At Jacks’, Snap is feeding the baby opossums while Jacks is putting the spine of a rabbit back together. Snap asks Jacks why she messes around with their bones if she cares about animals so much. Jacks explains that roadkill is a horrible way to go, so she claps her hands to get their spirits to move along, lets the bugs safely eat them up and turns the bones into something new but also something that can be remembered. Snap grabs her anatomy book and shows Jacks some of the pictures where the animals are moving, and suggests their bones could be articulated to be jumping or something. Jacks agrees if Snap will help. 

Later, on Louis’s roof, Louis is painting his fingernails while Snap explains what she is doing at Jacks’ as she looks through her book trying to find a good pose to use. She concedes to him painting her toes. Also, he’s managed to find the director's cut of Witch’s Hill. Yes!!

At Jacks’, Snap has picked a leaping pose to fix the rabbit bones in, and Jacks is looking at the picture while she finishes cleaning the opossum tank. As Jacks bends the spine, Snap stares at Jacks’ eyepatch. Intensely. Offputtingly. Jacks says a fox ate it, but Snap doesn’t believe her, so she tells the truth, she had a motorcycle accident decades ago because she used to race them. Snap must know EVERYTHING. 

On the way home, Snap is telling Louis of another incident with One-Eyed Tom. Her uncle was cycling home when he unfortunately fell into a ravine. When he woke up with a twisted ankle, he heard something. He tried to climb out but his ankle hurt and the ravine was slick with mud. That’s when he saw it stalking him. It was climbing down the ravine, mouth open, drool dripping from a maw filled with sharp teeth and a green tongue. Snap’s gran went looking for her uncle as it had grown so late and she scared the monster off then hauled her uncle out the ravine herself. 

Louis wants to know if Snap has ever seen One-Eyed Tom, but no, she hasn’t. When Snap spots Louis’s hand-me-down dragon shirt, she loses her mind; she loves it so much. Louis offers to give her it, but Snap insists on a trade. In her mom’s room, Snap climbs to the top of the closet and from the mess of things she pulls down, draws out a fantastic purple skirt along with an old picture of her mom with her uncles. Snap puts the picture in her pocket as she puts on music so Louis can dance in his new skirt. Snap’s mom comes home while they’re busting moves and is happy for Louis to have her skirt so long as his parents don’t mind, but he can tell them she let him have it if they do kick up a fuss. She is a Queen! 

Snap unexpectedly stops by Jacks’ house, she has the picture from her mom’s closet and heads straight to a framed photograph on Jacks’ wall. In the picture, Jacks is sitting on a motorcycle with her arm around… Snap’s gran! Jacks had wondered because she thought Snap looked like her gran at times. Snap’s mind is blown and she begs to know the story.

Jacks was racing in a less than official race. They didn’t mind women racing, but when you win, it could be a different matter. Because Jacks was tall, gangly and covered in dirt, and so long as she didn’t speak, everyone assumed she was a guy, except Snap’s gran and oh boy did Snap’s gran flirt with her! Jacks and Jessamine started dating, they’d picnic, go for rides, go to the fair or stay home and dance. It was going great except Jessamine wanted a family, a big one and Jacks did not. It got to a point where it was too big of an issue and that was that. Jessamine went on to be with a kind man and have the big family she wanted. The story makes Snap have all the feels and she gratefully accepts a cookie. 

At school, Snap shows Louis a sketchbook Jacks gave her of animal skeletons and how they go together that she did herself. Unfortunately the jerk bullies interrupt them, splash mud in the sketchbook and take it from Snap, calling her Snotty, and throw it between each other until it lands in Louis’s hands. Louis, being nice and Snap’s friend, gives it back and challenges the bullies, telling the jerks their names are Lulu and Snaps, not Louis and Snotty. ((And we all cheer for Lulu who has declared her true name and pronouns.)) The jerks make brainless derogatory comments which pisses Snap off BIG TIME and she headbutts them. The panel cuts to Snap being picked up by her mom. She’s not happy to have gotten a call from the school, but it could be worse than for a headbutt especially in defense of her friend. 

At Jacks’, the opossum babies are flourishing but it’s time to set them free. Together, Snap and Jacks take them in pet carriers into the woods. Now the opossums are free, Snap makes sure she can still help Jacks, and Jacks readily agrees. As Snap encourages the last baby out of the carrier, she sees the spirit of the opossum mama nudge the baby out. While Snap is losing her mind, Jacks is pretty casual about the whole thing. Snap carried the mama opossum when she brought the babies. Does this mean Jacks is really a witch!? Yup. 

