Hydville

A story from a long time ago, previously posted at my old site, which I am now posting here.
I walked into the village, expecting a beautiful countryside hamlet, just like the stories my mother had told me, before I was born. Instead I saw derelict houses, falling into disrepair, and small children, playing shoeless in the street. What could’ve happened to turn such a wonderful place, into a hole like this. My footsteps crunched beneath me as I got further into the village, and the children stopped and stared. The women of the village came out of thier crumbling  houses at the sound of one of the children crying. They regarded me with distaste, as if I was responsible for their current state. The children ran to their mothers, keen for protection. Clearly outsiders weren’t welcome. I approached one of the women, a pleading look on my face. “May I stay?” I asked.
She looked at me, and briskly replied “Why? Why would you want to?” She clearly distrusted me.
“I, I was wondering if you knew my mother” I stammered, “That is all I want.”
“Very well,” She cautiously replied,” What was her name?”
“Darlene Leigh.”
“Ah,” she said, surprised, “I think you’d better come inside.”
I was led into the house and directed to sit at a rough wooden table. “There’s a lot that needs explaining,” The mysterious woman said, “Would you like a drink?”
“Vemt, if you’ve got it.” Vemt was a kind of ice tea, it was slightly alcoholic, and very good for relaxing. She handed me a glass full of the murky brown liquid that I loved, and sat opposite.
“Your mother was well known in this town. She was popular, at first. She originally came here with the circus, but she liked it so much she stayed. She was supposedly a hypnotist at the circus, and she claimed to do trivial magic, like healing, fortune-telling and such. People began to go to her for help. She WAS a witch, I’ve no doubt about that, and she was a very clever one too. She told us tales of the north, the land of forests, dancing and magic. She said it was the most
wonderful place in the world, and she had a longing in her voice you can’t imagine. She seemed happy enough, but with a witch, you never know. She taught us about animals, how to hunt and care for them, and that nature was not just to be eaten, but a thing of beauty too. Every now and then, she’d disappear, just for a few days, but people still got worried. The fifth time she went away, she came back very agitated. She seemed to be in a state of shock.
And that was when the troubles started.
When she was nervous, the people were nervous, and strange things began to happen. The village elders, for example, got very ill, and had to give up their positions. People wanted her to be elder, but she refused, so they accused her of using her magic to drive the elders out. She replied with “No, I can’t. I’m dying. If I’d done that, I would not be standing here now.” Of course, the people were shocked. There was a rest for a while, and then she disappeared again. She was away for three weeks. She came back, incredibly pale, and people began to wonder what would happen if she died. Slowly, they began to use what they’d learnt from her to make her better. It worked, for a while, and then it appeared,
that in fact, she wasn’t ill- she was losing her powers, but the reason she was so pale, was because she was giving birth, to you.”
“What happened after I was born?”
“I’ll get to that in a minute.
After it was discovered she was pregnant, questions were asked. Who was the father? Where did she go when she went away? She became a recluse, barely leaving her house. Eventually, people forgot that she was a witch. Until, that is, the circus came to town again. She went to see it, and spoke to the manager after the show. They had an argument, and all was not well. More and more people fell ill, with the same thing the old elders died of. Again, she was blamed, but she denied it furiously.

Then she disappeared. She came back three months later, a beaten shell of a woman, with you in her arms. She knocked on my door, and begged me to look after you. She pleaded, and I could see she was at the end of her life. I gave her shelter for the night, and told her that I would look after you, but the village was broken, and was not stable for a child. She told me why.
Apparently, it was because your father was the manager of the circus, and an elf. He was not happy when she left the circus, but she met up with him regularly, so he was soothed. When the circus came to town, she’d told him of you, and he’d been angry. As an elf, he could do sorcery, and cursed this village.
She stayed here, hating him, and when she was blamed, she had to hide. After the punishment became to much, she fled to him, to beg for mercy. Denied it, she became his slave. He beat her, and didn’t care for you. When you were born, she escaped and brought you here. I went into the room upstairs to bring her breakfast, and she was dead. I buried her quietly, privately in my garden, for she was not well liked in the village, and the people forgot. When you were seven, you were sent away to boarding school. You know the rest.”
“Thank you,” I said, shaken, “Can I… Can I see?”
I followed her out to the garden where she showed me the simple grave. I bowed my head slightly, and felt her trauma. I knew, that know I’d learnt my mother’s story, I’d be able to use her powers, because that was the way of witchery.
“May I sleep here tonight?”
“Yes, of course,” she replied “Though tomorrow, we could see your mother’s house. It still stands,
though empty, and it’s yours now.”
“Thank you…” I said.

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