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The Stalker's Notes

Harassing Helga

By Andrea LawrencePublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Hermit lady of the woods | Source: Pixabay

Magic spells in the witch's den. No one knows what will or won't happen. She sweeps the dirt around her house; she keeps a white candle lit in the window. Sometimes she sits in a rocking chair and watches animals pass by her home. She wears a rosary and a cross necklace. Everyone can see through her charade. She ain't no saint.

The lady lives outside of the village, all to herself, doing lord knows what. We've often seen her passing through her house, potions rattling, glasses breaking, and an explosion or two. No one really knows this woman in her little orange hut. She lives an isolated and quiet life. The wooded getaway smells funny, it has obsolete aesthetics, and her junk is scattered across the yard.

Most people leave her alone. She could be a corpse in her filth for months, and no one would notice. She doesn't seem to mind being alone. We often wonder what are her targets—did she want to make love potions, curses, demented dolls? No one had the heart to ask. We assume she doesn't understand us. We assume she can't speak our language.

She once told her sister that she wanted to borrow her cat; the sister shut her out of her life. She was worried Helga wanted to do something nefarious.

Other than that connection, no one knew much about her. The sister said they grew up normal. She was healthy even. They used to play together, doing the chores and buying sweets at the market. From what people can remember of 20 years ago, the two were inseparable. They seemed to love each other dearly, but whatever happened in time, whatever happened in connection, got lost and withered away.

One moment someone is your sister, the next she's taking you to court. Complaining, asking for the judge to have you burned at the stake. That's when Helga was banished out of town. The judge didn't have it in his heart to conjure hellfire.

I often wondered if the witch loved her sister from afar. It seemed like she was so engrossed with her madness that she never really had the time to wander outside of the forest.

Helga once went to the market looking for a specific item for her brewing stew. She threw quite a tantrum when she was told she couldn't buy anything from the apothecary because no one trusted her. It was disgraceful to watch, as if she had no dignity. I suppose when you forfeit good sense and spend all your time making potions instead of turning things into gold. . . you become twisted.

I wish I understood her demeanor. I wish anyone did. I saw her go to the city well, and she carried a lot of her belongings with her. She sat there as if no one in the world could see her. She scratched herself, pulled at her hair, and moaned as if in agony. She screamed about seeing a ghost then quickly left. So strange.

What was so uncivil about this witch? Frankly, everything. I wish we could get her farther away from the town. She'd probably sleep with your husband, steal your good silverware, and burn your father's ashes. She was such a hazard. She was such a stain. She'll turn the children bad, she'll turn the sunshine into rain, she'll turn angels into devils.

No one ever smelt so putrid—like an outhouse that's never been cleaned. Her eyes have a certain yellow glow to them. She picks at her nose and ears if you watch her long enough. What a beastly, unimportant woman. I'm sure my husband would be delighted to hear the latest gossip about her. I'm sure we'll laugh together like always at this grumbling, crumbling fool.

One time I was hiking near her woods. I saw a thin woman in a lovely coat ambling toward Helga's hut-like cottage. The wanderer was beautiful, well kept. She was in a slightly under-colored coat. It had such a lovely design on it. I decided to follow the lady as she made her stroll. She wandered so elegantly through the forest. When she reached the edge, Helga could be seen through the windows. She was darting about her home.

I ambled through the woods, got scratched up by the thorns, and muddied my tunic. I saw the elegant woman tap on the hut door three times. I hid behind a tree; there was enough undergrowth that no one, not even a professional spy, could have seen me. Helga opened the door for the lady, and she bowed. The lovely lady entered her home.

What outlandishness is this?

I crept closer to the home. I felt like I was burrowing into a swamp. Mosquitoes bit at my legs. A thick green smog built in the air. I crept up to the kitchen window: Helga and the lady were sitting at a table. The lady was sobbing, and it seemed the witch was trying to comfort her. She was pulling items from a shelf and pouring them into a pot. She looked at the woman's hands and traced her palm lines. She poured a batch of red liquid into the cauldron and wisps flew from the bowl—I have no idea what came from the belly of that cauldron.

The lady stopped crying. She watched the red wisps as they formed images. There was a spirit that looked like a fine young gentleman. He tried to reach out toward the woman, but a scythe fell on him and everything went black.

The lady burst into tears. Helga tried to comfort her.

What strange vision did I see? Those spirits couldn't be real!

Unperturbed, Helga cleared her table. She dumped the liquid from the cauldron into the sink. She lit some sage.

Then a peculiar thing happened: Helga sang a song to the woman. The lady seemed to be under her spell as she became quiet, sleepy, and relaxed. She ended up falling into a deep slumber at the table. Helga picked up the woman and carried her off into the center of the cottage.

I wanted to keep investigating this scene, but there were no windows close enough to see them. The only thing I could do to get closer was to literally go inside, and for whatever reason. . . no one would let me inside.

I tried knocking on the front door, but no one answered. There was a white chalk circle around the house, very faded but still there. Whenever I tried to touch the salt on the house, it would burn my hand.

I waited outside for the lady to come back out into the forest. She never did. I would look in the window and see Helga chanting with her eyes closed. She would mop the floors when I wasn't as focused on what she was doing. I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Why did this lovely lady seek Helga's aid? Why did the pit of my stomach hurt when I saw the witch chanting?

It was late at night. Too dark for me to find my way back to the village. My husband would kill me for something small. He gets very upset when I'm gone for too long. He might think I'm cheating on him, that I'm converting to some new religion in the forest, or he might think that I no longer believe in. . . well, he isn't exactly the kindest of men.

He can be quite brutal, judging someone harshly for their shortcomings. He likes to punish people, calling them outcast souls.

Short Story

About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

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    Andrea LawrenceWritten by Andrea Lawrence

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