Three Hairs from a Bear's Tail

Submitted into Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt



Once upon a time, in a little mountain village, there lived a young woman named Anya. Anya married a widower who had two children, a boy and a girl. She and the girl loved each other right away, but the boy was different. A homely and sullen child, he was suspicious of her. When she cooked dinner, he thanked her, but didn’t speak another word. When she tucked him in at night, he turned his face to the wall and ignored her as if to close her out. She wanted to get along with him, but as the days passed, things became even harder. When he did speak, they argued and at last the whole family was upset.

Anya was desperate, so she went to see Magda, a wise old woman who was known for her love potions.  “How can I help you?” Magda asked.

“I need a magic potion so my stepson will love me. He is a sullen child, who is suspicious of everything I do or say. He says words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but very little else. He ignores me when I put him to bed. When he does talk, we argue. My whole family is upset.”

“Such a potion comes with a price,” Magda said.

“I’ll pay any amount of money you ask just to make peace in my family.”

“It’s not money I ask. You must give something of yourself or the potion will not work.”

Anya was suspicious but she agreed to give it a try. After all, what did she have to lose?

Magda gave her an ornate silver box. “Tomorrow you must bring this back to me with three things so I can make the potion. Now, it’s very important that you follow my instructions exactly. I need a lock of your hair, a lock of the boy’s hair and three hairs from a bear’s tail.”

“The first two things I can give you, but where am I going to get hair from a bear’s tail?”

“If you want the potion, you’ll find a way.”

Anya went home and got her scissors out. Then she snipped a lock of her own hair, placing it in the silver box. She tiptoed into the boy’s bedroom and snipped a lock of the sleeping child’s hair. Finally, she put on her hiking shoes, took a flashlight and the scissors and went out into the night to find a bear. Bravely she climbed into the canyon above her town and found a bear’s den. Quietly, she entered the den and found a young bear, still asleep for the winter. Gently she grasped the tail and snipped off three hairs. Quickly, she placed the hairs in the box and made her way home.

The next day she returned the silver box to Magda. “You’ve done well,” the old woman said, emptying the hair into a large jar. “Now, take the box home and do what I ask. First, sing a song that your mother sang for you. Next, you must cook the boy his favorite food for dinner. Last, get three more hairs from a bear’s tale and bring them back to me.”

Anya went home and did as Magda asked. The song was hard to remember and the boy picked silently at his food, but Anya was determined. The bear was harder this time because it had started wake to from its winter sleep, but she got the hair and hurried out.

On the third day, Magda told her, “Sing your stepson a lullaby, rocking him gently. When you are finished, put him into bed and tuck him in. Finally, take three more hairs from a bear’s tail. Put them into the silver box and bring them to me.”

Anya went home and did as Magda asked. The lullaby was easier, and the boy seemed to relax in Anya’s arms. As she tucked him in, she smiled at his sweet face. As she kissed him, she felt deep love and her heart soared when he smiled.

Finally, she hiked up the canyon to the bear’s den. This time, the bear was fully awake and hunting for its first meal of the season. Anya faced the bear, which was easily twice her size, and mustered all of her courage.

“I’ve done everything Magda asked and I’m not going to fail now. I can do this,” she said, more to herself than to the bear. Then, she began to sing the same lullaby she had sung to the boy. She talked to the bear, telling it of her love for the child and her wish that he would love her back. At last, she stood up to the mesmerized bear and gently snipped three hairs from its tail. She backed out of the den and headed straight for home.

The next morning, she took the silver box back to Magda. This time, the old woman gathered all of the hair together and tossed it into the fire. Anya was angry. “Why have you destroyed the hair I have worked so hard to collect? Now you can’t make the magic potion!”

“You don’t need a magic potion,” Magda told her. “Go back to your home. Treat the boy exactly the way you’ve treated him for the past three days and talk to him as gently as you talked to the bear. It will take courage and patience, but in time the little boy will grow to love you as much as you love him.”

Anya went home and spoke to the child gently and patiently. She listened to him when he told her about his triumphs and kissed his troubles away. It took time and patience, but eventually, he became a devoted child who came to her with his troubles and dreams. Anya loved him as though she had given birth to him.

Peace returned to the little family Magda was right about the magic potion. The magic was in her all along. They lived happily ever after.

May 26, 2020 15:31

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Praveen Jagwani
17:18 Jun 23, 2020

Another beautiful story, though very different. Like an old school fable. Thank you for sharing:)


Julia Gibson
21:03 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you for reading and recognizing an old story motif.


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ℤ ℍ☮️
16:04 Jun 04, 2020

I am here for the critique circle. First of all, I'd like to say that I really enjoyed this story and I think it's very creative. I looked through thoroughly and I can't find anything to fix. Overall, it's a wonderful story.


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Skyler Jays
22:02 Jun 04, 2020

I am here for the critique circle. I loved the story it was sweet! The story is amazing! I can't really find anything to fix.


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Pragya Rathore
06:36 Jun 01, 2020

What a lovely story!!


Julia Gibson
04:15 Jun 06, 2020

Thank you for reading and commenting.


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