Editor’s note: What fun this story is! You’ll see so many favorites alluded to in this delightful tale, which is filled with charming details. Enjoy!
The old woman walked into her garden and breathed in the fresh air. The morning was as perfect as they come. The sun was rising over the horizon into the clearest of clear blue skies. The birds were singing and flitting from branch to branch in the trees that billowed out around the edges above her garden.
She stopped to admire the flowers and the tiny tomatoes and the sage that were peeking up at the early morning sun. She was very pleased at how her garden was coming along.
Her apple tree was filled with shiny red apples that were ready for the picking. She gathered a few and took them inside.
There were many ways to use apples. She had a special order for one in particular.
The Queen of a neighboring kingdom had ordered it herself.
The old woman prepared it in the way that the Queen had asked. Cursed. Poisoned. She hated to do it, but she had bills to pay.
But there were standards to keep.
She made the apple to order, but with a cure. True love’s kiss.
It was a longshot, but she had to do something for the poor girl who was going to have to eat the apple. And the extra magic would be undetectable by the Queen. She was a horrible woman anyway, so adding a touch of love would never be noticed through all of the venom and hatred that filled that particular Queen’s heart.
She put the apple in a small bundle and took it outside. A large black raven with cloudy white eyes stood on her porch, waiting for the apple. She held up the bundle and the bird dropped a few coins in a small leather bag from his mouth at her feet. She handed him the apple bundle and the bird took it and flew off towards the east and back to the horrible Queen.
It was a terrible thing to need money.
She checked her to-do list and found the next task to be only slightly more to her liking.
She had a request to create a cursed rose, to help to teach a handsome but nasty prince a lesson. It was a task asked for by a friend who had been treated badly by the rude and disdainful prince. She once again made a cure for the curse, by request this time. And once again, true love was the cure.
She sent the rose off to her friend using a rabbit as her messenger. It didn’t have far to go to take it to her friend, and she thought it would be nice to get rid of the pesky little fellow for a while. She needed to gather some of the vegetables and herbs from her garden while he was away.
The old woman spent some time in her garden and then some time cleaning up the inside of her house. She wanted things to be in good shape for when she returned home later that evening.
The young girl that she had her eye on needed some help tonight, and it was always lovely to come back home to a clean hearth and home. Especially when it was filled with the wonderful aromas of fresh herbs drying in front of the kitchen window.
When the time came, she gathered the things she needed and headed out to the young girl’s house.
When she was sure that the girl’s stepmother and stepsisters were gone, she headed inside to talk to the girl.
The old woman found her crying beside the fireplace, all covered with ash and soot.
The old woman sat beside her and spoke encouraging words to the girl. She took her by the hand and led her outside.
It took some creative thinking, but soon a pumpkin was a carriage, some brave mice volunteered to be horses, and the girl’s shabby dress became a beautiful ball gown.
The old woman pulled out a pair of glass slippers. Which, of course, was the most important part of the entire evening. She had spent a huge amount of time on them, making sure that the enchantment was exactly right. The shoes had to be a perfect fit, and that kind of magic took time and patience.
The girl was given her instructions and the old woman sent the girl on her way to the ball at the castle. She waved at the carriage as it headed down the road and then dusted off her dress and decided to call it a day.
She was tired from all the magic she had to prepare that day, and she wasn’t happy with all of the jobs that had to be done.
She was happy, however, to end the day on a nice note, knowing the sweet and lovely girl would be the one to become the queen of her particular kingdom.
When the old woman went home, the pesky rabbit was already back in her garden, helping himself to a little dinner as a reward for his errand that day. She let him be and headed back inside.
She put a kettle on the fire to make some tea and headed into her bedroom where she found a surprise waiting for her.
A hungry wolf was waiting for her, wearing her nightgown, and moments later, she heard her granddaughter knock on the front door.
It had been a long and busy day, and the old woman decided that she was not going to be eaten by a wolf. She was thoroughly annoyed by the wolf’s interruption, so she used her magic to change the wolf into a cat and picked him up and carried him out the back door.
She tossed the wolf, who was now a cat, into the pig pen with her three piglets and went back inside to answer the door.
It had been a while since she had seen her granddaughter, and she had a beautiful red cloak waiting for her.
Born and raised in California, Judy now lives in Arizona with her husband and Giant Schnoodle, Amos. She writes with dyslexia and a chronic illness (Meniere’s Disease) and is a breast cancer survivor. She writes mostly fantasy stories and novels, and has been published in Promises in the Gold anthology.
Image :“The Fruits of the Earth,” by Edward J. Detmold.