In the woods, along the river Great, there was a cottage far from any other homes. The forest was dark, with deep chasms and gnarly roots growing in a patchwork of threads, and nobody would set foot in these parts. Yet there the cottage lay, lonely from any curious gaze; which was how they liked it. In this home, there lived three witches, and their powers were only rivalled by themselves, for they had passion in what they did – to outdo the other – and surely, there was none more passionate than they.
They knew secrets about the world (and others yet conceived by any other) and they loved to outdo one another in their spells. Puffs of green and red would spark in the night, for nighttime was the only time for magic, they often said. At day, the world was as it has always been – it is what we all see. But at night, it is different, and many secrets can be found where normal people don’t look. And normal, they were not, at least not in the eyes of one man; a straggler that had wandered poorly, taking paths he thought he knew – moving against common sense towards the witches hut.
At first, the puffs of colours had sparked his amaze! And without knowing its source and intent, all he saw was the beauty that was manifested. But as he got closer, seeing now the cottage in its dilapidated glory, shabby, and part of nature, he heard the cackles of the three witches as they congratulated one another on another successful spell. But their congrats were only half sincere, for they were proud beings and they would do better than the other and show who had the greatest powers. Though his heart new the voice only spelt trouble, he moved forward for he had not listened to his senses from the very beginning, why start now? It was not hard to get closer unnoticed, for though the witches were powerful, they were not without fault. They did not expect any strangers to brave their forest, much less approach, thus they expected none.
The man, now trembling, peeked through the glassless window, showing as little of his face as he could, and gazed only with one curious eye. The inside was as dark as the forest, but every now and again, when puffs of colours engulfed the room, he could make out what the witches looked like. At first, he had a clear picture of their countenances, resembling more that of a rat and hog than a human being. But in other moments, and between spells, their faces were different and they laughed in their cackling ways as they outdid one another.
“Good, good,” one of them said, only immediately to supersede the other by a motion of her hand and a few choice words. PUFF! The colours sparked, and their faces were different anew. Indeed, the entire inside was not as it were before, but a burning landscape of charcoal trees and panicked animals skittering! The witches laughed and peered at their making, delighted in what they saw. But the man who had seen all of it, his nerves finally broke and he sent out a shriek as if his very flesh was burning of his bones. But as he lost his grip on the wooden frame, he landed in the grass and felt the cool wind blow against his face. The cottage was again lifeless and part of nature. But it was also silent, as if though none was ever there.
Indeed it might as well be, for the man did not recall what he had seen. He tried hard to recollect but as he came out blank, he began to wander home, whichever way he thought was right. But within just a few steps, he crashed into a tree on the left part of his face. He was baffled, how had he missed the giant tree? He felt upon his left eye, the very same he had spied upon the witches, to only find a hollow where the eye should have been. A spark of pain shot through him, for though his mind was lacking, his body recalled, and he listened for once to his senses and ran as fast, and as far away as he could, leaving once more the witches to practice their craft without any curious gaze.
© Christopher Stamfors
Artwork by ChrisCold