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The Broomstick and the Pony - Flash Fiction
Magic spells in the witch's den. No one knows what will and will not happen. She sweeps the dirt around her house, she keeps a candle lit in the window. Sometimes she sits in a rocking chair and watches people pass by her home. The lady lives outside of the village, all to herself, doing lord knows what. We've often seen her passing through her house, potions rattling, glasses breaking, and an explosion or two. No one really knew the woman who lived in the orange hut. We thought it smelled funny, had obscene aesthetics, and was a savage home.
Most people were satisfied to leave her as a corpse in her own filth. She didn't seem to mind being alone. We often wondered what were her targets -- did she want to make love potions, black magic, Germanic curses, something with dolls? No one had the heart to ask. We assumed she barely understood us. We assumed she couldn't speak an intelligent sentence.
She once told her sister that she wanted to borrow her cat; the sister then never talked to her again. She was quite worried that she wanted to do something awful to the cat. Other then that connection, no one knew much about her. The sister said they grew up normal, healthy even. They use to play together, doing the chores, and buying sweets at the market. From what most people can remember, the two were inseparable. They seemed to love each other dearly, but whatever happens in time, whatever happens in connection, often gets lost and withers away. One moment someone is your lover, the next you're taking them to court before a judge. Complaining, asking for them to be burned at the stake.
I often wondered if the witch loved her sister from afar.
It seemed like she was so engrossed with her madness that she never really had the time to wander outside of the forest. I'm sure going to court those several summers ago didn't help their relationship at any level.
She once went to the market looking for a specific item for her brewing stew. She threw quite a tantrum when she was told she could not buy anything from the apothecary, because no one trusted her. It was disgraceful to watch, as if she had no dignity at all. I suppose when you forfeit good sense and spend all your time making potions instead of turning things into money... you too became twisted in this way.
I wish I understood her demeanor. I wish anyone did. I saw her go to the city well, and she held her belongings there. She sat there as if no one in the world could see her. She scratched herself, pulled at her hair, and moaned as if in agony.
There is no telling what was so uncivil about this witch, but I wish we could get her further away from the town. She probably would sleep with your husbands, steal your good silverware, and burn your father's ashes in the urn. She was such a hazard. She was such a stain on civil society. She'll turn the children bad, she'll turn the sunshine bad, I reckon, if she keeps up her sins, God himself will make the world shake with a violent earthquake.
No one ever smelt so putrid -- like an outhouse never cleaned. Her eyes had a certain yellow glow to them. She picks at her nose if you watch her long enough. What a beastly, unimportant woman. I'm sure my husband would be delighted to hear the latest gossip on the witch. I'm sure we'll laugh together like always at this grumbling, crumbling fool.
One time I was hiking near her woods, when I saw a thin woman in a lovely coat ambling toward the hut like cottage. The woman seemed regale, well kept, even in a slightly under-colored coat. It had such a lovely design about it. I decided to follow the lady as she made her stroll. She seemed to go so elegantly through the forest. When she reached the edge, Helga could be seen clearly through the window darting about her home.
I ambled through the woods, got scratched up by the thorns and muddied up my tunic. I saw the elegant woman tap on the hut door three times. I hid behind a tree; there was enough undergrowth that no one, not even a professional spy, could have seen me. Helga opened the door for the lady and she bowed. The two went back inside.
What outlandishness is this?
I crept closer to the home. I felt like I was burrowing into a swamp. Mosquitoes bit at my legs, a thick green smog built in the air. I crept up to the kitchen window where Helga and the lady were sitting at a table. The lady was sobbing, and it seemed the witch was trying to comfort her. She was pulling items from a shelf and pouring them into a pot. She looked at the woman's hands and was tracing her hand along the palm lines. She poured a batch of some red liquid into the cauldron and wisps flew from the bowl -- spirits, demons, angels -- I have no idea what came from the belly of that cauldron. The lady's tears seemed to stop as she viewed the images. There was a spirit that looked like a fine young gentleman, he tried to reach out for the woman -- but a scythe fell on him and everything went black.
The lady started crying again and Helga tried to comfort her.
What strange vision did I just see? These spirits can't be real! This must be an illusion.
Stranger still, Helga cleared her table. She dumped the liquid from the cauldron into the sink. She lit what appeared to be sage.
In what surprised me more than anything that night, Helga sang a song to the woman. This lady seemed to be under her spell as she became quiet, sleepy, and relaxed. She ended up falling into a deep slumber at the table. Helga picked up the woman and carried her off into the center of the house.
I wasn't sure what to do. I wanted to keep investigating this home, but this was the only window on the house. The only thing I could do to get closer to the interior was literally go inside, and for whatever reason -- I don't think I was allowed. I tried knocking on the front door, but no one ever answered. There was a white chalk circle around the house, very faded but still there. Whenever I tried to touch the salt on the house, it would burn my hand.
I waited outside for the lady to come back out into the forest. She didn't stir that night. I would look in the window and see Helga chanting with her eyes closed. She would mop the floors when I wasn't as focused on what she was doing. I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Why did this lovely lady seek this woman's aid? Why did the pit of my stomach hurt when I saw the witch chanting or even the vision from the cauldron? It was too late to turn back into the forest and find my way back into the village. My husband could have me killed for being gone so long, he might think I'm cheating on him, that I'm converting to some new religion in the forest, or he might think that I no longer believe in hell. He isn't exactly the kindest of men. He can be quite brutal, judging someone harshly for their shortcomings.