Snap bombards Jacks with questions, the girl has gotta know everything! Jacks tells her being a witch is lonely, you’re always on the outside and it’s nothing like the witches in TV or movies. Snap asks if she can be a witch, too, and Jacks tells her, honestly warns her, that not everyone is able to use magic but she’s willing to teach her if she’s willing to learn. Magic isn’t about broomsticks and wands, but connecting with energy. Magic is a matter of will. Enthusiastically, Snap agrees and runs to tell Lulu. 

On the roof, Snap tells Lulu that magic is real, she can see ghosts, Jacks is a witch, and one day she’s going to be a witch, too. Lulu is skeptical. Snap goes on to tell her about the Buck ghost that still pesters Jacks and the fox with one green eye she keeps seeing. The eye was Jacks’, she gave it to the fox after hitting it while driving at night. Jacks pulled out her eye, fed it to the fox and it worked, but she may also have cursed him as they’re now linked, and with that link, the fox checks on Jessamine and her family. HOLD IT! Lulu stops Snap’s story, and exclaims, “Are you telling me One-Eyed Tom is a real, decades-old fox and the old lady you put skeletons together with shares an eye with him?!” Yeah, pretty much. It turns out Tom has been looking after them all this time. Wow. 

At stupid early o’clock, Snap arrives at Jacks’ for her witch training. She’s vibrating with energy, but Jacks needs coffee before going over the basics of what magic is again. Soon they are outside and Jacks shows Snap what she can do. Kneeling before a dead squirrel, Jacks claps her hands and says wake up!! The squirrel’s spirit rises and Jacks encourages Snap to try. It doesn’t work, but Snap shouldn’t be discouraged, it was her first go, and they’ll work together to get better. A montage shows Jacks and Snap clapping their hands, the spirits of animals dancing around them, Snap reading a book about witches, and Jacks reading a book about teaching. All the while Jacks and Snap are working on putting the jumping rabbit skeleton together, eventually they’re finished and it looks good. Snap begs Jacks to show her other magic since she can’t seem to do the basics. Though Jacks sees it as a distraction, she relents and tells Snap to come over on Halloween at dusk.

In the park, Snap and Lulu are walking and Snap is telling Lulu about her magic training. She’s frustrated, she’s always felt different but feels it may be because she’s a witch. Lulu likes hanging with Snap because she’s the biggest weirdo she knows, not because of magic. Lulu then hands Snap a stick, a perfect stick for making magic. At first Snap is reluctant because Jacks taught her that wands are a distraction, but then she flicks the wand and there is a fizz. Okay, time to try something. Snap flicks the wand again and POOF! makes Lulu’s hair grow just as Lulu wanted. 

It’s dusk on Halloween night and Snap has headed over to Jacks’ house, she has her stick wand in hand and is dressed in her opossum costume she wore at school. Jacks is in the kitchen pouring hot chocolate into a flask when she clocks Snap’s costume, pouch, tail and cute ears… honestly Jacks has a cough and isn’t laughing. Honest! Anywho, time to go into the woods where they let the baby opossums loose. 

Jacks sits Snap down on a bench and explains they need to go slow and do it right because they use their own spirit to make magic and if you flitter it away it will turn you hollow. Anyway, time to go fly. WHAT!? Jacks uses her magic to wrap around them both and the bench before zooming off and up. As it’s Halloween, there is a bit more magic in the air, so having fun flying is okay. 

Jacks has taken them above Pratter Road, aka Splatter Road, the busiest spot for collecting roadkill, but not tonight! Jacks uses her magic to lift a raccoon out of the way of an oncoming car, much to the surprise of the raccoon and driver. Next a squirrel, then a tortoise and finally some deer. Snap spots a opossum as Jacks is taking a drink of her hot chocolate, so she whips out her stick wand and, with a bolt of energy, saves the opossum by driving the car off the road. Before the car can fall down the bank, Jacks uses her magic to catch the car and bring it back on the road before taking them back down to the ground outside her house. 

