“Red is power.”
“Red is love!”
Gale twisted the hem of her shirt between her fingers as her sisters fought. Jeanne, the youngest, refused to agree with their eldest sister, Heather, on the meaning behind the strange glass bottles. There were three vials: red, green, and yellow; and they were set against the twisted root of an old yew tree. Gale had heard the stories around the village about a witch making the woods her home, so while her sisters squealed with delight, Gale stood apart from them and the gnarled tree.
“You shouldn’t touch them,” Gale protested their delight while scanning the crooked branches for sight of what sort of person, or creature, had left the vials for them to find. “What if they’re a witch’s brew?”
“Of course they are, Gale,” Jeanne rolled her eyes, “There’s three of them, and three of us. We were meant to find these.”
Her brow furrowing, Gale pinned her younger sister with a sour look, “All the more reason not to touch them.”
“What if they are gifts, Gale?” Heather chimed while taking the red bottle.
Jeanne snatched the bottle from her hand, “I want red. It’s a love potion.”
“You don’t know that,” Heather’s usually beautiful features twisted into a snarl. She tried to take the bottle back, but Jeanne circled around the tree to avoid her.
“Red is love,” Jeanne sang while dodging her sister’s hands. “Green is wealth-”
“Yellow is wealth. It’s the color of gold.”
“Then what is green?”
Heather paused in her pursuit, “I don’t know. Maybe happiness.”
Their little sister laughed, “Green is the color your face looks when mom makes liver stew.”
“I think it’s poison,” muttered Gale. Her sisters, as usual, paid her no mind and Gale had half a mind to let her foolish siblings drink the potions to see what miseries befell them. The spiteful thought only lasted a moment, but Gale quickly crossed herself and whispered a pray of forgiveness for even thinking upon such evil. “Someone has put these out to do us harm.”
Jeanne leaned over, holding on to one of the yew’s limbs as she swung back and forth. Her yellow hair dancing free of her bonnet, “Why would someone do that?”
“Why does the devil do anything wicked? It’s because it is the way he is.”
“What if these potions would give us powers?”
Gale didn’t want to entertain the thought of the bottles being anything of good fortune. In her experience, life was about hardships and nothing had ever come easily to their family. Certainly not in the form of blessing in bottles. “He tempts you with colors and these silly notions, Jeanne.”
“The devil does, Gale?” Jeanne mocked in a childish voice, “Maybe he wants us three to be his new brides. Make us into witches with an unholy pact.”
To Gale’s horror, Jeanne uncorked the red bottle and drank. Gale felt tears well up in her eyes and she turned to her older sister and buried her face into her sleeve, “What has she done? What has she done?”
Jeanne coughed and Gale chanced a glance at her foolish sister. Smoked curled from Jeanne’s lips, and as she fanned herself in an attempt to cool the fire within, red veins began to spread from her mouth into her cheeks. The skin around her eyes blackened and flaked into ash. Gale couldn’t watch any further, she screamed and ran blindly into the forest.
A moment later, as she broke through the bramble, she found herself in front of the towering yew tree. This time she was alone, but on the root there were three colorful bottles..
three sisters, three colors, three choices