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In GRRYO’s Instagram account  we feature a photo prompt each Monday and ask our audience to share their stories to accompany the image. You can join us each Monday to stretch your storytelling skills and enjoy stories being told around the world. We have a special digest to give you on Leap Year Day that reveals what happened in the month of January as we invited Marina to share a series of her street photography so that we could piece together a running story for that month. Read on to unfold the magic that was conjured in an Italian café.

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Story portion by @grandreopening

Antoine’s mother had always said magic was real.  He had thought she was a just a dumb hippy, that her version of magic was some Jerry Garcia unicorn pipe dream but despite a lifetime of crystals that had adorned her neck she had always insisted that sometimes things did go bump in the night.

Now Antoine believed.

The witches had been coming to his café, his very table, for two weeks. At first they seemed like normal women but a good server notices things. The sweet smell of dead flesh had hooked Antoine’s nose while reaching to deliver a basket of fresh baked croissants; in a glance he had witnessed their subtly forked tongues, tongues that twitched and tracked him like copperheads.  In a blink they were normal tongues again and he was left staring and feeling rude. The way the witches had looked at him while he looked at them; wet, obsidian eyes and the synchronized tapping of long, pointed, putty gray nails on the table had made his skin crawl.

There had been more clues since, enough that he drank wine each morning to ease the shaking of his hands.  The cafe’s china cups clattered on their saucers without it.

He told himself the spike of missing children post bills he had suddenly started to notice in his neighborhood were just his imagination.  They had always been there he told himself, Chianti in hand.

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Story portion by Cally

Today is the day. Lobelia glanced at her sisters, a slight nod echoed among them. This is the one, they had all agreed. For the past couple weeks, the three had driven down into the valley to the café, just to be sure. And they were. His name is Antoine, and sure enough, he has the sign. At each visit, Lobelia sensed his increasing anxiety at their passive observation. He knows, she thought. That’s good. Most men know nothing until it’s too late. Antoine was different. Maybe this time would be different.

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Story portion by @theliebox

By the end of the third week Antoine could see nothing but the gap-toothed smiles and pink pom-pom stocking hats; the wild eyed grins of children once happy but now lost.  New posters seemed to appear daily on light poles, taped to mailboxes and bulletin boards. Where were the police Antoine wondered, didn’t everyone notice?

Just this morning outside his neighborhood wine shop he had paused to note  a lovely girl, no more than five, with a corona of flaming red hair clutching a doll.  The photo was stuck with glue under the shakily written words MISSING, PLEASE HELP. The doll had hair that perfectly matched the girls.  Clearly handmade, the creator had teased the ends of the yarn until the exact quotient of frizzy had been reached.

Antoine had nursed wine from the bottle as he finished his walk to work pondering on what pure love it had taken to make such detail and how much love the little girl had squeezed into that doll when she’d first been given the gift.

Hours later, Antoine with his clattering hands and crimson stained lips had forgotten the doll as he served the witches.  He had thought of nothing but the looming arrival of those tallow skin faces.  His eyes downcast as he delivered biscotti he saw in the open bag at the feet of Lobelia the witch the curly haired doll, now dirty and stained the color of rust.

Antoine gasped audibly and in inadvertent panic looked directly at the witch.  She smiled a coy smile marvelously pleased with herself. “She’s done it on purpose!” Antoine thought to himself, “she wanted me to see it!”

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Story portion by Joe

As cunning as the “Terrible Trio” (as they delightfully called themselves) were, they were also forgetful. A dull black notebook was left in the restroom just minutes before Antoine stumbled upon it. Knowing this was planned to be his last living day, he scurried to the kitchen turning pages frantically and found a page titled, “A recipe for Antoine.”

He followed the directions which included “scraped human heel skin,” which Antoine quietly obliged. He poured his new spice mix named after him into the wine bottle and collected himself before going to serve the witches one more time.

As the ladies gleefully sipped their wine waiting for their opportunity to trick Antoine into drinking his customized glass of death, they unknowingly drank their own concoction that would end their lives just moments later. Antoine took off his apron, and walked outside reading the black notebook once more for handwritten directions the witches left behind to find the little girl.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the creativity of our photo artist, Marina, and the storytellers who gave words to her images. Please share this series with others by using the social media share buttons at the top of the page beneath the first image. Of course you’re always invited to drop into our Storytellers Circle each Monday to spread your imagination wings with the rest of the world.

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