Deep in the forest of Elgan stood a cosy loved old cottage, topped with a thick thatched roof and a chimney built from stone. The walls were painted a pristine white and adorned with hanging baskets bursting at the seams with a cascade of vibrant colours. The front porch was laid in wood and enclosed by elegant hand carved wooden railings. It’s a house you would love to cuddle.
Dave could see a wisp of smoke in the air as he approached the cottage. It morphed into a finger beckoning him closer. He knew who this cottage belonged to, he wasn’t that naive. He knew this belonged to Edna, a witch from the old country, a witch older than the trees that surrounded him. He knew all the tricks too: the beautiful appearance of the house designed to seem less threatening; the scent of a warm cosy log fire to trigger the comforting memories of home; and the dancing white smoke that would normally draw you to your impending doom.
Two years of training had made Dave immune to such wiles. He had managed to seduce many a witch in his day. It was how he was held in such high esteem by his peers in his very first year. Edna was on his list, he was determined to add her as a conquest.
He strode up to the front door, with the tools of his trade by his side. He adjusted his collar, checked his hair and cleared his throat before knocking loudly three times on the door.
The door creaked open, offering a shaded view of a slight old lady. Her clothes were modern, her hair perfectly crafted and her skin was of porcelain, apart from the wrinkles of course.
“May I help you young ’un?” asked Edna.
“Good morning Edna. I’m Dave. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Have you now? All bad I hope?”
“Indeed it was. I was particularly inspired by the flaying of the prince’s favourite pig. It had a certain poetic justice to it.”
“Oh boy, you know how to flatter. If I was a hundred and fifty years younger I would take you where you stand.” Edna gave him a coy laugh. “Well young ’un. I know you’re not here to sample the fruit of an old tree, so what can I help you with?”
“Well Edna today is your lucky day. You’ve done your time. You’ve built your reputation for being mean and evil. You’ve earned your scars and won the notoriety to exist in stories told to scare kids. What more do you need to do? What reward can you give yourself for all those horrible deeds you’ve carried out to perfection?”
“Go on, young ’un.”
“It’s time for you to live in luxury. Soar to dizzying heights and arrive at places before you even leave. The Risor 3.0 can give you that and more. It’s so much more than your bog-standard broom.” He presented the Risor 3.0 as if he was presenting Excalibur to King Arthur. “Look at the seductive streamlined handle. The straightened top to give you the firmest of grips, sloping into a curved middle making it easier to mount, down to the flattened tail designed to carry up to 10 kg of pussy cat. Yes 10 kg! And finally the pièce de résistance, the broom head. Each bristle has been handwoven from the finest horsehair in France. A guaranteed 30 children died making these bristles. In a unique trade secret process, the bristles were dipped in their melted bodies. It’s what gives them the stiff yet silky touch.” He offered them to Edna to touch.
“They do feel mighty fine, I grant you. But I don’t need a new broom. I’ve had my one for the last 40 years.”
“40 years? That’s incredible. Risor can only guarantee a life of 20 years, that’s 10 more years than anything else on the market. Would you let me see it?”
Edna disappeared into the house to collect her broom. Dave stood admiring the Risor in her absence. Her return broke him from his spell. She handed him her broom.
“But this is just a normal broom. A straight wooden handle and a head made from plastic fibres. How in earth could this last? Did you ever use it?”
“Of course I did, don’t be so cheeky. It’s all about the maintenance.”
“Yep, this old faithful broom of mine has been my rock. In 40 years I’ve only had to replace the handle 12 times and the head 16. It looks as good as the day I bought it.”
“You’ve replaced…what? How can..? How can it be the same broom?”
“You’ve read those stories parents have been telling their children about me?”
“Do they have illustrations?”
“Does the broom look like this one?”
“Well there you go. What more evidence do you need?”
Edna stood there looking at Dave, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. She smiled and waited to see if he’d finish his sentence. He didn’t. He handed back her broom then simply packed up his wares and drifted away along the path, defeated.