'Villains' by Emma Whitehall
I am not the woman your mother told you about. She never had this much imagination.
I am the cold gaze into the mirror on a palace wall, watching my reflection blur and twist into one of a thousand new forms.
I am the crone, selling beautiful, deadly trinkets and blood-red apples, yes. But that isn't all. That was never all.
I am the jealousy and spite that keeps pretty, blonde young things locked away in high towers, and cowering amongst the cinders. I am the bead of blood dripping from the end of the spindle of a spinning wheel.
I am the thief of babies and the mother of changelings, beguiling your children away with sweet words and gingerbread that turn rancid in their mouths.
I am four-footed, sharp-toothed and quick-witted, stalking the forests for new prey to lie to and sink my teeth into. Forever following a flash of red cloak, the punishment for straying off the path.
I am poison and dagger, the promise of gold and the 100 year sleep. I am, and always was, your first taste of evil. They may defeat me, the heroes of your tales, but I will never die. I just move on. They should be thanking me. If it weren't for me, would their stories be worth telling? Would anyone remember their names if they hadn't overcome my sufferings?
So tell me, would you like to be immortal? I can make your wish come true.
For a price.