The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, narrated for audiobook
Young Adult (18-35)
North American (General)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
there's no such thing as witches, but there used to be, it used to be. The air was so thick with magic, you could taste it on your tongue like ash, witches lurked in every tangled wood and waited at every midnight crossroad with sharp to the smiles. They conversed with dragons on lonely mountaintops and road roan would brooms across full moons. They charmed the stars to dance beside them on the solstice, and rode to battle with familiars at their heels. It used to be witches were wild as crows and fearless as foxes, because magic blazed bright and the night was theirs. Witching isn't all gone. Of course, my grandmother mama Maggs says they can't ever kill magic because it beats like a great red heartbeat on the other side of everything, that if you close your eyes, you can feel it thrumming beneath the soles of your feet. Thump, thump, thump. It's just a lot better behaved than it used to be. Most respectable folk can't even light a candle with witching these days, but us poor folks still dabble here and there, which blood runs thick in the sewers. The saying goes back home every mama teaches her daughters a few little charms to keep the soup pot from boiling over or make the peonies, blue bloom out of season. Every daddy teaches his sons how to spell ax, handles against breaking and rooftops against leaking. Our daddy never taught us **** except what a fox teaches chickens how to run how to tremble, how to outlive the ******* and our mama died before she could teach us much of anything. But we had mama Mags, our mother's mother and she didn't fool around with soup pots and flowers. The preacher back home says it was God's will that purged the witches from the world. He says women are sinful by nature and that magic in their hands turns naturally to rot and ruin like the first witch Eve who poisoned the garden and doomed mankind. Mama Mags said that was horseshit and that wickedness was like beauty in the eye of the beholder, She said, proper witching is just a conversation with that red heartbeat, which only ever takes three things the will to listen to it, the words to speak with it and the way to let it out into the world. The will, the words and the way she taught us everything important comes in threes, little pigs, billy goats, gruff, chances to guess guessable names. Sisters, there were three of us, Eastwood sisters, Me and Agnes and Bella. So maybe they'll tell our story like a witch tale. Once upon a time there were three sisters. Mags would like that. I think she always said nobody paid enough attention to which tales and whatnot the stories granny's tell their babies. The secret rhymes. Children chant among themselves, the songs, women sing at work or maybe they won't tell our story at all because it isn't finished yet. Maybe we're just the very beginning and all the fuss and mess we made was nothing but the first strike of the flint, the first shower of sparks. There's still no such thing as witches, but there will be.