August 13, 2020

Throwback Thursday: The Heart Baker by Fanni Sütő

I followed the witch,
melting into the shadows,
hoping the night would hide me...

Editor’s note: In very few words, Fanni conjures up heartache, a summer night, and magic. It’s flash stories like this one that have helped me decide to run shorter stories next year. This one is from June 2019.

He thinks he knows what he is doing. Of course, he doesn’t. How could he when he only sees until the edge of Rosaline’s skirt. What worries me is that I don’t know what he is doing either. That’s the real tragedy. I know the inside of his head more than he does, but now he is slipping away.

I don’t understand. That girl, woman, witch, whatever, is ugly! Exotic beauty and rare looks, the knobby kneecap of my great-aunt! And yet that’s what Albert and all the other bewitched boys say. Nice marketing, that’s what I say.

That wicked woman put something in their food, poisoned them into loving her. The way to a man’s heart leads through his stomach, after all.

Albert was supposed to marry me not her. He even gave me a ring! Now he’s asking it back. It was a mistake, he says, a midsummer madness. No-no, I won’t give up so easily.

Yesterday the moon was full and I knew that she, the thief of my happiness, was going out to collect herbs on the hill. I followed her, melting into the shadows, praying to the spirits of the night to hide me.

Rosaline had a long gown, the color of winter skies and a white basket that glowed with a silver light under the soft touch of moonshine.

She filled the basket with herbs and leaves smelling of mint, the sunshine of the first spring day and the notes of a lullaby. A spell of drowsiness weighed down on me, but I resisted. My determination was stronger than any magic that witch could master. I had to discover how she was doing it, leading the village men by their noses, making them dance as she whistles.

I followed her to her house at the edge of the dark forest and peered in through the window. Rosaline stood there heating a furnace; her flame-blonde hair flowing around her face. She threw leaves into the fire upon which the flames turned a deep violet. I could almost hear the cracking and feel their heat. She took a box from the corner and threw its contents into the fire. I could only catch a glimpse of the clay-colored objects, big as my fist. She cleaned her tools and kitchenware, then she returned to the flames and took out one of the finished products.

I could see clearly now; it was a heart made of some strange, living material. The witch produced a hammer and slammed down, murmuring under her breath. A mist emerged from the heart, slowly taking the shape of a girl with gloom-black hair and olive skin. The apparition looked me in the eye and blood froze in my veins. It was me.

Albert’s last memory of me disintegrated with a sad smile, and I understood that I'd irrevocably lost him.

Fanni Sütő writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. She writes about everything which comes in her way or goes bump in the night. She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants. Previous publications include:The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation. Fundead Publications.
Follow her on Twitter @Fanni_Pumpkin

Cover: Amanda Bergloff