Featuring Da Va
The farmer dropped the browning head. It rolled to the witch's feet, grazing her pointy shoes.
Clearing his throat, the farmer scrambled to pick up the cabbage. The witch sniffed. She wanted him to hand her the rotting vegetable. Only sacrifice would satisfy her.
Clutching the cabbage to his thin linen shirt, the farmer cleared his throat. Then he rubbed the back of his sweating neck. He knew how filthy he look and how much he reeked.
“My wife is starving.”
“But she works so hard. All day she works. I work, too, but there is never enough food. Our crops--”
“As I said...many starve. I cannot decide who to save and who to let perish,” the witch said, twitching her nose. Then she paused for a second before saying, “That fate is not for you to decide, either. How dare you think you can take advantage of my bounty.”
“I stole for love.”
“Never justify thievery.”
“You have so much! You're the only one whose crops prosper in these times. Please share! I'm not asking that you--”
“Don't ask at all,” the witch hissed. An olive-colored creature, akin to a furry slug, slithered out of her ear. Suddenly the room stank of kerosene.
The farmer tried to ignore the hairy thing. His eyes fell to the cabbage instead.
The witch sniffed again.
“You realize that I must punish you for stealing.”
The farmer did not respond.
The farmer nodded. He fingered the curling leaves for a moment and then looked directly into the witch's swirling eyes. The slug was now crawling across her long, grayish neck.
“Tell me. What is my fate?”
The witch shielded her teeth with her spotted hand as she laughed. As her laughter faded, the witch plucked the slug from her body and slapped it on the ground. As soon as the slug made contact with the new surface, it morphed into a yellow candle. The candle shot up until it reached the witch's towering height. The two stood as equals for a moment, but then the candle began to dwindle beneath an invisible flame.
“I shall not touch you,” the witch spat, “As I already explained, it is not you but your child who shall suffer.”
“I have no child.”
“You will soon.”
The farmer gulped. “How do you know?”
“Your wife is pregnant, believe me.”
“I cannot believe what I cannot see.”
“Very well,” the witch said, grinning. “The fact remains. Your child is not safe.”
The farmer gripped the cabbage firmly in his dark hands. “That's not true.”
Silence hung in the air but not for long.
“W-w-what is the child's fate?” the farmer stammered. His eyes beheld the shrinking candle and the thick puddle of wax that was forming on the ground.
The witch delivered her words calmly and evenly. “Your daughter shall be a princess.”
She watched the farmer's face crumple in confusion.
“How is that a curse?”
“She shall reside over the most barren woods. The woods shall appear as full as an enchanted forest, but don't be deceived, wicked farmer. The sun will never beat harder on any patch of land in the history of the earth. It will be so hot there that she will have to carry around a parasol all the time, everywhere she goes, lest she melt with the fury of a candle. The sun shall be her greatest enemy.”
The farmer brought the cabbage closer to his chest. “That cannot be, for I have no daughter.” He turned around and darted off before the witch could reply. As he ran, he shouted, “I know nothing of the future, only that my wife will die if I do not feed her tonight.”
“Then you do not see far enough,” the witch whispered to herself. “You do not see far enough.”