Tale Weaver 25
This week’s task is to weave a tale in which the wicked witch comes to visit.
The knock on the door was one of those that intimated immediately a sense of urgency in me to answer it.
I opened the door and there stood Miss Marble my aging neighbour.
In her hand she held a half-cup measure.
‘Could I borrow a half cup of sugar dear,’ she asked.
I looked once again at her hand. Her fingers were long and talon like, her nails long and curved. It was rare to see her out of her house and for the most part I considered her so reclusive as to think sometimes she wasn’t there at all.
Today she appeared at my door and I was taken aback. Her long black dress did its best to hide her aging form; her feet were bare and like her hands gave more the appearance of claws than feet.
She looked at you in the most inquisitive of ways and you thought her toothless face grotesque until she smiled and you saw a row of impeccable white teeth.
She was a lady of many aspects.
I invited her in and she wandered in behind me. I turned to see her looking at the photos on the mantelpiece.
‘Ah,’ she exclaimed. “I recall your grandparents, lovely people, we had many a quiet evening on my veranda watching the evening sunset.’
To me Miss Marble looked about 60 and any reference to my grandparents suggested she was a greater age than her looks betrayed.
I quickly gathered some sugar for her as her presence did alarm me. I was beginning to think she wanted a little more than sugar, perhaps some conversation or company but I wasn’t all that keen to entertain that thought as she did give off a rather unpleasant unwashed aroma.
‘I wonder,’ she said, “If I could bend your ear a moment dear.’
‘Yes,’ I replied still very wary of what I might be in for.
‘I’ve lived here a long time and my days I feel are numbered. As you know I keep very much to myself and I know you and most of the people in the street think of me as a little eccentric. You see being a wicked witch is no easy thing. The expectations are enormous.
The things I have had to do, would curl your hair and to let you in on the know, so to speak, it was me who killed off Mr Turner’s radishes, laid low the Smith’s ginger cat and as for the recent flood well what can I say.
As a wicked witch I had a reputation to uphold. Chaos and mayhem are my stock in trade and I have always maintained a standard to never inflict any adverse event upon you and the Westons on the other side. After all its hard to come across good neighbours don’t you think.’
By this stage I was getting more and more uneasy, all this talk of Miss Marble being a wicked witch was hearsay and part of the towns legend.
‘You see its not all my fault. If old man Turner had agreed to supply me with radishes none of it would have happened and as for the Smiths they had it coming, stupid cat kept attacking my native animal friends and one thing I wasn’t having any truck with was a feral cat harming my natives. So I put an end to it, quickly.
But my dear I am an old lady now. Time is catching up with me. My hands are arthritic, my feet swell on hot days, the inclination to concoct spells is decreasing each day and even my desire to make my life elixir is fading as I look at a world that I don’t really know and I’m not that happy to be part of.
Too much greed and too many people far wicked than I ever was. They call them ‘colourful characters’ in the news now days.
I want you my dear to take over from me.’
‘Pardon?’ I was stunned, I stood frozen, my head said it needed me to sit as the words sunk in.
‘You see my dear, I ask you for a reason. Your grandparents were my friends, your grandmother my sister, so that makes me your great aunt. No don’t try work out my age it’s a worry to me too.
I need you to learn the spells and potions. I think the time has come for me to take down my shingle and for you to assume my mantle. I think it’s also a good time to shake off the wicked witch persona and for you to use what I show you for some good. As I said there is far too much wickedness in the world without you adding to it.’
All this time I said nothing. Miss Marble was my Aunt?
She was asking me to take on something I thought of as a curious myth within my family. My parents had made mention of a colourful family past and I never asked about it. That past was now staring me in the face.
‘Think about it my dear.’
She turned and made her way out of the house, carrying her half-cup of sugar. At the door she stopped and turned to face me. ‘Its ok you know, I responded the same way when my great aunt asked me, well over a hundred years ago. You’ll get the hang of it in time and the life elixir is such a hoot to make and a great buzz to take.’ She gave a little shudder that was more delight than horror and reached for the door.
“Drop over dear when you are ready and we’ll make a start.’
