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The Witch

This was a project for a writing class. Rewrite a fairy tale in first-person from the perspective of the antagonist, making them the protagonist.



The phone was ringing. It’s soft jingle eased me awake, and I rolled across my bed to answer it.

“Good morning, boss,” I said as cheerfully as I could muster, “Another one already?”

“My good Rosina, I’m afraid so! Letters left and right, coming in so fast, I can barely keep up! Shame, shame.. are you ready for another?” he asked jovially.

“I am! What’s the lesson, Nicholas.. and where am I headed?”

“Mittenwald Woods. Two siblings, boy and girl, not learning the value of food, or sharing. Their mother Ida has told them time and time again, the crops are low.. which of course, just makes me feel worse, since it’s my fault..”

“We had no choice, Nick!” I said breathlessly. “What could we do? Young Jonathan found the workshop when no one else had before! The choice was clear! Be exposed for life, or maintain our secrecy! If you hadn't covered the land in our snow, we would have been lost forever! You saved us all!”

“I know, I know, but still.. So many lives, Rosina.. And I long for the days when it was not sharing toys or not wanting to do chores.” There was a pause. I longed for those days, too. But I knew what a great sacrifice he had made in such quick thinking that saved our magic while staying safe from the human mortals.

“Well,” Nicholas continued, “I’ll send Rudy over soon to taxi you there, have him make sure you’re comfortable, and I’ll leave the rest to you.”

“I won’t let you down!” I said.

“You never have!”

I loved my job; many people think they make a difference in the world but I was certain of it. I helped parents at wits end help change their children’s naughty behavior. I did it well for hundreds of years, and it wasn’t until meeting these two brats that my world changed, and I finally let my team down. I had failed. The children did not learn. They were worse than any child I’d taught before, and I was the one who taught Peter not to lie by making those townspeople deaf to him for one day. You’ve likely heard his story as “don’t cry wolf”.

Nicholas, true to his word, had Rudy at my home within an hour. I was ready to go, having magicked my candy constructed home and belongings into my trunk, and slid graciously with it into his carriage. One day’s swift riding and we had arrived. Mittenwald Woods was charming! The evergreens were lush and had a beautiful frost covering them, but it was clear how Nicholas’ snow had damaged the crops. I stepped gingerly out of the carriage, took out my wand, and set my home up once more, making sure the gingerbread walls were golden brown, the gumdrops bright and dewy. Rudy had brought me one of Nicholas’ own life-size candy canes, and I stuck it right in the ground as a welcome sign. All that was left was to get the children. I nodded my thanks to Rudy and went inside to hash my plan. I would make myself appear frail to teach them that we all need nourishment, including their parents! If that didn’t work, I’d fatten them up, and make them think they were MY dinner! Surely either way, when they return home, they will want to eat less, so no one will ever want to eat them again! Their parents will be able to feed themselves again, without Hansel or Gretel demanding more of their parents shares.

I should have known what I was getting into when they were a day late. Ida told me Hansel and Gretel had eavesdropped and foiled her plan by leaving a pebble path to return home on her first attempt to lead them to me. But I was clever too, and told her to leave a loaf of bread out; surely those plump children would not resist, and it would be all they’d have to scatter! The wildlife would take care of the rest. Ida of course was hesitant; a whole loaf of bread during a famine? But she trusted me in the end, and all went according to plan. Ida sent word to Nicholas that she and her husband had left Hansel and Gretel in the woods, and he used his magic to hide their home and lead them to me.

I heard them from miles away. The scent of my gingerbread home wafted to the children, who ambled their way to find the source of the enticing smell. I cast my spell so that any onlooker who laid eyes on me would see a blind and hunch-backed old hag. When they arrived, they ate as much as their plump hands could shovel into their mouths. I hid behind a window sill watching. They nearly broke down my roof before I stepped outside.

“Oh my, oh my!” I croaked, “Children! You must be famished; come in, come in! Don’t eat my house, this is all I have. Come in, come in, I will cook my last meat just for you!” Hansel and Gretel barely looked at each other and rushed into my home, made themselves comfortable on the cookie couch, their hands outstretched to the fire while their beady eyes stalked my candy dish like a cats watching a mouse. I busied myself in the kitchen preparing a nice stew for them. They sat impatiently, greedily sneaking chocolates and candy canes into their pockets. The brats didn’t seem to even consider that they may not be in a good place, all they cared about was themselves and their bellies. They finished my stew and bread before I finished my first bowl. My elderly appearance meant nothing to them. Plan A was not going to work; I’d have to go the tough love route.

After feeding them, Gretel asked to take a nap. As she slept, I conjured a cage and charmed Hansel into doing whatever I told him to. He entered the cage obediently and sat. After locking the cage, I lifted the charm and he began wailing for help. Gretel ran into the room.

“There’s nothing you can do, girl! I am going to feast on your brother’s fat flesh, and then yours! Go now, check the oven is still hot!” I shrieked, trying my hardest not to laugh. Gretel cried and cried, pulled on the cage door and screamed for help, but eventually turned defeated and began to walk towards the kitchen, her eyes darting about my home. I didn’t like to make children this afraid, but as little Peter proved, sometimes it’s necessary. Hansel cried helplessly. Minutes passed. I decided to let the fear sink in more, let them sweat a little.

“It’s broken,” Gretel called from the kitchen, her voice wavering.

“Dumb girl!” I shouted, “I just used it to cook that dinner for you, you ungrateful little brat!” I set down my wand and sauntered inside the kitchen, which indeed felt perfectly warm to me. But I figured I’d humor her. I peered into the oven, pretending she, a small child, could fool me. That’s when it happened; she shoved me.

I tumbled into the oven. How could I have left my wand? No child had ever tried to harm me before! I was the foolish one! She held the door closed and I watched helplessly as her brother picked the lock with a candy cane he broke, sprang from the cage, and ran to assist Gretel in taking my life. When I was too weak to fight, I saw them rush my home and fill their pockets with all they could. They even found my magical supplies. I failed Saint Nicholas.


EPILOGUE:

Hansel and Gretel stole the witch’s magic crystals, recognizing them as precious stones. Nicholas, after not hearing updates from Rosina, came to the gingerbread home to see what Hansel and Gretel had done. He conjured the crystals from their pockets so they could not use them as currency. To be fair, Nicholas took their mother Ida to the North Pole to take Rosina’s place before lifting the magic that covered the family’s cottage. Hansel and Gretel could afford to eat more now that there was one less mouth to feed, but would forever remember the cost of their greed. For vengeance, they passed down to their children that witches could be killed by fire, and many innocent witches and wizards perished at their hands long after they had passed, including during Salem Witch Trials 300 years later. None of their family would ever get off of the Naughty List.



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