Manu Ranganathan 2016
The Witch's Story
I roll out of bed, cringing at the sound of the mattress creak. I bump my head on the roof as always and stumble towards the kitchen. I light the fire and boil an old rusty kettle, warming my hands over the warm steady stream of steam. The water boils and I pour the water into an old rustic looking mug and make my way to the living area, once again banging my head on the low lying roof of this gingerbread house.
I brush my messy, grey hair and made my way back to the fire. I stand and stare at the blazing flame, the tall red and orange gas that was my soul. My inspiration. I stumble over to my mum’s old rocking chair. When I arrived I sat without hesitation and was immediately sad.
The wooden rocking chair is the only remains of my mother. Every day is spent in this chair. I sit and I cry. I cry because I want my mother back.
I was brought back to when I was a young girl. I was eight, I sat by the window of my bedroom, the size of a shoebox. I had a book in my hand and was staring at the other children. I was wishing I could go and play with them. Leave the house for the first time in my life. Feel the breeze against my face.
My mother entered without a knock. “Girl, come”. I stood and walked over to my mother. She snatched the book from my hand. “Turn around” she said with her normal voice. No expression and no sign of any emotion. I obeyed. I didn’t see it coming. I was on the floor. My head burning. My mother left without another word.
I loved my mum. I remember when I was ten she gave me a hug. That was the best day of my life. When I was twelve I was in my room, reading a book by the window. I was wishing I could go and play with the other kids. Leave my room, go outside. My mum loved gingerbread. Every night she slid a piece of gingerbread with a glass of water. I loved it. But now it had been two days since I had received my meal. I sneaked out my room. Sweat was dripping down my forehead. Each step I took slower. Each step creaking and moaning. I reached the kitchen. I froze in shock. My eyes filled with tears. At the bottom of my mums wooden rocking chair lay my mother. Blood dripping from her head.
Suddenly, I’m woken up and brought back to reality. I am eighty-three now. Not one day had passed where I hadn’t had that dream. Experienced that memory. I walked over to the wooden stable like door and went outside for some fresh air.
The wind hit me as I made my way to the front of the house. The gingerbread house was a strange shape. The owl nest like roof curved upwards into the dark, grey like sky. The red smarty buttons cast a spooky shadow over the perfect green front yard. The grey sky suddenly changed to a sunny blue paradise and the gingerbread house looked like a kid’s dream. I took a breath of fresh air and moved over to the left side of the house. I chose a window and snapped a bit of gingerbread of the windowsill. The smell brought tears to my eyes and with pure delight I brought the perfect snack up to my mouth before taking a bite. I closed my eyes and let every sense in my body enjoy the sensation of eating gingerbread from this magical house.
My senses jerked back to life when I heard a mixture of stomping footsteps and a child whistling. I turned to face the forest that lay at the bottom of my low-lying valley. The dark, grim forest was a place that I can’t stand. It is lit by a low-lying layer of thick cloud and the dark oak trees let in minimal sunlight. The forest trees are homes to thousands of crows and the moving leaves on the forests floor leave no trace of a trail.
I stood and stared at the forest and I started to get a nervous feeling in my plump tummy. I waited for about ten minutes. The stomping sound was getting louder. I could just make out two small figures making the climb up the valley. The valley was a land of dreams. The light green frosty grass was barely visible in the cluster of brightly coloured flowers. The sun beamed down on the clear stream that travelled down the valley leaving no noise apart from a faint trickle. The two children were getting much closer now. I could just make out there faces. One had long blonde hair, swaying behind her tired back in a long plat. The boy had freckles all over his chubby face and was pointing at my gingerbread house with a smile across his face that I can barely describe.
I half ran half limped over to the house and slammed the door shut before locking it. I shut all the curtains and locked all the windows. I have never seen a human being for fifty years.
The two children made their way up the grassy hill top and stopped a few metres outside the house. The faces were filled with very excited expressions and both were barely able to stop themselves from sprinting over and grabbing a piece of this magical gingerbread.
Ten very long minutes had passed before there was any movement. Suddenly, both kids stomped over to the house and started munching crazily on the house. Neither could get the gingerbread into their fat little stomachs fast enough. They were munching so fast and enjoying every moment.
I was in tears. I held back a scream. Stopped myself from running outside and destroying those disgusting figures. This house was the only remains of my mother. The only connection I had. Then I had a sudden thought. I didn’t care about my mother because ever since I was a baby she treated me like I was garbage. She was horrible.
It took every inch of braveness in my small body. I was petrified. I made my way over to the door and took a deep breath. I tried not to think. I opened it and immediately saw the two children freeze. I was lost for words. I didn’t have anything to say. ‘Hello do you want to come inside?’ The kids nodded and with a concerned look on there faces followed me inside, making sure to keep a distance from me.
When I got inside I gestured for the kids to sit by the fire. They did and then I brought them a plate full of fresh warm gingerbread. I also sat down and started to talk. We talked for hours and hours. I didn’t even think about stopping until I noticed the sun setting over the beautiful green valley. I led the two children (the boy said his name was Hansel and the girl Gretel) to the guest bedroom. I said good night and felt good. I felt great. I felt the best I had ever felt in my entire life. I went to get changed for bed and noticed that I looked older then I have ever noticed before. I changed out of my black, witch-like gown and untired my grey, messy hair. I did my teeth and went to bed feeling incredible.
Over the next few days I learnt some valuable lessons. I learnt that it is important to have friends. I also learnt that sometimes you have to be careful not to get to desperate and that some people don’t have a heart, only greed.
I woke in pitch black and tried to stand but only bumped my head. I couldn’t move because I was tied up. I was tied inside the fireplace. Hansel and Gretel were both looking in from the other side of the glass door. I shouted out to them and asked for help. ‘You won’t live another day witch. This house is ours. This valley is ours. This lifestyle is ours. And you won’t stand in our way they said. In panic I banged on the door but it was no hope. Within minutes, red flames came shooting out of the top of the fire place and I knew I had minutes left. My name is the witch, fire is my soul and this was my story.