As she left a cup fell from the kitchen bench, bounced across the room and found its way into Miss Marble’s hand. In an instant she had propelled it back across the room and landed it intact on the shelf it fell from.
‘It’s a lot of fun,’ she cackled at me, closing the door behind her.
Written for: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2015/08/06/tale-weaver-25-when-the-wicked-witch-visits/
TALE WEAVER 35 Miss Marble and Sal
Miss Marble had had one forgettable day.
At her feet sat her faithful hound Sal. She and Sal had been around a long time. Her life elixir worked as well on Sal as it did on her.
She had found Sal one hot afternoon behind the shopping centre. He was dehydrated and after Miss Marble had found him a drink a grateful Sal followed her home.
Miss Marble had never been a pet person but the plight of the poor dog she couldn’t ignore. Nor could she deny him as there was something in his eyes that attracted her and so Sal settled in and never left.
She called him Salivate, as he seemed to be forever dripping from his mouth. Over time and as her heart moved to love him his name evolved into the more affectionate Sal.
He had been her protector and saviour a number of times over the years. Whilst he was not a big dog, he possessed a bark and growl that demanded your attention. There were times when she wondered what her life may have been like had Sal not come along.
This particular evening she was a troubled soul. She’d lived at 46 Grimace Street for more years than she remembered. She’d seen neighbours come and go. She’d always looked out for her immediate neighbours. Most had been very respectful of her and were perfect neighbours. If it rained and your washing was on the line you’d return to find it gathered, folded and ironed in your washing basket and placed out of the elements.
Tonight however she was worried. She had new neighbours. Young folk who had an air of entitled arrogance about them. Within days of their arrival they had complained about the smells coming from Miss Marbles yard to the neighbourhood authority.
It was true that Miss Marble was responsible for a range of smells. After all her cauldron was housed in her laundry and each day it bubbled away making the potions her customers craved and sought from her.
She was aware of the smells but considered them a small price to pay for the benefits she provided. Namely good health.
It was common practice within Miss Marble’s neighbourhood to welcome new folk.
Patrice South was the first to do so.
Holding a freshly baked cake she knocked on the front door of Edward and Louise Tom.
Edward and Louise however were disdainful, rude and arrogant and refused her hospitality slamming their door in her face.
This action was not a good start for the Toms.
A day later they went to the neighbourhood authority and complained about the smells.
Their complaint was not new. Everyone knew about Miss Marble and her smells.
The Authorities solution was to educate Edward and Louise about Miss Marble.
But the Toms were having no truck with education. They demanded a stop to the smell.
One of the problems the neighbourhood authority had was that no one on the committee actually remembered Miss Marble arriving at number 46.
She had been there longer than anyone else. The Tom’s were not the first to complain.
Henry Wilson some years before and being a most disagreeable man and had raised the same concerns. Education failed on Henry. He wanted to take matters further until he was discovered a drooling mess in his back garden one day endlessly repeating: ‘The dog, it came, the dog it came.’
No one had any idea what had happened and he was taken off by men in white costs and never seen again. Since then a quick education and few free samples when the smell arose and all was good and harmonious.
But the Toms from the word go had alienated so many within the neighbourhood.
It seemed everyone in the street had an axe to grind about the Toms and the Toms them.
Miss Marble was not happy. She hated confrontation.
She knew when pushed in to a corner she could use extreme measures and such measures always placed her in danger.
Most people she knew liked order; predictability like morning following night and the sun appearing each morning in the eastern sky.
The Henry Wilson affair had stayed in the minds of the long-term residents.
Sal was for the most part a placid and well-behaved canine. Miss Marble looked down on her beloved four-legged friend.
She looked across the room to the far shelf where a small bottle, dust covered, sat minding its own business.
With the click of her fingers she did two things. The bottle flew across the room and into her claw like hand and Sal was suddenly awake and alert.
In the bottle she knew lay the solution to the Toms situation. But it was dangerous to use. If Sal was caught or suspected it could be disastrous for all concerned.
It had never failed before but Sal had been much younger and despite the life elixir he was aging, as was she.
But Miss Marble was not going to allow the street to be turned into turmoil with neighbour against neighbour. She wouldn’t allow the Toms to alienate every one.
