The villagers were not surprised when the stone goblin disappeared from beneath the willow tree, or when Will moved in with Willa. What might have bothered them was that he was less than half her size, although his face looked older. Willa was quick to point it out when she released him from the weather witch’s spell.
‘You can’t go into the village like that,’ she said. ‘People around here are wary of me already. I must cast a spell to make you grow.’
‘But I’m happy as I am.’ Will groaned and pulled a face. ‘Do you have to?’
Willa opened her pantry, scanned the shelves, and chose various pots, jars and bottles, which she placed on the kitchen table, and then turned to fire up her new-fangled cauldron.
‘Make yourself useful, brother, and fetch me ten daisy petals, a handful of willow bark, pollen from one buttercup, and two nettle leaves – and mind they don’t sting you. Put everything into this cloth and use my Swiss Army knife to scrape off the bark.’
The air in the kitchen vibrated with magic. Will decided that his sister knew best. After all, he was no longer a sleeping gnome. He grabbed the cloth and the penknife, raced to the willow and scraped off some bark before returning to the cottage garden, where everything Willa required was close at hand: two nettle leaves, pollen from a buttercup, and ten petals from the ox-eye daisies that grew in the flowerbed next to the kitchen door.
Back inside, he watched Willa stir the potion in a trance. Pungent green smoke snaked around her; its tendrils tickled Will’s pointed ears, and he hoped the spell would make his hair grow long enough to cover them.
Willa’s voice was deeper when she spoke. ‘Pass me the ingredients: bark first, and then the nettles, pollen and daisy petals.’ She stirred them in and then poured the potion into a glass. ‘Drink up, Will!’
It tasted fresh as a daisy, with the sharpness of nettle, a slight pollen kick, and no barky aftertaste. But nothing happened.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.
Willa ran to the door. Giant ox-eye daisies sprang up everywhere like a young child’s drawing.
Kim M. Russell, 21st June 2020
Another episode of The Willow Tree Goblin for Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry
I wrote this episode last Tuesday during Shut Up and Write hour.