“So that’s it is it?” Euphadora grunted, shuffling in her seat and gripping her stick with an iron grip. “Come teh kill me have yeh? What’s an old biddy like me ever done teh yeh?”
The young girl smirked at her side.
“Well for one, you really haven’t taken care of us have you?”
“Taken-? How am I supposed teh have taken care of yeh girl? I don’t even know yeh!”
The three women laughed quietly, then the eldest spoke again.
“My name is Euphadora Stockett. These two are also of that name. You see Grandmother, we are all Euphadora.”
“Yeh… yeh’re mad!” She muttered, staring at them. “Who put yeh up to this? I’ll bet it was Rumford, the sneaking pustule-“
“No Grandmother. We know nothing of this Rumford. Do you not remember?”
“Remember? Remember what? Yer all mad! How can yeh all be Euphadora Stockett? I’m Euphadora Stockett.”
“How far back can you remember Grandmother?”
“Why should I tell yeh anything?” She shifted in her seat, aware of the speed of the carriage and that there was no real way out of here alive.
“Trust me. I know how you are feeling. I was the same when it was my turn. But you must let us explain. We can only help you if you answer us. How far back can you remember?”
Euphadora frowned. These women were strange, odd even for witches, and their similarity and familiarity unnerved her. But if she was going to die, she might as well try to talk her way out of it.
“Only about twenty years or so back. Like yeh said, amnesia. Never got me memory back.”
“And what have you done since then?”
“I’m an old woman! I’ve been looking after a young man’s house, Master Edward… he’s in line for the throne someday. So if yeh think he won’t notice I’m gone then-“
“Oh we all know he wouldn’t even think of it. He’s an arrogant man.”
“Well he may be that but I’ve served him twenty years. He’d notice if-“
“No, he wouldn’t. Now Grandmother, it is your turn to ask questions.”
The three women stared at her expectantly and Grandmother Stockett peered at them in astonishment.
“Ask yeh questions? Fine. Why’re yeh going the kill me? Why’re yeh all so familiar? Why’re yeh all named the same as me?”
“Well, that’s quite enough to be getting on with.” The middle aged one smiled. “Firstly let me assure you, we are not going to kill you. The second and third questions are more complex. It began, well, who’s to say? We may have been doing this for some time, but it is only within us to remember one lifetime at a time. But for me it began half way through my twentieth year. I woke up and remembered a strange dream of three women in a carriage.”
“So it was for me, in my fortieth year.” The older one spoke up. “And the child does not remember, but so it would have been for her, at her birth.”
“So you see Grandmother, we are all the same.” The youngest finished.
“I don’t understand. Is this a dream then? Yeh all had the same dream as I’m having?”
“No Grandmother. This is very real, and you are not dreaming. It is simply a trick of time. Magic. I am Euphadora Stockett, from her fortieth year to her sixtieth. This,” The older woman lay her hand on the shoulder of the middle aged woman, “is Euphadora Stockett from her twentieth year, to her fortieth. And next to you sits Euphadora Stockett from birth to her twentieth year. You are the final piece to our life Euphadora. You are the Euphadora who dies.”
Grandmother Stockett stared at the three women. Surely, she thought, this had to be some sort of joke, set up by Master Edward, or one of the servants? More likely it was Mr Charles Rumford, a friend of Master Edward who took great delight in teasing the servants, and even the great ladies that visited the house.
“I don’t believe yeh. We all die, someday. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend me last hours, if that’s what they are, listening to three actresses spin me a tale. Be gone with yeh!”
The three women sighed collectively.
“I knew this would be difficult.”
“We get more stubborn the older we get.”
“I’m not impressed by our lack of pronunciation either.” The elder woman added, raising her eyebrow at Grandmother who huffed.
“How dare yeh speak to me like that?!” Grandmother snapped. “Bloomin’ actresses with yer high and mighty ways! I’ll not stand for it! I have teh get back and you sure as hell ain’t going to stop me!”
The carriage stopped.
“Here we are.” The middle aged woman stated. “I am sorry you don’t believe us. It’s a shame, we had hoped you’d be the one, since your beginning was so different.”
“The one teh do what?” Grandmother replied, grasping her stick and rising. “Fall for yeh silly pranks?”
“To break the spell Grandmother.” The youngest opened the door and sat back, allowing her to leave. “Shame… he is in such need for guidance.”
“Who is?” She muttered as she stepped down from the carriage.
“Why, Master Edward of course!” She replied. Grandmother Stockett looked upwards as the carriage door shut. The middle aged one leaned out of her window.
“Please, think on all we have said. If only you would just remember…”
The carriage pulled away, and Grandmother Stockett watched as the woman withdrew her head and disappeared inside the carriage. It was only then, in the light shining from the great hall behind her, that she realised there was no driver sat atop the coach, and the reins which were attached to the horses floated in mid-air where the coachman should have been.
“Goodness…” She gawped, and then shook herself. “Don’t be ridiculous Euphadora. Yeh’ve not fallen fer it so far, don’t fall fer it now.” She grasped her stick, turned, and limped inside. The kitchen was dimly lit by a fire in the grate that had long been left to its own devices. Grandmother Stockett hauled herself in to the old armchair that sat by the fire, and felt her old bones start to warm. “Ridiculous, trying to trick an old woman like me. Well I set them straight, that I did.” She stuffed her hands in her pockets and felt something. Curious, she pulled it out. The herbs! Leaning close to the fire she inspected them. “Bloomin’ heck. Spopmuttle. I got it right after all.”
“Well done old woman. What a shame such a small victory should be your last.”
Grandmother peered round in to the darkness and spotted a figure.
“Oh, it’s yeh! What are yeh doing in me kitchen?”
“I’m afraid,” the figure said as it stepped in the fire light, stroking the edge of a blade with almost loving tenderness, “that you didn’t succeed once more. You still don’t believe yourself, even when you’re staring yourself in the face do you?”
“What are yeh talking about? I got yeh herb, though god knows why yeh wanted it at this time…”
“Ah but you see Spopmuttle isn’t just for the medicinal purposes you suppose it to be, my dear old witch. You see to me, this herb is a powerful tool of my trade. Mixed with the right ingredients and applied in the hour of witching, this herb will make your body disappear.”
“Wha-?” She asked as the blade swished and cut across her wrinkled throat. The figure leaned over her as she fell to the floor, gurgling, and the fire glinted off its smile. “That is, once you’re dead, of course.”