Aphelion Issue 220, Volume 21
August 2017
 
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The Two Witches of Vildaretz

by V. Ulea


There were two witches in the town of Vildaretz -- a good witch and a bad witch. The good witch had blue eyes, blond hair, and good habits. The bad witch was just the opposite, with hair and eyes of midnight black, and was known for deeds just as dark.

Still, as bizarre as it sounds, it was often impossible to detect who did what, especially when both witches claimed responsibility for the same thing. This caused lots of confusion and misunderstandings around town.

Generally speaking, it was a strange symmetry between them. In order to give them equal opportunity the guardian sorceress endowed both of them with luck. For the sake of justice, however, the bad witch was given good luck while the good witch was given bad luck. "This will maintain a fair balance," the sorceress had explained.

She also imposed constraints on them, saying that the good witch must be asked to perform the magic while the bad witch must be urged to do it.

"I believe people shouldn't use bad magic as their tool," she explained. "Bad magic must be initiated by bad witches only and no one else should be responsible for the evil. On the contrary, the good magic must come from people's deliberate intention to do good things. Good things shouldn't be taken for granted, darling witches. They must grow within people's hearts, become a part of their dreams, and only then the good magic will have a long-term effect."

In order to limit their power and make them selfless, the sorceress had forbidden them to use the witchcraft for themselves. They had to serve other creatures, but were absolutely powerless when it came to the self-help.

"This will make you a union," the sorceress had stated. "It will force you to become allies rather than rivals, and, thus, the balance will be preserved."

Oh, she was so wise, that sorceress!

Once in while the witches met for a cup of tea or coffee -- and to perform magic on each other. The thing, however, was that the bad witch could always use the help of the good witch, but not vice versa. The good witch could've easily lost her license had she used the bad magic... Obviously, the sorceress had not taken something into account...

Another thing was also quite upsetting to the good witch. When her good magic had negative consequences the good witch was severely criticized. But when the bad magic had positive consequences the bad witch was highly praised.

Needles to say, the life of the good witch was tough, but she had never complained. Nor had she envied the bad witch. The envy was a privilege of bad witches, anyway...

####

In spite of her evil deeds the bad witch was more popular, had more fans, more fun, and better connections. She was always in a good mood, and had the sweetest smile on her lips while accomplishing her disgusting goals. She had slept well and had good dreams, good appetite and an enviable metabolism. Thus, the word "good" would be the only true adjective describing that evil creature. Besides, she lived a marvelous life and had a lot of nice children who never upset her. Above all, everyone constantly wished her something good--whether good morning, or good evening, or good night, and she always replied with confidence: "Thank you, I will."

Oh! And she was the younger one, too...

####

"Enough is enough," the good witch said one day, discovering another wrinkle above her upper lip. "If this is not discrimination than I don't know what is."

She took her magic wand and went to the sorceress.

The sorceress lived in a beautiful mansion made of a rotten pumpkin.

"Please come in," she greeted the good witch who appeared at the door like a tornado, smashing the stairway. "Tea or coffee?"

"Good witches are forbidden to drink coffee," the good witch replied in a husky voice.

"I know... Just checking..." The sorceress chuckled. The good witch hemmed in an unfriendly manner.

"So, to what do I owe your visit?" the sorceress asked, transforming slush from the recent rain into an aromatic cup of tea.

The good witch pushed the cup aside. "We need to talk..." she said. The cup croaked, turning into a toad whose belly stirred with gurgling slush.

"I'm all ears," the sorceress said, smelling a rose made of cannabis.

"You should put an end to it," the good witch said, looking askance at the rose. The rose bristled up and turned into a porcupine.

"What do you mean, dear?"

"Well, you've placed too many restrictions on good witches, too many limitations. No one cares about doing good things for others these days. People care only about them themselves, and they even refuse to think if their desires may harm their friends or family. My power causes negative changes in town, and here's nothing I can do! My hands are tied, I'm loosing my prestige... Take off my limits, do something before the bad witch takes over!" She leaped up from her chair, squeezing the magic wand. It turned into a sword.

"No need to worry, my dear," the sorceress said, turning the sword into swordfish. "Everything's in accordance with the healthy balance..."

"A healthy balance!" The good witch plumped into her armchair, and the house tilted to her side. "I'm sinking like Titanic, don't you see?" The soil swayed under her chair.

"Oh, stop it!" The sorceress waved her hand, restoring the soil. "The ground here is swampy, indeed, but don't exaggerate, please!"

The good witch burst into tears. "I'm not popular anymore, no one gives a damn about me... Everyone's on her side! She's won public sympathy and popular votes lately. It's not fair!"

"Is that so? Oh, dear! Now I see why you sound so upset. But you shouldn't, really! You must be generous and sympathetic, and compassionate, too. For so many centuries she's been ruthlessly persecuted. Open any book and read all that was written about her. I can assure you, dear, you wouldn't find a single positive line about her. Isn't it horrific? I wonder where you were then with your speeches about justice... The world had seemed quite fair to you, hadn't it?"

"Yes, it had, and how could it be otherwise? She is the bad witch, after all, and it's natural to be disgusted by bad witches!"

