Inside the witch’s house

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I got this writing prompt from the mind of the one and only David Mark, in his creative writing class on Goldster. Unfortunately I'd missed the start of the class and so missed my opportunity to write it there and then. Instead I wrote the core of it on the 8:31 to Manchester, courtesy of Northern railways. Only 62 revisions later and here you are!

“You didn’t come here on your own did you, dearie? No… You wouldn’t do that.”

She looked at me sideways like a snake and I didn’t want to tell her I had come alone, but it was obvious really.

“Tell your Dad did you? He’s a funny one isn’t he?” She guffawed and I nodded because I couldn’t speak. I could’ve done before. I’d said goodbye to Mum when she went to work that morning though.

She looked keenly at me and crooked a finger towards the inside of her house.

Weird. She looks like Bowie. Both eyes a different colour, one green, the other grey. They looked like our old wall-eyed pony’s Tom said. And he was right.

“Nice hair that”, she said. “Blonde they call it, don’t they? Look at mine!” She pulled at it. “Ha! What a mess isn’t it? If I’d known you was coming I’d have washed it.” Ahead of me, walking down the corridor, she was shaking with laughter. Her swaying hair was lank, greasy, kind of dreadlocks like that old Bob Marley that Dad plays, hanging down with beads, and those Pandora charms in it, that’s what I think they call them, like girls have, looked like candle wax in it as well. To be fair, it hadn’t been washed in months.

I knew I’d get in trouble if anyone knew I’d come. “Mmmm.. maybe I could go home now?” I tried to turn, but my feet wouldn’t take me. They inched forwards on their own behind her, like that toy robot Tom used to have. I was powerless but I felt a bit giddy, excited, curious, all at the same time. There was no point being scared. I couldn’t do anything about it.

Go with the flow, just like Tom says, I told myself.

Something was licking my elbow, a huge scratchy rough wet tongue. It was a big brindly dog, like one of Dad’s lurchers but woolly with eyes like old gooseberries under grey lashes. Drool ran down my arm onto my hand and I wiped it behind me on my shorts. Maybe it was a spell it was laying for her?

“Oh don’t mind him. He’s just pleased to see you. He’s big but he’s got a small brain. Another man.” She brayed.

After pouring something out, she said “Here” thrusting a knobbly, green-grey glass with some purple drink in it, into my hand. “You’re gonna love that.”

I sniffed it and it sang to me of berries and crushed leaves from herbs, wet under your feet when it’s morning and the steam’s rising off the ground, when the sun is golden and just risen. You’ve just got up and pulled on your clothes from off the floor and grabbed the dog to go out for a walk before anyone else is up.

I was half-way through the drink before I’d even realised anything was up. I knew when the kitchen swung up to me, as though it was on a pendulum, like in that clock Mum got from Nanna that she kept in the best room, the one we only went into on Sundays. In a moment the witch’s face loomed in front of me like the Sun then shrank to the size of Mercury.

“Told you” she said. I must have looked puzzled, because she said “The drink, duh! Yeah, I knew you’d like it.” She tousled my hair like I was another dog, with her hot hand.

“Seen one of these before?” She pulled a glass off a shelf. When she brought it down I could see it was a sphere. Her brown fingers felt around it, like it was a cricket ball and she was fiddling with the seam to bowl me a googly. She’d already done that!

Colours moved through the glass, greens, blues, bright yellow, between the witch’s cupped hands. A jarring crimson fire occasionally licked off the surface, when suddenly all the colours morphed into place, sharpening into a picture of beautiful hills, a lake, blue sky with sun pouring down over water like molten gold. The view zoomed into the lake and there were creatures… tiny ones, all going down the throat of a sea creature, and spray whipped across the lake in a necklace of sunbeams.

And now I only knew one thing. I knew I never, ever wanted to go home again. Not to Mum or Dad and nor to Tom. They could all go and hang.


If you liked this, maybe you’re up for a little bit more fantasy from me?