Late on parade this month, but here it is….
A Witch’s gotta do what a Witch’s gotta do!
It had been another cold start to the day, her breath forming clouds in the air as soon as she poked her head above the cocoon of blankets under which Esther slept. She’d been tempted to stay there in that comfortable cocoon, but knew things wouldn’t start to improve until she got the range lit.
As always, she’d put out the fixings beside the range, so she simply had to rake it out before re-laying the fire and getting it going. As she’d need to heat some water before she was able to wash, Esther’s regular practice was to put on yesterday’s underthings under her clothes, while she busied herself with the morning’s cleaning – the physical labour would help her get warm before the range started to pump out heat. This morning, the windows needed scraping of ice – a little thicker than it had been so far this year, so Esther was glad she’d not planted out her herbs during that warm spell. She knew others had, but something told her winter wasn’t done with them yet this year. It made the inside of her small home very crowded, but those herbs were critical for her business, so it had to be borne.
The rest of the morning had gone as normal. With the regular cleaning chores finished, Esther had washed and dressed in fresh underthings, putting the previous days into a pot of hot water ready for her to wash, before hanging out to dry as soon as the sun – such as it was – hit her garden.
Earlier than usual, there was a knock at the door. Pushing aside her irritation at having to interrupt her final morning chores, Esther slid aside the small peephole in her door. On the other side stood a young girl she knew by sight, but had never seen at her door. The girl was crying, but – as was her practice – Esther wouldn’t allow her in. The girl spoke, telling her tale between sobs, until Esther confirmed she had what was wanted , and a price was a agreed. But something made Esther send her away, with instructions to meet later in the village marketplace.
Returning to her scrubbing, Esther marvelled at how many local women had been beguiled by the village blacksmith. You’d think the word would get around about his nature – but no. She’d always determined it wasn’t for her to judge, and she was careful to give each a stern warning that the effects would wear off after a period of time. She made sure to supply only enough for one draught, making clear it wasn’t effective after the first time. But each woman had decided to take the risk, convinced they’d be the one to keep him when he awoke from his dream state.
Hanging out her clothes a bit later than she’d liked, Esther was still pondering on that morning’s encounter. If only the local mayor wasn’t such an ass, she’d talk to him. This morning’s visitor was really too young, but Esther could not turn to her mother, for she knew her to be a silly woman, – one who’d previously bought the self-same love potion to use on the blacksmith herself. What other woman of good sense could she turn to?
When no candidate emerged, Esther determined she wouldn’t sell her love potion until the situation with the blacksmith was resolved, but knew she’d have to get rid of her current stock publicly to ensure no-one attempted to break into her home. Love was not only blind, but it could also turn people into crazed creatures – and her home was her sanctuary, she’d not stand for intruders.
Preparing for her trip into town, Esther loaded her cart up with the last of the love potion. It was a shame, but it had to be done – at least until the local menfolk developed a backbone. She had plans for a new tincture to add to the local well which should sort them out. But till then….
© Debra Carey, 2022