Of course the bird was on the payroll of the witch. Little sneak, little tattle-tale, it took its fill of crumbs then flew off to let her know she could throw more wood into the fire: Dinner’s coming! The moon shone fitfully through the trees, its face of salt-raised bread as porous as the tales whispered to children in their beds. What’s that glinting under the trees? The smell of sugar wafts through the abandoned house like bad mojo. But what if she were simply a foil, a decoy, an easy target for the bones of a different story; some gypsy, homeless waif herself, subsisting by her wits alone at the edge of the world? Eventually, tresses begin to resemble a nest of twigs where there’s no call for hair appointments. Of course it will seem as though we stirred whole stews out of thin air, rolled dough into darling dumplings shaped like babies. I think the usual language for it is Making do. If I were you, I’d search for politicians lurking in the trees. If I were you, I wouldn’t believe all the stories I heard. Women are always getting a bad rap. Even the girl sitting alone in her room, stroking the fur of her cat, can wind up being blamed for stuff that disappears from the kitchen downstairs. Especially the one reading a book.