The Woman in the Wood – A Witchy tale.

Yesterday I was challenged by The Britchy One:

Three Days, Three Quotes – 05/11/18.

“please write me a witch story!” she said.

“Good Witch or Wicked Witch?” I asked

“Both” She replied.

“Challenge Accepted” Said I….

Well here we go.

 

Deep in the forest, in a verdant forest glade, lived a woman all on her own.

It was difficult to determine her age. She was clearly not in the first flush of youth, but her face didn’t have many wrinkles and there wasn’t a grey hair amongst her lush reddish-brown locks. 

Her clothes were simple but immaculately clean. Her hands were rough from working in her garden plot, which produced everything she needed to keep herself alive and healthy.

She kept a flock of hens and two goats. The goats helped to keep the grass short and provided milk to drink and make into butter and cheese. 

Not many people came to visit the woman. She was left pretty much to her own thoughts, which is what she’d wanted and why she had chosen to live in the middle of a large and lonely forest. She’d had enough of people long ago. The scars from that time were still deeply etched on her heart. 

She hadn’t been born in that woodland cottage. She had been born far, far away in another land. A land of mountains and castles, Knights and damsels, dragons and dreams. Another land, another time. 

She had come to this lonely place for sanctuary and that it had provided in spades.

The people hereabout were simple folk. They suspected her of being a witch and so kept out of her way, unless they had need of her. When they had need of her, they came. Folk who could not afford the administering’s of the doctors. They were better off attending her. She knew the ways of natural remedies. She kept a stock of many a healing herb in her garden. The Doctors could only resort to bloodletting and using leeches to suck bad blood from the wound. Often the patient died of it. Her methods were much more effective.

People came to her for tonics to relieve the pain of childbirth or arthritic bones and she provided them. Occasionally young women came to her to relieve a different pain of childbearing, that of bringing one into the world who they could not afford to feed. She did not like it, but she felt it was a lesser evil to deal with it than to leave the poor girls to deal with it their own way, possibly ending up in killing themselves. She encouraged them to come to her early and she tried to give them wise counsel. Prevention was better than cure. She taught them ways and means to avoid repeating their unfortunate situation. Sometimes wealthier ladies came to her who just wished to rid themselves of a nuisance. She would have no part of that and often received a curse or two in return from women who called her a witch! 

Truth be known, she was a witch. She had knowledge and power at her disposal that were available to many had they but the wit or imagination to believe in themselves. 

It was actually the jealousy that those powers had provoked and her refusal to put those powers to use in the ways that others wished her to, that had led to her self-imposed exile. She refused to lend her aid to support armies sent to conquer and repress others. She refused to help rich and powerful men and women force their will on innocent souls. They had sent their armies to take her. They found her not so easily dealt with. Loathe though she may be to use her will to make war and enslave the innocent, she was not so loathe to wreak her vengeance on her enemies. And so they burned and she escaped to live a simpler life. 

Was she a good witch or a wicked witch? Many people had wondered, including the woman herself. She was human, and therefore had plenty of both in her nature. She knew her dark side but also knew that she had the control to keep it inside, unless others insisted on bringing her to release it. Let those fools reap what they sow. 

She was good and kind to the needy and kept very much to herself. What more could we ask of someone?

One day a visitor came that was different. He was not from one of the villages that surrounded the forest. He didn’t come with a need but a gift. 

But that is another story, for another day….

 

Part Two is here:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/the-woman-in-the-wood-part-two-the-gift/

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 11/May/2018

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/forest/

 

via Daily Prompt: Forest

The Gift of Guilt – Short Story

Quietly the man crept through the trees. Carefully treading to avoid making the slightest sound. The ground was covered in snow, which had turned the forest, usually dark and foreboding, into a white wonderland. The clean smell of the fresh snow mingled with the aroma of pungent pine needles. The low flumf as he gently placed his feet and walked further and deeper into the wood. The snow muffled his steps but also clearly marked where he had been for all to see, but hopefully no one will find them until tomorrow and he would be far from here by then.

There in a dense thicket he saw what he was looking for. The most beautiful Norway spruce with the ideal shape and standing 9 feet tall. It would make the perfect Christmas tree to go in the entrance hall of his house.

Pulling out the axe he had concealed in his jacket he set to chopping at the leg thick trunk of the tree. The noise echoed amongst the trees but would also deaden the sound so that no one outside this thicket would hear much at all.

The man maintained a steady rhythm with his axe, never faltering or hesitating. Eventually the great tree gave way. The sound of the crack as the trunk snapped then followed by the roar as the tree collapsed to the ground.

Without hesitation the man began dragging the tree back towards his parked car and trailer.

He could never understand why people spent a fortune buying Christmas trees when they could drive into a forest and claim one for free. He supposed he should feel guilty but he didn’t. Guilt was not an emotion that came easily to him.

As he yanked the tree over the snow-covered ground, he looked back and saw that when the tree had fallen, it had dislodged a large nest. Two white doves lay against the snow, their necks broken and fresh bright red blood was spreading around them.

The sight triggered that emotion that he had hardly ever experienced. For the first time since his youth, he felt guilty. Tears actually fell from his eyes. He collapsed to his knees in the snow and wept. Not just for the doves he had killed, but for all the other things his selfish acts had caused over the years. He had never taken full responsibility for his actions, now his chickens had come home to roost. His partner who stood by him, but who he’d never felt the need to be faithful to. His children who he never prioritised and treated like inconveniences, only spending money on them to get rid of them. It wasn’t just the tree that had come crashing down but his whole world. The forest had weaved a kind of magic upon him, a spell that cleared away his ego and allowed him to feel that underrated but necessary human emotion of guilt.

He left the tree, went back to his car and drove home, a changed man. Changed for the better.

That Christmas was the best Christmas he’d ever had. He had received the gift of guilt and it made his life so much better.

The End

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 25/April/2018