Fury overtook the Orange Witch when her sweetheart fell in love and became engaged to the ordinary Mrs. Gniveirg. How could any man be enamored with an ordinary woman over a witch, pretty and young and full of magic? The Orange Witch did not take into account that Love was at work where she could not see it.
The Orange Witch swore to make her love pay for betraying her and going off with Mrs. Gniveirg. And so she had her revenge by turning her handsome once-lover into a goldfish. A plain and ordinary goldfish with a particularly girly face to further add to his humiliation.
Mrs. Gniveirg was heartbroken. The Orange Witch gave the goldfish to her grieving rival and told her with a smug smile on her face, “There is only one way to undo the spell I have cast upon your foolish lover! You must make him weigh seven pounds.” Leaving Mrs. Gniveirg to grieve over her ruined future, the Orange Witch vanished with a cackle.
Mrs. Gniveirg lived in a small but comfortable flat in a seventy-five story high building. It was a flat with a small balcony out the back door overlooking the street. Above it was the balcony of the flat above it and below it the balcony of the flat underneath Mrs. Gniveirg’s. Mrs. Gniveirg put her fiancé in his goldfish bowl out on the balcony so he would have fresh air and resolved to feed him until he weighed exactly seven pounds. She kept a weighing scale in a little draw by her fiancé’s table and a notebook with the entries of how much his water weighed exactly and how much he weighed.
Mrs. Gniveirg warned her two young sons’, Fox and Wolf, not to meddle with her goldfish as he was delicate. She bought the boys their own goldfish to amuse them. Fox and Wolf put their goldfish in their room and named him Goldie. They curiously studied their mother’s unusual behavior every morning when she weighed her goldfish.
“She must be going nuts,” Fox said. He added proudly, “I have heard they do go barmy at certain ages.”
“And she is overfeeding him something awful,” Wolf added. “It says on the goldfish feed bag only to give ‘em so much every day or it kills ‘em. Mum is overfeeding her fish like I never saw!”
When her sons asked her why her goldfish had to be weighed and fed so much, Mrs. Gniveirg told the boys that the goldfish was special because it had once been a human man. Fox and Wolf were impressed.
One day Mrs. Gniveirg was out on the balcony. She was feeling depressed because her poor fiancé had gained all the weight it seemed he ever would! He was only at two pounds and refused to get any bigger.
The lady who lived in the flat above hers leaned over her balcony and called down to her, “Good morning, my child. Why do you look so upset?”
“Good morning, Ms. Spielberg,” Mrs. Gniveirg answered gloomily. “It is my goldfish. He will not gain any weight. I simply must get him to weigh more.”
“Well, my child, I happen to know a little spell that makes things grow at a simply wonderful rate. I will tell it to you. You look so terribly unhappy, I cannot stand it! You must repeat the words ‘hsifdlog, hsifdlog, worg, worg’ to your lovely pet every morning and evening. Keep feeding him as you are.”
“Oh, Ms. Spielberg, you are too kind!” Mrs. Gniveirg cried. “But will it really work?”
“Of course, my child. You just trust dear old granny Spielberg, honey, and everything will turn out just fine.”
Having no better means to accomplish her objective, Mrs. Gniveirg agreed. She scribbled down the magic words on a piece of note paper and promised to say them to her goldfish every morning and night. Then she went into her flat.
Ms. Spielberg smiled a malicious smile. She had enjoyed her once rival-in-love’s despair. Now she would make sure Mrs. Gniveirg could never change her love back to man. The Orange Witch got onto her motorcycle and drove to multiple pet stores where she ordered many goldfish of different sizes and paid for delivery to her flat. When the goldfish arrived, she set them up in tanks all over her kitchen, labeling each fish with its exact weight.
In the flat below, Fox and Wolf were struggling to figure out what to take for next week’s show-and-tell at school. Wolf said suddenly, “Hey, why not take mom’s fish? She said it was a man once. I bet she was lying, but no one at school will know. We can tell a fine old yarn. Only trouble is, mom will see we took her fish and throw a fit.”
“Not if I can help it,” said Fox. “We can take her fish and put good old Goldie in his place. Mom will never know. Quick, get Goldie. We can do the substitution now will mom is out talking to the landlady. That way if mom finds out now, we will know our trick will not work and we will still have lots of time to come up with something new for show-and-tell.”
The boys quickly carried Goldie in his bowl out onto the balcony. They put his bowl down on the table where their mom’s goldfish swam in his bowl, snatched it up and hurried back to their room just as their mother came in.
“I hope you boys are behaving yourselves,” Mrs. Gniveirg called, going to the kitchen to make dinner. Afterwards, she went out to say the magic words to her goldfish in his bowl. Fox and Wolf watched her anxiously from door.
“Look, mum has gone nuts now,” Fox said, “She is talking rot to her ol’ fish. She has not noticed its Goldie. Hurray!”
