January 27, 2010

SECOND PLACE: How to Kill a Baba Yaga

By Heather Marie Adkins

Someone was moving about in my living room. Throwing back the heavy comforter, I reached for the Louisville Slugger under my bed. Tossing sleep-disheveled hair from my eyes, I tiptoed down the hall.

She was monstrous, both in size and in face. Waddling among my furniture, she knocked over two armchairs, four knickknacks, and the coat rack. It only took her a moment to notice me, standing in the doorway, bat at the ready.

“Baba Yaga hungry. Baby good. Bring me flesh.” She regarded me with red eyes from a head full of wild, white hair. Her bosom knocked over my favorite lamp and I rolled my eyes.

“Have a seat, Baba, let me heat her up for you,” I said calmly, swinging the bat at my side. Closing my daughter’s bedroom door discreetly on the way, I hurried into my kitchen and pulled out the dough I’d prepared that morning; extra sugar. The cake mold was beneath the sink. In forty minutes, I pulled a fair imitation of a baby from my oven.

Baba Yaga took it from my arms reverently, licking her lips with a purple, lizard-like tongue. Her mouth widened to unbelievable proportions, and the cake disappeared between two rows of sharp, pointed teeth.

I waited, baseball bat in hand, while she chewed. After four or five jaw movements, her face went slack. She gasped for air and keeled over stiffly, splitting my couch in two.

Sighing, I tossed the bat to an armchair and set about cleaning up. I’d taken to asking my mother for a couch every Christmas. She still wonders how we go through so many of them. There’d be another Baba Yaga, there always was, but Mother wouldn’t believe me if I told her.