She gave the little bottle a few little shakes and placed a few drops on Sal’s hide. She waited a minute before she led Sal outside.
Ten minutes later he was back. Another drop and he was his normal old self.
Across the back fence she heard rumblings.
Lights could be seen flashing in the Tom’s yard. Within a short time the place was quiet again.
Over the next few nights Sal would do his stuff. Each time the Toms would rush out more wide-eyed than before.
All suggestions to the other neighbours were treated with curiosity but no one heard what the Toms maintained was a raging beast that growled at their door, banged on their windows, dug holes in their garden and worst of all left a nightly deposit on their front door step requiring Edward to use a shovel and a mask such was the strong aroma.
It was time Miss Marble knew to put into play her final act. In the early hours of the morning Edward and Louise were awakened by the sensation that their house was on fire. They rushed and gathered their most cherished possessions, called for help, yelled and screamed and woke the neighbourhood.
The fire brigade roared to a stop in front of their house.
The firemen looked at the Toms and the Toms looked at them.
The Toms screamed at them to set their hoses on their blazing house.
As the neighbourhood gathered it became apparent to everyone that the Toms had lost their minds.
Their house was not on fire. In fact the daisies they had planted earlier in the week were fully in flower looking resplendent in the full moon light.
The police arrived and surveyed the mayhem.
The neighbours standing around enjoying what was fast becoming a side show with the Toms rushing about urging the firemen to douse their burning home.
The police did finally intervene when the Toms came at Miss Marble accusing her and Sal of causing the trouble.
Miss Marble of course looked anything but a troublemaker. A dear little old lady with her old dog beside her posed no threat to anyone.
The Toms were out of control so a doctor was called ahead of the men in white coats.
With the Toms finally ferried away the neighbourhood returned to its normal sleepy self.
Miss Marble and Sal wandered home and as she sat by her kitchen fire she smiled to herself thinking that in the morning she would make sure her ‘cleanse ones neighbourhood’ potion was renewed for the next person who troubled her solitude.
TALE WEAVER 39 – The Malevolent Shadow
Weave a tale in which your shadow or shadows play a significant role.
Imagine your shadow can communicate, decides it is sick of you and wants to leave, argues with you about life decisions, vanishes……becomes a confidante, you can discus his/her close association with you how you value him/her being there…or the conflict you experience when it develops a mind of its own.
Kate awoke as always at an early hour and immediately that feeling of dread descended upon her.
She looked around and couldn’t see anything that might upset her but she knew it was nearby, lurking in shadow disguising itself so she couldn’t organise an early morning escape or plot against it.
It was quite ludicrous that she be afraid of her own shadow but she was.
Her’s was positively evil.
It didn’t behave to any normal conventions of what a shadow should do and in actual fact it worked contrary to anything she did.
If she stepped right it stepped left, if she waved with one hand it waved with the other. And to make it worse it always walked in front of her irrespective of where the sun might be in the sky.
It was all very unnerving along with the terrible sensation she got when the shadow appeared to turn towards her at certain times and admonish her with a wagging finger.
At night the shadow would take itself off to the far side of her room and appear to sulk as the day’s light dimmed and Kate would turn out her light making it disappear completely.
It was at night Kate felt safest because she couldn’t see the shadow and she hoped it couldn’t see her, though she sometimes woke to the feeling that it was there at the end of the bed breathing its malevolence at her.
It hadn’t always been this way.
Her shadow had behaved as shadows do up until she had complained about her neighbour Miss Marble. Miss Marble was a witch and made all sorts of potions day and night, created smells and generally cussed and fussed at all hours.
Kate realised she had made a mistake in moving next door to Miss Marble but never anticipated the response Miss Marble gave to her complaint.
Kate had complained to the residents association, as was her prerogative. Several neighbours had warned her against such action but Kate thought she was justified in her complaint.
It was after a late night visit from Miss Marble that all the trouble had started. Miss Marble she thought had come round to sort out a neighbourly agreement and instead had given her a small vial and instructions to drink it at bedtime.
Kate had done so and her shadow suddenly developed a mind of its own.
It had been two weeks since it all started and Kate decided enough was enough.
She went round to Miss Marble’s house and knocked on the door.
