Inside the Witch’s Oven
by Eugie Foster
When the rain smashes into the window like a desperate animal, I think of you. I think of you when the snow muffles the world and silences it. I remember how you looked with the greasy rag in your mouth and the duct tape over your mouth.
Those were good days.
Then they freed you. Now I’m afraid. I know you’re coming for me; I can hear your footsteps in my mind. Around the corner in the dark, or waiting for me to nod off, fall asleep, senseless, vulnerable. You’re coming for me.
I almost caught you, Girl Scout cookies and Cub Scout popcorn, waiting at my door. Did that scare you? Closer than anyone else, I saw you flickering like specks of sunlight on ice, and looming like skyscraper towers lost in the fog. You noticed me, and at first I loved you.
The first gift you gave me was the tiny girl with the eyes like rain clouds. She was pretty, and clever, and you hid inside her so quietly I almost didn’t see you. Except for the day when I hugged her so tight, like the folds of my flesh would absorb her, enfold her into my body. I wanted to never let her go. But then I saw you. With your black toothpick fingertips and the pink flesh of your grin, I recognized you.
The little girl flew away, but by then, you weren’t inside her anymore.
The second gift you gave me was a pretty boy. Oh how his cheeks shone, like candy oranges glowing in the fireplace. He was good enough to eat, that one. I tried to nibble him, but he wiggled away, all covered in white suds like bubbly milk. Slippery devil.
Yes, I caught him, shoved him in my mouth, but you were gone by then. And the soap tasted bitter.
Skitter scamper, like mice feet or spider toes, tap tap tapping in my walls. I hear you. Inside my new house—a poor trade: confectioner’s sugar and sweet bread for concrete walls and a barred door—my mind bakes and boils, listening to you.
They’re going to cook me, oh yes they are, in grandmother’s rocking chair, until I’m as crackly-crispy on the outside as I’m blistered on the inside. But no one will eat me. Such a waste.
Eugie Foster shares her writing space in Metro Atlanta with her husband, Matthew, and her pet skunk, Hobkin—which does indeed make for some interesting writing experiences. Her fiction runs the gamut from children’s folktales to cyberpunk to erotic horror, and her publication credits include stories in Cicada, Leading Edge, and the anthology Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown, edited by Orson Scott Card. She has works forthcoming in Cricket, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Dreams of Decadence, Paradox and numerous other magazines and anthologies. Visit her online at www.eugiefoster.com.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish