In a small hamlet on the outskirts of the kingdom, there lived a boy without a voice. He could hear it inside of himself, echoing in his mind, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out were ice crystals. In his presence, people felt an awful chill and drew away. And so the boy lived in a circle of solitude, surrounded by others but always at a distance.
One day, the boy worked up the courage to go see the witch who lived on the edge of the village. He’d seen her from afar, riding her bicycle with its wide handlebars, but she never seemed to him quite what a witch should be. She wore pointy-edged glasses with green rims and favored gold earrings that brushed the tops of her shoulders.