The Fairy Tale Magazine October Issue 2022

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Fairy Tale Anthologies From

World Weaver Press and

Kate Wolford

978-1734054569 - $11.64 12 authors craft new tales that re-imagine the fairy godmother and her role in this anthology

978-0615797359 - $9.35 10 tales, much neglected, get fresh takes in this unique fairy tale anthology.

978-0692576076 - $12.43 This winter inspired fairy tale anthology has 15 new stories to enjoy any time of the year.

978-1732254626 - $11.64 Baba Yaga is the star of this anthology of tales inspired by this complex witch.

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L

ETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Hello Enchanted Friends: It’s taken a lot of working and dreaming, but here it is: our sample issue of Fairy Tale Magazine. That’s right, we’ve gone to a digital magazine format, and I couldn’t be prouder. Amanda Bergloff and I have long considered doing this, with Amanda leading the way, and as I see this sample, I know that it’s all been worth it. Inside these pages, you’ll see some of the best work we’ve previously published, with new art and tiny touches that only Amanda can bring to FTM. You’ll also read one of my all-time favorite stories by Kelly Jarvis, our special projects writer. There’s even a new poem just for this issue. Every story and poem in here is special, though, and we know you’ll have your own favorites. This issue is designed to whet your reader’s appetite for the four seasonal digital issues of FTM to be published in 2023. These will be on an upgraded ISSUU platform, so there will be some cool techy stuff coming next year. In 2023, we have a “Love” theme, with a special emphasis on romance, so you romance lovers will want to get on board. For those who aren’t romance fans, fear not: In 2023 we will have other works that focus on the many ways people experience love, plus nonfiction. And, in each issue we’ll have stories and poems that are the “Best of Enchanted Conversation,” which most of you know was the name of our site until very recently. As always, the art will be sumptuous! We haven’t abandoned our aesthetic that focuses on the Golden Age of Illustration and Art Nouveau—as you can see in this issue. Amanda, who had the idea to move to the digital magazine platform ISSUU, will continue picking and using the best art out there, plus her themed roundups and art profiles, which are very popular, will be part of each issue. Also, this sample is shorter than what we’ll publish next year, so expect a lot of great content. We are going behind a paywall next year, as most of you know. We can’t sell subscriptions until Jan. 1, 2023, for bookkeeping reasons, but for those of you who sign up in early January, the cost will be only $12 for the whole year, and that includes a serialized novel by Lissa Sloan, one of my very favorite writers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will tell you that Lissa has created an “after the fairy tale” story that you’ll never forget. I think $12 is pretty cheap for all of that. We’ll also be offering memberships for writers and readers that will be discounted if you sign up early. I’ll offer more details as we get closer to January. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this witchy and wonderful free issue, as a gift from us. If you love it, thank Amanda, as not only were all of these changes mostly her idea, but she’s also done the lion’s share of the work. Any thoughts or questions? Drop me a line at katewolford1@gmail.com.

Yours in Enchantment,

Kate Wolford Autumn Woman Image from DandDDigitalDelights on Etsy

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THE FAIRY TALE MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kate Wolford ART DIRECTOR Amanda Bergloff

SPECIAL PROJECT’S WRITER Kelly Jarvis

CONTRIBUTORS Rene Carter Hall Ellen Huang Idalene M.P. McCune Jennifer A. McGowan Donna J.W. Munro Deborah Sage Carol Scheina Julia Stilchen ART RESOURCES Pixabay Wikimedia Commons

Copyright ©2022 No portion of The Fairy Tale Magazine may be reproduced, duplicated, or reprinted without prior written permission from the Publisher.

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T

Able of Contents

TO SEEK A SPELL - 7 Deborah Sage

ASHES OF ROSES- 9 Rene Carter Hall THE LAND BY THE SEA - 11 Idalene HUNTER’S MOON - 12 M.P. McCune

IF THE BODY FITS- 33 Julia Stilchen

THE GOLDEN AGE OF ILLUSTRATION: ELEANOR BRICKDALE - 18 Amanda Bergloff THE FLOWER WITCH - 22 Ellen Huang THE PEASANT, THE PEA & THE GHOST - 27 Carol Scheina

THE WORD WITCH - 37 Kelly Jarvis WELCOME HOME, DEAR ONES - 40 Donna J.W. Munro

THE LADY & THE GHOST - 16 Jennifer A. McGowan

CONTRIBUTOR’S PAGE - 45

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TO SEEK A SPELL by DEBORAH SAGE

G

o see the wise woman, witch, seer-sage, Tell her your wishes, wait for an age. Ask her for potions, portents and dreams, Wear a black dress sewn with silver seams. Carry a basket of woven oak, Over your shoulder throw a twilight cloak. Go in winter in the deepest snow, She will know you are coming before you go. Or go in summer, on midsummer's eve, She will know you are coming before you leave. Don’t eat the berries, beware the spell, Where it will take you, none can tell. Go in the moonlight, carefully tread, Out past the cemetery, heed the dead. Follow the road that leads through the wood, Don’t stop to talk to the wolf in the hood. Be careful of brambles, shy from the briar, Avoid the soothsayer, poet and liar. Come to the place where you haven’t slept, Where fairies dwell and children are kept. See the crone, tell her your fears, Wait for her judgment, pay her in tears.

