Tea Date With Baba Yaga
She did not take sugar. It was bad for the teeth, she said, and clacked them together with an old Ural smile - all stone and strange weather. She put sweetly fragranced flowers instead in the kettle, and hopefully they weren't poisonous. Mashka watched tiny blue and purple petals rise to the surface of her tea, petals the colour of bruises, pieces of the ancient forest. She swallowed anyway. Her teacup was bone china. The tea tasted exquisite. Afterwards, Baba Yaga read the petals and the tea leaves and promised her good fortune. That smile reared up again. Mashka thought of all the secrets buried inside Ural mountains, and took a soothing mouthful of cake. It was the colour of the hearthfire smoke, and eggs from Baba Yaga's hens, and the walls of her house - white as the leavings of a ghost. It tasted of walnuts and really was delicious; have another, said Baba Yaga, so of course she did.
They talked about gardening and the care of pigs. Mashka's father was a pig farmer, and his herd was a little sick, coming out of the recent hard winter. Baba Yaga bottled a tincture of herbs that he could use with them. She wrapped the remaining tea cakes for Mashka to take home. Mashka left the soup her mother had sent. She did not run all the way out of the forest, but almost.
After she was gone, Baba Yaga counted the spoons, just incase.