Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Water Witch and the Wanna Bee

  Catnip Nevermoon, the Water Witch swirled the liquid of the whirlpool with her extended hand. Faster and faster the liquid wall spun, the downward funnel echoing a fearsome howl. The witch had never been to the bottom of the terrible void and believed it went on forever.

   You and I know that couldn’t be true, because if it were, the seas would have drained dry a week ago last Thursday. A maelstrom is caused by the swirling currents of the ocean colliding with a rocky, jagged shore, so the witch’s work was mostly done by the elements. Nonetheless, this was her duty to keep the pitch at peak with the brush of her hand, her voice at the pitch of the angry sea; she did it with zeal, and a fine sense of accomplishment.

   In her youth, a thousand years ago, she must have been attractive, in a witchy way. Her hair had been auburn then. Now, tangled with kelp and gulfweed, it was the color of rust and yesterday’s tea. Beneath the scaly sheath of crystal brine on her cheeks, there may have been smoothness centuries ago. Her eyes, though, were still clear and sharp, two radiant sapphires missing nothing.

   She was particularly pleased whenever a careless sailor steered his ship too closetoo close to the lip of the underwater tornado. The sailor, his ship, and all who were on her began to spiral, slowly at first, but as the witch increased the movement of her hand, ever faster. Then, at the crest of the terrifying tube, the ship would flip sideways and plunge out of sight, flotsam, jetsam, hull and all.

   One fine day (it was a Friday afternoon, and almost time for a coffee break), the Water Witch became bored and slowed her hand just a bit. Far off she heard a faded, fretful cry, “Hellup!” She pulled her head away from her work and saw a small raft of reeds heading in her direction.

   At first she thought it was far away, but as she focused her crystal eyes, she realized it was quite near and very small, just a few twigs bound together. Sitting in its middle was a tiny creature clutching a few belongings, and very frightened. To get a better look she swept it up with her dripping hand and held it close to her face. “What have we here?” she mused to herself, not expecting a reply.

   A small shivery voice responded, “I am ME. I was over there,” the creature nodded to the west, “and I wanna be over there,” it now nodded to the east.

   “Well,” the astonished witch replied, “I don’t know what kind of creature you are, but you seem spirited enough. What was over there,” she nodded to the west, “and what is over there?” Here she waved her hand, still holding the raft, to the east.

   The poor passenger almost pitched off the raft, but the witch stopped when she realized what she had almost done. She peered even closer at this strange little being. “I may just toss you into the vortex, unless you can convince me not to,” the witch said sternly to the tiny occupant of the now-tangled raft.

   “Go ahead. Everyone else hates me. I’m a bee, you see, and the rest my family flew away without me. I tried to do my job: I was in charge of the Queen’s comb, but the others swarmed all over me to get it. I was allergic to the thing, too. It gave me hives. I went down on my knees to please the Queen. ‘Honey,’ she said, ‘I hear the buzz that you are never busy enough.’ I am sorry to drone on so, but my story can sting, it’s so sad.”

   “That did it,” roared the Water Witch, picking the wretched thing up by the thorax, “I don’t bee leave half of this. You are leaving for the east, because you are a wanna bee.” She flicked the insect high in the air.

   Shaking out its tousled wings it aimed toward the sunrise, and never bothered Catnip Nevermoon again.

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