Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is she a witch?

The girl slept through to mid afternoon and awoke refreshed. Her wounds had miraculously healed though there was little this community of the month-watchers could do about her torn and bloodstained clothes. But she was healed and was grateful for that. She also knew she must return to the cottage where the two sisters lived, she could not stay here, much as she might like to. January saw her to the arcade at the edge of the clearing.
"The way back is simple," January advised, "just keep the sun to your right." She was about thank him when she felt January's icy fingers touch her lips, "Sister June left you these to take back. I have no doubt it was those two who beat you made you come here for this." He handed her a basket full of summer blossom. "Like the spring flowers, these too shall smooth your path. Live well!"
"Thank you kind sir, thank you!" Her heart was so full of gratitude she felt it was going to burst. She turned and walked into the forest. True to January's word the effect of the basket of flowers not only made summer appear where she walked, (and winter reclaim its own ere she had passed), but she felt summers warmth was with her too. She walked in her own private cocoon of summer.
It was turning dusk by the time she emerged from the forest into the clearing where the cottage is and the instant she stepped into that clearing the warmth of summer vanished. She still had the basket of summer blossoms but the chill of winter was ever present. Not only that but her reception was even icier. The two sisters watched as she came out through the almost invisible gap in the curtain of trees.
These two sisters were so eaten up with hate that they felt sure the girl had bought the flowers to mock them. How had she managed to find summer flowers in the depth of winter? They reasoned that it was possible by a flook to get spring flowers but to manage perfect summer blooms? And where did she get that basket? Of course they asked her, demanded it of her, threatened to beat her, then carried out the threat. It was then that they realised her scars from the last beating had healed completely. It was barely twenty-four hours since they had laid about her with so much vigour they were sure she had run away to die. Nobody could survive such treatment, surely? They could only come to one conclusion. They stood towering over her. She cringed and knelt on the ground and placed the basket of flowers in front of her. Already they were beginning to wilt in the intense cold and frost. One sister hissed the words with as much venom as her anger-blinded heart could muster, "You're a.... WITCH!"
The other sister repeated the phrase and kicked the girl hard in the ribs. They paced round and around her, kicking, pushing and shouting "Witch! witch!" Their hatred was mixed with fear. What if she was a witch?
The girl's own fear gave way to anger. She sprang to her feet and ran to the cottage and turned to face them. The light streaming out of the open door-way framed her form perfectly as she shouted back, "I am no witch! Were I one, you would both have been turned into standing stones by now!" The outburst spent her and she turned and went into the cottage. She went to her usual place in the scullery and curled up in the corner by the fire and buried her head in her arms.
The girl's temerity had taken the two sisters by surprise and they just stood there momentarily dumbfounded. When they realised they had not been turned to stone they wondered about what to do next.
If she isn't a witch, then how come she manages to bring forth these flowers at a time when nothing is growing? She must have found someone with a secret garden. "No," reasoned the other, "its more than that, how did those marks on her back heal so quickly? When we had finished with her she was almost dead. I think, if she isn't a witch, - and she can't be, otherwise she would have done us instead, - if she isn't one then she knows one in the forest. That's why she won't tell us."
"Yes, that's probably it," said the other. "And I've just got an idea. If we play this right, we could get this witch to help us too. We'll follow her next time and then when we find the witch we will tell her what a wicked scheming thing this little girl is and when we have persuaded her she'll banish the little vixen and gladly give us whatever we ask." They debated this between themselves for some little time beforethey realised it really was too cold to be standing outside. They went in but decided to leave the girl alone. Yes they could beat her into submission again but now a little fear began to gnaw at them. They would hatch their plan in the morning. It could not fail.
Later that evening; a vertical plume of smoke rose lazily from the cottage chimney. Lights glowed orange in the windows. The two sisters enjoyed a warm repast cooked by the girl who in turn shared her meal with a red squirrel by the scullery fire. Outside a raven circled the clearing before heading out over the treetops.
to be continued....

1 comment:

Thumbelina said...

And you made me wait nearly two whole days from yesterday morning!