When Stella discovered her stepsister was doing black magic, she decided to intervene. Not with a whisper or a quiet chat, oh no. Stella hated her stepsister, a deep-seated loathing that curled out of her heart to choke her on a daily basis. No, she decided early on that the only way to deal with the unholy bitch was to give her a taste of her own medicine.
Black magic was outlawed in the village; you had to be sly, you had to be quiet. Stella had been practicing for years, although no one would have known. A small spell here, a minor hex there, she was good at her craft and she didn’t want her stepsister’s fumbling foray into her world ruin all that she had made.
She chanted softly as she drew the shutter back, the light from the half-moon spilling onto the pentagram drawn into the wooden floor. She always worked indoors, the potency of her powers best directed in the space of four closed walls. She chose the attic for its small window, just big enough to let the light of the moon in, yet small enough to keep her secrets safe. She chose the attic for its many ghosts, the powers of the past reaching out to help her in her dark endeavours.
She worked quickly but methodically as she pulled straws together to fashion a rustic poppet, tied neatly with black cloth, bound tight and thick. She opened her grimoire then, her hands steady and calm, as she directed her energy to the doll, as she filled it with her hate.
Curse her mouth and curse her tongue
Curse her mind & curse her lungs
Let air in, a simple breath
Let air out, to preach her death.
She pulled the vial of chicken blood from her pocket and spinning twice doused it with the thick red fluid, her hands shaking, the poppet almost pulsating like a beating heart. Stella grinned to herself as she packed away her things. It wouldn’t be long now.
The next day Stella woke to the news. Her stepsister had been on the streets screaming all morning, of hexes and of spells. She had torn her clothes and writhed on the muddy ground, her screams lifting through the busy streets, her cackles rising up to the chimneys.
I’m a witch! Ah!! I’m a witch! A curse on you! A pox on thee!! Damn this town!! A witch! A witch!!
The penalty for magic of any kind was death by burning and as Stella made her way out the door of her small abode, she knew it would be a good day.
– Claire Loader
Claire Loader grew up in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland, where she now lives with her family. A photographer and writer, she was a recent finalist in the Women Speak poetry competition and blogs at www.allthefallingstones.com. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Massacre Magazine, Tales From The Forest and Pendora.