“Double, double, toil and trouble,” rasped the feathered being behind her.
“The Scottish Play? Really?” Agathe replied as she cracked the egg into the cauldron. Its shell fell away in pieces, dissolving into the concoction she was brewing. Then the yolk plopped in. She stirred gently with a wooden spoon, resisting the urge to taste it. Sure, it looked and smelled like egg drop soup, but there were other… ingredients… that were not so benign.
“You turned me into this half-human, half-bird,” the other replied. “You’re stuck with me until you manage to turn me back.”
“I’ve told you,” Agathe reminded her, “it was an accident. You weren’t supposed to sip the tea from that mug. It was supposed to be sprinkled over the hens’ feed to increase their laying capacity.”
“Because you’re too cheap to build a separate enclosure and buy a second rooster.”
Agathe rolled her eyes, ignoring the other’s comment.
“Admit it! You are; you are!” the other said.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have to be so cautious about spending,” Agathe said, accenting her oblique correction, “if someone I know helped bring in some income.”
“Like this? How could I possibly do that?” the other was incensed.
“I don’t know, give folks rides on your back? Go out on street corners and recite ‘The Raven?'” She turned the flame up under the cauldron, and the contents inside began to hiss and roil.
“Fire burn and cauldron bubble,” came the gravelly commentary from behind her.
“Merlin’s shriveled balls! Must you?” Agathe complained. Then she sighed. “Alright, I need the sword now.”
“Mine,” said the other.
“I know it’s yours. We have to dip it into the soup and then you have to lick it.”
“Yes. Lick it. Lick it good.”
“You know, this form isn’t so bad. I mean… I don’t mind it, except the egg-laying thing.”
“The egg-laying thing is what’s going to turn you back,” Agathe said. “The sword please?”
Her temporarily feathered friend relinquished the weapon and watched as the witch dipped it into the soup – spell – concoction – thing. “Do I really have to lick it?”
“If you want to be returned to your original form, yes.”
Warily, the feathered one allowed the sword to be drawn gently – oh, so gently – through its beak. “Well? I don’t feel any different.”
“It takes a minute.”
And finally, there was a puff of grey and white smoke and the feathered hybrid had disappeared, replaced with a woman who looked like a slightly younger version of Agathe.
“I’m back,” she said. “I’m me! I’m back.” She danced around the room, laughing and crying at once. Then she looked at her sister. “I think you should taste the soup.”
“We don’t know what it will do.”
“Turnabout’s fair play,” the younger woman said.
“Alright, fine.” She dipped her wooden spoon into the mixture, then lifted it out and tasted it.
“But… you’re not changing. Why are you not changing?”
“Oh, the soup had nothing to do with it. I just wanted a recipe to win the tasty treats contest. I could have turned you back any time.”
“But… Agathe. I’m your sister!”
“Yeah, but you stole my favorite pointy-toed boots.”
“You turned me into a bird thing for that?!”
“Well, foul is fair and fair’s fowl.” She giggled. No. She cackled. Get it? Fowl? F-o-w-l.” She cackled some more.
There was a splash as Agathe’s Exotic Hybrid Egg-drop Soup became Agathe’s New Dress.
The other turned to leave, but her Agathe called her back. “Doris! Come back here. Doris! I’m sorry.”
But the younger woman just called back over her shoulder. “Nevermore.”