This week, Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood challenge was to roll with the quote “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.
I decided to expand on the Witch Story. If you are interested in the rest of the parts of this story, check it out in the Fiction tab at the top of the page. The previous post in this story is here. Let me know what you think – can you picture the characters well? The emotions?
Go check out the rest of the prompt responses, or submit your own, HERE.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
She glowered at the sign, a strong suggestion that it ought to change its tune if it knew what was good for it. It remained, as signs are prone to do, unabashedly unchanged.
She sighed, lifted her skirts and stepped over the stile, twisting to the side to avoid contact with the stubborn plank.
She put her hands on her hips and surveyed the forest before her. It was grim, all dark pine trees weeping lichen tears, mist twining serpentine about the branches.
An hour trudging through the forest, passing signs proclaiming more and more wildly unlikely dooms to be meted out, and all she had to show for it was a bug bite on every exposed inch of skin.
“Show yourself, damn you!”
She wiped her hair away from her face, flailing at the mosquitos that buzzed excitedly at her exposed skin. She was hot and sweaty, sticky and less than impressed at the only answer being a plank warning her of her upcoming disembowelment by rabid demon dogs.
“Is that before or after the herd of caribou grind my bones to dust?”
“Probably after – rather hard to be disembowelled once one has been ground up. I’d reshuffle the signage, but you’re the first one to make it this far.”
There had been no telltale rustling in the underbrush. When she swung around, the old woman was simply there.
“Are you the witch?” She combated her surprise with abruptness.
“Gretal Baer at your service.” She flashed a crooked grin, the laugh-lines around her eyes and mouth creasing her face.
“Agata Schwarze,” she replied grudgingly. She shuddered, loathing the feeling of sweat dripping down between her breasts the fabric of her dress clinging to her back. The old woman brazenly wore mens’ cotton trousers, cut off just below the knee. Agata frowned at the sight, propriety warring with jealousy. Strongly muscled and tanned forearms visible below the rolled sleeves of her shirt, a kerchief tied snugly at her neck in the way of farmers, the woman looked completely at ease.
As though reading her mind, Gretal chuckled. “So young and yet so judgemental.”
She felt her face flush more. Who was she to judge?
“What do you seek?”
Agata frowned, sensing another meaning behind the question but unsure what it might be. “Good witches. Witches to teach me.”
“You are young and the world is still in black and white.” The old woman’s shoulders slumped with the weight of years. “Come back to me when you can see the shades of grey. Come back when you can abandon all hope but still enter.”
Agata would have argued with the woman but in one step, she was gone, as swiftly and silently as she had appeared. All that was left was the pattern of light and green shadow playing across the mossy forest floor.