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ASHES OF ROSES by RENE CARTER HALL

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herever I tried to live, they would blossom. Outside my father's house. In my sisters' fine gardens. Black petals with a heady, musky perfume--roses not of this world, but the next. Always they were edged in dew, no matter how the sun burned. Once I touched the droplets, put my fingers to my lips, and tasted salt. And I could not forget. At last, then, I returned, to this dead castle where the long table is always set for dinner. The servants are gone; I do everything myself. I plant and cook, wash and mend, and try not to feel the cold that seeps through velvet and wool and fur, no matter how many layers I wear. I am cold to my bones now, always, because I was too late. I stayed away too long, and when at last I hurried back, he was dead. I told him then how I loved him, but it was not enough. Not quite enough. Each night, I polish the silver candlesticks, light the beeswax tapers. The table is set with china, with crystal, everything glittering in the dim and dancing light. By the table's head, a great silver platter waits like a frozen lake, like an open mouth. The moon rides high. From outside comes a scuffling scrape of claw on stone. I have laid no kindling, but the fireplace blazes, feeding off nothing, and I shiver in the sudden heat. When he takes his place at the table, the smell of wet earth and dead leaves chokes my throat, but oh, I have missed him. His suit of crimson velvet is torn and streaked with mud, the lace at the sleeves rotted and dangling. One eye is gone, but the other looks kindly on me. White bone flashes beneath his hide, and he drops the night's meat onto the platter. Blood pools sluggishly around it. I have no idea what it is; it seems to have no shape I can recognize, no place where legs or head might once have been. He carves it with delicate grace, laying a slice on my plate. It tastes, as always, of blood and earth, and I find I am beginning to savor it. As my fork clinks softly against the thin china, I can almost hear faint echoes of music, the quartet that would have played as we dined. I buried him that day, but not well enough. Not quite well enough. And in my splintered dreams that night, I was shown everything that might have been. The claws that might have been hands. The bone and hide that might have been warm flesh. If I had not been too late. When the platter at last is empty, he speaks, in a voice like moth-wings, like dry leaves, like a scattering of black petals. "Will you marry me, Beauty?" And again and again, but never enough, lips wet with salt and blood, I kiss him, and tell him yes.

End 9



Shall I tell you the story before the fire goes out, my sister?

The LAND by the

SEA

by IDALENE

Yes, yes...please do.

And she called to him to remember?

Then I will begin. The land by the sea was wild and forlorn, and there was once a forgotten man who made it his home.

Yes, my sister. She held out her hand, and he finally remembered fully the loss that caused him to live by the sea in a land that was wild and forlorn.

Did he bring anything with him to that land by the sea?

And he remembered the one who would not let him go, even after death?

Yes, my sister. He brought the two things he still held precious in the world to the land by the sea, and he forgot for a time, that his heart had been lost. But he could not forget completely, could he?

Yes, my sister. He remembered and followed the gray lady until they both moved ceaselessly on the waves... until both their souls were lost. And that was his end.

No, my sister, for something had followed him and was there in the darkness of night in that land by the sea, singing a song that called to his soul.

Now the tale is done, my sister, and it is time for sleep. Let us pull the blankets close so we can remain warm.

A song of sadness and regret?

Will you hold my hand until the fire goes out?

Yes, my sister, a song that drove him mad for he was the only one who heard it, and every night, he tried in vain to find the one who sang by searching the rocks and shore in that land by the sea.

I will hold your hand until it is cold.

Until one night he finally saw her?

But we will not forgive the one who drove him to do so.

Yes, my sister. He found her in the moonlight by the water's edge... A gray lady whose hair was unbound and moved ceaselessly in the wind. The forgotten man saw her and was drawn to her beyond reason.

And we will forgive the forgotten man for leaving us? Yes, we will.

No, we will never forgive our mother. Then goodnight, dear sister. Goodnight.


HUNTER’S MOON by M.P. McCUNE

W

hen she first met the wolf, he was a man. He sat on a fallen tree trunk by the side of the path leading to her grandmother’s house, clothes perched uneasily on his slight frame, his clean-shaven face luminous in the trees’ shadows. They acknowledged each other with a nod, as people do when they meet in the woods, and he fell in step beside her. His silence wrapped around her like a blanket, protecting her from the sharp edges of the sounds of the forest: twigs snapping, squirrels scolding, the cry of a horned owl. When they reached the clearing where her grandmother lived, he walked on, leaving her with a farewell glance to mark the place they’d parted until they met again. The house treated her like a stranger. Its windows stared blankly as if they’d never seen her before and the boards of the front porch shuddered indignantly at her touch. Shadows spilled out of the half open door, lapping at her feet until an undertow of darkness pulled her inside. The next morning, the whiteness of the girl’s skin alternated with purple bruises, resembling the pattern of sunlight filtered through tree leaves. “It’s hunting season. We don’t want anyone to mistake you for a deer,” her grandmother said from behind her, draping a red cloak over her shoulders. The girl shook like a wet dog, throwing off her grandmother’s touch. The girl had a closet full of shawls and sweaters from past visits: “to protect her from the wind,” “to shield her from the sun,” “to keep the rain off,” “to keep the warmth in.” Curious glances stuck to pretty clothes like flies to a web, keeping anyone from looking beneath them. “Run along now! I’ll see you next week!” The man joined the girl on her way back. Wind fluttered the cape, exposing her arms. They walked in a silence brittle as ice. When they reached the forest’s edge, he loitered under the trees to listen to her mother scold her loud enough for the people at the end of the street to hear: “Just look at you! How many times have I told you not to leave the path, it’s dangerous! There are wild things in the woods, you’re lucky you only had a fall!” The next time she saw the man, he was a wolf. He sat alone in the meadow between the village and the woods the night of the full moon, staring at her window. When their eyes met, he nodded. She climbed out and followed him into the trees. More wolves met them one by one until restless grey bodies surrounded her. Their howls swept through her like a winter wind, scooping up her voiceless anguish and carrying it with them out into the air, leaving her empty. She fell asleep in their midst but woke up in her own bed. Muddy footprints too large to be her own trailed to and from the window. Every week the man waited for her at the edge of the forest, until the day of the next full moon. She

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TO SAVE HER VILLAGE FROM THE DANGEROUS OUTSIDERS WHO WANT TO CONQUER HER VALLEY, MALIA MUST BEFRIEND THE VERY CREATURE SHE’S BEEN TAUGHT TO FEAR.

Her whole life, Malia has been told stories about the dangerous creatures in the cliffs, but when she finds one injured and befriends it, she discovers a different peril lurking on the edges of her magically protected village.