Miss Marble showed her in and listened to her tale of the terrible time she was having with her shadow. Miss Marble could see the toll it was taking on Kate and was sympathetic to her.
‘You see it’s not your shadow,’ said Miss Marble, ‘Its mine.’
‘Yes dear your shadow has been staying with me these past few weeks and a very lovely shadow it is, would you like it back?’
“Oh please may I. No wonder I’m beside myself your shadow can be right aggressive.’
‘Yes it can when I let it out. You see my dear I needed you to come round and have a chat with me, see that I’m not the wicked witch you may think I am. In fact I prefer to get along with my neighbours rather than disagree with them. Makes for a happy street you might say.’
‘It’s the smells and noises at all hours that bother me the most.’
‘Ah yes now to fix that, at bedtime from now on I want you to put this small wreath on your bedside table, I guarantee you’ll sleep like a baby. If you have any doubts ask whatshername on the other side of me, I can never remember her name, you know the woman with grey bangs and a large woolly dog.’
‘I haven’t met her,’ said Kate, ‘so thanks for this, do I owe you anything?’
‘No my dear just your cheery smile when you see me over the fence.’
‘Well thank you Miss Marble, I’ll try this out tonight.’
As Kate stood to leave there was a shuffle in the corner as her shadow skipped across the room and joined her.
It was a very welcome reunion and Kate went home, wreath in hand full of hope for a good nights sleep safe from the prying presence of Miss Marbles shadow which she was glad to see the back of.
She woke the next morning fully rested and ready to enjoy walking with her shadow in the place it belonged.
Her shadow was rather pleased as well as Kate noticed a bit of a skip in its step as they walked along.
TALE WEAVER 39 – Snow Drops – Aunt Sally’s Garden
Aunt Sally grew snowdrops. And she grew them well.
She was the only person in our street who could grow such things.
It was doubly amazing as we lived at the time in tropical climes and snowdrops like and need a bit of a chill in the air.
Most people didn’t take a lot of interest in Aunt Sally’s garden as it was for the most part overgrown and unruly which was in keeping with the rapid growth of most things in the tropics.
Say what you like about Aunt Sally but she could garden. I asked her once how she was able to grow the non-exotic in exotic situations.
She looked at me sideways and beckoned me closer, looked around as if expecting to be seen and said: “Me neighbour was a witch.’
Now there was never any doubt that Aunt Sally was odd.
She was a tall wizen woman with scraggily grey hair from years of not brushing and a face that most likely saw a mirror as a last resort. She wore a long black shift and always had her working boots on, all day every day. She was the loveliest person, always kind and gentle and wanting to tell you stories about family and her garden. She used to tell me there was magic in her garden and I believed it.
Anyone who could grow snow drops had to have some kind of gift.
She maintained that her neighbour had given her the plant many years ago and along with the plant a small bottle of liquid fertilizer to ‘keep it going’ as she described it to me.
As you can see from the image above she kept it going pretty well over the years.
I asked her one-day about her neighbor. When I knew Aunt Sally the houses on either side of her had been knocked down and new modern town houses were both sides of her.
“Oh,” said Aunt Sally, “She moved down south said the humidity here played havoc with her potions. One day she came in and said ‘Sally I’m moving on, down south, but I want you to have this plant to remember me.’ and that’s how I came to have the snowdrops.”
But I know Aunt Sally suspected her neighbour left her more than snowdrops. I say this as she’d sometimes say not to go to the back corner of the garden after dark as there was something unpleasant down there. The back corner was where their two properties met. I know if I went near the place the rotten smell that hit you would drive you away.
But for all I could see the corner was like every other part of the garden. Densely overgrown with shrubs and lantana vine, which grew in weed proportions in the climate.
I ventured down there one night and again the horrible smell confronted me. But determined to discover what was causing it I pushed on. I pushed my through the undergrowth all the time untangling myself from the vines to find the most amazing sight.
In the middle of the back corner where the fences met was an orchid in flower. The plant was quite large and the small flower brilliant hidden all this time by the protective smell coming from inside the plant.
I took a photo on my phone and made my way back to my Aunt’s house. I wanted to find out what it was and after some searching if discovered it was Bulbophyllum nocturnum a very rare night flowering orchid.
