Story was given an assignment in early October to build a spooky house and write a story about it. Of course, she forgot to tell me about it until at least a week had gone by. Luckily, the project wasn’t due until Halloween. Still, I knew there would be a long road ahead of us. Every time I asked her if she had decided on what kind of house to build, she just shrugged. Finally, fed up, I refused to turn on the radio in the car until she had made a decision. While I had thoughts of spiders, cemeteries, and skeletons, she thought for only a moment before coming up with an idea that made me proud.
Baba Yaga’s house. What could be spookier? she asked. And she was right. The house on chicken legs that belonged to a witch who ate children? Yeah, she nailed it.
I was already making a list of supplies in my head, when Story exclaimed from the backseat, “I need to tell Tete!” I’m not quite sure why she associated my sister with Baba Yaga, as I’m sure she doesn’t know the Russian connection. I’m the one who read her bedtime stories of the children-eating witch after all. But no, she wanted Tete’s guidance on this project. Maybe it is because they both share a fascination for scaring themselves.
Story went through several versions of a story that always had the same central idea: Baba Yaga wanted to sell her house.
She finally decided on sticking close to a classic. A child is sent away into the woods to collect payment owed from Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga, of course, refuses to pay her bills and instead captures the young boy and plans to eat him. Woodland creatures and the house itself help him escape as they are all tired of the bloodshed. In the end, Baba Yaga is furious that the house played a part in losing her dinner, so she puts it up for sale.
I must say, Story and Tete created a masterpiece. The ramshackle house had a walkway paved with bones and rocks, a skeleton hanging from the rafters, spiders in the thatch roof, and real turkey feet. I even got to help a little!
The house was terrific. The story, on the other hand … As I looked at the paper on which Story was supposed to write her final draft, I read the instructions: “Write a persuasive essay. …” Sigh. Story obviously didn’t pay attention to the actual assignment. And I failed to double-check the assignment. Double fail. But we have a cool new Halloween decoration and a new bedtime story!