“Fast-paced, high-stakes drama in a fresh fantasy world!” —James Maxey, author of the Dragon Age trilogy

WORLD WEAVER PRESS https://www.worldweaverpress.com/store/p23/Shards_of_History.html


turned without stopping and ran back to the house. The woodcutter snatched up his axe and followed. The girl stopped at the door and pointed wordlessly to a lone wolf worrying the body of the old woman. The woodcutter pushed past and ran inside. When the wolf leaped at him, he knocked it to the floor with his axe. He chopped off its head and kept chopping until it was all in pieces. “What was your grandmother thinking to leave the door open like that!” he asked. “She was expecting me,” the girl said. “She didn’t want to have to get out of bed to let me in.” She burst into tears. He reached over to pat her hand, but stopped when he saw his own was covered in blood. “You’re safe now,” he said. “It was a lone wolf, not a pack. You can stay with me tonight and I’ll walk you home in the morning.” “I’m not allowed to go with strangers.” The woodcutter was at a loss. “But you can’t walk home through the woods by yourself at night!” “I’ll stay here.” “By yourself?” He glanced at what was left of the wolf and her grandmother. “The wolf’s dead, so there’s no danger. Besides someone needs to clean up and watch over her body.” The woodsman hesitated. “You’ll shut the door after me?” “I will.” Once he left, the girl reassembled the wolf’s carcass. As soon as they touched, the severed pieces knit themselves back into one whole and the wolf opened his eyes. He nodded. They dug a hole together behind the house, then dragged the body outside and rolled it in. The girl shoveled in clods of dirt that fell on her grandmother like blows. Before they left to join the others, the girl covered the grave with the red cape.

End

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B

ess, she had a likely lad,

and that lad he had Bess. Why he went out on Hallows eve is anybody’s guess. He lost his way and climbed a hill to see what could be seen— Glided up to him from out the mists ess, she had a likely lad, a grim and ghostly queen. and that lad he had Bess. Why he went out on Hallows eve “One kiss, my handsome Will,” she cried, is anybody’s guess. “One kiss! I claim my prize. or those who climb up Tanner’s Hill He lost his way and climbed a hill are driven mad, or wise.” to see what could be seen— Glided up to him from out the mists Now Will he fancied wisdom a grim and ghostly queen. if it would get him back to Bess. He bowed to the ghostly figure, “One kiss, my handsome Will,” she cried, bestowed on it a kiss. “One kiss! I claim my prize. or those who climb up Tanner’s Hill Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips are driven mad, or wise.” and you’ll never be alone.

B

Now Will he fancied wisdom And he saw gold abounding, if it would get him back to Bess. riches more than he could name. He bowed to the ghostly figure, He gathered gems up in his hands bestowed on it a kiss. and then he turned back home. Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips Bess waited with a lantern and you’ll never be alone. brushing her flowing hair. She thought she heard Will in the lane And he saw gold abounding, likely lad, riches more than he could name. and that lad he had Bess. He gathered gems up in his hands Why he went out on Hallows eve and then he turned back home. is anybody’s guess.

ess, she had

He lost his way and climbed a hill to see what could be seen— Glided up to him from out the mists a grim and ghostly queen.

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“One kiss, my handsome Will,” she cried, “One kiss! I claim my prize. or those who climb up Tanner’s Hill


THE LADY & THE GHOST by JENNIFER A. McGOWAN Bess waited with a lantern brushing her flowing hair. She thought she heard Will in the lane but nobody walked there.

“I’ll pay your price, you hag,” she swore as she clomb Tanner’s Hill. “You shall have my cursed kiss, and I shall have my Will.”

She thought she heard Will by the byre but no-one passed it by. She thought she heard him at the door; she thought she heard him sigh.

The queen laughed soft but she laughed long, “I fear not to be spurned.” A kiss then to her Bessie threw and was kissed in return.

He climbed in through the window reached his hand hers to have. But Will had found his wisdom in the bed of an early grave.

The morning sun dawned bright and gay and Bess awoke and saw The ranks of dead men in the dew a hundred strong, or more.

Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips and you’ll never be alone.

Just one kiss from my clay-cold lips and you’ll never be alone. Now Bess among the living waits for Time to claim his own. The faithful dead walk at her side and she’s never alone.

Bess felt his hand pass through her own put on her cloak of green ran crying through the lonely night to face the ghastly queen.

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The

Golden Age of Illustration:

eleanor

Fortescue-Brickdale The Golden Age of Illustration is a term applied to a time period (1880s - 1920s) of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustrations by artists in Europe and America.

Advances in technology at the time allowed for accurate and inexpensive reproductions of their art, which allowed quality books to be available to the voracious public demand for new graphic art. When many people think of the Golden Age of Illustration, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, and other male artists come to mind, but there were also female artists that excelled during this time. Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (January 25, 1872 - March 10, 1945) was one such artist. This English artist, known for her paintings and book illustrations in the Pre-Raphaelite style, was one of the most popular artists of the Edwardian era. She also designed stain glass windows and small-scale sculptures which followed the Pre-Raphaelite tradition of applied art through various media to celebrate the beauty of nature and the human form. Born in Upper Norwood, Surrey, Eleanor demonstrated a natural talent for drawing that led to her entering the Crystal Palace School of Art at age 17. However, even with showing great skill, it took her three tries before eventually bein Chance, 1901

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being accepted to the Royal Academy in London, possibly due to the school's reluctance at the time to accepting female students. While there, Brickdale came under the influence of John Byam Shaw, an artist protégé of John Everett Millais. When Shaw eventually went on to establish his own art school in 1911, Eleanor became a teacher there. Brickdale's first major painting was The Pale Complexion of True Love, 1899, (pictured below) and soon afterwards, she began exhibiting her oil paintings at the Royal Academy, while her watercolor paintings John Byam Shaw & Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, 1911 were exhibited in several solo shows at the Dowdeswell Gallery. Eleanorthe al first female Eleanor also had the honor of becoming member of the Institute of Painters in Oils in 1902. In 1909, Ernest Brown commissioned Brickdale to do 28 watercolor illustrations for Tennyson's Idylls of the King, which Eleanor painted over the course of two years. Her illustrations were exhibited at the Leicester Gallery in 1911, and 24 of them went on to be published in a deluxe edition of the first four Idylls the following year. Throughout her career, Brickdale illustrated many books, such as Poems by Tennyson (1905), Calthorp, A Diary of an 18th Century Garden (1926), and The Story of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1912), to name a few. In 1919, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale’s Golden Book of

The Pale Complexion of True Love, 1899

Famous Women was published by Hodder and Stoughton. This compilation of stories with her illustrations, featured some of the most famous women in history and legend as written by such authors as Lord Tennyson, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Keats, among others. Sadly, in 1938, Brickdale suffered a stroke which ended her career as she was unable to paint the last seven years of her life. However, towards the end of her life, she recognized that her Pre-Raphaelite style had run its course, as the art world was moving into the Post-Impressionist, Modernist, and Surrealist styles of the modern age.

