The legend of The Bog Witch was passed down by relatives of the villagers who killed her—children who had been spared, cousins who came and only found evidence of bodies and a set of footprints leading back to the mysterious wetlands. When it became clear to the village that her intent was to harm, they chased her away. She cursed their lands and then she raised a monster that killed them all when they came to avenge their land and brethren.
People stayed away from her evil home even after her death. If they got too close at night, they could hear the howling of The Monster. When the fog cleared, or when the moon was bright enough to cut through the darkness, they could see the fire The Monster used to cook its dinner.
It was years before anybody dared to venture into the terrain.
Life had come back to the wetlands almost immediately after the battle. The plants had grown over the years that it was allowed to flourish. Trees and greenery were thicker, stronger than they ever had been while The Bog Witch was alive. The water bubbled with magic, and the intruder felt it as soon as she stepped into it.
The Monster felt the disturbance as well and sunk into the waters to conceal itself. The birds fluttered with warning, and the fish swam urgently to The Monster’s side.
The person intruding was a small girl. Petit. She was wearing rubber waders and was already deep enough that the water was to her waist. When the bog fell silent at her movement, she froze in her spot, sinking into the mud at the bottom of the wetlands. Her head spun on her shoulders, frantically looking around for proof of what she knew to be true.
“Sh-show yourself!” the young girl shouted. She held out a hand in front of her, and it glowed with a magic that vibrated with the magic in the bog.
But The Monster waited.
The spells were familiar. There was no malice spoken in the words of The Young Witch, only fear. When The Monster looked at her, it could remember its master.
“Who’s there?” she shouted again. “What’s there?”
The girl posed no physical threat, but The Monster’s body ached watching the intruder twist in her spot. There was a warmth in this new witch that it hadn’t felt in so long, and that was a new and confusing thought. It was time for this nuisance to go. “… … Lllleaaaaaaaveeeeeeeeee… …”
She jumped, the spell in her fingers growing brighter and stronger with her fear. The Monster could feel the magic in the water, in its own body, as the girl tried to take control of what was around her. The Bog Witch’s remaining magic and ties were still stronger after all these years, and the area held a loyalty to her and The Monster. They did not budge for the foreign witch.
“I’m…” She paused to swallow. The Monster felt the girl shiver in the water. “I’m just here for the feather of an ibis and a cut of marsh wort; that’s all. I’m not here to hurt anybody. Or anything.”
She looked around as she spoke, no doubt looking for threats or signs of what she knew was there. There was no offense in the magic, just a defense, meant to protect her. It hovered around her warmly as she started to wander the wetlands. The Monster kept its distance, for now, staying camouflaged in the water it was birthed from, watching her explore, watching the witch cut away pieces of vegetation carefully, watching her apologize and thank the plants for their contribution.
It wasn’t long before she, inevitably, came upon The Bog Witch’s house. The burned remains still stood where the house had originally been. There were no walls, just ashes scattered among the floor and whatever furniture that could be salvaged. Parts of bookshelves held scorched books. The rod iron cauldron was still on the porch, next to the steps that The Young Witch took out of the water.
The Monster rose from the water with her, grabbing the back of her waders to stop her from intruding too far into its life.
The Young Witch spun around, raising her hands as they sputtered with surprise and sparks of magic.
“Who… who are you?” The Young Witch stammered. “What are you? Are you the monster that resides here?”
The Monster released the girl, and they took a step apart from each other.
“Are you the one that killed everyone?” she asked, her fingers lighting up with yellow to dispel the mist between them. She looked into the face of the green monster.
“Iiiiii… k… kiiiiilllled…”
The Young Witch nodded, finishing, “the villagers who used to live here.”
The Monster nodded.
“I do not mean to intrude…”
“Ell… Lloine… ellor… lloine…” The Monster attempted, lifting a swampy hand to point at the old house.
She was hesitant to follow where The Monster directed her gaze, but she glanced behind her. “Lorraine?” she asked. “Is that your name? Is this your home?”
The Monster shook its head.
“Gurreeeeen…” Its voice sounded like a deep roar, bubbling from the depths of the swamp.
“Green Lorraine,” The Young Witch said, nodding.
It felt like a name.
And that felt odd. The name gave The Monster a power it had never had before. The Bog Witch had only called it “My Love” or “My Life.” Occasionally “Green” or “Greenie,” but never a surname. This was a new power—a new respect. A name and a life separate from its previous self that enabled autonomy. Elaine had never thought to offer because she was too fond to.
