“What am I going to do with you?” The wizened old woman asked as she clucked her tongue and opened the door wide enough for the boy to enter her tiny hovel. It only seemed tiny from the outside because once he was inside he could never see all the way to the back of some the shelves on the wall. There was also a hallway to the left of the door that appeared to be so long and narrow, it never ended. He had never been down that hallway and had no real intention of finding out if it actually had an ending.
She gestured to the worn wooden table that dominated the room, “Just put it there, Andy. As usual…” She hobbled over to her dusty, film laden shelves and began her selection of various herbs, unguents and god knows what; all the while, humming a song that Andy could never quite place. He was certain he had heard it somewhere else before, but could never figure out why it sounded so familiar. Andy watched her seemingly random selections with fascination. It seemed like she always chose the same things, but they never came from the same location. How she kept any of this mess straight, he would never know.
But, choose she did and when her song reached a point when it sounded as if she would actually break into an actual song, the sound died out and she spun around with a toothless grin on her old, wrinkled face.
“You have done well in bringing this as soon as you could. Let’s take a look at what you’ve got here.” Unwrapping Andy’s bundle, she nodded her head as she appraised the lumpy creature.
Andy never meant to hurt it… He only wanted to play with it. He never meant to hurt anyone or anything… but his ventures into the world lately always lead him back here to this hovel for the old woman to mend. But this time, he really felt as if even she couldn’t undo what he had accidentally done.
“You’ve snapped her neck, my child! I’m not certain that even my abilities can repair this one. And a human at that! Oh, Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy.” Her voice trailed off and picked up the hypnotic almost-song again. Could this old lady be a land locked siren? Impossible. Andy had heard the stories from the sailors down at the docks. She was far too old…and ugly.
“Are you listening to me, Andy?” He shook his head, clearing his impossible thoughts. Andy hung his head until his chin was nearly touching his chest and his lower lip started to tremble. “Oh, my boy, don’t do that! Hush! We’ll fix her! Don’t you worry! Old Magpie will fix her right on up and she’ll be good as…well…she’ll be good. Why don’t you step outside and clear your head and let Old Magpie do her work?”
Andy nodded emphatically. Old Magpie would fix her! He had all of the faith in the world that she could undo his latest mistake!
Would he never know his own strength? It’s just that he was so curious and, at times, so hungry for knowledge. Sometimes you have to break something to truly understand how it worked, right?
Andy stepped outside and listened to the noises of the small night animals. He looked up at the cloud covered moon; he was glad to be just this side of the full moon. Maybe by the next cycle, he would have a better understanding of how to conduct his…investigations…without harming the subjects.
The old, familiar tingle started in his toes and his hands started to tremble as the clouds started to clear from the face of the bright yellow moon. His last thoughts were of the girl on the table and his unshakable confidence that by the time he got back, the old woman would be chatting it up with the young girl and everything would be right as rain… Or so he hoped…