This Is Not Your Mother’s Fairytale
Witches on walkways, in alleyways, in all the ways they can be: with spray paint holstered at the hip, eyeliner brandished with a battle cry. You watch them from the other side of the street, from the Chinese restaurant where you eat grease-coated egg rolls with your mother. You wonder what it would be like to paint your lips in the same dark tones the witches wear. Violet, blood moon, black velvet.
Your mother tsks and tuts. She tells you to stay in the castle, to wait for your prince, and to never trust witches who try to coax you from your path. The witches are angry, your mother says. They didn’t wait for their prince and lost themselves to the brambles in the woods. Don’t you ever lose yourself to the brambles. Don’t you ever go inside their alleyway cottages. Don’t wish your life away for one of their spells. Their enchantments don’t last. They fade away, like sun-worn graffiti.
But their smiles are so wide. How could they be so angry when they have each other? When they dance under full moons and brush their painted lips against another’s?
You pass them every day on your way to school. You hear them laughing, see them drinking golden potions from glass bottles, smell their black cherry perfume. Despite their coaxing, you stick to your path, return to your castle.
But one autumn evening, under the light of a harvest moon, you hear them singing. Their words are French to your ears, beautifully foreign. One breaks free from the crowd, stands on the precipice. She straddles the line between safety and sorcery. Her shoes are crimson, pointed, shimmery. Yours stay flat on the ground, white and laced, but she doesn’t mind. She crooks a finger, and you decide to follow.
You wind your way through those brambles: past rusting dumpsters and rotting apple cores, into pavement lined with soggy newspapers, leading to the alleyway cottage.
You forget all about your prince; who wants princes when witches are so dazzling?
She disarms you with her smile and paints your lips violet.