Olga attends a birth, and also tries her hand a little hairdressing, or should that be pruning?
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Chapter Three: Cry me a River
“One last push, love!” the midwife shouted her encouragement at the huffing and puffing Mrs Cranshaw.
Neither of them noticed Olga creep into the birthing room; a small glass vial at the ready.
With a gnashing of teeth and a howl, Mrs Cranshaw thrust her firstborn into the world, and into the arms of the waiting midwife. Olga made ready to pounce and capture the child’s first tears in her vial.
But the only sounds in the room were from the exhausted mother and the jubilant nurse. The baby stayed quiet. It stared at the thatch ceiling and blinked.
Just my luck! Olga thought. A contented child not concerned with its violent expulsion from the womb. Curses!
“He’s a bonnie wee boy! Congratulations!” The midwife passed the bundle of limbs and linen to its mother and set about her post-delivery duties.
Olga shuffled backwards; her presence still undetected. A dusty old wardrobe occupied one corner of the room and she crept inside.
Feck it all! I’ll hide here until the little beggar bawls.
She was in for a long wait. The baby boy didn’t utter a single whimper as his mouth found a breast and he suckled.
Soon both mother and child were fast asleep, and the midwife left to find a hapless husband and overwhelm him with instructions.
Olga’s neck ached, and she felt her knees wanting to pop. Dust and the stench of mothballs invaded her hairy nostrils. She estimated an hour had gone by when she couldn’t take it anymore.
Easing the wardrobe door open, she slipped out and over to the bed. The tiny baby’s face looked angelic, and for a moment, Olga’s commitment to the mission wavered. But the prize was too great— a potion to bestow her with the energy and passion of youth. That would wind back all the years that had turned her bones brittle and her skin flaky.
Surely this little one can give up a few tears for that.
A warty finger emerged from a long black sleeve and gave the tot a rude poke in the tummy. Baby blue eyes sprang open with innocent surprise. For good measure, Olga bared her teeth, poked out her tongue and yelled, “Boo!”
The mother woke with a start, as her precious son’s lips trembled. His face scrunched tight to resemble a squashed tomato, and he let out a cry of instinctive fear.
Tears flowed. A few into the vial that Olga shoved against the cherub’s cheek. While the mother shouted indignation, she pushed the cork home, uttered, “Sorry, I meant no harm,” and rushed from the room, nearly knocking the husband and midwife off their feet.
Chapter Four: A Close Shave
Rosie’s tavern housed a raucous rabble of humanity within its clay brick walls. A roaring fire spilled warmth and light from the crack under the wooden front door. Olga pushed against it with her good hip and squeezed inside.
Rosie held court from behind the bar. Flaming red hair framed her namesake cheeks and cascaded over buxom breasts that threatened to burst from their laced bodice. Deep in discussion with two farm hands who had trouble keeping their gaze at a respectable height, she poured someone else a pint without even glancing at the tap.
Olga parted the sea of patrons, whacking ankles with her cane. She scaled the lofty heights of a bar stool while maintaining a grip on her precious basket. Those nearest made moves to help her but stopped short of touching the witch. The sense of awkwardness that exists when manhandling an old lady prevailed. Magnified by the fear that she might misconstrue their intentions and curse them.
Rosie extracted herself and her breasts from the conversation with the farm hands to serve her newest customer.
“Good evening, Olga. Haven’t seen you in a while! What can I get you, a mug of nice warm mulled wine, perhaps?”
Olga felt guilty over what she was about to inflict. Rosie being such a lovely, cheery soul.
Don’t be so soft.
You will hardly hurt her. And it’s for a good cause, remember! If the Youthful Vigour potion works, then the village can enjoy my magical services for that much longer.
“Yes, a warm wine will be lovely, thank you dear.”
The witch glanced around the tavern while she waited. A full house; it seemed half the village had crowded into the tight space to escape the chilly night. Mugs and tankards rose and fell amid the background cacophony of conversation. The fire spat and crackled in the hearth while men tried to impress women with practiced lines of prose. Cringe-worthy attempts from tongues that sought to do more than speak.
