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Bedtime

The White Woman


Elisé was a white woman.  But, that didn't just mean she was a good woman, like a white witch.  No, everything about her was white.  Her hair fell to the ground and was white as clouds.  Her skin was as pale as the snow.  Her dress hung from her shoulders, a sparkling pearl.  She wore a necklace made from opals.  In fact, the only other colour on Elisé was her eyes.  Sparkling blue and shining out from beneath pale eyebrows, they gave her life and she loved them.  Elisé had always wanted to be colourful.  She wanted dark, black hair and a green dress, lined with rubies.  She wanted an emerald necklace and bright red nails, the colour of cherries.  But, no matter what she did, she always went white.  Green dresses faded to white after an hour of wearing them.  Emeralds turned to pearls when they hung around her neck.  But her eyes were always the same bright blue.

One day, a Spanish witch came to her village.  She rode on a dark brown stallion and her hair was raven-black.  Her eyes were bright green and her skin tanned.  She wore chestnut breeches and a tailored white blouse.  As she passed Elisé's house, Elisé ran outside.

'My lady, my lady, please help me! I have a terrible problem! Please, stop and help me!' She cried.  The witch glanced at her but did not stop.

'Walk with me, senorita, and tell me your ailment.' The witch spoke in a deep voice, thickly accented with Spanish.  Elisé trotted beside the horse, and clutched at her skirts. 

'My lady, I am doomed to spend eternity in white! No matter how hard I look, there is not a single dress that will stay an emerald green, not a dye that will stain my hair black, not a ruby that will not transform into an pearl! Please, my lady, cure me!' The witch pulled her stallion to a halt. 

'Today is a full moon.  Today is Viernes thirteenth.  Today, 'tis a day for magic.' The witch began.  'Meet me at catorceSarridoúr Way, senorita.  Midnight, no later.  I shall be in the back garden.' Elisé suddenly stepped closer to the stallion.

'Beg pardon, milady, but what does Viernes mean? And catorce?' Elisé had a horrible feeling she already knew, but the answer she recieved confirmed it.

'Fourteen and Friday, senorita.'

'Well good day, milady.' sighed Elisé.

'Adios.  Oh, and one more thing, senorita?'Elisé turned.

'Yes, milady?'

'Come alone.'

And then she was gone, spurring her horse into a gallop.

The day Elisé had after that was one of dread.  Fourteen Sarridoúr Way was haunted, everyone knew that.  And at midnight?  Elisé was confused. 

'I shouldn't go.' she told herself for the fourth time that morning.  But, as it drew closer to six o' clock, she decided to go.  Just as she was thinking that, there was a knock at her door.  The blacksmith, Monsieur Cole, stood in the doorway, his bristling ginger moustache covering his upper lip.

'Bonjour, Madame Elisé.' he said in his French accent ' I 'ope you are well?'

'Yes, yes, fine mèrczi.' She knew he loved being responed to in French.  'Come in.'

'Actually, madame, there ees a reason I came.  But I do not 'ave time to come een.' Elisé looked surprise but nodded.

'Then what is your reason, Monsieur?'

'I could not 'elp but overhear your conversation with zat witch.  And I thought after; fourteen Sarridoúr  Wayees haunted.  So I sat and said to myself, Monsieur, she would nezzer be stupid enough to go.  But zen I thought; but she does want to be, 'ow you say, colourful?  So, to deal with ze ghosts, I 'ave crafted you some seelver weapons! 'ere!' Monsieur Cole proudly thrust a silver scabbard and some heavy cudgels into Elisé's hands.  Elisé staggered under their weight and Monsieur Cole left, the door blown shut behind him.

Elisé left the house at a quarter to twelve.  She was armed with her silver sword, and wore her thickest white gown.  Fourteen Sarridoúr Way stood talll above her head.  A rickety, wooden building with a pale red front door, this was not a house to go near at night.  Elisé took a deep breath and stepped into the garden.  She took the path leading through the garage and into the back garden.  The garage was deserted, but eerily quiet.  Suddenly, a yell came form her left.  Almost without thinking, Elisé sung the sword at the figure.  It sunk deep into the creature's flesh.  But when it fell dead at her feet, she realised, this was not a ghost, this was Monsieur Cole, mistaking her white figure for a spectre.  Elisé cried out and hurried on, anger burning fiercly in her breast.

Because she was white, Monsieur Cole was dead, because she was white, her neighbor had been slain by her.  His blood was on her hands, her sword had sunk deep into him.  And everybody would blame ghosts and she'd be guilty, guilty, guilty.  It couldn't be happening, she couldn't be a murderer!

Elisé let a tear make it's was down her pale cheek.  Eventually, she stepped into the back garden.  It was overgrow with weeds.  Nettles stung her arms as she brushed through the jungle of plants.  Then she saw the Spanish witch.  She wore a velvet black dress with blood red trimmings.  Her dark hair hung loose and fell to her waist.  Her teeth shone white and her came to sharp points.  A silver crown stood proud in her cascade of raven hair.  It was engraved with emeralds and rubies and thirteen white diamonds were encusted at the top.  the witch had became a different creature to the human woman she had seen that morning.

'So you came.' said the witch in her deep voice.  'Good.  And alone too.Even better.' She smiled, her blood red lips moving into a slight grin.  'Let us gert on with it.' Elisé shivered as the witch chanted, part Spanish part English:

 

Hair negro,

Eyes remain azul,

Skin café,

Dress verde,

And jewels rojo.

 

Elisé was suddenly englufed in a rainbow cloud.  When the fog cleared she looked down and gave a shriek of joy.  Her dress was green and trimmed with rubies.  Her hair fell in waves, black.  Her skin had gone brown, like an African, and, when handed a mirror, her eyes were still the same blue!  Elisé cried out a quick 'Thank you!' and tears of joy streamed down her face.  When she had calmed down, the witch turned to her.

'There is one thing you must do though, senorita.'  Elisé grinned at her.

'What? Anything!'

'You must return here every year to renew the spell.  Otherwise, you shall become white again.' Elisé nodded ecstatically and skipped off, almost falling in delight.

The next day, everyone knew about Elisé's encounter and were all congratulating her on her latest achievement.  But Elisé never forgot poor Monsieur Cole and always remembered to thank the Spanish witch at every meeting, once a year on the first Friday thirteenth. 

 

by

Megan Read

 

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