A bonfire burns. On a stake in the center rests the head of a small animal woman. The head seems to reject the very idea of fire, it’s unfazed by the flames attempting to engulf it.
“She was a witch,” a small boy mutters, looking into the flames.
His mother leans down and whispers in his ear, “No, she was just too powerful.”
The boys eyes widen as he stares at the head. The head’s eyes twitch slightly, and lock onto the boy. The head smiles.
The boy can feel the animal woman’s mind knocking on the door of his own, as politely to be let in. The boy lets her in.
He’s in a forest now. The animal woman is steering his consciousness. He’s seeing through her eyes? No, a memory. He’s seeing her memory.
S/he’s walks through the clearing in the forest. S/he’s being chased. The heart beats in the ears. The ears pressurize, it feels like an explosion is imminent. Feet paddle on the ground. Barefoot? Yes, barefoot. S/he comes to a cliff. Nearly falls off. Stops in time, turns. S/he sets eyes on the pursuers. A group of men holding weapons. The group speaks in one voice.
A N I M A L W O M AN IT E N D S H E R E
“Why?” S/he asks.
Y O U ‘ V E B R O U G H T D O W N O U R V I L L A G E B R O U G H T S A D N E S S F E A R A N D A N X I E T Y T O U S W H E R E W E W E R E O N C E P R O U D A N D H A P P Y
“You were blind,” s/he says.
W E W E R E H A P P Y
They lunge in and rip the animal woman apart.
The boy feels his mind shrink, reverting back to his own. He misses the animal woman’s presence. He asks her to stay. He begs her.
The boy’s mother tugs on the boys arm, “Where did you go?” she asks.