Olga retrieved a handful of coppers from one of the many pockets hidden within her cloak. When the proffered coins dropped into Rosie’s open hand, they came with tiny intruders that hunted their own warm, cosy tavern. Up her arm they scurried, unnoticed by their new host, such was their minuscule size.
In the time it took Olga to raise the mug to her lips and for Rosie to dump the coins in her money drawer, the carnivorous crabs had already crossed from shoulder to chest. Their progress slowed somewhat by the curve of a bosom, before descending into cleavage. Under cover now, they negotiated navel and belly before disappearing into the soft red undergrowth they’d been aiming for— a cosy warm sanctuary. Exhausted from their endeavours, they curled up among the curls to recharge before the feast.
An hour passed, and Olga wondered if her plan had failed. She’d already downed two full mugs of mulled wine. A third would render her wobbly on the trudge home. As she contemplated giving up and surrendering her bar stool to a more dedicated drinker, she noticed Rosie reach down to scratch. One scratch led to another and soon the poor landlady had trouble standing still. She scanned the crowd for her young barmaid, Yvette, and summoned her to take over so she might retreat and investigate the irritation invading her privates.
Olga leaned over the bar as Rosie fumbled with her apron strings.
“I can help you with that delicate issue if you want,” she whispered.
“Oh, my goodness, could you? I don’t know what’s come over me. Do you have a soothing spell?”
“Well, the fix is more down to earth than that. You have some guests in your downstairs parlour if you know what I mean. I’ve been busy helping other villagers evict theirs,” Olga lied. “Pop upstairs and I’ll get you sorted out soon enough.”
“Thank heavens! Yes please, before I scratch myself silly!”
Rosie lifted the hinged bar, almost launching a full pint before its owner saved it. Olga clambered down from her stool and stepped over that magical boundary that separated staff from customers. She followed the flustered Rosie up the back stairs to her rooms above, clutching her basket.
The climb took its toll, and Olga bent double on the landing, wheezing and gasping while Rosie hastened to her bedroom to extricate herself from her attire.
When she regained her breath, Olga followed her patient. She felt another twinge of guilt over poor Rosie, now bereft of bloomers and sitting on the edge of her bed scratching and peering between her legs to find the culprits.
Olga set her basket on the bedroom floor and rummaged through it, retrieving a razor and a bottle of ointment. Checking that Rosie’s attention was on her predicament, she also placed an empty jar at the ready.
“I’m afraid we have to undertake rather drastic habitat destruction,” Olga pronounced.
“Sorry?” Rosie looked up from her crab hunt in confusion.
“We have to shave your privates love. It’s the only way.”
“Oh dear. How embarrassing! Do you have to do that? I mean, I thought you might use magic or something.”
“Well, it’s me or the barber, I’m afraid. I’m not sure he’s shaved many ladies. Although I’ll warrant, he’d be willing to try?”
Rosie’s answer was to flop back on the bed, hike her skirts over her hips and offer the witch a flaming red bush.
“There’ll be no barber peering betwixt my legs, thank you kindly!”
Olga went about her work, with as much delicacy as her shaky hands could summon. She deforested Rosie’s southern region and gathered the harvest into her empty jar.
When Yvette appeared in the doorway to seek help with a keg of ale, she gasped at the sight before her— a witch in black knelt between her boss lady’s legs as if in midwifery duty. Olga turned with a guilty look on her warty face and a straight razor in her hand. It was a nightmarish scene, until Rosie mumbled from the other end of the bed.
“I’ll be there to help you soon enough. I wouldn’t hang around here though lass, unless you want your pussy pruned as well?”
Yvette squealed and beat a hasty retreat.
A little while later the witch left the tavern, showered with thanks and praise by a very grateful, very smooth, Rosie.
She made her way into the night, a warm glow from the mulled wine emanating from her belly, and a jar cheekily labelled “Saffron” tucked away in her basket.