Snap looks guilty. Jacks looks disappointed. Jacks has been teaching Snap control so she doesn’t make mistakes. She takes Snap’s stick wand and calls it a night because she’s tired. Snap heads home, her mom isn’t there, she’s covering the late shift, but Good Boy is there and gives her the hugs she needs. Meanwhile, at the firehouse, Snap’s mom knows she’s a strong, independent woman who is raising a strong, independent daughter, but she wants to spend more time with her. Hersch, who has brought coffee and food, reminds her that after this semester she will have her degree, will be able to drop a crappy job and spend time with her… and perhaps have time for a real meal together as a date once she’s in a comfortable place after her last jerk boyfriend. 

Speaking of, the last jerk boyfriend, Chuck, who Snap’s mom kicked out and told him not to take Good Boy, and who One Eyed Tom scared the snot out off, has returned and brought two of his dogs with him. He’s come to collect his stuff, claiming Good Boy is his. He is trying to force himself inside but Snap is struggling to keep him out. One-Eyed Tom, and by extension, Jacks, sees what is going on. Jacks dashes to the phone but realizes she doesn’t have a number to call so she rushes outside and pulls the blue tarp off her motorbike. Unfortunately, it’s out of gas. 

Back at Snap’s, she is shouting at Chuck that he can’t have Good Boy, but she’s managed to grab him. Good Boy is struggling in Chuck’s arm and bites the jerk. Meanwhile, Jacks is trying to work out what to do when the ghost buck comes over. Jacks puts the spirit into her motorcycle and rushes to the firehouse for Snap’s mom. Good Boy has managed to escape Chuck and is running to Snap. Snap, who is full of anger, manages to use her magic to blast Chuck’s ankle, stopping him in his tracks. Chuck is pissed. 

At the firehouse, Jacks has pulled up on her motorcycle. Snap’s mom just knows there is something wrong and rushes to Jacks even though she doesn’t know her. Jacks throws a helmet to her and tells her to hop on before peeling off. Snaps is telling Chuck to leave them alone, but now he wants to know what the hell Snap did, and what the hell the monster was from before. Snaps shouts to go away and gestures and power hits Chuck and throws him. It wasn’t Snap, it was Jacks. Chuck sics his two dogs at Snap, but Snap puts her hand out and tells them they are good dogs, they stop in their tracks for skritches. 

Snap’s mom grabs Snap in a big hug before turning her anger at Chuck. Jacks tells Snap she is proud of her and apologizes for trying to force her way of doing magic on Snap before handing back her stick wand. Snap accepts it, but doesn’t need it, she understands what Jacks was trying to teach her. To demonstrate, Snap picks up Chuck, who is trying to walk away, and puts him in the trash can where he belongs. 

Three weeks later, Snap’s mom drops her off at Jacks’, reminding her to do her homework before she messes with skeletons and magic, but to have fun. She also needs to remind Jacks about dinner later in the week and about something mysterious that will make Jacks freak. Chuck’s two dogs now live with Jacks and they are still good boys. As they get started sorting a raccoon skeleton, Snap asks Jacks to Thanksgiving dinner… at her gran’s house. Jacks starts to protest but  Snap tells her her grandpa died a long time ago and her grandma would be happy to see her. Jacks agrees when Snaps tells her that her mom is named after her gran’s favorite flower, violets, the flower Jacks gave her on their first date. 

On Thanksgiving morning, Lulu, who looks fabulous in the purple skirt and an orange wrap blouse, is instructing Snap on how to tie her tie over the phone. It’s a mess but in all fairness, it’s really hard to instruct over the phone! Fine, Snap will rock the look without the tie. Lulu suggests she use magic, but Snap won’t. Lulu wishes she could use magic to make her seed grow.

The family had gathered at Jessamine’s house… so many people all talking on top of each other, getting in the way, stealing food, and helping make dinner. Violet and Snap haven’t told Jessamine that they’re bringing Jacks, only that they’re bringing a guest. Jessamine drops the casserole dish she is holding when Jacks walks through the door. They’ve missed each other and share a hug with the whole family watching on, but no one noticed Snap caught the casserole dish. Well done Snap, we see you. 

After Thanksgiving, Buck hasn’t left Jacks’ motorcycle, he’s happy zooming around. Jacks and Jessamine are back together. Snap continues to help and learn from Jacks, with Violet's encouragement. She’s showing great control, able to help the animals remember their shape. The town no longer has a witch, it has two. 

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