After I showed Aunty we surmised that her neighbour had planted it there knowing it would be protected from prying eyes by its location and smell.
Aunty had a chuckle over my discovery. It was she said so like her old neighbour to do something like that knowing the plant would be safe in her garden.
“That Miss Marble,” she said, “I must tell you about her sometime.”
FFfAW – Week of 04-05-2016- Miss Marble’s Garden
Miss Marble apart from being the only witch in the neighbourhood was also a very house-proud woman.
Having lived at 46 Grimace Street a long time she had been able to cultivate a beautiful garden and her spring blooms were the talk of the street.
No one else could grow flowers like Miss Marble.
Then again no one had the resources Miss Marble had either. Years of experimentation had led to the formulations she used each year to make the red redder, the yellow more yellow and the green sparkle.
Such was her pride that on spring afternoons she would sit outside and share an evening brew with her neighbour, the lady with the grey bangs, and together greet the passers by who came in their droves to view Miss Marble’s garden.
Everyone marvelled at the beauty of her garden, but never became privy to her secrets.
TALE WEAVER 54 – Fractured Fairy Tales – Beryl Saves the Day
It was a beautiful day in the Forest of Witches and Beryl; the Benevolent Witch had awoken to sunshine, birds chirping and imaginary boats bobbing on an imaginary sea. The last part was her own invention and she fancied herself as a creative type capable of not only good magic but more than bright cheerful thought.
Her sister who had been born with the bad gene was so wicked as to defy all description so I shall refrain from such descriptions so as not to offend the sensitive readers that I know you are.
Needless to say the sister Esme (ugh see below) was infamous, reported in every fairy tale known to man and lived audaciously in a house of gingerbread, which as every one knew was nothing more than a lure for poor ignorant lost children. One day Beryl the Benevolent Witch knew her evil sister Esme (ugh, see below) would receive her well-deserved comeuppance.
Beryl lived in a house made from golden spun plaster board, with silver lined shingles and furniture that simply caused you to gasp in amazement should you be so fortunate as to enter her humble abode.
Now Beryl went about doing good works and on occasion’s good things. Like baking for the local Witches Families in Need Guild, sewing for the Witches Sock and Garter drive for Witches serving in the Military and she was a tireless worker on the Spells New and Old Stall at the Witches Fete held annually in her own backyard.
On this day Beryl had heard a whisper that the little girl known as Snow White was soon to be discovered by her evil sister, Esme. It was not a name spoken too loud anywhere in the Forest of Witches. (Saying the name is enough to put a bad taste in your mouth, go on say it out loud, spit and have a long drink of Witches Mouth Wash, the only way known to witch to rid oneself of the taste.)
Esme (ugh bad taste, bad taste) worked on commission for the evil stepmother over at the castle on the edge of the Forest of Witches. It was a lucrative job keeping all the stepmothers stepchildren under spells or asleep, whatever curse she favoured at the time.
But Snow White had done a runner and Esme (ugh, bad taste bad taste) had been on a mission to find her.
Beryl knew all about Snow White and had secreted her in the home of the seven dwarfs. She had gone to great lengths to warn her about accepting fruit baskets from anyone.
Beryl decided today was a call to arms and above average attention to detail. She disguised herself as a tree outside the seven dwarfs home.
The disguise was perfect as each of the dwarf’s small dogs gave testament to as they trudged off to work singing their favourite and only song, ‘Hi Ho, Hi Ho Its down the drain we go….’
Snow White was left to wash up the breakfast dishes as she did every morning. Beryl was watching, aware that an itch was beginning to form under her bark, just to the left of a favourite knot hole…at the same time she noticed movement and around the bend came a little old lady, pushing her walking frame on which was perched, you guessed it, a fruit basket.
The old lady went to the door, knocked as Beryl was frantically trying to scratch and remember the incantation to get her out of the tree.
By the time she did so Snow White had munched half the apple and was looking decidedly more peaky by the second.
There was just enough time to send an exiling spell the way of the old lady whom Beryl knew was Esme (ugh, bad taste, bad taste) before Snow White fell to the floor and drifted into a long sleep.
