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Her First Born

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Many people have heard of the witch Ophelia, whose powers were said to be limitless. Her skin was as tan as the desert sand and carbon-freckled from space particles and sun-exposure from astral projecting great distances for long periods of time and her eyes were so dark some said they were black like the powerful vacuum of space. The color of her hair seemed to be in perpetual motion, shifting like the mechanics of time and the seasons of the Earth and was so long that she had to braid it into a belt at her waist and wrap it around herself multiple times. Some said she had never cut it and that it grew one inch for every year she'd been alive. Everything about her was part of her legend, and those that followed the hushed whispers and found her were still awed by her presence when they finally met her.

When Zoe first found out about her, she was a little girl, barely as tall as her grandmother's knees as the old woman told her about witches and magic from different cultures and she'd wonder if her dark mahogany skin was the same color as those carbon-freckles. She'd imagine the colors of the seasons dancing in her hair like leaves on the breeze. Many of the stories warned of danger and were the reason for fear in many, but Zoe always felt like if she were to come face to face with a witch, she would not be afraid.

As she grew up, the only woe in Zoe's life was a lack of money. Her family was big, but their earnings were small, and during her teen years she learned what that meant. Wanting to pull her weight, she worked to help keep food on the table, but it was always an uphill battle. When she turned eighteen, the temptation caught up to her and she stole one of her grandmother's books and made her way outside in the middle of the night. Under a starry sky, she called for the witch, following instructions that were written in the book. Deep down, she knew that Ophelia would come, but like so many before her she was still awed when she met the witch face to face.

"What do you want, sweet girl?" Ophelia asked as she appeared before Zoe. To the human girl, the witch was beyond description, her visage was just as magical as she was rumored to be.

"My family is the richest I know when it comes to love and respect, but we're penniless. I want indefinite wealth and success, not just for myself but for my whole family. We've got the emotional wealth covered, but we need money," she replied, trying to choose her words well, wanting to impress the woman in front of her. This was a superficial request, but it wasn't just superficial in her mind. She didn't want riches and gold, she didn't want to rule the world or be the most impressive, she just wanted her family to be happy. And not all of them could be truly happy if they were always struggling to make a living. Too many nights, she had woken up in the middle of the night to crying. Too many nights, she had seen her family members weary as they practically crawled inside after a long day's work.

Ophelia was impressed with the request, she could feel the goodness in Zoe's heart and knew that her wish was pure. So she explained the heavy price her wish came with and then granted it, sending Zoe back to her bed so she'd wake up in the morning unsure if the previous night was fantasy or reality. All day, she wondered, until a wealthy woman with wild eyes visited their business and invested in huge amount right on the spot. From that day forward, business was booming. The family was able to move into a bigger house with more room for the kids to run around and food was never scarce again. Everyone continued to work hard, but now they could afford to hire other people and share their wealth generously, which meant nobody had to be worked harder than they could manage.

The price for this happiness was Zoe's first born child. A year went by and Ophelia returned on the anniversary of their first meeting. She beckoned the growing girl to her window and asked when the price would be paid. Zoe explained that she was still just a girl, that at nineteen she was not ready to have a child. Understanding, Ophelia left, but she was back the next year at the same time. This time, Zoe was twenty, but she still was not ready to have a child. Each year, the witch would return and each year, the woman would tell her that she was still not with child.
Soon, "not this year," turned into, "it's cold outside, come in for some tea." Ophelia's visits lasted longer and longer, and by the time Zoe turned twenty-five, she was coming more than once a year and coming for more than just the child she was promised. The two women got to know each other, spending snow days inside and summer nights under the stars.

On the night before Zoe's twenty-eighth birthday, she laid in front of the fire place, a warm glow on her cheeks that could be blamed on more than just the cozy temperature. She was finally with child, laying with her love, contemplating the path her life had taken and how much happiness she had found in her time on Earth. It was all a blessing, she knew that now. With her baby growing inside of her, she felt like she held all of the most important knowledge of the universe, like her eyes had been opened by the new life forming inside of her and the love that had led to it.
"Ironic, isn't it?" Zoe asked, a coy smile on her face as she turned to face Ophelia with the soft warmth of utter bliss in her eyes. The witch was laying behind her, her hair unwrapped from around her waist and laying on top of the two of them as they cuddled in front of the fire. "That after all this time, my first born really is yours."