Drawing: A cauldron over an open fire, with containers of ingredients all around. Caption reads: “She mixed the brew according to the recipe in the grimoire.

Listen to this story as a podcast here.

Grimoire short story by Iris Carden

Settle in dear reader, while I tell you the strange tale of Kylie, who loved power over others, but finally met someone who wouldn’t tolerate her behaviour.

Kylie always knew she was special.  Her mother, Marla Moreton, was a high powered barrister, who never lost a case, and who always told Kylie to never back down.

Kylie took it to heart.  All through school, she bullied other children.  She did all the standard things, taking weaker kids’ lunch money, giving horrible nicknames to kids, that all the other kids mimicked, rather than earn her wrath.  Kids not as smart as her were labelled “stupid”. Kids smarter than her were “ugly.”  She openly defied teachers.

Any time an attempt was made to discipline Kylie, Marla would appear, threatening lawsuits the school could not afford.

So right through primary school, Kylie always got her own way at school.

At home, there was a long string of child carers and housekeepers who quit because of Kylie’s behaviour.  Marla would never hear a bad word said about her. She constantly told Kylie to always stand her ground and remember her strength, that she was a from a long line of strong, powerful, women.

Kylie began high school with the same kind of power over other kids as she’d always had.  Her grip on teachers loosened a little, as there were far more of them, and they were more used to students trying to intimidate them.

Then in grade ten something strange happened. Cassandra started at her school. Cassandra just refused to be bullied. When Kylie called her names, she laughed. When Kylie shoved her, Cassandra didn’t react at all. Where other kids lost their balance and stumbled, Cassandra just stood solid. Nothing Kylie could do seemed to intimidate Cassandra at all.

Eventually Kylie complained to her mother.

Marla opened a door concealed by a bookcase in her home office.  It lead to a small store room, filled with books, candles, strange jars and bottles and weird items Kylie couldn’t identify.

“I always thought this was a panic room,” Kylie said.

“Moreton women don’t panic,” Marla said.  “And we don’t let others deny our power either.”

Marla picked up a very old book, and handed it to Kylie.  She said,  “This is our family grimoire. Every generation has put their own spells in it, as I have added mine, and you will add your own eventually.  It will tell you all you need to know to defeat your enemy.”

“Witches?” Kylie asked. “We’re witches? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’ve spent your entire life telling you to embrace your power, what did you think I meant?”

“Just to be strong, not… this.”

“Study the book.  Learn who you are.”

Kylie did study, just as well as she ever studied at school.  

She started with what seemed simple spells. She made a straw broom into a flying broomstick, then realised how useless that was, when everyone would see her flying it.  She flicked through the book, noticing that some were marked with notes from women in her family, which said things like, “be careful”, “don’t do lightly”.

Amid the spells and potions, were long essays by women she didn’t know, or didn’t remember, which were just not worth the effort to read. One was about “blood magic” which said something about blood magic being particularly powerful. 

She didn’t read further, but went looking for blood spells to find something that would defeat the hated Cassandra.

At last she found a spell “Potion to empower the witch to defeat the will of an enemy.” 

Now, dear reader, I’m sure you paid attention in English class and know who is the subject and who is the object in the name of that spell.  What a pity Kylie hadn’t paid such close attention!

The first ingredient on the list was: “The subject’s blood.”

In physical education class, Kylie made sure to hit Cassandra in the face with a netball.  She threw the ball hard enough to cause a bleeding nose. At the end of the lesson, Kylie surreptitiously removed Cassandra’s bloody tissues from the rubbish bin.

She carefully followed the recipe, and made the potion, using blood-soaked tissues when blood was called for. She breathed deeply of the purple mist that erupted from the cauldron.

The next day at school, Kylie cornered Cassandra and said, “Give me your lunch money or else.”

Cassandra calmly answered, “No. Please go away.”

Kylie immediately turned and walked away, not knowing why she did so.

Later, Kylie was calling a girl names, and Cassandra, who was nearby, said, “Oh leave her alone.”

Kylie again just stopped what she was doing. She still didn’t know why.

At the end of the school day, Kylie was demanding another girl do her homework for her. Cassandra was walking past, and said, “Just do your own homework. You’re not the queen.”

Kylie rushed home and started doing her own homework, a thing she hadn’t done in years.

She was finishing when Marla came home, flustered.

“What’s wrong?” Kylie asked.  She’d never seen her mother anything but calm.

“The queen is coming to dinner,” Marla said.


“The Witch Queen!  I didn’t even know she was in town, but she moved here a couple of months ago.  She wants to see us. Her daughter, the Princess Cassandra told her you were abusing your power at school. So tell me again about this girl who was causing you problems, and what you’ve done about her.”

So, dear reader, we leave Kylie and Marla, about to face the most awkward dinner of their lives.

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

While you’re here…

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Everything on this site is the product of human, not artificial, intelligence.


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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