My body is not my own.
That’s the only way I can explain what’s happening to me, my feet, my legs – they’ve failed me.
I sit comfortably in a shabby cottage… a fire crackles happily to my left, flames spitting and sparking cosily, and I’m nursing a cup of hot cocoa.
The hooded woman pokes at the flames with a long metal rod.
“Drink your cocoa,” she commands, not unlike a grandma to a small child.
Eyes wide, I do as I’m bid. Hey, I was all ready to kill myself less than half an hour ago… Even if she poisons me at least this torment will be over…
A rush of warmth fills me from head to toe, it starts somewhere in my middle and spreads through my body, from my toes right up to the tips of my ears, it’s like someone lit a small fire inside of me.
“That’s better,” the woman says, settling into a chair opposite me, “Nasty gash it was too…”
I reach up and touch my forehead – the cut is gone. How? I stare into my cocoa. It’s completely unremarkable.
“How did you-?”
The woman lowers her hood and I almost fall off my chair with surprise.
Long red tinged hair falls, poker straight past her shoulders, but it’s thinning and lank… almost greasy to look at, her skin also has a strange oily look to it… like something undead and rotten. A long crooked nose befouls her oval face and her eyes bore into me… scarlet and piercing.
“W-w-w? What is this? Cat gotcha tongue? You never seen a witch before?” the ‘witch’ leans close to me, the tip of her long snout almost touching my nose and I gasp with fear, I have never, ever seen anything so completely hideous in my entire life, she laughs like nails on a chalk board and the fire roars almost as though in response.
I want to run, but my legs are still hers, I cannot control them.
Then, she sighs and slouches back into her chair.
I peer round my mug of cocoa… I’d brought it up to my face, almost as though using it to protect myself, which is stupid, because it’s only cocoa.
“What do you want?” I squeak, feeling utterly pathetic and defenceless.
“More importantly, what do you want?” the witch queries, pointing at me with a long black nail.
“Sure you know…” the witch responds, and she swings her legs over the arm of her chair. “Maya…” she whispers slowly, turning her head to face me, a knowing smile on her wicked lips.
“What do you know about Maya?” I say the worry obvious in my voice.
“I know she’s pretty,” the witch says, examining her nails, “I know she doesn’t know you exist…”
“That’s not true,” I say, aware I sound like a child, “we’re working together-“
“We’re working together…” the witch uses a sing song tone to mock my voice, “You think she’d know you were alive if your dumb teacher hadn’t forced her into working with you?”
I frown, probably not.
The witch leaps to her feet and makes me jump again, I slosh hot cocoa down my front and she rolls her eyes.
“You’re a sad pathetic little boy, Yves,” she says, crouching in front of me, she leans in close and I can smell her putrid breath, it makes me want to spew.
“Poor little Yves, Mummy didn’t love him and Daddy’s a drunk… the girl doesn’t know he exists…” she sings away, laughing with mirth at my sorry excuse for an existence.
I don’t respond, I wish I could get my feet to move but I can’t.
“Poor little Yves with his girly name, poor little Yves who gets picked on at school, poor little Yves who wallows in his own self pity like a pig wallows in mud…”
“Then why did you stop me from killing myself?” I yell at her, she stops singing and stares at me… her hungry crimson eyes tearing into my soul, and then her face cracks into a huge yellow toothed smile.
“I can help you, Yves,” she says, standing up, “You need something from me, and I need something from you…”
I stare up at her.
“Come,” she waves at my feet which immediately do as they’re told, much to my disappointment.
I follow her down some steps to her cellar. I suppose she really is a witch… how else am I to explain my inability to control my own feet…?
I take in the room before me; it’s dark, dusty and damp. Various objects litter crowded shelves, as well as the floor, antique books, a cauldron, various sized candles… items in jars…. I even spot a skull.
There’s a strange smell in the air – sulphur? I’m not sure. I sneeze.
“You get used to it,” the witch smiles, “My name is Chaska, by the way.”
“Chill out,” she cackles, voice as rough as sandpaper. “We’re going to help each other… you need a better life… and I need… well I need something else all together…” I don’t like the way she winks at me.
Clicking her fingers, the fire under a giant cast iron cauldron hisses into life, and green bubbling liquid boils over and splatters onto the dirty floorboards.
“Toad spawns…” Chaska mutters, tipping some gloop into the cauldron which proceeds to ribbit merrily… “Quail heart…”
The cauldron bubbles and chirps; turning from putrid green to rancid brown.
“Fox eye,” she winks at me and the cauldron contents turn from brown to a ghastly orange. The smell it omits is rotten and vile…
“-and finally…” Chaska dances around the room her skirts swirling around her, “Dove egg…” and she cracks the egg onto the side of the cauldron letting the egg slip into its bubbling contents, It burps merrily, and she throws in the egg shell for good measure.
“Give it a good stir…” Chaska peers over at an open spell book which sits before her whilst swirling her finger around and around causing the contents of the cauldron to spin and swirl, faster and faster.
The cauldron stops its chatter, simmering quietly in the corner and I watch Chaska’s eyes skim over the open page before her, she mutters, and then, suddenly, she looks at me.
“You,” she points a long gnarly nail at my face, “Now for your ingredient…”
My legs take me forward, and suddenly I’m on my knees as they give way, my legs are my own again.
I scramble to my feet.
“You, my dear boy,” she grabs my cheeks and squeezes them, “You have never kissed a girl…”
I pull away from her, “I have,” I protest, despite knowing this is a lie.
Chaska cackles in a way only a witch can cackle. “Lies.”
I stare at the floor. Why didn’t I just throw myself into the dell?
“Now you shall,” Chaska smiles, “and in return you shall have her love…”
“Yes, Maya… your first kiss for the love of your life… that’s all I ask.”
I smile, my eyes are wide. “Who do I have to kiss?”
Chaska grins her toothy grin, and winks – that’s when it dawns on me.
“Oh no…” I back away from her, “I can’t kiss you…”
“I think you can…” Chaska winks, and she holds her wand high – there’s a ping and dazzling white light fills the room for a brief moment and then…
“Yves…” a voice as pure and sweet as a summer breeze tinkles through the room, echoing and reverberating off the stone walls… the smell of vanilla replaces that of vomit and bile… and before me stands Maya… she’s glowing.
“Maya…?” I can’t believe she’s here.
Maya nods, and dashes towards me… cupping my face in her hands, “I love you Yves,” she smiles sweetly, and I feel like I may die due to her astonishing beauty.
“Kiss me…” she whispers – her breath tickles my ear sending pulsations of pleasure through my body. “Kiss me…” she says again.
I stare at her perfect lips, her long luscious lashes and her beautiful scattering of freckles. This girl is irresistible.
I kiss her.
I soon wish I hadn’t.
We break apart and I’m faced with searing red eyes and fetid green skin.
I cough and splutter as I push Chaska away from me, but all she does is laugh.
Holding her wand up to her lips a wispy beam of pink light floats from her mouth and she blows it towards the cauldron, as it approaches the bubbling contents I hear a whisper, repeatedly – “Yves, Yves, Yves…” over and over again.
As the wisp reaches its destination Chaska turns to me, her characteristic smile playing on dark lips, she mutters with a wink – “It’s show time…” and the room explodes into a cloud of thick pink smoke.