Monday, March 11, 2013

The Wood and the Witch

The Wood and the Witch
By Ryan Slattery
Once upon a time there was a little boy. Like all boys he loved playing outside and watching the sun go down behind the trees. But one day he felt adventurous and walked into the wood behind his parents’ house. They always warned him not to venture into the woods because he might become lost. But the boy thought to himself, I won’t get lost, and I’ll only go in a little bit.

                That day the boy was right. He didn’t get lost and he could always look back and see the back of the house. There was really nothing scary in the wood after all. He knew his parents were smart, but maybe they didn’t know just how smart he was.

                The next day the boy ventured even a little further. Now he could only see the back of the house through many branches, but it was there and he could see it. After running a bit he returned home safely. He felt confident and strong, but still wouldn’t think of mentioning his adventures to his parents.

                The next day the boy decided to go even further into the wood. Wielding a stick like a sword he dashed into the familiar part of the wood, but it wasn’t long before he was well beyond what he knew. He looked back but couldn’t see the house, but he was confident that he knew the way back. Just as he turned his head straight again a spider web became visible just in time for him to see it wrap around his head. Panicked, he jumped back, tripped over a root protruding from the ground and hit his head on a large and very hard rock. The shock of the impact no doubt would have hurt but he blacked out before he could take much notice.

                After a time he slowly began to open his eyes. To his surprise he saw the face of his mother looking down at him. He was no longer in the wood. “My son, I’m so glad you’re okay. I’ve been worried sick!”

                The boy tried to sit up but it brought such pain to the back of his head that he decided to rest a while. He looked around the room, which he didn’t recognize, but he didn’t care much. He was just glad to be with his mom.

                His mother brought a tray with roast chicken, potatoes mashed and covered in gravy, sweet corn and rolls smothered with butter. The smell of the warm meal was a delight to his senses as well as an extra incentive to sit up, which despite the pain, he did. Looking around he found himself confused. He didn’t recognize this place at all. “Where am I?” he asked.

                “This is out new home sweetheart” came his mother’s answer.

                “Where’s dad?” he then asked.

                “Daddy died while you were unconscious” she said without emotion.

                “Dad’s dead?” he repeated loudly. “What happened?” he asked beginning to cry.

                “Oh dear, let’s not worry about that just now. You haven’t even touched your dinner.”

                Nothing seemed right to the young boy. The house was strange, his father was dead, and even the one thing that seemed normal (his mother) was acting rather oddly. He looked through the window and saw many tree branches that were very near to the house. He began to choke back on his tears and think. He suddenly understood that he was still in the wood. He looked at his mother with a suspicious look. “Who are you?” he asked.

                “I am your mom” said the woman. “You must have bumped your head harder than I thought!”

                “If you are my mom, then what is my name?”

                The woman looked at him startled by the directness of the question. Her expression changed from shocked to angry. “All I wanted was for you to eat this wonderful meal I made for you. Is that too much to ask?”

                “But you’re not my mom!”

                When the young boy spoke these words the woman’s appearance began to change. Her hair started to lose its color and wrinkles emerged on her face. She no longer looked like the boy’s mother, but was revealed to be a witch.

                “If you aren’t happy being my child, then you’ll have to settle for being my pet” the witch said as she lifted a short thin wand.

“Powers below the muddy pit 
                Roll in filth and in garbage sit
                From boy to beast in dirt he’ll dig
                Change his form into a pig.”

By the end of the witch’s chanting the boy felt his arms shrinking, his nose growing and in great alarm he found himself on the ground with stumpy little legs and a wriggly little tail. He trotted of quickly as the witch chased him out the side door, when, he saw he was now trapped in a pig pen surrounded by other pigs.

After weeks of sleeping in freezing rain and eating the most putrid slop the young boy began to cry and long for home. He missed his mother and father and wished he had listened to them after all. He was lost just as they said.

Late one clear and starry night the boy thought he heard his father’s voice echoing through the woods. He wished his legs were long like normal so he could jump over the wooden fence, but he couldn’t. His short pig legs were useless for jumping. He was just about to lose hope.

Again he heard the voice in the forest, but this time it was nearer and clearer. It was definitely his father! He got excited and didn’t care whether he had pig legs or not, he would jump the fence. He backed up to the end of the pig pen and with a burst of speed dashed forward. Right before reaching the fence he put all his strength in those short pig legs and jumped like no pig had jumped before. If you had seen it yourself, it would no doubt have made you laugh to see a pig act in so strange a manner. But for the boy it was no joke at all and when his snout crashed into the fence he knew that he had failed. It hurt badly to hit the fence at running speed, but it hurt far more that he couldn’t get out.

After a few moments of dizziness the boy noticed that he actually succeeded in getting out, just not the way he tried. He saw the board he smashed into had broken from the fence. It appeared to be rotting at parts and this made it too weak to withstand his impact. But never mind that, he thought and stood quiet and still to listen again for his father.

This time the voice came from very near. He darted off in the direction of the voice and in no time he saw his father, who was startled by a pig darting at him out of nowhere. Very strange to see a pig running loose he thought as he knelt down to pick up the creature. As he lifted the small pig in his hands his eyes caught sight of an unusual marking on the back of the pig’s neck. He ran quickly through the dark woods passing trees on his left and right until the boy saw the silhouette of his family’s house against the starry night sky.

Once inside the father showed the strange mark on the pig to the boy’s mother. “Can it be? Is it possible?” She asked.

“This pig has the exact same birthmark as our son and ran right to me” he said.

“What should we do?” his mother asked.

“What can we do? Only pray and ask God to have mercy on us.”

After praying the boy’s parents slept until morning. When the light came into their room they arose and went outside. Their son, still in the form of a pig, followed them. Coming to their apple tree they saw a marvelous sight. On one of the trees grew an apple. Most were yellow and pale green, but this one was glittering gold and off a warm fragrance, like that of fresh apple pie.

“This must be a sign from God” the father said. The boy’s mother went and plucked the apple and fed it to the boy. As he ate the apple he was sure that even after the weeks of horrible slop he had to eat, he would’ve happily done it again for another apple like this. Its inside was warm and smooth and not only made his stomach happy, but filled every part of his body with such comfort and strength that by the time he had finished he didn’t even realize that he was a boy again and no longer a pig.

He saw his parents and realized how much pain they felt while he was lost. “I’m sorry” he said. “I’m so…so sorry.” His mother and father only hugged the child, thanking God for his mercy.

They went inside, ate a good breakfast and lived happily ever after.

No comments:

Post a Comment