The Witch's Stories (HTML excerpt)
The farmer’s wife was walking off to market when first she heard the shouting. It seemed to be coming from somewhere down the road ahead. She paused to consider what it might be and whether it was worth avoiding. While she did, a spider came out the top of the hedge and waved to get her attention. “Good morning, Sister Eight-Eyes,” said the farmer’s wife. “What news?”

Spiders go everywhere, and they know what’s what. “News is,” said the spider, “they’re coming to hang you for a witch.”

The farmer’s wife sighed. “Is it so obvious?”

“Well,” said Sister Eight-Eyes, “you do talk to spiders. It’s kind of a hint.”

In fact, most farmer’s wives talk to spiders. They say things like “You stay in your corner and I’ll let you be,” or “Confound it, get out of my hair!” What most farmer’s wives don’t do, and what Sister Eight-Eyes meant, was converse with spiders, as this farmer’s wife was doing right now.

The farmer’s wife was indeed a witch. She had always been a witch. She was first-born daughter to the Queen of the witches, destined to inherit the crown, and she had dreaded that destiny with every ounce of witchcraft in her soul. Oh, Queendom has its pleasures, to be sure. It comes with a certain amount of luxury, yes, and the promise of power can be tempting. But even the normal sort of Queen, if she hopes to be a good Queen, has a lot of responsibilities, what with forging alliances, steering the economy, managing crises, and using the right fork at the dinner table. Witch-queens have to do all that, too, only the alliances are sometimes with demons or gods, and the range of crisis they’re expected to be able to handle (what with being able to do magic and all) is so wide you would not believe. At its worst the job is frightening and stressful, and at its best it’s tedious. It’s not exactly the sort of job you dream about. It’s more the kind of job you do because someone has to do it, and through an accident of birth, that someone is you.

There wasn’t much she could do about that accident of birth. But what she could do (being a witch and all) was leave the story....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for February 24, 2017. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1155 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.

Cover art features adaptation of “Spiders Web in hedge” by Micolo J, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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