This week’s words: Pile Smart Pâro ((n.) the feeling that no matter what you do is always somehow wrong—that any attempt to make your way comfortably through the world will only end up crossing some invisible taboo—as if there’s some obvious way forward that everybody else can see but you, each of them leaning back in their chair and calling out helpfully, colder, colder, colder.) Vicarious Mash Nasal Disagree Witch Shed Primitive Wedge Scrawny
It was never easy being a witch or for that matter an apprentice witch. Amelia Marble was a scrawny kid who spent her time, well as much as should, hanging around her grandmother and learning as she went along the ins and outs of witchery.
Always in the time they lived was there the sense of paro. Always there was the threat of accusation, the threat of being arrested and the very real threat of being hung. People were very sceptical about the powers a witch had. It didn’t matter that her grandmother concocted a range of herbal mixtures which did actually work. For there, lay the problem.
In a world beset with superstition, anytime a cure was achieved it was felt it was more the hand of the devil than the hand of God.
Amelia being a smart girl quickly caught on that a small pile of herbs in the right hands could yield a power that had to be seen to be believed. Her grandmother working in primitive conditions in the shed behind her small house at the edge of town kept as low a profile as she could so as not to attract attention.
They had their share of disagreements. The church elders saw them as meddling in God’s divine plan, though Amelia was never quite sure what the divine plan actually was when around her there seemed to be as much sickness as there always had been.
The elders wanted more than anything to drive a wedge between the community and herself. But no amount of haranguing by the elders could stop the vivacious nature of the relationship between Grandmother and community. They needed her grandmother’s help, and she needed them to provide a living for herself and her family.
It was the nasal infusion that really set the boat within the town a rocking. From eating the rhubarb mash, a staple within the village, many people developed a nasal complaint. Their noses ran, in some pus was excreted, in others, the complaint extended to their throats. Amelia’s grandmother developed an infusion of herbs that when boiled produced a vapour that when inhaled produced an instant sense of relief.
This was too much for the elders who campaigned to have her grandmother arrested on the grounds of performing witchcraft. No matter which way anyone turned, or bent over backwards, paro was the name of the game. The elders argued against it, citing the cure of Elise Parker as evidence of his evil qualities. Elise was a harlot in the village, who never attended church but who like so many attracted the nasal complaint. Grandmother Marble’s infusion helped her and she was back on the job within hours. Only evil could inspire evil they said as they dunked Elise in the village pond hoping she’d sink and die. All they got was a pile of wet clothes attached to a grinning harlot.
Elder Grateful contracted the complaint and secretly purchased some of Grandmother’s infusion and was cured instantly. His remarkable recovery evidence that the infusion may well have been sent by God. There was rejoicing all round and Grandmother Marble was once again left alone.
Amelia saw all this and stored away her thoughts on people and their superstitions. Paro was not something she looked forward to. Disagreements could be dealt with in more subtle ways.
As for rhubarb mash, that substance could be assigned to history as she didn’t like it much anyway.