Reflections of an Elderly Witch
And so it happened, one winter afternoon, that a woman of elder years sat in a wing-backed chair fat with cushions, and thought deeply.
She thought about many things—about kings and princes, and whether she should do away with the lot of them; about fairies, and whether she should call and ask them to sit about inside her cottage house again, as they had made it look so cozy the last time; and, of course, about cats.
But the last was because there was one sitting under a pile of yarn, tugging at the mounds of string that grew slowly smaller and smaller as the woman’s knotted fingers curled around wooden needles for the small magic of making a sweater. It was a small magic; infinitesimal in the grand scheme of the use to which she had put magic to in her time. It was, as she might call it, other magic. She could not say that knitting a sweater was any less magical per se; singular threads became a woven whole, and that was indeed a form of magic. That said, it was a wholly different thing to cast a spell, which took much more deliberative contemplation—say, for example, sleeping on it first before deciding to do away with kings and princes.
It was the privilege of age that allowed such peace of mind, to pause and consider, before she chose whether and in what way to work her craft. A privilege not denied the nature of youth, but usually pushed aside in favor of the thrill of action.
A bump interrupted her philosophical reflections. The cursed teapot had hit the wall again. The woman may very well have been used to the pot’s antics, but that didn’t mean she was happy about tea splattering the wall. It did serve as a reminder that tea was on the way, complete with tray and cup, a small jug of cream, and a plate of scones. The teapot filled the cup with a bit of cream and a long steady pour of steaming, fragrant Assam. The warmth of the cup in her hand, and a bite of scone filled with strawberry jam and butter did much to ease her into a rather un-profound contentment.
There was, she mused to herself as she sat back to enjoy her tea, much to be said for avoiding contentment. Namely, one always accomplished so much more when one avoided it. The question was, she thought to herself, what was the quality produced? When she was young, she had used much more magic, and done so in wily ways, but perhaps it might have been done a bit rashly. And always at the back of her mind she wondered what she could get. It was always about proving herself, always the thought of greatness. Striving, ever striving. And for what? There were only so many feather beds in which one could sleep of an evening; only so many outfits one could wear in a week; and she only ever desired to fall in love with one person—and if that hadn’t happened yet, she wasn’t worried. There was, she thought, patting her delightfully curled white hair, still plenty of time for that…
But where was she?
Oh, yes, only room in a house for one kettle, one stove, and one could really only ever sit in one chair at a time, provided one hadn’t succumbed to a nasty dividing spell, or participated in a much too realistic magician’s show. Of course, when it came to strawberry scones, the number appropriate to digestion hovered between two and three, she reflected as she licked jam from her lips.
The cat moved, cascading yarn about the floor. One cat, she thought as she looked down, was plenty for anyone; especially for the cat.
She looked out her window, and watched the fairies flit about, their glow a golden balm to the wintery-cold snow that lay atop her garden.
The old woman sighed with serene satisfaction. A little warmth, a little food, a little light to brighten the dark. That was the way to end the day. And when the morrow came, with its kings and its princes to be dealt with, she would be ready for the labor. And that would be quite enough to be going on with.