by Zoya Nojin
One afternoon after school, because he remembered, Jeff visited Grandma. He gazed around her colourful garden – mounds of blue, swooshes of pink and freckles of purple floated in the greenery. But then he frowned. Something was wrong.
He rushed to the house and burst inside.
‘Grandma!’ he cried. ‘A colour’s missing from your garden!’
But Grandma was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t knitting in her big blue chair, nor dusting her favourite purple mountain picture. She wasn’t frying him pancakes in the kitchen, nor washing dishes in her pink rubber gloves.
‘Jeff.’ Grandma’s voice sounded weak.
Jeff raced down the hall to see Grandma lying in bed, pale and sad.
‘Are you sick, Grandma?’ whispered Jeff.
‘She took my yellow flowers.’
Jeff slapped his forehead. That was the colour! ‘Who?’
‘The forest witch.’
‘Who?’ Jeff asked again.
But Grandma made Jeff take a pot from the shelf. ‘Go into the forest and find my yellow flowers. Remember!’ She closed her eyes, exhausted.
Jeff frowned. Remember? Then he patted her hand. ‘Don’t worry.’
He took a big breath and set off into the forest behind Grandma’s house. Sunlight poked through green onto the dirt track he followed, deeper and deeper. He turned a corner and blinked. A shimmery carpet of flowers swirled in every colour he could imagine. But which was Grandma’s?
Jeff decided to take whatever flowers could fit in the pot, just in case. But as he patted dirt around them, a voice screeched.
Jeff glanced up at a bent old woman with scraggly hair. The witch!
‘Take one! Not all the colours!’
‘You took Grandma’s!’ said Jeff.
The witch hissed, ‘For my flower carpet.’ Then she paused. ‘Alright, tell me which colour she wants and you may go. If not, I’ll eat you for dinner!’
Jeff froze. He gazed at the flowers, but all the colours blended and spun in his eyes. Oh, which was it?
The witch stomped her foot. ‘Hurry up!’ she screeched. ‘I’m hungry!’
But Jeff couldn’t decide.
The witch growled before picking a flower. ‘Was it this one?’
That reminded him of knitting – blue.
‘No,’ he said.
‘How about this?’
That reminded him of rubber gloves – pink. He shook his head.
That was the colour of dusty mountains – purple. ‘No.’
‘Argghh!’ cried the witch. ‘This is the last colour I’m holding up!’ She licked her lips and Jeff’s legs shook.
Wait! That was it! But he couldn’t remember the name.
‘Is it the colour of a sunbeam?’ The witch smiled nastily. ‘A duckling? A lion’s bottom?’
Jeff thought hard, but the name wouldn’t come.
‘Right!’ yelled the witch, tossing the flower away. ‘I’m getting my frypan. The BIG one!’
‘Yellow!’ he shouted. ‘It’s yellow!’
‘Hooray,’ sighed the witch. ‘Take yellow flowers to Grandma. She’ll get better then.’ She grunted. ‘You’re too skinny anyway. You need more pancakes.’
And her cackle echoed as Jeff ran all the way back to Grandma’s with the pot of her favourite yellow.