For The Daily Prompt: What A Twist!
Scruffy Bob and his three teenage daughters had spent the entire summer passing through old, German towns. Now, the sounds of the squeaky wheels of his fortune-teller’s, wagon pierced through the forest like an angry wail. Its cries could be heard far off into the distance for miles.
It had been a long, hot summer, but now the early frost on the ground was quickly beginning to settle in.
“It’s too early for them damn leaves to be turnin,” Scruffy Bob shouted as he jumped down off the old, rickety, wagon.
It had been a gift passed down to him from his gypsy, fortune-telling dad; a Romany-style wagon, draped with dark-blue, velvet fabric and gold-embroidered, tassels hanging from the sides.
All three of Scruffy Bob’s girls had already jumped to the ground behind him. They were eager to stretch their legs and breathe fresh air into their lungs again. It was close and stuffy inside the wagon, and with not much room to move around.
“Is this the place, Poppa?” Scruffy Bob’s oldest, and beautiful daughter, Eliana, asked him.
“Should be a ways into those maple trees over yonder.” Bob answered, as he pointed into a thick area of forest that lay parallel to the wagon.
A small path about two-feet wide led right into the middle of them.
“Yup, looks like that’s the place,” Bob said as he scrunched down to look into them. “At least that’s what Esmeralda, that old, chorihani told me.”
Chorihani was the old-time, German, gypsy word for witch, and one, which gypsies used to describe the legendary creatures of the forest. They were uncanny creatures, elfish-like, with mystical powers that could sneak in and out of the woodlands, unseen.
“Do you really think she told us the truth, Poppa, about being able to find a magic root that will make my two, ugly sisters prettier than me?”
“Of course, I wasn’t lyin,” said Bob, with a grin. “A Choriani never lies either.”
All three of Bob’s daughters giggled, but from what they knew of gypsy witches, nothing could be further from the truth.
As Eliana thought about it, a cold shiver ran down her spine. Venturing into the unknown forest, to look for a magical root to make her ugly sisters pretty, was not sitting well with her, but she was willing to pay any price to make them beautiful like herself.
“Eliana, someone’s a comin,” yelled her sister, LaLa.
Eliana looked towards the trees, as a frail, bent-over, old man in tattered clothing crept eerily towards them.
LaLa, and Eliana’s other sister, Nadya, ran to her and hid behind her.
“Poppa!” Eliana screamed.
“I see him.” Scruffy Bob said as he ran between the old man and his daughters with a dagger in hand.
The old man stopped, put a bony finger to his crooked lips, and said, “Yas come for the magic root?”
Bob nodded slowly.
“Then follow me.”
As they disappeared into the trees, darkness began to settle upon them, as the sun sank below the horizon. The forest was creepy. It looked swampy and like a place where only the dead would dwell.
“Where we going?” Bob asked the old fellow.
The old man, stopped, turned slowly, looked at Bob quizzically, then said,” You want those two ugly ducklings to be as pretty or even prettier than their other sister?”
Bob turned to his daughters, looked down at the ground sullenly, and said, “Of course, and at any cost.”
“Then quit your damn yapping and follow me.”
After what seemed like hours, they finally came to a rest inside a small, open field. In the middle of it was a small bush with pretty, tulip-shaped flowers sprouting wildly from it.
The old man smiled then told LaLa and Nayda to pick the roots below the flowers.
“Go ahead, dig out dem roots and eat em if yas want to get pretty!”
Eliana looked at her two sisters. She saw slight grins on their faces.
“I’ll go first,” LaLa said.
As LaLa bent down, her hand shook nervously as she reached for a root, snapped it in half, and then raised it to her lips.
“TAKE A BIG BITE!” yelled the old man, “The bigger the bite the more PRETTIER you’ll be!”
LaLa’s legs shook as she bit into the root. As she chomped down on the dirty, smelly root, she began to feel a warm sensation flow over her face. She covered her face with her hands, bowed her head and took a deep, deep breath.
A minute later, she stopped chewing and dropped her hands. Her two sisters and Scruffy Bob looked at her in shock.
“Oh my god, Lala, you’re beautiful!” Eliana cried.
As soon as she said that, Nadya dropped to her knees, snatched off a big chunk of root, and gobbled it down quickly. Moments later, Nadya also, was magically transformed into a beautiful woman.
Scruffy Bob dropped to his knees and began to cry. Now all of his daughters were beautiful.
“NOT SO FAST,” yelled the old man. “You have to pay me!”
Bob looked at the old man, incredulously. “How much?” he asked.
“That much!” the old man exclaimed, as he pointed towards Eliana. “Her beauty will be used to pay for the others!”
“No!” screamed Eliana’s sisters, but it was already too late. Eliana’s face had already turned into an ugly, old witch’s face. She was as wrinkled and dried up as a ten-day, old prune.
“NO!” Bob yelled. “You stole my daughter’s beauty!”
The old man smiled, then said, “You stole it yourself when you promised to pay any cost that would make your daughters as pretty as her or even prettier.”
“AND NOW THEY ARE!”
Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine.