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The Village Witch

Somewhere in-between muffled cries of discomfort and small bursts of sleep, I managed to make it through the night. Dawn was but a yawn sweetly peeking over the fertile bosom of the forest valley that surrounded our little town. I heard roosters summoning the sun, the dying dim of crickets, smelled jasmine kissing away the night rain, felt the cool damp morning air creeping through the small holes that peppered our bamboo walls. Yet with all the makings of this gentle awakening, I still slammed myself straight up as the horrors of last night came back to me.

Segunda was already up, smoothing out her white school uniform blouse with a hot-coal iron. She feebly mouthed good-morning as I passed her to peer out the window.

“He’s not there,” she said.

“Oh? Where’d he go?”

She gave a nonchalant shrug. “I’m hungry. Can I have fried rice and salted egg for breakfast, please?”

The rest of the morning went without much talk and was comfortably routine. I watched my little girl make her way down the muddied trail that lead into the heart of the village. At the very edge of the trail, she turned around and smiled. There was something fleeting and bittersweet about her smile, almost as if to mark the end of all beauty before chaos began. It ached my heart, yet I yelled out my love to her before she disappeared.

Swallowing back the sad sentiment, I returned inside to begin packing up yesterday’s kill to sell at the morning meat market.


There was an unusual hush at the morning meat market. My morning greetings to fellow stall mates were met with tight nods and eyes hastily darting elsewhere. Yet I remained unperturbed, excited to display the rare white boar’s meat that weighed down my butcher’s cart.

There is a grotesque art to displaying your butchered kill for sale at the meat market. First, the washing of wooden beams, hook and tile with searing hot water and a faithfully used scrub. With quick motion I toss bags of ice onto the tile and work open each individually-wrapped prime cut of meat. The belly, spare ribs, loins and hock, every portion of the pig was not wasted as they were arranged into even layers and turned the ice pink with blood. The legs and shoulders, I secured into even rows with hook and string. The liver, intestines, heart and brain, safely sheltered in a separate glass case.

With a grunt, I lifted the boar’s head onto the table and carefully undid the layers of newspaper. Even with eyes glazed and severed neckline stained with blood, it was still magnificent. I pulled both sides of the head apart where it had been opened earlier to extract the brain, and displayed it in front of my stall where all could witness.

There was a palpable hush that fell through the market. My face glowed hot with a sense of pride. No one, since the history of this village, had ever caught such a rare creature, yet here I was, my own bolo having butchered something infinitely rare.

The silence turned into an uncomfortable yet excited murmur of whispers as people regained their senses and began to talk.

“I’ve never seen such a creature- ”

“Where did he catch it?”

“Must be mighty tasty, that one--”

“Might have miraculous powers... I’d take what I could, fast!”

The murmurs turned into a frenzied buzz, and now I found myself surrounded by buyers all around. My hands shook and mouth worked fast as the meat disappeared in a flurry of white plastic bags and hands. Their hands pointed and eyes wanted and I could hardly keep up with the growing mound of green in my safe. They bought at the highest prices asked for, nothing less.

But my excitement was short-lived, for out of the blue came out an angry, horrified screech.


A mad scramble as people hastily departed to allow the village witch passage through. I tried to appear calm as Zenaida shakily pointed a withered finger first at the boar’s white head, then to me.

“Ricardo,” she hissed out my name. “You are cursed by the Bolo. He will never stop following you. His hunger is insatiable. You must keep hunting or he will turn on to you!”

I composed myself as the crowd murmured nervously. The buzzing agitated my ears, so I slowly glared around and waited for the gatherers to leave before speaking.

“Zenaida. This is just meat. A white, rare boar. There is no spirit here, haunting me.” Even when the words left my mouth, I was afraid she would catch the doubt in my voice. She did.

“You sense him,” she tsked. “I will pray to the forest spirits for your soul.”

She made a hand motion as if to beat away the foolishness about me, then wandered back into the busy aisles of the market.

Not long after, someone bought the boar’s head for an exorbitant price, but gone was all the thrill. All I could think about was Bolo, growing hungry as he waited on me for his next hunted meal.

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