Witch Hazel and WillowPosted by Sara C. Snider on Apr 27, 2015 in A to Z Challenge, Short Stories | 20 comments
With introducing Hazel earlier in the H post, I thought it would be fun to continue with her as well for W. This one is more an exploration of her background and character than a story. But I enjoyed getting to know her a little bit better.
Witch Hazel and Willow
“Witches wither and warlocks weather,” Willow chanted in a melodious voice as she walked along a winding forest trail. “That’s the difference between us.”
Hazel frowned and wrinkled her nose. “That’s not much of a difference. What is it that they weather, exactly?”
“Life, my dear girl. They are like boats in a storm—you’d best cling to one should you ever hope to find safe harbor.”
“I don’t need a boat,” Hazel said. “I’m a strong swimmer.”
Willow laughed, musical and dainty, like tinkling wind chimes. “That may be, but when the current pulls you under, none of your strength will save you.”
“What about you, then? Where’s your warlock? Where’s Father?”
Willow gave a tight smile. “The best arrangements are those that go unnoticed, both within and without. Your father will come should he ever be needed, but not a moment before.”
“But where is he?”
“It matters not. Let us talk of other things.” Willow kept walking, humming a tune as she picked berries and flowers and put them in a basket that hung from her arm.
Hazel trailed after her, disturbed by her mother’s words. She didn’t want to believe such a thing were true, but she knew very little of the wider world, and she dared not argue a point she was uncertain she could win.
They returned home, and Hazel marched around the cottage and to a woven fabric mat that hung from the branch of a tree. She picked up a cane and swatted the carpet, holding her breath as dust plumed around her. She was tired of being told what to do, and without ever being told why. She was tired of not knowing anything about her father, or why it all seemed such a big secret. She was tired of all of it, and it was all she could do to wait until she was old enough so she could live her life as she pleased.
She took her frustrations out on the carpet, swinging and swatting until her arms grew tired, and dust collected on her sweaty brow. Breathing heavily, she turned back towards the cottage when she nearly collided with Holly.
“Hathel,” Holly said, and a broad, gap-toothed grin spread across her face.
Hazel frowned. Her little sister was always getting underfoot, tagging along when Hazel wanted to be alone. It grated on her already-worn nerves, and she brandished the cane at Holly and said, “You’d best watch yourself, or Mother will sell you to a band of ogres.”
Holly’s smile crumpled into a frown, and then she started crying.
Hazel closed her eyes. She wished she didn’t care about Holly; she wished she didn’t feel sorry for what she had said. But she did. “I’ll protect you, don’t worry.”
Holly calmed and wiped her eyes with chubby hands. She watched Hazel as she gulped a few ragged breaths and said, “Promith?”
Hazel nodded. “Promise.”
Holly’s smile returned, and she held onto Hazel’s hand with a sticky one of her own. Together, they then headed back to the cottage.