“My name is Leigh,” The Young Witch said.
She nodded again and smiled. “Witches tell a different story from the humans. We suspect that your master was a powerful witch who finished off the village,” she said. “That she died trying to save the monster she made.”
The Monster nodded.
“Are these her things?” The Witch asked, gesturing backwards to the bookshelf, the spell books, the aged and seasoned cauldron.
The Monster watched her hands carefully with dark eyes, hidden behind mossy vegetation. It nodded carefully.
She turned around and reached for one of the books lying on the floor.
“… Dooooo nooottt……” it began to speak, but its body was faster.
It grabbed onto the girl, and in a moment there was an exchange of magic. It happened in a flash, behind the blink of an eye, and in the jolt of a heartbeat—they lived each other’s lifetimes in that brief lifetime. All the love, the pain, the hope, and the familiarity they felt in each other.
The Monster saw The Young Witch as she grew. As she was born, as she made friends—lots of friends—as she grew interest in romance, as she decided to leave home. As she held her mother’s dying hand and cried, promising to become the best witch she could.
The Young Witch withdrew her hand like she’d been electrocuted.
She had seen the birth, the deaths it caused, and now, the being in front of her.
“I…” she began, her voice faltering in the single syllable.
The Monster was prepared to fight the Young Witch, if it came to that. If this girl was afraid, if she felt the need to lash out for all The Monster had done—all the lives it had taken.
“You…” she stammered.
The water that had a hold on Leigh tightened, sticking to her, and covering her in mud as she tensed under The Monster’s scrutiny.
She swallowed hard, summoning every bit of courage that had brought her here in the first place. “You miss her,” she stammered, “don’t you?”
The liquid wrapped around The Young Witch inched higher, tighter, threatening to strangle her.
“It’s okay, Miss Lorraine,” she told The Monster. Her eyes sparkled with tears and threatened to overflow.
The name sent a surge of warmth through The Monster. A mix of pride, tinged with a nostalgia and grief. Bog water fell to the floor of the home that The Monster had shared with The Bog Witch. With Elaine.
“This is part of life,” The Young Witch continued, her legs wobbling beneath her. “Mistakes and regret and death are all part of life.”
It decided then and there that the Young Witch was right—and it felt born again.
She felt born again.
Just like when she had dragged herself from the depths of the bog, a new something was beating in her from The Bog Witch’s love for her new home. There was a similar feeling to her original creation circulating in Lorraine now, as The Young Witch spoke to Green Lorraine like she had known her their whole lives.
Leigh took a step forward, placing a tentative hand on the muck that The Monster was made of.
The Monster did not flinch away.
“People come and go, including ourselves,” she said. “We never stop learning about ourselves or the ones we love.”
Water snaked up her legs, her arms, covering her in slime. It threatened to swallow up The Monster’s new companion. She barely moved as she matched stares with it.
“Golems aren’t meant to live forever,” she said. “Your Master must have loved you very much if she… raised you well enough to become your own, so you would not crumble once she was gone. You’re alive. She wanted you to live.”
Echoes of the affections The Bog Witch would whisper swirled in The Monster’s head as she recalled the magic it imbued her with. It was not just My Love.
It was My Life.
Green Lorraine nodded.
It was Us.
Green and a mispronounced Elaine. The Bog and Its Witch. She was starting to accept the name. It felt good in her head, and she imagined it would feel good in her mouth when she tried to gurgle it out for the next young witch or wizard that tried to come into the wetlands.
“You could come with me,” The Young Witch offered. “Learn more. Grow more.”
Green Lorraine shook her head. “I…” Green Lorraine spoke, “Iii… sssstayyyy…”
“I understand,” the Young Witch said, nodding her head. “May I come back?”
The Monster cocked her head.
Leigh smiled, shyly. “I must return home soon, before it gets too dark for me to navigate, and I still need the feather of an ibis. They must be migrating now. And… we could be friends, if you wanted.”
The water on the Young Witch tightened, constricting her for just a second before dropping again. The water had warmed, covering her in the mud despite her waders—it was a hug.
“C… c… coommmee… ba… backkk…” Lorraine said.
And The Young Witch left, trudging through the water until The Monster couldn’t feel her in the wetlands anymore. She slinked up the stairs to her home, picked up the book Leigh had wanted to look at, and placed it on its shelf.
Everything was quiet and peaceful in the bog, just as Elaine would have wanted.