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ORCHARD MAGIC: PART TWO

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

As Jack and I cross her threshold we say "sorry" and "apologies" in unison.


“I’m Windy,” she says, closing the door until a nudge and a growl come into fruition. She reopens the door and Ali and Carter enter. Ali looks up at her glaringly.


“I’m sorry, my dear friend.”


Ali growls again as Carter’s happy tail-wagging whacks him in the mug.


Windy stifles a chuckle. “Welcome to you both.”


Jack is surveying the witch's cottage. His eyes are wide and gliding in every direction.


I smile, but the aroma of books, apples, pears, and vanilla warm my senses.


I register his amazement and match it with mine one hundred percent. A wide stone fireplace to the left of the cottage is glowing with a hot brew of some sort. Nearby are bundles of dried herbs and flowers and pots and pans hanging above a worn kitchen table. The sunlight streaming through the windows offers the right amount of magic to this scene. Across the cottage by the wood stove is an area rug, a couch with a basket of needles and yarn on the floor. And there’s a water bowl too.


Interesting, I think to myself. There must be an animal about. Maybe a small magical creature of some sort.


“I am sorry,” says Windy, “that my Minxy is not here to greet you. She’s my miniature-miniature wingless dragon. She loves having guests over, but she’s in the back shed fetching some ingredients for me.”


I nod and watch Ali and Carter sniff around before settling upon the couch.


The ancient wood beams that support the thatch roof call my attention. They’re wide and stained in a warm walnut with dots or streaks of some sort on them. Upon further examination, I realize those dots and streaks are spell markings. My gaze slides toward the witch and I see that she is already watching me.


She bears her teeth. Surprisingly white and straight.


This witch most certainly does not meet your swelling or gruesome witch standards. She might even be sweet.


“Thanks, darling. Right back at you.”


I blush. I forgot she could read minds.


“You’ll get used to it,” she says to me. She walks over to Jack who’s starting to rummage through her library. “What may I do for you?”


“I was hoping you could help me with hands and legs, please.”


“Just hands and legs? Would you like arms and feet? I don’t know,” she says whirling around, her brown floral dress spinning around her, “maybe knees and toes, a torso?”


“I don’t know what you’re on about, but I’d like to be like you two. Standing and walking and moving around. I guess I want to be more than just a head.”


“Now, why would you want to settle with just being like us? If you’re going to make a wish, why not ask for more?”


While Jack takes a moment to absorb his desires, my stomach growls.


“Is that right?” she asks, as if speaking to my stomach.


“Starved.”


Jack chimes in and pleads on my behalf. “I wish you weren’t hungry.”


“Then it’s settled!” Windy declares.


Confusion masks Jack’s face. Before either of us could ask what she means, there’s a pop followed by Ali’s barking. I turn around and see a green creature about eighteen inches in height. A wingless dragon, in fact. This must be Minxy, I discern.


Windy compliments Minxy on her excellent timing then proceeds to remove the leather satchel crossing her body. She pulls out cinnamon sticks, a few nutmegs, cloves and ginger.


“Excellent! That’s everything. Oh! Oh! Oh! This is going to be absolutely delicious.”


Jack looks up at me and I shrug.


Squatting before him, Windy places her hands on his face. “Now Jack, dear. You’re going to need to get cleaned up.”


Poof! Poof!


The room fills with glitter and smoke and I fall into a daze.



I sit up then look around for Ali and Carter and I see them sitting on their own chairs at the kitchen table with Minxy.


“You must be famished by now. Would you like to eat, darling?”


Disoriented, I nod.


Windy takes my hand and leads me to my chair. She prepared a potato stew, rolls, and dessert. She motions for me to start eating. I place a napkin on my lap and proceed to eat a helping of everything. I wash all the deliciousness down with a glass of eggnog and pay my compliments to the chef.


“You are most welcome. You’ll never have anything like it again.”


“I don’t disagree with you. It’s a shame Jack isn’t here to appreciate it. Where is he?” I look around, embarrassed that I barely noticed his absence until now. “Is he still in the bath?”


Windy chuckles. “No. The clean up didn’t take long and he wasn’t much of a fuss. It was the cooking that took some time. I’m glad you slept through it all.”


I help myself to another serving of pie and enjoy another bite. “That’s good to hear. He’s going to love your food. Mm. This pie is delectable. Sweet potato?”


“No way. I’m allergic to sweet potatoes. It’s pumpkin pie.”


“Right. Oh! I taste the distinction now.”


I swallow another bite and suddenly my stomach incinerates into the floorboards. I look around and notice there isn’t a chair set aside for Jack.


My eyes darted to Ali then Carter to Windy then back at Ali and Carter. I’m staring daggers at them as if begging them to tell me that Jack will be walking into the room at any moment.


“Turn that frown upside down. Jack's wish was granted.”


“Oh, thank goodness,” I say, exhaling a deep breath I didn’t know I had been holding. His legs and hands and whatnot. “Phew! My imagination went to an awful dark place for a second.”


“Really?” she asked, a little too mischievously for someone with her stature.


Her sly grin makes me pause. I see her eyes warm, even glimmer, at the sight of the fresh pumpkin pie before her.


“But Jack didn’t want you to be hungry. Never know what will happen when you burn apples and pears. Quite the concoction, indeed. You should enjoy him. Take another bite.”


The weight of the truth begins to pound me like death knocking on my door. Cinnamon, nutmeg, freshly cleaned Jack… a pumpkin.


I’ve just eaten Jack!


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