A child's innocent trust and a mother's greatest fear.
*Part 2 of “The Chaotic Witch” series*
Lucinda was washing the dishes from breakfast and watching over Hope who was playing outside through the window above the sink. It was a beautiful day and Hope had been badgering her to be let out to play for hours. She finally gave in and allowed her to play in the yard where she could keep an eye on her from inside. There was so much to do between the laundry, cleaning, and lunch. She couldn’t afford to just go outside to play!
Hope, who was 5, was happy to stay close by as long as she was outside. She hated being cooped up inside all day. And the sun was shining so brightly today. She needed to feel its rays warm her little cheeks! She loved to stand outside and turn her face toward the sun as if she was feeding off of the light.
She was doing just that when she heard someone call her name. She opened her eyes and looked around but didn't find anyone there. Hope’s long dark locks danced in the wind as she whipped her head back and forth searching for the person who called out to her. Not finding anyone she shrugged her little shoulders and spotted a bed of wildflowers at the edge of the clearing. She giggled with glee and ran towards them. She loved picking flowers.
She got to the clearing and flopped down on the colorful flowers feeling happy. “Pretty!” she said to herself. She started waving her hands over the flowers as she usually does and the waves of colored lights started rising from them to dance in the air. She giggled as she got up and danced to the sounds of her imagination and the lights danced around with her.
“Hope” she heard someone say breathily. She turned and again no one was there. She stopped dancing and scratched her head quizzically, her pink cheeks extra flushed from the dancing. Then, she saw someone standing deeper into the woods. It was a lady with bright green eyes that matched Hope’s eyes. She was tall and lean with a strong presence. She had long blond hair and her skin was as pale as her hair. She wore a dark cloak that would allow her to blend in the shadows of the forest as long as she covered her luminous skin and hair. She had lowered her hood so that the child could see her face. She smiled warmly at her.
“Hello, Hope,” the lady said to the child.
“Hi,” replied Hope shyly.
“You are such a beautiful dancer!” she exclaimed, moving slightly closer to the clearing but staying hidden in the shadows of the trees. “You even made the flowers dance. How happy you must feel to be able to do that!”
“I can make the colors reach the sky!” Hope said excitedly. “Wanna see?” she said.
“Oh, no. I believe you, my dear. You are a special child,” the lady said and Hope beamed. “Very special indeed!”
Hope moved closer to the lady feeling more comfortable as the conversation continued. This was a nice lady after all.
“Do...” she hesitated. “Do you want to see more colors?” she was so excited to show someone the pretty things she can do. Her mama told her she couldn’t do any of that outside. She said no one could see her play with colors. ‘It’s too dangerous, my love’ Mama would say. This lady liked her colors.
“Not here, sweetness. It's too dangerous.”
Hope frowned at the words remembering what her mama said. “Ok, I understand,” she replied sadly.
“But…” the lady continued. “I know where you can show me!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands.
Hope’s eyes brightened and she mimicked the lady and started clapping her hands too. “Where?”
“At my house! Oh, you would love my house! It’s surrounded by trees so tall you can’t see the tops! There are so many flowers! Some that look like these and others that no one has ever seen before! All so beautiful and colorful, just waiting for someone like you to make them dance!” she continued excitedly seeing how Hope was getting more and more excited with her description. “And you know what else?” She paused waiting for Hope to acknowledge her to ensure she was keeping her engaged. Hope shook her dark head vigorously. “There’s a creek that bubbles down into the river! And it has fish! Oh, I bet you could make that creek dance too! It would be so lovely!”
“Yes!” exclaimed Hope. “I want to make the colors dance and the creek too!” She started towards the lady and then stopped, hesitating. “But… who are you?” she said with her head cocked to the side as if she were trying to decipher a puzzle.
“Of course!” the lady exclaimed as if she just remembered. “I’m your aunt, Helga.” She extended her hand out to Hope and said “Pleased to meet you.”
Hope smiled then. She had heard of her aunt Helga. But had never met her. Mama said aunt Helga had left town shortly after she was born. She was excited that she was finally able to meet her. She walked towards aunt Helga and shook her hand with a polite “The pleasure to welcome your acquaintance!” She had heard Papa say that a couple of times before and was proud that she remembered how he said it. Well, maybe not exactly.
Helga smiled at Hope’s attempt at being a grown-up and held out her hand “Ok, so now that you know me…” she paused and bent down to be at eye level with Hope “are you ready to go?” Hope nodded and they walked hand in hand into the forest.
Lucinda had turned to put the dried dishes away and saw the mess in the room. She took a quick glance and saw Hope sitting on the flower bed. Feeling confident that Hope would play quietly for a few minutes while she straightened up the bed, Lucinda turned quickly towards the room.
A little while later, she walked out of the bedroom with a satisfied smile on her face and headed outside to call Hope in. She opened the front door and walked towards the back of the house where Hope was playing in the flower bed.
“Hope, come inside. Come help me get lunch ready for Papa.” she walked out towards the yard in the front of the house and wondered why Hope hadn’t responded. She loved helping in the kitchen. “Hope!” She said as she neared the backyard. But she wasn’t there.
Panic started building. “Hope!” she yelled as she half walked half jogged towards the clearing in the back of the house. She stopped at the flower bed, where she had seen her playing, and saw the bent flowers where Hope was sitting earlier. She bent down to touch the flowers as if they would have an answer.
She looked up into the woods and wondered if Hope would dare to wander into them. She was always afraid of them, and Lucinda had perpetuated that fear to make sure that her little girl wouldn’t wander too far. She wouldn’t go there… would she? She wasn’t sure now. If she went too far into the woods, who knows what she would run into! “Hope!” she continued yelling and started running into the woods hoping to find her.
Her mind raced, wondering how it was possible for a child to disappear so quickly. She kept running and calling out for Hope but she couldn’t see her anywhere! She would’ve responded by now. She was only busy for a few minutes, she couldn’t have gotten that far. Unless…
She stopped mid-run and fell to her knees as a realization came to her. Terror gripped her heart as reality set in. Hope must have been taken.
About the author
I've spent a lot of time imagining alternate realities, fantastical worlds and dreaming up fantasies in which I could escape to. And now I'm sharing these stories with you. Here you will find the inner musings of my imagination.
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