Category B: Second Place (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition
Author: Amritha Ramachandran
Title: A witch’s tale
A laugh escapes me as I run eagerly into the wild forest with my hair streaming behind me, trying to hide from my brothers. We were playing a game of hide and seek and though they always managed to find me, I was determined to win this time.
My brothers and I aren't related by blood as I was actually found abandoned as a baby at the border of this very forest. My now mother saw me, took me in and raised me as her own. However, as I grew older, I realised that I wasn't like my brothers or the other kids my age. I could grow flowers from my fingertips, make it rain, hail or shine at my will and lift things with simply the flick of my wrist. When I was about three years old, there was a girl who was the same as me. A witch they called her. The king’s soldiers found her, pulled her by the hair to the town square and executed her right then and there. I could still hear her spine chilling screams as they ended her life. The person who ratted the girl out received a thousand golden coins from the king for his “service”. That was when I realised that everyone in this village could be my enemy if they found out who I actually was and so I decided to never let anyone, not even my family find out who I really was and made sure to bury my magic deep inside of me, never to be let out.
“Melody, where are you?” My brothers called out.
I quickly climbed up a tree and peeped out cautiously from the branches. Though I couldn’t see them, I could hear their voices coming towards me, but I also heard other deeper voices with them. My senses heightened and I curiously moved across the treetops to spy ten armed soldiers, ready to fire at any given moment. I shouldn’t be surprised but I was, I shouldn’t be hurt but I was. My own brothers had betrayed me.
I tried to calm my racing heart and clear my chaotic head and climbed to the canopies of the tall majestic trees so that I was well hidden among the dense branches and leaves. However, the twig I was holding on to snapped and I let out a small scream as gravity pulled me down. Luckily, at the corner of my eye, I spotted a dangling vine and hoisted myself back up. Shouts and yells began to fill the air and I knew I had been discovered. I risked a glance at my attackers and saw my two brothers, who had a dangerous glint in their eyes and a sly smile that lazily climbed up their cheeks when they looked straight at me.
My instincts kicked in and I ran swiftly from tree to tree on the thick branches and headed towards the heart of the forest, with my brothers and the soldiers hot on my heels. I gasped as a dagger suddenly pinned my dress to the tree while I was running, causing me to lose my balance and fall. The soft grass caught me as I crumbled into a messy trembling heap on the floor. I looked beneath the curtain of my hair and saw them all towering over me, pointing their swords like they were the grim reaper ready to take my life. As I watched the fate of my life roll out before me, something inside of me snapped and I could feel the anger, the emotions and the magic inside of me bubble and rise up to the top like lava in a volcano. My eyes flashed red and the ground around me rumbled. The luscious green forest around me transformed into a dark gloomy death scene as the trees withered into hollow skeleton-like branches, the vibrant flowers that decorated the forest floor turned brown and flakey and even the sun hid away to give way to the moon and an endless night.
Instead of fear, the soldiers’ eyes displayed amusement and dark pleasure as if wanting me to put up a fight. And so I did. With the snap of my fingers I called upon the element of wind and flung half the soldiers head first into a giant boulder, cracking their skulls wide open. Crimson blood stained the rock and the ground. I smiled innocently as the colour drained from the rest of the soldiers’ and my brothers’ faces and their dominance faded. I whirled my wrist around and pointed towards the rest of the soldiers. Instantly they let out a blood curdling scream. As I pinched my fingers, their heart, lungs and all other organs closed in on themselves and burst inside of their body.
Now it was only my two brothers. Foolishly, they thought they could escape me, they thought they could just run away. I conjured up two vines, wrapped them around each of my brothers’ neck and dragged them back to where I was standing. They tried to dig their shoes into the Earth to resist my force but I only tightened my grip on them. I could practically see the horror dripping off them in their sweat and in that moment I could see myself in them. Always being frightened when someone yelled out, “Witch!” or talked about the monstrous ways in which they would torture the witches they found.
Well, not anymore.
I kissed both my brothers on their forehead before whistling to call on the bloodthirsty savage wolves that roamed the forest. With a final sad smile at my brothers, I tossed them both like bait to the hounds who immediately tore into their flesh, ripped off muscle from bone and savored the taste of human meat. My brothers’ ear piercing shrieks echoed through the night as I turned away from the blood bath and walked deeper into the forest, so that I would never have to come back.