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They Keep Away The Deer

by Cereal Oatmeal about a year ago in Fantasy
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A Leafbranch Tale

A top down view of a room made of leaves, roots and tree branches. In the center is a basket of marigolds, to the left is a pair of sewing needles. The sun shines in through an oak door. Drawn by Alec Basil

“She sewed marigolds in her hair to keep away the deer, bathed in green light, danger drawing near

The smallest hoofbeats are the loudest

The smallest heart beats the proudest.”

Blythe hummed the rite under her breath as she frantically followed its heed, a weaving needle and its thread in her hand, fresh picked marigolds, many still with their roots, in a basket at her bare feet. The needle was unwieldy for she didn’t quite have the hair necessary for this task, but the hoofbeats did indeed draw nearer.

She could hear them running in a stampede, her moss and oak door would stand no match and she hadn’t the time to move the boulder that should guard against intrusion. No, marigolds were the only thing that could save her, their stark oranges and yellows standing out against her green skin and dark brown hair.

“She sewed marigolds in her hair to keep away the deer, bathed in green light, danger drawing near

The smallest hoofbeats are the loudest

The smallest heart beats the proudest.”

She whispered again, her leaf lampshades bathing her in green light, also just as the rite suggested although Blythe assumed the green light was originally from a spell of sorts, and there hadn’t been a witch in her town in years. Of course there also hadn’t been deer in years either. But here they were and she was running out of time.

Two, three marigolds in her hair, she grabbed one she had mangled in her hurry to grab a basket of them and crushed it further, rubbing it all over her arms and face. She went back to the needle and thread and hair, her curls weren’t nearly tight enough to hold the thread and she found she was just loosely knotting the marigolds in.

Her grandmother had always told her she had “loose tree roots” for hair, as opposed to those who had thick grass or mossy curls, Blythe’s hair was like a system of thin roots, ones that didn’t intertwin but hung limply apart from one another. And now those roots were blossoming with marigolds, as the snort of the deer grew closer and closer.

Her heart hammered much like hoofbeat when she heard her neighbor’s house get broken down in their path. She sighed with the knowledge that her neighbours were out of town, safe and away from the deer.

Her head was filled with marigolds, and it was quite a stunning look. Her pale green skin streaked with orange stains from the marigold she had rubbed all over her.

She stood, heart jolting as she heard stamping outside her door. Something in her called to her and she spoke, out loud, once again.

“She sewed marigolds in her hair to keep away the deer.” She whispered, stepping closer to the door.

“bathed in green light, danger drawing near” she said that line more clearly, her voice losing its fearful waver.

“The smallest hoofbeats are the loudest” she reached for the handle of her door, not knowing what possessed her but she was speaking with a strong commanding voice and she found she wasn’t afraid anymore.

“The smallest heart beats the proudest.”

Blythe Conroy thought about how she had always been the outcast, always been the one counted out, the one with ugly hair and too pale skin. She thought about all those who hated her, mocked her, ridiculed her. She thought about all those she loved, her family and friends and neighbours.

Blythe Conroy heard hoofbeat and screaming, and thought of those she could protect. And from her heart and hands and eyes came a faint but oh so impotent green light. She bathed in it, as it was her own. It came from within her.

She opened the door.

The deer fled.

It wasn’t going to be easy, being the only witch in town.

But Blythe Conroy had made roots grow flowers.

And that is the first Leafbranch tale, of many more to be told at another time.


About the author

Cereal Oatmeal

Autistic, Pan, Trans

I use all pronouns including neopronouns!

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