Olga held her wand to her lips and rolled her eyes.
‘Yes, Mother Witch… Yes… I’m sorry Mother Witch…’
A voice worse than a creaking door poured from the tip of the wand. Olga felt it vibrate.
‘DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU HAVE SHAMED THE FAMILY COVEN AND DISGRACED THE LINE OF OLGAS?!’
When the shouting dwindled to grunting, Olga took a breath of courage.
‘Mother Witch, visit me this Sunday dawn. If you’re still not pleased with me, I’ll never bother you again.’
‘ONE VISIT ONLY!’ Mother Witch hung up the wand.
That had been the fifth spell to Mother Witch to try to convince her. Fireworks sparked from Olga’s wand and singed the wafer roof. She’d been given a chance, a chance she wouldn’t pass up.
The trouble began when Mother Witch had caught Olga whipping icing out of her wand. She belted Olga around the head.
‘We’re meant to scare the hearts of humans,’ Mother Witch had yelled, ‘not give them heart disease’.
Regardless of the shouting and threats, Olga couldn’t rid the recipes of croissants, sweetbreads, and scones out of her head. Her taste buds had governed her heart and her wand, and they weren’t going to back down.
Olga had trudged away from the coven and into the forest. When tears had finished their path down her cheeks, a new dream rose in her head like dough in a kiln. That dream was the Edible Bakery – a place where you could scoff delicious desserts inside a delicious dessert. Pure innovation! She found a clearing deep in the forest where no one could ruin her plans, least of all little boys and girls.
With Mother Witch’s visit approaching, Olga set to rolling the dough for the day ahead. She’d been casting baking spells for weeks to erect the four wafer walls and roof of the bakery. If an anti-crow spell hadn’t been cast, Olga was sure they would have pecked it to pieces by now; the sweet smells wafting from the bungalow drew them.
The inside displayed a bed, a sofa, and a kiln; it wasn’t much, but it did the job well. It was a chance to prove her worth to Mother Witch, who always scorned Olga for daydreaming. One gingerbread door, two sugar glass panes, and one chimney spouting icing sugar would be her recipe for success.
After days of hard labour, Olga sat on a yule log in front of the Edible Bakery and admired her work. The sugar paper tulips lining the white chocolate pond were such a nice touch. Tomorrow morning, Mother Witch would visit, and Olga would out herself as the first good witch in the family for a century. Her eyes glazed over like an iced bun as she fantasised.
The sound of munching shook Olga out of her daydreams. She ran to the side of the bungalow. It was no deer with a sweet tooth, it would’ve sprung away. Instead, it was a boy and girl, as tall as Olga’s shoulders. The boy clung onto the corner of the roof with his teeth, whilst the little girl licked the sugar glass like a dog cleaning her master’s plate.
‘Children? Oh my! Please don’t eat my house!’
Olga trembled as if they tried to eat her instead of the bakery.
The boy jumped down, stood in front of his sister and bared his fists.
‘Don’t touch us! Who are you?’ he demanded.
Part of the roof crumpled away. The boy popped the pieces in his mouth and scrutinised Olga.
‘My name is Olga, The Good Witch Olga.’
‘A witch!’ the young girl gasped.
‘Sounds like a pretty bad name to me.’ said the boy, staring Olga up and down.
‘Oh darlings, I won’t harm you. It looks like you haven’t eaten enough to feed a bird!’
Their skin hung over their bones like stretched pastry beneath their rags. The girl’s stomach groaned at the mention of eating.
Olga had to remain cool and stop a smile forming on her face.
‘I know! You children can be my first tasters. If you come into the bakery, I’ll give you some fresh gingerbread. How does that sound?’
‘Mother never let us have gingerbread. She’s such a selfish prune! It smells fantastic. Pleeeease come in with me brother and try it.’
The girl tugged on her brother’s hand, but he stood still, picking food from his teeth and spitting it out next to Olga.
