Greta sat in the corner of the stinking pit, her emaciated body wracked with sobs.

Ansel watched her, and, with no energy to stand, he crawled through the slimy muck towards her.

They were the youngest witches in captivity. Their trial had been a travesty. At sixteen, Greta could barely even cast, and he was a healer—no threat to anyone.

He took hold of her filthy hands. “I have a plan to escape. I think it will work. When the time comes, will you run away with me?”

Greta offered a slight nod. But there was a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She shivered, her tattered, wet clothes offering little protection from the elements.

Ansel stood and gestured to the space next to her. “May I?” he asked. At her nod, he settled down and huddled closer.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a dirty paper package. Ansel unwrapped it, releasing a heavenly scent of peppermint. “Want one?” he asked. “I’ve been trying to make them last, but you look like you need one.”

Greta reached out and took one of the peppermint delicacies, popping it into her mouth. As it melted on her tongue, she moaned contentedly. “Do you ever dream of simpler times—of the times before?” she asked.

“Not really,” said Ansel. “Perhaps I did once, but since my healing powers emerged, I’ve been so busy putting them to good use that I haven’t had time for hopes and dreams.” He gave a dismissive shrug.

“You make me sound shallow,” said Greta. “It was like, one minute I was a normal teenager, then my telekinesis manifested and the rug was swept from under my feet.”

They were both silent for a long time. Greta pulled an old postcard from her pocket and handed it to Ansel. “I always wanted to visit there. If it still exists.”

The picture was faded, and the card was wrinkled, creased, and water-stained. It depicted a huge tree and people dressed in colourful clothes. A simpler time in a less broken world.

“It’s a beautiful dream,” he said.

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    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    10 days ago

    What a treat for us; you are writing a version of Hansel and Gretel as witches! I love this line, “ A simpler time in a less broken world.” Really something to aspire to.

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    9 days ago

    I love how descriptive and emotionally charged this story is Carrie. One that has so much potential. I hope to read more of Ansel and Greta.

    Julie Harris
    Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
    9 days ago

    Interesting story, Carrie. Although it is a bit strange to think of Hansel and Gretel in Sherwood Forest, it certainly triggers the imagination.

    Your wonderful picture is absolutely fascinating. Does it say “Magic Oak in Sherwood Forest”? If that first word is indeed magic, maybe the witches had something to do with it! You live in such a wonderful place, literally surrounded by history and great stories.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    7 days ago

    Lovely and very satisfying end. I would love to answer on this question: Do you ever dream of simpler times—of the times before? — Yes! I do. I am always loving a simpler times with my whole family.

    Such a wonderful read. Thank you so much, Carrie.

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