Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prompt: The Kitchen Witch

Cella didn’t think of herself as a witch. She heard the whispers, saw the fingers crossed over hearts, the faces turned away. But she was just a cook, and the queen’s favorite, so what did it matter what they thought?

The queen had been suffering from poor digestion for years before Cella came. She recognized the signs in the tinge of the royal face under the heavy crown, and the listless appetite, and the penchant for dulling wine. Cella did what her mother taught her, so many years ago.

“You go down by the river and look for the little white flowers with three leaves that grow on the shady banks. That’s tummy balm, Cellie-girl,” her mother handed her a little woven basket and patted her bottom as she toddled out the door.

There wasn’t a balm for an arrow in the back and a burning house. Cella had run to the neighbors down the river, covered in soot and blood. They wouldn’t risk the marauders, and when Cella crept back the next day, her mother had lain cold and hard on the ground.

Cella didn’t know the proper names of flowers and herbs. Her mother taught them by what they were for. Throat’s ease, head balm, moonflow ease, sleep tight. She would have taught Cella reading and writing, if she’d had more time. But she shared all she knew of the healing plants before Cella was old enough to learn her letters.

She came to work in the kitchen, and the queen liked her new teas. Soon she was eating better, and had more energy, and slept peacefully through the night. She called Cella her kitchen witch and gave her the run of the galleries and gardens. And her very own room, for the first time ever. Cella pushed the bed into the corner and slept on the floor in moonbeams like she was used to.

Cella wasn’t educated, but she wasn’t stupid. Too often people confused the two. She kept quiet and observed. Sometimes when she carried afternoon tea up to the queen, she would sit at her feet while the queen stroked her hair, and she would tell about the off things she saw and heard around the palace. She knew that if the queen’s fingers stilled, she wasn’t angry with Cella

Dogs in house
Time writing:
15 minutes
October word count:


  1. Prompt: The Kitchen Witch

    I went downstairs, bleary-eyed, and made my way to the kitchen. I stopped in the doorway, blinking at the tall, bent figure at the stove, apparently whispering to an omelette, until my brain caught up with my senses. Ah, yes, that would be the bloke Kate had found to let the third room. I had met him when he moved in last night, but it’d been a stressful week, with two tests and an essay due, and I just wasn’t up to putting anything in my brain _other_ than studying.

    “Cecelia, isn’t it?” he asked, standing up from his crouch over the pan.

    “Morning,” I said, wracking my brain for his name. Nope, it wasn’t in there.

    “Good morning, Aiden,” Kate said, swanning into the kitchen and rescuing me. “Sleep well?”

    He shrugged. “Well for a first night in a new place. It takes my spirits a while to settle.”

    “Hmm,” Kate replied. I remained silent, as I wasn’t exactly sure what he had meant, and also not sure if my fuzzy-headedness or his words which were the problem.

    “Omelette?” Aiden slid a half-moon of egg expertly from the pan to a plate, then offered the plate to me. I opened my mouth to decline — it didn’t quite seem right to take what must be his breakfast off him. “I like making omelettes, please have it. I’ve got two more planned.”

    I found myself nodding, even though I saw bits of tomato in it and I wasn’t especially fond of them. “Thanks.” I took the omelette, retrieved some juice from the fridge, and retreated to the table. He was whispering to the pan again. I squinted at Kate and raised an eyebrow. She shrugged.

    Time writing: ~15 min

    1. Oh very nice. Has a modern, fairly real-world feel to it, so a real kitchen witch would be interesting indeed. Great narrative voice!