‘Well fine, Hansel. I’ll go in alone.’ Gretel took Olga’s hand and led her to the door. Their faces lit up.
‘Oh, and I could whip up some cinnamon twists as well!’
Hansel ran to join them.
‘Hey I’m hungry too! Why does she get everything?’
Having Hansel and Gretel enjoy Olga’s baking felt like a cuddle in the freezing cold. She first gave them a few slices of sweet bread. There was barely a moment before it was eaten and they were picking at crumbs.
‘More!’ they both cried, clapping their hands.
And so, Olga gave them more. More muffins, more biscuits, and more buns.
The children ate like wolves in a frenzy. It was as if each bite made them hungrier. Their eyes got darker and their skin clung tighter to their bones. Bits of food slopped from their mouths. The jam filling bled down their chins. They nipped their own fingers in the haste of their eating.
‘Darlings, you’ve just about eaten half of my goods for the day. I’m very glad you like my baking, but if you eat more I’m afraid you’ll be sick.’
‘But I’m still so hungry!’ cried Gretel.
‘This is terrible service!’ cried Hansel.
She ushered the children to the bed, and got herself comfortable on the wafer sofa.
‘Give your bellies a rest for the night and I’ll bake you more things in the morning.’
In a strop, Hansel and Gretel got into Olga’s bed and pulled the pastry blanket up over their heads.
Muffled, Hansel said, ‘You won’t let us have what we want! You’re worse than mother and you ARE a nasty wicked witch!’
Olga looked up at the ceiling to stop her tears from running.
‘Goodnight children.’ she whimpered, and lay down on the sofa for sleep.
Gretel kicked and thumped around in the bed, making a sound like thunder. Hansel added to the noise with his own feet.
Olga wiped her bloodshot eyes and the snot away from her mouth. The children’s tantrum rattled the biscuit floorboards. The sofa did worse for Olga’s back than her hammock in the coven.
At least I’ve learnt the worst of customer service. Sunday dawn better be the best bloody moment of my life.
Olga screamed at the sound of teeth gnashing in her ear. She wiped saliva from her eyes. Olga was hauled on to the floor. She leapt up in fright.
Anger grew in Olga, far hotter than the kiln fires.
‘YOU’VE EATEN BLOODY EVERYTHING! OH MY DREAM!’
The children had eaten the cookie roof, the walls, the floor, the windows. They had licked away the sugar glass panes, swallowed whole the sugar paper tulips, and drunk the milk chocolate pond dry.
Gretel began to cry and stomp her feet.
‘We’re hungry. You didn’t feed us. You wicked prune of a witch!’ sneered Gretel.
‘Mother Witch can’t see this mess. I’ll be a mockery – more of a failure than I was before!’
Hansel prodded Olga hard in the side.
‘Bake more for us, Wicked Witch. Now!’
‘No, you greedy monsters! Mother Witch is flying over at any moment. I need to fix this. I-I’ll re-bake the wafer walls straight away.’
The children screamed in frustration. Olga ignored them and tried to push away the towering thoughts of disaster. She leant her body into the mouth of the kiln with a flame flickering at the tip of her wand.
Flames sparked, flickered, and grew in the belly of the kiln. I will goddamn do this. Olga vowed to herself.
A great force on her rump startled Olga. Her body rolled into the kiln. The door slammed shut on her fingers and trapped her in. Its metal slots were a menacing grin.
She shrieked and she shrieked as the fires hissed, licked away her skin, and munched on her flesh. Olga was a slow burner.
Gretel wiggled Olga’s purple fingers, and one by one they fell away.
Gretel sang, ‘This little piggy went to market, and this little piggy stayed at home!’
Hansel and Gretel peeked through door slots, waving Olga farewell and giggling.
That was the tale of Olga the Good Witch, cast from the coven and deep into the oven. Mother Witch was indeed happy with her visit, as those two children went down a treat. And so, Olga got her wish of returning to the coven, but did so in a basket, ready for the next meat draw.