"Oh, no, no, no, my dear, this is your biggest confusion. Stop using labels and start looking at a person. Try to find something positive in her... People associate themselves with her. That means she has more human quality than you do, and you should think about it. Seriously, darling, be more critical of yourself, it's time to recognize your mistakes and move forward..." She threw a cobweb over her shoulders, shivering. "It's getting cold..."

"I can't believe it! You screwed up everything! You just don't get it, do you? The whole town is a mess!"

"Is it?" the sorceress squeezed the orange juice from a dried spider. "Drink it. You need more vitamins, sweetie."

"Thank you..."

The juice softened her. She became tipsy, complaining, "Whatever I do is wrong, whatever she does is right. They advocate her evil and oppose my good... What can I do? There's no demand on the good magic, anymore... We used to have beautiful flowerbeds in center city, you know... now all is overgrown with weeds... A lot of feral cats, and homeless dogs...I'm broken, the city is ruined, a lo-o-o-t of homeless people... I give them jobs -- they blame me in... encroaching on their freedom!"

"You give them jobs without being asked?" The sorceress shook her head in reproach. "You're not supposed to do the magic unless they ask you, remember?"

"Sorry, I was desperate... Besides..." she sobbed, "this morning... I've discovered a new wrinkle... Now I look like a good witch from outdated movies..." She crunched a piece of cereal that buzzed in her mouth.

"Oh, dear..." The sorceress snapped her fingers and the buzz stopped.

"I used to be the younger one," she lamented. "All good withes did..."

"Yes, now you can see how spoiled you were, my darling..."

The good witch grew tipsy. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She took the cup with the slush and bottomed it before it managed to transform into tea.

"You should've waited, dear..."

####

She walked along the streets, staggering and constantly stepping into puddles. The croaking in her stomach accompanied her every step.

"I should've waited until the slush had turned into tea," she sadly thought.

"Look who is coming!" a voice was heard.

It was the bad witch. Gosh she looked pretty! The good witch stopped, amazed. "How come you look so good?" she asked.

The bad witch wriggled like a cat and shook her head. The streams of long shiny locks shot with dark blue covered her marble shoulders. "Good times have finally come," she purred. "No more witch haunting, no more stress... Stress causes purr-mature aging... People are more sympathetic these days, don't you think?" She winked to the homeless who hastily nodded their agreement from the other side of the street.

The good witch rolled her eyes at the feline tone of her counterpart's voice. She had been talking like that ever since a minor mishap with a spell involving three black cats and a tricky concoction of rare herbs. The townspeople, of course, found it charming, or were too afraid to say otherwise. "It depends," the good witch mumbled.

"Ah, that... Now you know how it feels."

"Now I do..."

They paused. Another croaking broke up their silence.

"These days one must be really lucky to be born a bad witch," the good witch uttered, massaging her stomach.

The bad witch swung, producing electric charges, her nails scintillated with metallic sheen. "Lucky? But of course! All that we, bad witches, were given was good luck. We had nothing else, remember?"

"I remember..."

"Besides, what you've just called me is magically incorrect."

"What is?"

"No one has the right to call anyone else names! Bad witch, good witch... A witch is a witch and any witchcraft has its positive and negative sides. Is that clear?" She raised her left eyebrow. The homeless hastily nodded their support.

"Are you saying there's no difference between us anymore?"

"Exactly!"

"Are you saying that people see no difference between us?"

"Meow-be..."

"Then soon I'll see more of them in my house! It's marvelous!" she exclaimed.

"Meow-rvelous?" the bad witch asked ingratiatingly. "I wouldn't call it meow-rvelous if I were you..." Her left eye flashed green fire.

"What does it mean?"

"You wouldn't call it meow-rvelous if it were a century ago, would you?"

"Oh, come on! We've been friends for such a long time. Never in my life did I harm you or perform anything but good magic on you. Don't you remember?"

"What I re-meow-mbember is all those stupid books you've kept on your shelves, educating kids about how bad the bad witches are... Frrr! Now all those kids grew up and they hate you for discriminating me and distorting my im-meow-age! Thanks to my good luck I survived the years of mental and physical abuse. And now it's your turn. There are no more bad witches, that's true, but all former good witches will suffer the consequences!" With these words she wriggled and jumped on the stairway under the applauses of the homeless.

####

The next morning the homeless woke up, all dressed in white tuxedos. The flowerbeds bloomed, the houses shone, and the streets smelled expensive perfume and freshly cleaned sidewalks.

"It's a violation of human rights!" the bad witch shrieked, tucking up her skirt. Her svelte little figure darted past the streets, toppling over trashcans and turning trash into rats and roaches. An army of abused homeless followed her, crying out anti-good-witch's slogans.

Late in the evening, they settled down, celebrating the victory.

When they woke up the next morning they couldn't recognize the town again. A post-modern city with fabulous futuristic architecture extended before them. The electric cars-airplanes ran along the streets and the air was crystal clean.

"The war!" the bad witch exclaimed.

"The war!" the homeless echoed her.

