“Hello little girl, would you like an apple?”
“For the last time Mags, I’m twenty six.”
“What? Shelly? Is that you? My eye sight isn’t what it used to be.”
“Come off it Mags, we all know you’re not blind.”
Mags frowned at her, “Oh Jessica! I thought you sounded familiar. What ever happened to respecting your elders? In my day that would have never been stood for.”
“I’ll start respecting you when you stop trying to kidnap innocent kids.”
“ME? Steal children away!? Never. That sort of stuff is illegal don’t you know.” Mags sniffed then wiped at her nose with one hand, “Besides, you know I’m on the wagon these days.”
“Oh and you were just offering me a snack then, was that it?”
Mags smiled, her face creasing into a thousand wrinkles, “That’s exactly it. I thought you looked a little hungry. Besides, you’re so small someone needs to start feeding you right.”
“I do a pretty good job of that on my own thank you very much.”
Mags arm shot out and grabbed Jessica’s, despite the thin and claw like nature of the old woman’s hand she had an iron grip, “Look at this, all skin and bones, I can fit my hand around your entire arm! That isn’t normal girlie. You need to be eating more.”
“I swear to god Mags, if you don’t let go of my arm right now I’ll go straight to the police.”
Mags dropped her arm and patted it gently, “There there dearie, no need to fret. I was just showing you how thin you were, that’s all.”
Mags smiled at her, revealing stained and blackened teeth, “I’m just concerned over your well being love. You should come around to mine sometime for dinner. I can cook food that’s so good you’ll never want to leave.”
“I’m not going to yours for dinner Mags, when are you going to stop asking?”
“When you say yes. You need to be more friendly to people, be more trusting. The old days are over now, there’s rules, laws. I wouldn’t go around breaking the law, no not me. I know the penalties for that. Drowning, burnt at the stake. No thank you. Besides, you know I was joking before, right? About the apple? Just a little joke between old friends.”
“I wouldn’t call us friends Mags.”
“No? Acquaintances then. After all we have a bit of a chat every day.”
“That’s because you try to lure me off with apples.”
“Oh that’s just an excuse you know? Start up a bit of conversation. Gets a bit lonely here. I mean sure there’s other witches, but those hags can be dreadfully boring. All the old days this and the old days that. Sometimes you just want to give them a slap. And some of the stuff they do be saying, it’s shocking really. Upsets my delicate constitution.” Mags patted her stomach slightly. “I prefer to associate with upstanding individuals like yourself.”
Jessica nodded, “Look Mags, I’ve got to get going.”
“Oh of course, don’t let me keep you. If you want you can have this apple anyway. Eat it on your way home or something.”
Jessica sighed, “I’m fine. Thank you.”
“No, no, I insist.” She pressed the apple into Jessica’s hand. As always it looked impossibly perfect, deep red skin that shone in the light, a faint, mouth-watering scent of apple that promised each bite would be a crisp, juicy delight.
Jessica turned and continued walking, putting the apple in the bin as she passed one by. She shook her head, she’d really have to have a word with the local police about her, kids knew better than to travel through the Witch Haunts, but Mags wasn’t going to give up any time soon. Jessica had sworn she saw Mags hanging about at the edge of the exclusion zone the other day. As it was she was feeling uncomfortable, if it didn’t add on an hour to her walk, she’d just take the long way around. Why couldn’t her walk bring her somewhere nice? Like the Enchanted District, with the talking animals and trees? Or Princess Alley, where you could stop and watch a Princess performing with her animal companions. Jessica sighed, it could be worse, there were plenty of places worse than The Witch Haunts.
“Still not interested Clarence.”
“I’m wounded. Though how did you know what I was going to ask?”
“When have you opened up with anything other than asking me out?”
“Hmm good point. One of these days you’re going to say yes though.”
“I tell you what, why don’t you hold your breath until I do. That’ll solve both of our problems, won’t it?”
Jessica kept walking, Clarence who had been half jogging to keep up fell behind her, Jessica counted down mentally. “BITCH!” She smiled to herself, predictable as ever. Just once she’d like a nice walk home, one where she wasn’t harassed. Oh well, she had been warned about it all before she moved but no, it was all so exciting, and she thought it would all be worth it. She had pictured glistening towers and strong, charming men, not these squat dank buildings and pushy princes. Hell, it wasn’t even like she came from money, though with Clarence anything at all would be a step up. Ousted by his brothers, penniless and alone, not that she could summon much sympathy.
As she approached the café she felt herself tense up a little then relax as she saw Joanna, who was outside clearing away tables, she smiled and waved as Jessica, Jessica smiled and gave a half wave in greeting. It was one of Joanna’s good days, at least going by her glossy black hair. When she got herself worked up it would turn a brilliant white and everyone knew to steer clear.
Jessica let herself into her apartment and dumped her bag on the ground, she moved into the kitchen and looked out the window at the Fairy feeder, tiny glowing lights gently floated around it. Jessica moved closer, they were setting up a few small houses amongst the flowers she had planted, Jessica smiled, maybe she would start having some good luck soon. She opened the window and a fairy flitted inside, Jessica smiled at it, “I’m just going to refill the feeder ok? Any requests?” the fairy shook its head then floated outside. Carefully Jessica refilled the feeder and closed the window again. With that done she turned on the kettle, it was always best that the fairies were outside for that bit, something about the steam seemed to attract them and she didn’t want to have to rush another fairy to the hospital. Luckily they hadn’t blamed her for that one, they could be quite vicious if they were crossed. Jessica filled a mug with hot water, she had a long day and now all she wanted to do was unwind with a bit of TV and a mug of calming tea.