Golden Book of Famous Women, 1919


Romeo & Juliet Final Farewell, 1910

Brickdale's art is remembered today for its astounding beauty and "escapist" style that depicted a gentle world of chivalry and legend, mingled with the romantic imagery of a bygone era of English literature. When I view her art, I am struck by the exquisite attention to detail Brickdale brought to all the elements in her compositions - from the draping of fabric and the sumptuous clothing design worn by the individuals in her paintings - to the gorgeous elements of nature she incorporated throughout much of her work. I feel her true love of flowers, gardens, and the wild beauty of the natural world shines and creates an experience that draws the viewer deep into the artistic narrative she's expressing. One can easily get lost in her wonderful paintings with their brilliance of color, as each piece inspires a unique story in the viewer's mind.

20 Prospero & Ariel, 2910

The Guests, 1900

Riches, 2901


Youth & The Lady, 1900

Prospero & Ariel, 2910

The Little Foot Page, 1905 Riches, 2901

The Forerunner (Detail) 1920

They Toil Not, 1903

The Little Foot Page, 1905 The Flower’s Name, 1909

The Guests, 1900

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Botticelli’s Studio, 1922 Botticelli’s Studio, 1922


THE FLOWER WITCH

D

by ELLEN HUANG

cards at her windowsill? "Look," I whispered to my brother. "That one's see-through." My brother turned to me, and I noticed he was growing sharp teeth again. He whispered back, afraid, "There's a little girl in the flower." Curled up like a fetus, there was a miniature girl sleeping in the transparent flower. The flower pulsed and breathed like lungs and heart meshed together into one. "Pay her no mind," said the lady of the house, fondly. "Let my darling girl sleep." We figured fairies and witches came in all sorts of sizes, so we immediately felt bad for worrying. The lady saw my brother's scars and offered to heal them. We laughed, braying like donkeys, and said many grown-ups have tried but nothing can fix us. But the lady took my brother aside and healed the mark on his neck. Astonished, we sat there like knickknacks in the house. "I have no scars," I said quickly. (It's true, my twin brother always gets all the fun.) The lady's hair flashed in waves of white as she laughed. "Sweet child, you can't fool me. You ate from my garden. I see you as you are. Hidden away beneath the skin, in the dark of your mind, there lie scars. And I can make it better."

o you know what it's like to starve so much

you'll eat anything? My brother and I were going a long way, and we couldn't look back. Our parents said we weren't human and we'd eat them out of house and home. So we sought to find another house and home, one that would love us to death. We were so tired and hungry, we started to joke about eating each other. But we knew it was a joke. Then we saw the house with the magnificent garden. You'd have to forgive us if our voices break or growl or our ears twitch every now and then. We don't know how long spells take to wear off. And the cabbages in her yard were so good. We were so hungry, we got down on our hands and knees and gobbled the vegetables raw. We dug like rabbits and devoured like wolves, and barely looked up to see each other changing. Then the lady came out of the house. She had long, long hair you could climb a tower with, and it lifted and flowed in the air as if of its own accord. She was dressed like the spring, like her garden, in bloom in the dead of winter. She said she could see what we really were, and kindly opened her door for us to come inside. Would you believe we saw roses— roses!—there in the winter? Black as night, white as swans, and red as blood, arranged like cards at her windowsill? 22



I looked to my brother to share confusion, but he was now entranced by the flowers at the windowsill. Then we smelled something baking, and the lady said warmly, "You must stay for supper." Have you ever starved so much you would take anything? The lady laughed, and her hair spread about the room like a spider's web. Suddenly I tripped backwards and landed in her hair on the floor. It was like landing in a field of flowers, soft and golden. My head started to feel warm and feverish, but that was soon soothed away as she pulled me into another room. But then the wolves howling cut through the quiet. I recognized them, somehow, one of the howls in a voice like my own. I jolted awake and struggled with the hair, rough as rope, now choking me. I started to growl and bark, snap and bite. The lady, irritated, snapped back, "Stop fighting, or you'll spoil your soul! I am only trying to help. But if you're going to be so difficult..." She took a pair of scissors hanging at the wall. They shimmered in silver, and a wave of silver flowed through her hair. "Not to worry, whatever punishment I make, I can heal it back later. But I will cut away those memories that scar you," she said. "If you keep fighting, I could cut the wrong thoughts." "What did you do to my brother?" I growled, thinking of the mark on his neck, disappearing. Thinking of the fetal flower girl, unscathed but unconscious. (You'll have to forgive me if a growl comes through now and then. I did not let her cut that away.) "You are the most difficult one," the lady said, and I thrashed and she stabbed her own hair by accident. She shrieked, and her hair recoiled as if alive. i suddenly 24

It shrank away and seemed to retract closer to her head, releasing me. I scrambled up, suddenly noticing everything in this room seemed so much taller, looming above me. But I could run faster this way, too, and I bounded into my brother's open arms. He trembled. "I tried to howl like you," he said. "I had to warn you. There were others." "We ate them. We didn't know," I barked. "She makes pies from the naughty ones," my brother said. "And flowers from—" We could hear her shrieking, coming closer, and we ran for it. Me, more transformed, bounding on all fours. My brother, pale as a ghost, running beside me. The lady shrieked again and the walls stretched, and the windows and doors meshed together into one large window. We nearly leapt through, but found that it would have been a drop from a tower height. The cottage had transformed into a tower, as if her home could grow out of the ground. The lady came after us, insisting, "Stay with me, my little flowers! You will find no one else to feed you, to help you grow. It is only cold out there, and death." "This isn't growth," said my brother. "This is keeping alive," said the lady. "Do you know what it is to be banished, with only an extension of yourself to keep warm with?" I looked to my twin brother, who was insanely gauging whether he could jump the tower. "Loneliness is insanity," the lady said. "It sure is," I grumbled. "You will be all alone in the world of seasons," the lady said. "Here it is always spring, and always in bloom. And you'll feel no more pain." "My pain tells me something's wrong," I said, my voice coming back to me. Shuddering, I started to stand up again. The lady's hair extended from her again, and my brother and I leapt out the window in fear.


