GREEDY • by Stephanie Siebert

I remember well the day I crossed the old woman. We sat in her kitchen, drinking tea from old chipped cups. The sun shone hot through the sliding glass door and fell across a scrawny grayish lavender plant and a sticky plastic recycling bin. The smell of the lavender was dry and faint, and a mustiness hung in the air like motes of dust.

She looked so frail, sitting across from me then. She seemed like any old woman, clinging to her dusty old house and kitschy old collections. Her frown looked bitter and stubborn, as if she resolutely mourned her youth.

I thought I was everything that she was not. Young, beautiful, and clever. I was in the height of my power, and proud, but I wanted more. I wanted her secrets, the lore of plants and songs, the ancient recipes she hoarded. I wanted the book. It just sat there on her shelves, covered in dust, as her lavender died and her cups got chipped and her whole life moldered with age. She seemed a prune, dried and leeched of her strength. She was dying and I was growing, and needed those secrets. I knew her well, and I knew exactly where the book was, behind the small army of dusty snow globes with old cookbooks and magazines. The globes made an ugly collection: the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, a basket of kittens.

That was the day our uneasy alliance ended. I know because I ended it. Gazing into my cup of tea, I began to mutter under my breath the spell that would render her powerless to stop me. I thought she would crumple. I could just reach out and take the knowledge she refused me.

I was wrong. She may have been old and dry and unable to keep a measly sprig of lavender alive, but age had not diminished her power. She destroyed my treacherous spell in the space of a blink. And she wasn’t even surprised.

The next morning I woke up in a strange place. My limbs moved slowly and the air felt heavy. As I looked around myself, I saw behind me a cartoonish Empire State building, tall and lonely and fake. Snow was drifting down in huge flakes from a dingy dust-brown sky. My stomach sank. I looked up again and there she was, distant, distorted, and huge. Her wrinkled face was amused, and I thought I could hear her cackling. She set me down in front of the book. It was huge now, guarding in silence all the knowledge I sought.

Tiny and muffled, I screamed.

Stephanie Siebert has been writing fantasy and science fiction for several years. She lives in California with her husband and cat.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Nice ending! I love that she ended up in the snow globe! Just desserts. 🙂

  • Robin

    Lovely story, well written. Enjoyed reading.

  • Landon

    Bravo VWhat a great story 😀

  • celeste Goschen

    Some great detail and a terrific twist. Bravo!

  • nancy

    The ending makes me want to know what is going to happen next. Great story.

  • Jen

    Whoa, that was great. I loved it!

  • I enjoyed this even though I guessed what was coming.

  • jennifer walmsley

    I didn’t know what was coming and it shocked me. A wonderful flash, full of quiet menace.

    The moral is, never mess with old witches.

  • João Ventura

    I liked the way the story rolls… Well done!

  • An ending Rod Serling would have appreciated!

  • Hany

    This is unquestionably one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. Well done!

  • Kryst

    Nice work Steph. I enjoyed the use of the snow globes as a capture device.

  • Allison

    Nicely done! The set up was definitely misleading about the old woman’s frailty. You did a lot in a short time. This is one to be proud of.

  • Cj

    I don’t like people touching my books, either 😉
    Great job, Steph!

  • Thornton


  • Very tight story. We know just enough about the characters to make the reader like/dislike. Your description of the setting is detailed without being overly done. You set up the reader to enjoy the ending, once it is recognized. The visual I got from the story was of a Venus Flytrap with a fly walking along the edge, completely oblivious. I loved it.