Drats thought Beryl who gathered up the sleeping Snow White and knew there and then that another tale was going to have to be thought of to get Snow White out of this pickle.
As she carried her off she thought of what it could be, Snow White Sleeps the Long Night? ‘No! What’s a long night,’ she thought, ‘can’t go scaring children can you.’
She’d always wanted to call a tale ‘Beryl Saves the Day’ but she was smart enough to know no one would read any tale with her name in it.
She knew she’d think of something as she flew over Prince Charming’s castle pondering what name she might give this Sleeping Beauty.
TALE WEAVER 40 – Snow White Stop Kissing That Frog
While Hansel and Gretel struggled with the wicked witch in the gingerbread house across the way and down a few streets lived the gingerbread house witches sister Marge.
Now Marge had made it her mission in life to do most things the opposite to her sister. After all the gingerbread house took an awful lot of maintenance what with hungry children, mice and the hordes of ants that seemed to favour gingerbread over most other substances.
Marge lived in a small house made entirely of old tyres. There was something about the smell of rubber that did things to her and she lived in splendid isolation inside her rubber house.
Marge was also a rather clever magician and travelled a lot on her broom, a Cleansweeper 85, top of its range with an air speed that meant she had to tie her hat on very securely.
Marge did conjuring tricks, levitation tricks and scams of a variety of forms that no one ever seemed to cotton on to until she was well out of ear shot.
What worked so well for Marge was that she always appeared to be well dressed, refined and always courteous to all and anyone who came in contact with her.
She had a tendency to lull you into a false sense of security right before fleecing you of whatever money you might have had in your wallet. Her favourite scam was selling cockatoo urine, or as she marketed it as, Cocky’s Cure.
Cocky’s Cure could cure anything. One teaspoon of the vile tasting stuff was said to be enough to cure everything from the common cold to cancer to warts.
Cocky’s Cure was her own invention and being a witch meant she knew just the stuff to put in it to send you off into a lather of perspiration which lasted a good twenty-four hours before you realised you’d been duped.
By the time you woke up with a hangover to beat all past hangovers Marge was well away and lining up her next village of suckers.
It was in the village of False Teeth that she met her match. Here in this tiny hamlet lived another witch but a benevolent one called Hilda the Sower. Now Marge didn’t know about Hilda as Hilda never featured in the Wicked Witch Weekly and so meeting her came as an unpleasant surprise to her.
Hilda made things, sewed and knitted things such as jumpers for the poor, baby bonnets and booties, scarves and beanies for the workers and generally was much loved and revered.
When Marge set up and started espousing the virtues of her Cocky’s Cure Hilda happened to be in the crowd and volunteered to try the Cure out for herself.
Now Hilda was a cunning and wise old witch and she could spot a shyster a mile off and she saw immediately that Marge was as dodgy as they come. Hilda had a few tricks of her own and took a good gulp of her all-purpose anti rat potion before she sampled Marges brew.
The two concoctions mixed together in Hilda’s gut, the town’s folk stood back as Hilda’s rotund girth, gurgled and growled, hicked and then it hupped, contracted then expanded and finally a very large and totally unlady like burp erupted and the most unpleasant of breath spewed out of her mouth.
Everyone dived for cover, or rather fresh air including Marge who was not all impressed with what she had just witnessed.
‘It’s poison,’ shouted Hilda, ‘don’t go near it, this witch is out to rip you off, take your money and leave you more penniless than you already are.’
Immediately the town’s folk backed away, not one was game to try Marge’s Cocky’s Cure. Marge was furious and was about to throw a paralysing spell at Hilda when she felt her arm go limp, her knees buckle and her eyes water over.
Hilda had used one of her own crippling spells, one she hadn’t used in years but was pleased she still remember the formula.
Marge lay on the ground helpless as the townsfolk gathered round. There were calls for her head, the stocks and variety of other punishments that surprised Hilda in there apparent brutality.
So Hilda summoned Marge’s broom, revved it up with a warm knitted broom handle cover and gave it instructions to return Marge to her rubber tyre house forthwith.
Marge was never the same again. Word spread that she had received her comeuppance in False Teeth and was never really seen again.
As one town wit expressed the air had been well and truly let out of her tyres.