I looked started to stand up again. The lady's hair extended from her again, and my brother and I leapt out the window in fear. It was hardly a fall into her field of flowers, a lush golden meadow filled with flowers of every color. They began to cluster around us, whispering in voices like children our age. And then we thought, it's not so bad here. She takes care of us, and she loves her pretty children. But then a hint of excitement buzzed through the clustering flowers. What weeds are these? What is that terrible, bloody smell? I scrambled for my brother's hands in the field. We squeezed each other's hands tight, to keep awake. I turned my head and saw that the tower had shrunken back into a cottage. Or perhaps it was never a tower, only the illusion of one. They still have mouths! Oh, remember what it was like to eat? Let's try once more. The flowers clustered tighter over us, bowing their heads as if smelling us, bouncing their heads as if gobbling us. We would have shrieked but then we realized felt no pain, and we heard the lady storm outside and shout about, looking for us. She shouted about how only the naughty ones were made into pies, and the lovely ones—as she insisted we were inside—were planted as flowers. Beautiful, eternal flowers without a worry or hunger ever again. Hidden among the clustering flowers, we heard her curse us as lost boys and slam the door. The flowers finished their pretense of eating us, bowing their heads gently in the breeze. We got up, unscathed, and turned to run, knowing the blast of winter cold would hit us hard. One last flower, a narcissus, tangled around my heel and tripped me. I heard a desperate voice gasp, I see myself! I see myself! A little boy, I was

was once a little boy! My brother yanked me out of its grip and we headed for the dead winter ahead in the mist. Once through the mist, the sharp cold gripped us tight. You'll have to forgive me if I continue to shudder. Sometimes my fur pelt is not enough. The house disappeared into a snowy mist, but the memory flashes in waves in my mind. The scar on my brother's neck reappeared. The wounds in my mind never left. "Do you think, then, we should be grateful for the cold?" I said. "And never expect healing?" "Not for a second," said my brother, as we kept each other warm. "The next place will be better." Our stomachs growled. We turned to each other with the immediate fear of starving. We joked about eating each other, so that one could carry on with the other's strength and memory. But then you found us and invited us into your home, and besides, we were only joking.

End

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Sometimes a Hero, Sometimes a Villain… you better watch out

Krampusnacht & Tales of Krampus From Kate Wolford WORLD WEAVER PRESS


THE PEASANT, THE PEA & THE GHOST

T

by CAROL SCHEINA

he hallucinations began on the sixteenth night. From her resting place twenty mattresses high, Tania felt herself rolling closer and closer to the point where softness ended and empty air began. Her body was teetering on the edge of an abyss, she was falling to the cold, marble floor, her chest flattening with the impact, her last breath rushing out… Tania jerked up, safe in the middle of the bed, high on her tower of mattresses. “It’s not real,” she whispered. “Not real.” “I am real,” the ghostly voice whispered back, as it had for the past nights. “You will never be a princess. Roll out of the bed. Do it now. End this.” Tania closed her eyes and pulled a pillow over her ears. “Not real,” she continued to whisper, even as the voice repeated its refrain all night long. The pillow failed to muffle the sound.

*** The next morning, as servants poured tea and spread a napkin over her lap, Tania focused on sitting straight and proper. 27


The duchess sipped her gold-rimmed cup with the grace of experience and asked, “Did you get a good night’s sleep?” “No,” Tania replied truthfully. The duchess smiled and nodded knowingly, “The pea.” Tania tried to drink so as to avoid answering, but her hand shook as she lifted her teacup, the fragile china rattling on its plate and sending echoes to the high ceilings. She quickly lowered the cup, and her eyes blinked back the blur of exhaustion. Glancing through her lashes, Tania could see the duchess frowning. They’d had too many lessons for such a mistake. In the span of 30 days, Tania had to learn to be a proper princess under the tutelage of the duchess. How to properly twirl when dancing a reel and how to curtsy at the end. How to lift a teacup like a true princess, and other such lessons of royalty. “A princess must be sensitive to all in the world around her,” the duchess liked to proclaim with a dramatic wave of her hand. The high tower of mattress Tania slept upon had a single, hard pea at the bottom, and hopefully she would learn to sense the microscopic bump, thus proving she had gained a princess’s sensitivity. No one had mentioned a voice, and Tania didn’t want to say anything. She suspected the duchess had no idea a spirit haunted her estate, and if Tania did say something, would the duchess think her insane? For just one moment, Tania wondered if all this was worth it, for the truth was, she couldn’t even feel the dang pea beneath the pile of mattresses. She was just a stable girl, a peasant, who longed for the scents of horse and hay. Then she thought of the prince and their love. The king and queen had agreed to the match if Tania could learn the ways of royal life, and she was not inclined to fail. Tania inhaled deeply and lifted the teacup once more. This time, there was no rattle as she steadily brought the gold rim to her lips. *** After a full day of lessons, Tania climbed the ladder up the tower of mattresses for the 17th night and wondered if the voice would return. In her exhaustion, she nearly slipped and fell off near the top, afterward pausing in her climb to allow her racing heart to calm somewhat. She continued on and secured herself in the center of the top mattress. Servants removed the ladder and blew the lamps out to darkness, and there was a moment of rustling as they left the room. “Roll out,” the ghostly voice whispered. This time, Tania felt cold hands on her back. She brushed the air frantically, feeling nothing. “End it now.” Sobs broke from Tania’s throat. “Let me sleep, please, just let me sleep.” “You will never be a princess.” “I just want to marry him. I love him.”

