Lavender foxglove with deep violet throats grew along the walkway to the witch’s house. Abby considered picking a few, just to see what the witch would do, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Bad enough that she had to come here to beg for medicine for her mother; she didn’t want to anger the witch and owe more than she already would.
The wooden door, battered and scarred from previous visitors’ pounding, opened noiselessly as Abby approached. No one was in sight.
Her neck prickled, and Abby hung back, calling inside, “Hello? Mother Monkshood?”
“Ain’t home. Ha’n’t been for couple o’ week.”
Abby whirled around at the voice, surprised to see Dante the Hermit out of his hut. His hound, a mottled topaz-and-brown hunting breed, sat beside him, panting.
“What do you mean? I have to see her.” The witch was always home.
Doubt crossed his face and a touch of — sadness? “Ain’t there. Won’t be, no more. Tree fell on her. Witch be gone.”
Gone? Dead? A hollow spot opened up inside of Abby. If the witch wasn’t here, Abby’s mother would die. No, this wouldn’t do. She would not be left an orphan.
“Fine. I know where she kept the medicines. I’ll see whether there is enough for my mother.”
The hermit grunted in what might have been amusement or disbelief. “It ain’t like that. You take from her, even with her dead, you owe her. You go in, you’re gonna be the next witch.”
She hesitated. Was he telling the truth?
Abby looked at the door. It had opened for her, welcoming her. Before, she’d thought it unnerving. Now, it was downright frightening — an invitation from the house itself to make herself at home.
Was her mother worth the price?
She didn’t even have to think to know the answer to that. “Very well. Take the medicine to my mother for me and tell her what happened. Then you can go back to your hut.”
“You’re a little young to call ‘Mother,’ but that be the witchy title.”
“That will wait a few years, while I learn the craft, I think. For now, I will be Sister Foxglove.”
— The End —
The inspiration for today’s flash came from Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge, Five Random Words. The words I chose from his list were foxglove, orphan, hermit, hound, and topaz.
My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.