She knew that the children would come. She had taken great pains to create a place that they couldn’t resist. It had taken an age to clad the house in spicy gingerbread tiles, held in place by ornate icing. It was a special formula to weatherproof the house and enhance its magical appeal.

Every day she stoked the oven, creating treats that promised sweet delight. On a whim she crafted an array of birdhouses, colouring them with bright dyes. Any place that encouraged birds would surely attract children too.

Outside of the fragrant house, the woods were sterile and cold. Sharp pine needles prodded at the air, and the plume of smoke from her chimney was the only sign of life.

She had imagined the children so often and had created their form in miniature hundreds of times. When, at last, she heard their tentative tread along the pathway she’d lined with lacquered candy canes, anticipation tingled up her spine and she stifled a cackle. She’d cast a spell that was now coming to life.

Through the peephole, fashioned in the shape of a gingerbread man, she watched them approach. Their steps were tentative as they were drawn closer to the little house. Seeing their upturned faces as they sniffed at the air, she was glad that she’d put on another batch of cinnamon biscuits. She watched their earnest faces as they turned to each other, uncertain for a moment, before the pull of hunger and the prospect of warmth dragged them in closer, closer to her door.

Inspired by Discover Prompts – April writing prompts

[Photo: Birdhouse Wall, Lithgow crated by Ludwina Roebuck]