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The voice deepened. “You will fail.” Tania felt the cold hands press harder. “No,” she sobbed. The night passed once more with no rest.

*** As the sunrise brought bright reflections to the marble surrounding her, Tania felt stronger with the new day. She would see the prince again at the end of all this. That night, she smuggled a silver knife into the bed. “Do you really think that will stop me?” the voice sneered. Tania blinked, realizing she had, indeed, wanted to fight a bodiless voice. “Let me see you. Come out, fight me.” “I fight you the only way I can. You will never be a princess.” “I care not if my life be as princess or peasant. I care only that I love him, and he has given me his love in return.” Tania stabbed the air fiercely. “Fawn love,” the voice was dismissive. “He feels drawn to your beauty, your lovely locks and moist lips. You bat large eyes at each other and moan of love. But the slightest action will startle him, and he’ll bound away in another direction.” The voice grew harsh. “You must roll out. End this now.” Tania lowered the knife. Exhaustion turned her thoughts in strange directions, replaying the words over and over. End this now. Then her mind thought of the prince, and her heart beat stronger than exhaustion. “It’s not fawn love,” she shot back. “He loves me not for my looks but for who I am.” The voice made a dismissive sound. “Love goes beyond what we see with our eyes,” Tania continued, lifting her long braid. It was her one real beauty, as the duchess often said after all the hay had been washed out. “Do you not understand such a bond between two people? Our love is more than just hair and lips. The prince loves me no matter how I look.” The knife raised once more, and with a quick motion, Tania sliced her long braid off. She threw the locks off the side then carefully peeked over, watching lines of hair scatter on the marble floor far below. Perhaps the voice would be satisfied with such an offering. The voice was silent, as though uncertain how to respond to the shorn braid, and it did not speak again that night. Tania slept deeply despite the strangeness of not having a braid press against her neck.

*** “You want his wealth,” the voice accused her the next night. Tania shook her head. “I care not for his wealth. He could be a peasant like me and I would love him just the same.” The voice made a snorting sound. Tania fingered the large diamond ring on her left hand, which the prince had slipped in place when he asked her to wed him. It had not left her hand since. “I don’t need wealth from him. Love goes beyond all the gold and silver we could ever hold.”

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Slowly, Tania twisted the ring off her finger and tossed it over the side of the bed, hearing the faint clink as it struck the marble floor and rolled to some unknown corner of the room. The voice was silent the rest of the night.

*** The voice spoke sharply when night fell next. “You wish for his power to rule the country. Would you kill him to become a queen some day?” “I would give my life for his.” Tania said. “I would jump off this bed. Love goes beyond the border of life and death.” The voice laughed, cold and bitter, but did not speak again that night. In the quiet of the next night, the voice startled her by asking, “How did you meet?” “Why do you wish to know?” Tania was suspicious, wondering if this would be a new way for the voice to torment her. “Please,” the voice simply said. Tania nestled her head into the pillow and began to recount her tale, how she encountered the prince frequently in the stables, where she had worked for the past three years. The prince had taken to long rides through the woods following his fiancé’s death. The princess had died unexpectedly after a brief illness, and Tania knew how deeply the loss affected the prince as she rubbed the white stain of salt-tears off the saddle and reins. They had loved each other deeply. His gentleness first caught her attention when he kept a wounded horse calm as she treated the injury and slipped a peppermint to the horse. Every visit afterward, he brought peppermints for all the horses. Their encounters began to include more words and smiles, and then she suddenly realized it had been ages since she last scrubbed salt-tear stains off the saddle. Not a single mark. When he kissed her, she realized a mark had been made, indeed, though this time on her heart, and she had no desire to rub it away.

*** “He left a mark on my heart as well,” the voice said. And in that moment, Tania saw the outline of a young woman lying in the bed next to her. Tania didn’t move, though her heart beat a rhythm of fear. The princess, she knew. The ghost continued. “We were supposed to have a happily ever after. I didn’t want to ever leave him. You said love goes beyond the border of life and death, but it doesn’t. He’s forgotten me.” Tania breathed deeply and thought a moment before responding. “I think there’s a mark in his heart that will always be for you. I saw his pain at your death. He was utterly lost, and that kind of grief never leaves. Even if you’re not there with him, love goes beyond what we see.” The tearstained saddle came to Tania’s mind. The prince had loved the princess deeply, and Tania felt a stirring of sympathy in her heart for the ghost. “You will always be his first love, and I his second. I will make sure you are not forgotten.” The princess looked startled. “Why would you do that?”

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“To be kind to you.” Tania looked straight at the ghost that had tormented her for so many nights. The ghost on the bed sat up, and in the dim light, a shine to her eyes reflected a deep, unspoken emotion. “A princess is not measured by dances or curtsies or proper teacup use. No pea beneath 20 mattresses can determine a princess. I have not acted as a princess in my afterlife,” the ghost bowed her head. “But you… My love chose well, it seems.” She slowly faded with a whisper, “Sleep well tonight.” In the silence that followed, Tania realized that for the first time, she truly felt like a princess. “Thank you,” she whispered back. The voice did not return again for the remainder of Tania’s nights upon the mattresses.

*** As the newly wed wife of the prince, Tania commissioned a painting, so they would never forget the princess who had been taken from them too soon. The night the painting was unveiled, Tania found a hard pea upon her pillow. She held it closely and smiled.

