107.4: Katie Manning:: Baba Yaga’s Answer 107

Baba Yaga’s Answer

I don’t allow questions. You wouldn’t either if your body aged one year per query. But you intrigue me, so I will answer before I eat you. I began when I was a young hag. I lived alone in this same log cabin raised high on tree trunks—back before I enchanted the wood to look and move like dancing chicken legs. No one could come up, and I almost never climbed down. But one day, a young man rode up on a horse and called out to see if anyone was inside my hut. He dismounted and looked around. I wanted him for that voice, his bravery. I was never beautiful, even with fewer warts and a straighter back. I said a quick spell to enchant his eyes. He would see beauty in everything until midnight. When he reached the door of my cabin, I revealed myself and let him in. We enjoyed each other thoroughly. Then midnight came. When my young lover saw my true hag’s face in the moonlight, he fled in terror, ran right off the porch and broke his neck with a crunch below. I took a big meal, buried the rest of him nearby. I ate his horse and buried the bones for good measure. No one would trace his death to me. No one ever came looking anyway. But a few weeks later, I knew. My already sagging breasts began to ache and bulge. The smell of potions boiling had never made me sick before. And for the first time in my life, I was happy. I knew the child would be a girl who would keep me company. I had such visions. After a few more weeks, the bleeding began, and I felt the life drain from me. I was empty. I tricked other men into entering my hut, but I never conceived again. One day, I enchanted a couple of children who were playing in the woods. They came in willingly for supper, even stretched themselves out on the table in front of me. I consumed them both, raw, in one sitting, felt their beating hearts slide down to my belly. I placed my hand upon my stomach and smiled.