The little girl pulled up the hood on her thick anorak, it was the type where the zip comes up right under your chin and makes you feel like an Eskimo. She pulled down the sleeves so that her hands were covered and very gently, moved aside the huge nettle bush she had been trying to grow into a tree at the bottom of the garden of her secret witch world. There was another bush at the side of it that had berries on in winter. She didn’t know the name of this one, up until now at least. Beyond the bush lay tree after tree that stood like guardsmen as the sun set against their profile.

She stepped expertly, yet gingerly past the bush avoiding any stings or blisters and softly let it fall back into its place. She called the nettle bush her Guardian Gate, a twist on garden gate that she thought was very clever indeed.

The gateway led to a small clearing in the forest, it had a ring of old tree stumps with moss covering them and there was a particular one that she had shaped like a throne.

As she walked up the garden path, she unzipped her anorak and out tumbled the tools prepared for her latest spell. She fumbled in her pocket for the piece of paper that had the list of ingredients on:

One Pine Cone
Four Acorns
Four Spinning Jennies
Eight Conkers


One Magic Wand

The only thing she was missing was the magic wand.

She wandered around the clearing until she came to the willow tree, she gazed lovingly up at it; this was one of her favourite trees in her witch courtyard, the way the branches drooped down to the floor always made her feel that the tree was sad, so she always gave it a cuddle to try and cheer it up.

She walked up to it, happy to see the springtime catkins on the twigs, white fluffy balls that looked like tiny sheep on an elevator. There was a soft breeze and her eyes were drawn to the tips of the branches gently sweeping the forest floor. Then she spotted a lone twig lying on the ground, she picked it up and gently brushed the catkins with her hand. She counted thirteen of them and convinced herself this was the magic wand she’d been searching for. She gave the willow tree an extra cuddle for the gift and went back to do her magic spell.

She placed all her ingredients in the secret magic pattern she’d invented that would definitely make the spell work this time.

She placed the conkers in a big circle on the forest floor. The spinning jennys and acorns were placed in a symmetrical pattern inside the ring. Finally, she placed the pine cone in the centre. Satisfied with her work, she placed the magic wand in her right hand and held out her left hand as she closed her eyes and very solemnly repeated the words she’d prepared:

To the Queen of Witches,

Take me by the hand.

Teach me all the secrets of

Sea and sky and land.

And if I am not ready,

Then send a friend for me.

To teach me all there is to know of

Land and sky and sea.

She waved the magic willow wand in the air and walked around the circle three times to seal the spell as she’d watched some witches do in a film once at her aunt’s.

She walked over to a small tree stump a few feet away from the one that was shaped like a throne. As she sipped a pretend cup of tea out of an old acorn shell, she surveyed her work satisfied.

After she finished her tea, she went over to the magic altar and picked up all the ingredients, except the pine cone in the middle. She looked up at the sky and the moon was as high as it would be for that day. Only the right half of it was showing, this meant she would just have to turn halfway around to face North.

She threw an acorn in that direction. Whirling, she tossed acorns to the East and South, until she was settled facing the West. She placed her hands at her sides and curtseyed towards the tree stump that was shaped like a throne. Imagining the Witch of Winter Hill sat there, looking on.

Picking up the spinning jennys; she ran around the pine cone releasing one each time she passed a quarter point of the circle. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind shook the tops of the trees, sweeping down and carrying the little helicopter shaped seedlings off with it.

She smiled as she watched them spiraling back to earth. Picking up her magic wand, she reminded herself to dig a little hole to bury it in on the way back home.


It was nearing dusk and the sky shifted slowly and luxuriously through its many shades; a stunning array of bruised blues, each darker than the last.

An old owl perched on the branch of an ancient oak tree, its gnarled and sturdy branches offering a solid platform for the gnarled and sturdy talons of the wise owl. She assessed the mood of the forest. She moved her head this way and that, listening to the hustle and bustle as half the inhabitants of the forest settled to rest.

The other half rising and readying themselves for the long night ahead.


The old witch whizzed merrily through the sky, admiring the view as she twirled slowly downwards towards the clearing in the forest. The moon rising high and bright, and the journey had been a pleasant one. Field and forest hugging the base of the mountains as she flew swiftly past, the high snowy peaks and flowing rivers guiding her way to the ancient woods.

She sat on one of the tree stumps around the fire-pit; the wood smooth and comfortable after many generations of witches posteriors moulding it into perfection. She listened to the melancholy calls of the night creatures as she sat in silence waiting for her friends to arrive, mesmerised by Sycamore seeds fluttering down on the breeze.

©CMA 2020

From Tall-ish Tales (Short-ish Stories)