She didn’t think she’d meet someone braver than Emile after that night.
Until a girl of seven began visiting her once every month, during nights when a new moon reigned in the sky, the same moon that bore witness to her fall. And the girl of seven always came bearing white lilies, red peonies, and blue delphiniums – the flowers that grew on the graves of her children – continuing the practice that Emile began after the death of his third child.
Then the girl stopped visiting after she turned eighteen.
Until tonight, as the sound of gentle rapping on wood broke the silence of the night, the girl returned with her arms full of the flowers that flourished from the blood of her children. The girl of seven, the fourth child of the fourth child of Emile’s fourth child.
* * *
“Please, my lady,” Ramsey whispered. “Why is this happening to me? Is it because I failed to give you your favorite flowers for two years?”
The witch said no.
“Then please, tell me why this is happening to me.”
And so the witch did. The witch told her everything, the witch gave her all her answers. She told Ramsey of the children of the goddess Agnessa, how she tasked them to guard mankind in her stead. How Agnessa fell, tearing the heavens as she did so, with the new moon as one of her many witnesses. How mankind created a temple to honor the gods on the place where she fell after her presence ignited their faith. How the flames of their faith burned out not long after that, as Agnessa also saw the darker side of mankind’s nature. How after the temple of the gods fell, Agnessa built her new home upon the dust of the temple. How the witch in the woods came to be. How Ramsey’s great-grandfather and his eldest son managed to kill all three of the goddess’ children.
The witch told her last of the curse she had placed over Ramsey’s line, of her third child’s inevitable death because of the sins of her fathers before her.
Ramsey fell on her knees as she laid all of the flowers before the witch’s feet. She felt the woman’s calculating stare on her.
“Please,” she said, tears pricking her eyes. “I’ve been mourning for your children long before I realized the significance of the flowers that I’ve been plucking from their graves. I do not want to mourn for another child ever again, whether they share your blood or mine.”
* * *
The girl’s words were like a stab to her heart.
“But how did you know of the flowers?” she asked.
“I was only told that they were your favorites. Not only me but the whole village knows about them too. And now that you’ve told me your story, I have reason to believe that Emile searched for the graves of your children until he finally found them and saw the flowers growing upon them.”
Well, the flowers weren’t always her favorites. It was only after the deaths of her children that they became her favorite ones. And the girl was right about her reasoning.
“But why give them to me beneath a new moon?” she queried.
“Because my mother once told me the story a goddess who fell from the sky, and how it happened when the moon was at its darkest and the stars their brightest. Many forgot about Agnessa’s fall but my mother’s ancestors didn’t.”
* * *
The slash that scarred the face of the heavens never healed. But the wounds in the witch’s heart did.
Ramsey knew that this was the truth for were it not, she wouldn’t be playing with her daughter right now. Her sweet, little girl Agnes, with her bright eyes and her toothy smile. Her third child, who had just celebrated her sixth birthday and whom Ramsey would teach a year from now about their family’s practice of bringing the witch in the woods’ favorite flowers – white lilies, red peonies, and blue delphiniums.
She never really knew the reason why the witch decided to grant her wish without a price, her wish of allowing her third child to survive the goddess’ curse on her family.
But Ramsey had a feeling in her gut that it was because she was a mother first and a witch second – she could sympathize with the pain and loss that Ramsey felt. All she needed was time to get over her own losses and to let go of her hurt.
Indeed, whether a month or a century was needed, all wounds were eventually healed by time.
As Ramsey walked along the edge of the woods with her daughter’s hand in hers as Javier trailed behind them, Agnes’ laughter enveloping them in an embrace of bliss, she examined the three colors that dominated the once-blank canvas that was her life. Blue, for the sorrows that she went through when she was faced with the death of her two eldest children. Red, for the zeal, something that she had lacked for most of her life, that ran in her veins on the night she finally met the witch. And finally, white, for the state of peace and serenity that she was currently enjoying and would, hopefully, continue to do so for the remainder of her days.