[My FaceBook friend Christie Bell is, among other things, an artist who, in her photography, loves to work with costumes and found objects. A while back she posted that she had come across a large wire metal cage and planned to use it in some photographs. Christie and I both have a good friend named Jennifer and Jennifer has a lovely daughter named Sabina who I have been known to refer to as "The Bean." Christie just posted a series of photographs she shot of Jennifer and Sabina and, as I looked at them, they seemed to suggest a fairytale that, before I knew it, I was writing down, as I heard it in my ear, as I looked through the photos.]
The Story of the Bean and the Beautiful Red Witch
In a big house at the edge of the forest lived a pretty little girl the people called The Bean. Sometimes, at night, she heard sounds from the forest coming through her window. Sometimes it sounded like whispers. Sometimes it sounded like laughter. Sometimes it sounded like music. And sometimes it sounded like flowers.
The people who lived in The Village told The Bean to stay out of the forest.
The people in The Village told The Bean that, in the forest, there lived the Beautiful Red Witch.
The people in The Village said that the Beautiful Red Witch waited in the forest for little girls, little girls just like The Bean.
There, the Beautiful Red Witch was waiting.
Little girls, just like The Bean, would not see the Beautiful Red Witch at first. They would be drawn by the sounds – whispers, laughing, music, flowers – and before they knew it… they were deep into the forest. And the Beautiful Red Witch would suddenly appear.
The Beautiful Red Witch would grab the little girls and cast a spell that would turn the little girls, just like The Bean, into birds.
The Beautiful Red Witch would put the birds, which were, until very recently, little girls, just like The Bean, into cages where they would whisper, and sing their songs that sometimes sounded like laughter (and sometimes sounded like flowers) and sometimes, when the wind was right, the sounds would drift from the forest, to the village and, well, you know the rest.
And so it happened that, very early one morning as The Bean was asleep she woke up to the sounds of flowers and music and left her house and walked to the edge of the forest and, before you could say “Yessir, that’s my baby”, The Bean had walked into the forest as the first light of the day barely managed to sneak into the edges of the green.
At first, The Bean did not notice the Beautiful Red Witch as she silently came up to her.
But then… suddenly… The Bean saw the Beautiful Red Witch!
The Beautiful Red Witch was surprised because The Bean did not cry out. The Bean stood very still and looked at the Beautiful Red Witch.
“It’s true,” said The Bean, “you are beautiful.”
The Beautiful Red Witch was again surprised (making twice in one day after one hundred and seventeen years of no surprises at all). In her hundreds of years living in the forest and turning wandering children into birds the Beautiful Red Witch had never been told such a thing.
“Ooooo!" said The Bean. “Is that the cage you will put me in?”
“Yes.” Said the Beautiful Red Witch with her beautiful voice.
Before the Beautiful Red Witch could speak again, The Bean stepped inside the cage.
“Wow!”said The Bean. “It is amazing in here!”
Again, the Beautiful Red Witch had no reply. Finally, she asked The Bean, “Really?”
“Oh yes!” said The Bean. “It’s wonderful! Have you never been inside?”
“Well…” said the Beautiful But Quite Confused Red Witch, “…actually, no.”
“Here…” said The Bean, stepping out of the cage. “You simply MUST try it.”
The next day the people in the village came to the forest and were amazed by what they saw.
There, in the center of the clearing by the road that runs round the forest, sat a large cage, and inside the cage sat the most beautiful red bird they had ever seen, whispering, laughing, and singing its song that sounded like flowers.