145 Pine Close is occupied by two witches. Marbella is the younger of the two, with fiery red hair that tends to literally set alight when she’s angry. Her eyes are a vivid blue which pierce the souls of those who look into them, making it impossible for them to lie to her. She’s a playful soul and uses her magic largely for her own entertainment (and sometimes to get revenge on those who irritate her). Her older sister Anabelle, works as a lawyer and wears half-moon spectacles to make her more intimidating, although her eyesight is perfect. Despite appearing to be in her early thirties she is, in fact, two-hundred and twenty one – with an emphasis on the twenty-one if you ask her.

Marbella came home from work in a mischievous mood. Her office arch-enemy had come into work that morning to find a confidential file floating above her desk. She’d snatched it out of the air and replaced it in a drawer, but when she poured her coffee later on, she found her mug had developed a tendency to pour its contents onto vital papers when she wasn’t looking. Of course nobody believed this, and to onlookers it seemed that she’d entirely lost the plot. That ended up as the official reasoning for her suspension. Time out for her health.

Marbella couldn’t contain her glee, but her sister hadn’t been quite so impressed with the trick.That night, while Marbella slept, Anabelle slunk downstairs and placed a locking spell on the front door. The next morning, the redhead found herself unable to leave the house, and set fire to the coat rack in her rage. After hours of boredom and anger she decided to leave a little trick for her older sister. A festive treat should do the trick: after all, who better to define a new kind of trick-or-treat than a witch?

Without moving from the armchair she heated the oven and stirred a batch of gingerbread. When the batch was mixed, she approached the bowl and blew into it. A witch’s’ breath meant life, everybody knew that. She used her hair, still smouldering, to light a cigarette and smoked it through the window as the biscuits baked.

When Anabelle arrived home, the smell of freshly baked goods still echoed through the flat. She smiled and closed her eyes, she knew Marbella would forgive her. Slowly, to savour the smell, Anabelle walked into the kitchen and picked up a little gingerbread boy. Her sister had iced denim trousers and a Christmas jumper onto him, completed with a grinning face. For a moment, Anabelle thought the biscuit winked at her, that the grin was a little unfriendly, but she disregarded it and closed her eyes as she pushed it into her mouth.

She screamed. As she’d gone to bite the biscuit, the biscuit had bitten back! Anabelle dropped her attacker as her sister appeared, laughing, in the doorway.

“Got you!” She sang, grinning cruelly at the woman who’d kept her on house arrest all day long. Anabelle healed her lip without moving and glared back at her sister.

The next day, Anabelle moved out, leaving an enchanted snowman melting on the living room carpet to say her farewells. Marbella stared at it in disbelief and wandered halfheartedly into the kitchen to make breakfast. She produced a sharp intake of breath when she opened the cupboard to find her cereal box torn open, dribbling its dwindling contents onto the shelf. Her first thought was ‘mouse!’ but after a speedy ‘reveal’ enchantment, that fear was disproved and she was back to square one.

She cleared the mess and made toast instead. A tiny twinkle of guilt, barely noticeable, began to burn in the back of Marbella’s brain. She enchanted a lamp stand to keep her company with chatter, but really she may as well have been talking to herself. That evening, Marbella opened the fridge and set about making herself dinner.It was a complicated meal and she’d chosen to cook it the human way, mixing with her hands rather than her brain. Part of the way through her culinary practice, Marbella went to scoop her onions into the frying pan, only to find that half had gone. Minutes later, her knife had moved across the surface to the other side of the room.

This continued while she cooked, and then into her meal. Every time she glanced away she found parts of her dinner had vanished. Then her wine glass tipped itself over. As red wine soaked into her white skirt she caught a glimpse of something in the corner of her eye. Something tiny and brown with iced denim trousers and a Christmas jumper. That Gingerbread beast!

Squealing in frustration she dived after her creation, but missed, colliding with the floor face first. She chased the outlawed biscuit around the room for forty-five minutes before she finally caught it. He dangled in the air, his foot pinched between her dainty fingers, begging for mercy.

“Lemme go you! Lemme go! I aint done nothing, only what I was told!” She scowled at the little man and her hair launched a few flames into the air.

“What you were told?”

“By the other lady. She made me do it, said I’d go back to sleep if I stopped!”

“Stopped what?”

“Annoying you… sorry… Told me to eat stuff, steal stuff, basically cause mischief… teach you a lesson.”

“Right. Well the thing is,  brought you to life you silly creature… only can put you back to sleep again. So you wanna stay awake? You don’t be causing any trouble, you hear?”

The little gingerbread man nodded enthusiastically and sighed as she stood him on the floor at her feet. She enchanted a new batch of gingerbread and crafted it into a house as it floated in the air, keeping a stern eye fixed on mischievous chap sat at her feet. She placed him the house and sent a thought to summon her sister.

When Anabelle arrived, she thought it might be a trick and took each step warily. Each bite of her dinner was consumed with an eye on the gingerbread house which stood on a coffee table in the corner of the room. When her sister’s distraction became too much, Marbella decided it was time to apologise, and she did so. She looked her sister in the eye and told the story of what her biscuit had done. She apologised for causing trouble and always bringing chaos into their lives. By the end of the meal they were friends again. Older sister, still slightly wary of the younger, but forgiving all the same.

They allowed the Gingerbread Man, now named Kermit, to live in his minuscule Gingerbread house in the corner of their flat for the rest of their lives there. Neither of them ate, or baked, gingerbread again.

 

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