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“Meadowsweet, broom, and oak, my wrinkly old ass—might as well wish for gold in these parts,” the swamp witch muttered, puttering around her tiny shack.

As she gathered flower petals, bark, and mortar and pestle, the stone bowl grew cumbersome in her arthritic grasp. Still, she soldiered on, grinding them up with the partially digested stomach contents of a sickly gator.

“Hells bells—I’ll have to rewrite the spell,” she said, flipping open a secondary grimoire after dumping the paste in her boiling cauldron.

The book in question had come to her by way of the only other person for miles—an ancient Welsh witch, who, sadly, had been murdered by a next door neighbor. The consequences of new spells were tricky, to be sure, but there was no one to consult. So, she whipped up one that went something like this:

“Orange fringed orchids for loveliness awarded.
Buttercup petals for a healthy dose of mettle.
Cypress bark, an acceptable start for a cunning mind and tender heart.
Scrap of skin from a gator’s gut, just to add a human touch.                                           Spirits hustle! Water bubble! Give me a girl for my toil and trouble!”

Sure enough, after taking a minute to properly percolate, the spell resulted in a flash of light and a puff of magic. As the smoke dissipated, a young woman appeared, wearing a lovely crown of flowers, in the midst of the withered crone’s shack.

“Oh, dear,” the young woman said, looking around in confusion, “where am I?”

“Our home,” the old witch replied as if it summed up everything.

“Our home,” the young woman repeated thoughtfully, wrapping her lips around the words as she peered past the gray-haired crone.

The remains of the one within her, whose body had been devoured by the alligator, informed her that there didn’t seem to be a lot of home, just a one room shack with a stove, bookshelf, and bed.

“And where is my bed?” she asked politely.

“You’re young and spry forevermore, dear,” the witch replied. “A body like that doesn’t require the niceties.”

“Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” she murmured, some sort of odd computation going on behind her gator green eyes before she posed her next question. “And why am I here?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” the witch said. “That’s the very best part. I created you to do my bidding and keep me company, much as the magicians did Bloudewedd, in the old Welsh tales, for her husband. You can have the same name if you like.”

“I think not,” the young lady frowned.

“Why not?” the crone asked. “It’s a lovely one.

“Lovely enough,” she replied, her eyes focusing on the grimoire and the mortar by the cauldron, “but the tale didn’t end very well for the maiden in question.”

“Well,” the witch responded, “my heart wasn’t set on it, dear … go ahead, choose another.”

“I choose Evermore,” she smiled.

Then, she snatched up the pestle and bashed in the old witch’s head.