A few hundred cannons were made from wild elephants and a few hundred wild elephants were made from rats. The attack began simultaneously, and the elephants finished what the cannons started. By the end of the day the city was grinded into dust. This, however, didn't last long. At nightfall, the dust got bound with the moonlight and the town was restored, becoming twice as beautiful.

"Parasites!" the bad witch yelled at the homeless. Her eyes flashed green fire. "You must work harder!"

"But how? What else should we do?" the homeless asked defensively, hiding behind the newspapers to escape her claws.

"Ok. Tomorrow! We'll start tomorrow. I'm opening classes on how to defeat good magic. All of you must attend. I repeat -- all of you! The one who fails to learn will turn into a toothless rat." She scratched the glass on the door of the municipal building and vanished into thin air.

The classes started at eight and lasted until noon. After lunch everyone was ordered to practice, applying the theory he had learned. The homeless carefully covered buildings with magic graffiti, and broke up windows with magic stones, but to their surprise the walls instantly cleansed themselves, and the splinters merged together in seconds. They littered the streets with the cursed litter powerful enough to turn the town into a jungle of trash. Alas! The ground consumed it instantly, heaving like a piton digesting a rabbit.

"Freeloaders!" the bad witch raged. "I'll spoil your lunches!" She spit up snake venom.

The homeless only shrugged. "The town's bad magic-resistant," they reiterated.

####

Outraged, she flew in the good witch's house, breaking the window. The good witch was about to leave for her night shift.

"You've violated the magic commandments! You'll be deprived from your license," the bad witch threatened her.

"Excuse me?" The good witch raised her eye-brows, touching up her lips.

"You can't use the magic without being asked!"

"But I was asked!" The good witch turned to her, smiling. Her eyes shone like two bright stars.

"You were? By whom? No one approached your house lately. It's a lie!"

"You know good witches can't lie. I was asked. That day, on my way home, I had suddenly switched the focus from my misfortune to the town, and my ears opened. Every building, every single bench, and even trashcans talked to me, asking for help..."

####

Days gave way to nights, but the town stood clean and fresh. Regardless of all efforts it thrived, and even the homeless got their jobs and lived in luxurious apartments. Some of them became leading specialists in fields such as demolishing, recycling, and the like. It was depressing.

The bad witch began to experience anxiety at night. The sleep abandoned her, the black circles appeared under her eyes, and she didn't look pretty anymore.

####

"I must visit her," she decided one day, after a hunched old woman looked at her from the mirror. "Regardless of our magic differences we're still friends..."

Late at night she doddered to the good witch's house and knocked on the door.

"Who's that?" she heard a young melodic voice of her old colleague.

"Guess," she replied in a husky voice.

"Ah, it's you! Come in!" A young beautiful blond appeared on the threshold. "Tea or coffee?" she asked after the bad witch took a seat, groaning and holding on to her back.

"You know we, bad witches, can't drink tea..."

The good witch smiled and conjured a fresh coffee.

"Oh, what a taste!" the bad witch purred, squinting. "What is it made of?"

"Dead crickets."

"Gosh, it tastes good!" Her wrinkled face stretched in a smile. She resembled a turtle basking in the sun. "It's such a mess," she said, sipping from the cup. "The whole town looks like shit... Clean streets, shiny buildings, busy homeless... I'm exhausted... It's too much stress for me..." She closed her eyes. "I'll take a nap if you don't mind. You may start in the morning. The school opens at eight, they're very disciplined... Just change the sign of the magic, that's all. They're quick learners."

"I know."

The good witch covered her with a blanket and put a pillow under her head, saying, "It's conjured from skunk, it's very therapeutic. It will cure your insomnia quickly."

"Nice..." The old witch stretched on the couch with delight. "Will you massage my head like in old good times?"

"Yes, of course..."

"And the magic facelift... will you do it for me?"

"No problem."

"Thank you! You're a true friend..."

The good witch touched her gray hair, gently massaging her head. "Purr-fect, purr-fect..." the bad witch purred, steeping in slumber. "If you don't mind me asking..." she mumbled, half-asleep, "what kind of meow-agic do you use to resist the bad witchcraft?"

"Oh, it's a very old one. The sorceress taught me it when I visited her last time. I just didn't grasp it right away..."

"I see... It's purr-tty powerful... I wonder if I can learn it one day..." Then she fell asleep.

The good witch watched her for some time. Her face expression turned from smiling to concerned. "I wonder, too," she mumbled.

She glimpsed around, sipped the black coffee from the bad witch's cup, and whispered an incantation.

The bad witch curled down into a ball, moving her soft paws up and down. Her whiskers slightly twitched.

"Sweet dreams, pussycat! This way I'll be safe," the good witch said with relief, and her blue eyes flashed with the green.

THE END


© 2008 V. Ulea

Bio: Bio: V. Ulea is a scholar, a writer, and a film director. Her works have appeared in The Literary Review, Re:AL, The Bitter Oleander, Sein und Werden, Golden Visions, and other journals and magazines in the US and Europe. Her books have been published by Greenwood Press, Southern Illinois University Press, Livingston Press, and many others.

E-mail: V. Ulea

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