“I’ll eat you up, I love you so.”
My children have begun to call our home “the witch’s house.” They come in from the wood at night, laughing and whispering to each other in their own little twin tongue, and I can only make out “witch’s house, witch’s house, going home to the witch’s house,” a dizzying singsong that makes me want to reach out and shake them, hard.
It’s a strange kind of justice. I’m a bad mother. They know it. Their father knew it. His sharp hunter-green eyes look at out me from their identical faces. I make them food, good food, with my own hands, and they barely touch it, like I can’t be trusted. They litter the path to our door with scraps of bread and meat from their plates. The smell of rotting surrounds us.
We came here to the edge of the wood to get away, from him, from everyone, but there is no getting away, is there? No safe place. Only me. And I’m the witch in the witch’s house. What was it the monster in the picture book said? I’ll eat you up, I love you so.
They’re asleep in their beds now. The fire is out. The hearth is cold. Their breath mists above their faces. Like this, they’re my perfect babies again, still and eggshell-pale. The knife is bright and weightless in my hand.They’ll never be safe out there. The world will take them and hurt them and hollow them out. The only place they’ll be safe is here, with me– inside.
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