The old hag fed me with a spoon: one lump of gray porridge after another, lifeless and bland like an old washrag. Her wrinkled face hovered close to mine. The long pink wart on her nose brushed my forehead. Our feet were black from the dirt floor. I swallowed my lumps without question. They were bad for me.
I couldn’t figure out the old hag’s intentions. Either she wanted to fatten me up, or she had some other devious scheme in mind. One thing was for certain: she was malevolent. Her breath reeked of putrid rotten meat. I had been in the hut forever. I was born there as a grown man eating gelatinous gray lumps of poison, and would perhaps remain so for eternity, unless my fate veered. The lumps went down like oysters made of wet paper.
The hag cast me out of the hut, into the deep, dark forest. I wandered.
Late in the afternoon, a troop of soldiers rode by. The dappled light on their uniforms, on their caps and swords and the shanks of their horses, was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.