End

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32


IF THE BODY FITS by JULIA STILCHEN

T

slumber. She plucked straws from her hair and dress. “Ugh. Don’t you just hate when that happens?” She patted her head. “My hat!” Like a mad dog searching for its bone, she frantically dug into the pile of hay, tossing handfuls to the side. A black object—scrunched into a flat circle—twitched on the ground. Cinderella pointed, keeping her distance in case she should retreat. “W-what’s that?” “Hmm?” The woman spun on her heal. “My hat!” She scooped it up and blew into the opening, restoring its shape. Its tip expanded into a curved point. When she opened her palms, it floated up and positioned itself over her head. Cinderella stood, mouth hung agape, eyes wide and unblinking. “Come.” The woman gestured with her hand. Cinderella hesitated yet something about the woman drew her forward. “Closer, closer. I promise I’m not a vampire, you see?” The woman pulled back her lips, revealing porcelain-white canines. Cinderella took another step forward. “Yes. Closer still. Let me have a good look at you.” Cinderella leaned her head back as the woman leaned hers forward. They stood face to face, staring deep into each other’s eyes.

he crackling of an incoming portal jolted Cinderella to her feet. The sky opened and spat out a creature. She gazed in horror and ducked her head, dropping low against the ground. Hands spread against dirt, she crawled toward a covering. A streak of black whirled past her, sending her back in the opposite direction. It moved in blurs before taking down half a tree. Golden, amber and mahogany colored leaves burst into Autumn confetti. The creature tumbled into a pile of hay, slicing the air with an ear-piercing shrill. Bewildered by the sound of its cry, Cinderella contemplated whether or not it had been a harpy or a mad imp passing through. On this side of the kingdom, such sightings were rare but weren’t unheard of. It groaned as it struggled to free itself. Legs and arms protruded out. Crooked and broken. Snapping back into place. The creature crawled out and stood upright. Its long, dark tresses lifted away from its face. It was then Cinderella realized it hadn’t been a creature after all. A young woman. Dressed in fabric dotted with glinting black jewels. It shimmered against moonlight as though it had been spun directly from a glimmering night sky. “Are you okay?” Cinderella asked in disbelief. The woman lurched forward. She stretched her bones as if she had woken from a century-length

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Gazing into the woman’s eyes was like staring into the void. Dark as a bottomless well. Thick lashes—the length of sewing needles—batted at Cinderella as she circled around, clicking her tongue and scanning her body, absorbing every detail. “Yes, yes. You’ll do quite well.” “Pardon?” asked Cinderella. The woman grunted. Her arm shot straight out, palm facing the pile of hay. “Ivis, come forward.” The hay stirred. A gnarled broomstick zipped out and flew into the woman’s open hand. “I’ll turn you into a frog if you ever drop me like that again. Understand?” The broom trembled while nodding the tip of its head. The woman caressed its smooth surface. Its finely polished gloss caught the woman’s reflection. “There, there. I know. You’ll do better next time.” “Who are you?” Cinderella asked. From the shadow of her hat, the woman shot a sharp glance at Cinderella. She released the broom and it hovered by her side like a loyal pet. The corners of her mouth twitched from one side to the other before curling into a wicked grin. “I’m Graechel.” Her feet lifted off the ground as she twirled into a perfect curtsey. “Are you… my Fairy Godmother?” Graechel cackled. “Fairy Godmother? Ha! She’s in a bind at the moment. A binding spell that is.” Cinderella gasped. Before she could react, Graechel had already gathered a pinch of magic dust from a small pouch at her waist. Ready in hand, she blew it into Cinderella’s face. The opalescent particles trickled over her, working into the corners of her eyes, stinging upon entry. Her nostrils tingled. Dark magic seeped

seeped down her throat in a prickly trail. She breathed in a wicked flavor. Bitter. “Why?” She managed to say as her body grew stiff. Statuesque. A live doll. “Sorry, Deary. Nothing personal. I was hired to spy on Prince Charming. You’d make a perfect host. A living disguise. Same height. Weight. Pure-hearted. No one would suspect a thing.” Graechel cackled. Tears rolled down Cinderella’s cheeks. Her chest heaved ruggedly. “Breathe, Deary. Can’t have you passing out on me. I assure you this will be almost painless with minor spurts of dizzying side effects. The bright side? You’ll attend the ball just as you desire. I’ll dress you up. And while I’ll be in control you’ll still retain awareness. If you be a good puppet I’ll throw in the prince for you in the end.” Cinderella’s breathing grew profuse. Graechel gave a dismissal shrug. Her hand shoved elbow-deep into a sleeve and withdrew a dark, sparkling spoon-wand. She raised her hands, eyes closed. Cinderella forced words through stiff lips. Please, let me go.” Graechel’s hand fell to her side. “Quiet! I have to concentrate.” She tapped the end of the wand against her palm, waiting for Cinderella’s sobbing to end. Graechel shook her head and cleared her throat. Her incantations rose above Cinderella’s whimpers. The wand cast a sickly green light as it hummed in the air. Magical orbs spewed outward in a swirling trail. Spectral baubles burst over an aged-old cauldron half buried in dirt. On the way across the yard, it grew in size, tumbling over in thuds, dumping dry soil and crumbling rocks.

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The iron croaked under the stress of being reshaped. It morphed between a wheeled cart, a wagon, and a carriage before settling as a king carrier. Spiders skittered to the roof. They spun silk under Grachel’s spell, weaving intricate cobweb curtains before dispersing. Orbs showered into the earth. Skeletal hands broke through the surface, clinging over dirt and grass. A body of bones climbed past their unmarked graves. Eight total gathered together, taking their position by the carrier. A swarm of iridescent bubbles collided into Cinderella’s tattered dress. Gossamer silk weaved across her body. Snow-white feathers gathered below her shoulders in a plume. Matching gloves, lined with crystal gems, formed over her hands. Ghost-white moth wings grew out from her bare back. A moth-like headdress formed over her head as two feathery antennae sprouted and curved past her forehead. Parts of her hair bundled up into two buns with cascading curls as other parts twisted into braids. Bubbles aimed at Cinderella’s bare feet. Dark metal-spiked slippers appeared. “I believe Prince Charming has a thing for spiked slippers. He’s going to love these.” Graechel nodded and giggled. Cinderella stared from wide eyes. “Now, for the finishing touch,” said Graechel. “Open wide.” She spun in circles, raising her hands to the sky beneath the Hunter’s Moon. Her body shattered into a dark plume of shimmering flies. Cinderella’s mouth was forced open and the swarm of Graechel entered. Cinderella’s eyes closed. Tears still running the

down, eyes burning. The weight of Graechel’s magic filled her lungs. Invaded her mind. Shoved her to the side, into the background as a prisoner in her own body. Forced to observe as Graechel took complete control. Inhaling deeply, Graechel opened her eyes. “Ah. If the body fits, wear it well. We’re like two yolks in a raven’s egg. That’s what my mother witch would say.” Gathering the hem of her moth-like gown she danced toward the carrier and seated herself. She tapped her wand against a skeleton’s skull, clicking her tongue twice. “Off we go!” The skeletons hoisted the carrier poles over their shoulders and marched down the road, rattling their bones to Graechel’s humming.

