Drawing of a window through which a witch on a broomstick can be seen flying across the night sky. Caption reads: "She was a witch."

Witch short story by Iris Carden

Ariana Sutton and her friend and employee Orsinius Wishlet had coffee together most mornings before opening Ariana’s hair salon.

This morning Ariana told her friend about a strange experience of the night before.

“I dreamed, well I think it was a dream, about a strange old woman being in my room, telling me something about a family heritage, but I don’t clearly remember what she was saying. When I woke up, or maybe I didn’t wake up and it was still a dream, I saw a witch on a broomstick flying outside the window. Is that crazy or what?”

Orsinius shrugged his shoulders. “Dreams are strange. Everything dreams, humans, animals, even wisps and other non-human beings. Some people think dreams tell the future, but others say they are our minds way of working things out. I do not know. Perhaps Merlin could tell you what it might mean.” Orsinius was surprised that he could say the name of the great magician so casually, as if the great Merlin was a friend. At one time, even the name of Merlin would have struck him with fear and awe. These past few months had been very strange indeed.

“Whatever it was, it was a strange dream.” Ariana finished her coffee and rinsed her mug out in the break room sink.

Her first two clients of the day arrived as she was unlocking the front door.

Lady Justice and her teenaged daughter Andromeda entered. Andromeda sat in the stylist’s chair while Lady Justice sat in the waiting area.

“Good morning,” Ariana said in her cheery working voice. “Andy, I’m just going to have to feel for your wings, behind the glamour, so I know where they are and don’t accidentally cut you.” Prior to her disastrous wedding, Ariana would never have imagined herself uttering such a sentence. Now this was a normal day’s work.

“I don’t care if you cut them,” Andy said sadly. “I hate my wings. I hate being different.”

“I guess when you’ve spent your whole life thinking you are a human girl, finding out you are something different, and especially growing wings, must have been a terrible shock,” Ariana said, feeling a great sympathy for a girl who had also only recently been introduced to this strange world.

“On that topic,” Lady Justice said from the waiting area chair, “I have some news for you, which you might find disturbing. Perhaps we could talk after you’ve done our hair, if you have time.”

With no-one booked for the appointment immediately after these two, Ariana agreed.

Over coffee in the break room, Lady Justice asked: “What do you know about witches?”

“You mean Wiccans or…”

“I mean the type people tried to hunt, hang or burn, although the real witches would never have allowed themselves to be recognised or caught. I mean the type with real power.”

“I guess I don’t know anything about them, really.”

“You said your grandmother thought she was a witch, and your sister cast a nonsense spell that shouldn’t have worked, but it did. That was enough for me, with Merlin’s assistance, to look into your family history. There have been a number of witches in your family line, although you might not have realised it. One of them, your grandmother’s aunt was especially famous. In fact, the author Bram Stoker wrote a novel about her.”

“Bram Stoker, wasn’t he the person who wrote Dracula?”

“He also wrote a book called The Lair of the White Worm, about a witch named Lady Arabella March. Have you read it?”

Ariana shook her head again, “No, I haven’t read it.”

“You might want to. Lady Arabella March was your grandmother’s aunt. It’s no wonder your grandmother thought she was a witch, she believed she could be the same as her aunt. However this power is dormant in some people, it doesn’t appear in every generation of a family. Your sister clearly did have it. Given recent occurrences, Merlin and I believe you may as well. It may well be an innate talent which you have not been aware of, because you have never tried to use it.”

“You think I’m a witch?”

“I think it’s entirely possible.”

“If I’m a witch, could my dreams foretell the future or something?”

“Perhaps. Have you had a dream that particularly concerns you?”

Ariana retold the story she’d told Orsinius that morning.

Lady Justice listened carefully. “According to Stoker’s book, Arabella March died, but there are widespread rumours that she cheated death and lives on. She was, perhaps still is, a very dangerous woman. I find your dream very disturbing, if it was a dream. If you are willing, I would like to suggest that you work with Merlin, to learn the extent of your abilities, if you have any, and to learn how to use them to protect yourself and possibly others. Orsinius, if anything should happen and you or Miss Sutton require my assistance, I want you to use the interim to come for me, don’t use human communications systems because they are too slow. I know you are adjusting to the human world, but remember who you are and what your skills are.”

Orsinius bowed low. “Your Ladyship, I will never forget how our world works, no matter how much time I spend among humans.”

After Lady Justice and Andromeda left, Ariana looked at Orsinius, not knowing what to say. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Am I really a witch?” Ariana asked. “What does that even mean?”

“I do not know.” Orsinius said. “I have not met witches. Even in the non-human world, real witches are rare. I do know you are a good person, so if you are a witch, you are a good witch.”

“Thanks,” Ariana said. “Now, I have to work out how to use magic, and how to avoid a possibly not dead great great whatever aunt, who wants who knows what from me. Things were easier before.”

Orsinius thought back to his days as a simple thief. “Things were indeed easier before,” he said.

Orsinius Wishlet Stories

Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.

Series 1 Stories:

Series 2 Stories:

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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