She could tell you strange stories.
If you listened to Her.
From lonely hearts trapped in concrete towers to the livid tsunamis blinded with insanity.
As Her only apprentice, I’ve heard every single story.
But they never got boring. It didn’t matter if She repeated the same words so many times I’ve memorised them, or if Her arms glided in the same choreography of gestures.
Enfolded in looming trees over a marigold campfire, they were always compelling.
Still, there was one particular story I favoured above them all.
It was of Ere, a little witch with chocolate brown hair and such a small and slender build, she had to alter her school robes so she wouldn’t trip over them.
Very much like me, Ere loved casting beautiful charm spells and chewing toasted marshmallows in her mug of hot cocoa.
Except, Ere grew up lonely.
“Will she ever find company?” I felt guilty that a witch like me was subjected to such a thing.
She smiled at me.
“Ere wasn’t ready to spend her life alone.” She took a sip of oily liquid from Her cup.
“With newfound hope and steely determination, Ere scoured every spellbook she could get her hands on.
“And finally, after several sleepless nights and hundreds of excuses to flip through a thousand of knowledge in her school library, Ere found her answer.”
I raised my arms in victory and leaned in closer.
“Strange enough, the answer wasn’t on any book. It was on a frail, wrinkled sheet of paper sealed between The Advanced Book of Comtemporary Dark Arts.”
“What sort of spell was it?” I remembered gathering the most complicated spells I could fathom.
“It was simple but forbidden.”
The dismay sweeping over Her face chilled the forest.
“Did Ere know?” I urged.
There was a moment of quietness, punctuated by crackling firewood.
It was almost as though what She held back was too vile and corrupting to be unleashed to the forest spirits.
Then, quieter than wind, She continued.
″...it cost her...”
She shook her head and drank another mouthful of coal drink.
“When Ere brought her shadow to life-” Her eyes drifted longingly to the indigo hues ofthe starry sky. ”-she lost a home...a family, her place at school...”
She paused before reluctantly confessing, ”...friends she could have made otherwise.”
She abruptly stared at me.
“Do you think it’s worth it?”
I was stunned.
She never asked my opinion on any of Her stories.
So I thought long and hard.
“It could be, if she’s enjoying company.”
A moment of silence swallowed my words.
Was my answer wrong?
I watched innocently as the words eased Her affliction into an empowering smile.
Perhaps it was something She needed to hear.
After that fateful night, I was had always looked forward to the day She repeated my favourite story again (to--hopefully--unveil more about Ere’s mysterious spell).
But day didn’t come.
And ironically but naturally, the tale evolved into one I never forgot.
It just became another, among my mental list of Her enigmatic traits added alongside Her thing against sunlight and Her addiction to the gross black potion.
I didn’t realise they all added up to a much huger picture.
Weeks later, our journey among the pine trees finally ended. Once we paid our respects to the ancient forest spirits, I followed Her off the edge of the woods, onto the grassy plains.
Only when the sun shone upon Her robed figure with it’s afternoon glare, I finally noticed.
“Where’s your shadow?” I gasped.
tried a red herring here but i don’t think it’ll turn out to be a shocking plot twist
Thanks for reading though! :)