Mrs. Gniveirg went back into her flat to serve dinner. In the flat above, Ms. Spielberg was putting a slightly bigger fish then Goldie into a bowl of water. She went out onto her balcony and looked quickly around to make sure the coast was clear. She lowered her goldfish down onto the table where Mrs. Gniveirg’s fish was swimming around in his bowl. Then she pulled up Goldie with her long set of mechanical claws.
Ms. Spielberg went into her kitchen and killed the fish she had pulled up from Mrs. Gniveirg’s balcony. She thought it was her former lover. She cooked the fish and ate it, happily thinking she had got rid of her once lover. She would keep substituting a slightly heavier goldfish for the one on Mrs. Gniveirg’s balcony every night to keep up the illusion that the magic words were working before she cleared out for good.
The next morning when Mrs. Gniveirg weighed her goldfish, she found he had gained a few ounces! She shrieked in delight, and Ms. Spielberg peered down off her balcony. “Oh, oh, Ms. Spielberg, your magic words are working!” Mrs. Gniveirg cried excitedly. “I can hardly believe it!”
“Wonderful, my child,” said Ms. Spielberg. “I am so glad you are happy.”
That night Ms. Spielberg cranked up the goldfish from Mrs. Gniveirg’s balcony and replaced it with a slightly heavier one. Grinning, she ate went to bed. Silly, stupid, ordinary Mrs. Gniveirg! Mrs. Gniveirg was being played like a harp!
One day, when her fish weighed exactly six and a half pounds, Mrs. Gniveirg found she had to work late unexpectedly. She could not leave her boys at home alone, so she called up to Ms. Spielberg and begged her to come and babysit Fox and Wolf while she was out working. To her relief, Ms. Spielberg agreed to babysit her children.
Fox and Wolf were told to be good boys and not play any tricks by their mother as she rushed off to work. The boys looked with interest at the elderly Ms. Spielberg and went back to discussing their killer show-and-tell display; it was the next day.
Ms. Spielberg was knitting in a chair by the electric heater from where she overheard what the boys said. Curious, because it involved a goldfish, she asked, “What is your exhibit, boys?”
“Oh, its an ol’ fish that was supposed to have been a man once,” Fox said proudly. “It was mom’s, but we pinched it and put our old Goldie in its place. That was smart, huh? She never found out! She goes on talking to poor Goldie, who is getting terribly fat, just like it was her old one.”
Ms. Spielberg’s knitting needles fell to the floor. “What?” she screamed in rage. She, the Orange Witch, had eaten an ordinary goldfish and not her once lover after all? But the real goldfish was still in the house . . . all she had to do was catch it, kill it and eat it. And that would be easy. No two boys could stop her. She would kill them too! How ruined would be poor, ordinary Mrs. Gniveirg’s life then!
Fox and Wolf had scrambled to their feet and run to their room and locked the door. They leaned against it, panting.
“I do not like her,” Fox panted. “Is she going to hurt us? I wish mom were home.”
“Me too. But we will not let her in. Quick, we can rig up a booby trap in case she gets in! Get me three of mom’s old boyfriend’s biggest bowling balls. They’re a few in the back of my closet. He never took them with him when he disappeared.”
Three bowling balls were erected over the door. A trip wire was stretched across the doorway. The boys left the door cracked open and crouched behind their bed to wait and see what happened.
Ms. Spielberg appeared in the hallway. She was now young and beautiful but with an air of wickedness about her. She was holding a knife. When she saw Fox and Wolf and the goldfish behind them on their dresser, she came at once into the room. “There you are, naughty children! Do—” Then Ms. Spielberg screamed a dying death scream.
Fox and Wolf gulped as Ms. Spielberg’s head was crushed in by the downfall of the three bowling balls. They hid their faces in their hands to block out the sight. Behind them, out of the goldfish bowl, a man emerged.
Fox and Wolf turned around at the sound of sound of breathing behind them. “Hey, look, it is mom’s old boyfriend,” Wolf said. “How did he get in here?”
“He busted the goldfish bowl,” Fox said sorrowfully, “And he killed her fish. Mom is going to kill us!”
“No, she will not,” the old boyfriend said, “I will not let her. I was the goldfish. When the witch died, I was released from my curse.”
Fox groaned and clutched his head. “Oh man, oh man! Why could you not have popped out at show-and-tell is what I want to know? Couldn’t you have waited a bit longer? We would have brought down the house if you had come out of a fish in front of the whole class!”
“Sorry about that, buddy,” the old boyfriend said. He picked up the dead Orange Witch, carried her out onto the flat balcony, and threw her off. “As far as the world knows, Ms. Spielberg fell off her balcony and died of an accident. Back into the house, boys, that is no sight for you to be seeing!”
Fox and Wolf heard footsteps in the hall. “Mom is coming home!” they shrieked. They dragged the old boyfriend over to the door. “Quick, let her in!”
So the old boyfriend did.
~A short story by Layla