End

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36


THE WORD WITCH by KELLY JARVIS

O

She brought him to her bed and applied a poultice of comfrey and chamomile to draw out the infection, tying the herbs in place with a clean cloth. She held the soldier in her arms and sang him the healing songs she had learned by heart. She brewed pots of soup, carefully sprinkling spices over her cauldron, spelling STRENGTH in every spoonful. She hauled buckets of clear water from the pond to bathe him. Slowly, words like TENDERNESS and FIDELITY appeared in the air between them, pulling them closer to one another like a magnetic force. She could hear the word SOULMATE in every beat of his heart. When they stood together beneath the pine trees and pledged their lives to one another, ETERNITY was written in the stars.

nce upon a time, words had saved her life. She had seen the word DANGER dancing in the flames of the fire on the night the King’s soldiers arrived to burn her village to the ground. Her tribe of healers practiced the sacred arts, but they knew little about ANNIHILATION until they saw the word form in the rivers of blood dripping from the soldiers’ swords. The word RUN rose in the dying breath of the elders. So, she ran. She ran through the night until the morning sunbeams refracted off her tears, surrounding her with crystal rainbows of HOPE. When she reached the forest clearing, she began to build a house of words. She chose sturdy beams of oak and cypress, words like FIERCE and INDEPENDENT swirled into the dark rings of their heartwood. She planted a garden where RENEWAL unfurled in blossoms each spring, and when she was lonely and frightened, she searched the horizon and recited the words she saw drifting in the clouds: ENDURE, BELIEVE, and REMEMBER.

She knew that he would leave her and return to his regiment. Although it had taken him months to recover from his wounds, the word DUTY was seared into his brow, and it glowed with increased vibrancy as he grew stronger. When he left, rain poured down from the sky and LONELINESS floated in the mist that hung near the ground. Three months later the healer was awakened from sleep by a sharp pain in her chest. DEATH drifted across her line of vision. She knew her soldier would never return.

She was terrified when, years later, a soldier approached, but the word WOUND oozed from the deep gashes that crossed his chest, and she reached out her hand to help him as her people had taught her to do. He was burning with fever and covered with dirt and blood.

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on her doorstep, and when she bent down to lift the crying child, the most beautiful word she had ever seen, DAUGHTER, was bouncing in the baby’s golden curls. LOVE crystalized in the air around them, wrapping them in a warm pink glow.

That winter it snowed SOLITUDE and a white frost lay upon the earth like a blanket. One evening, as the grieving healer sat wishing she could be swallowed by the growing darkness, a new soldier approached, asking for her help. “Please,” his voice was desperate. She trembled and turned her gaze to the setting sun. Shades of muted color spread across the horizon and she saw ENDURE, BELIEVE, and REMEMBER still written in the shadows of light. She followed the soldier to a field where a battle had been lost; the word PAIN pulsating from every blade of grass. She moved through the wounded, assessing them as her village elders had taught her. She wrote RECOVERY into healing salves for the strong. She stirred RELEASE into potions for the dying. And for those left behind, she steeped heartache tea, adding the words COMFORT and PEACE to the concoction as though they were seasonings like ginger and cinnamon. That night, the words she used to help others, saved her life once more. Stories of the healer spread, and the lonely house that had been built of words became a pilgrimage for the weary, the hurt, the hungry, and the heartbroken. She shared her songs for soothing fussy children, and helped guilty husbands pluck bouquets of sweet smelling hyacinths for their angry wives, each purple petal dripping with prayers of FORGIVENESS. She mixed medicines for the ailing and placed her magic hands upon the bodies of those who buckled with grief and pain. For each spell she found the perfect word and wrote or spoke its power into healing. One day, she discovered an abandoned infant

As her daughter grew, the healer taught her to read the hidden words in the world around her as she had been taught by her own mother. She taught her to see SNOW in the clouds and to delight in the way violets released PROMISE in the spring. As soon as the girl could hold a quill, she taught her to write her own words, and before long, mother and daughter worked together in harmony, their mutual charms and incantations sending twice the healing energy to those in need. Time passed, as time does, and the little girl grew up, fell in love, and raised her own children in a house of words that she built just next door. No one was surprised when the aging healer took her last breath, for the edges of the words she had seen throughout her life had long since begun to blur, and she sometimes mixed up words when distilling her remedies. When she was lowered into the ground, her daughter took a handful of black soil and wrote ETERNITY over her grave. The house of words and all who visited it are gone now, but, in a forest clearing, where the stars shine silently down upon a long forgotten tomb, where a quiet wind whispers through the pines, the sacred words, ENDURE, BELIEVE, and REMEMBER, endlessly write themselves in the clouds that drift across the moonlit sky.

End

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WELCOME HOME, DEAR ONES

W

by DONNA J.W. MUNRO

asn't so long ago I was young and full of life. I remember the comings and goings of fine ladies in swishing skirts, gentlemen dressed for dinner at the long tables lit by bright candles, servants quietly dishing out the fine dinners from silver platters. How warm the kitchen was then, full of movement and light. Bubbling concoctions filling the back all with the smells of perfectly balanced dishes. Things the lady of the house served with pride. Wasn't so long ago. Thick curtains hung in sumptuous cascades from the tall, clean windows then. Art gathered from years of travel and discernment lined the walls, a small museum. High backed furniture arranged in groupings to promote discussion. Interaction. Flirtation. My favorite is the sparking chair. Two seats and a twisted back to keep young lovers from touching. Such an innocent naivete built that lovely piece. The curtains and the dark corners know that young lovers won't be kept from touches and kisses and pressed bodies. The room remembers the passionate embraces of the couples that found warmth in each other under the eaves of this roof. No more though. The table is set in the dining room, though the fare is thin and dusty, the room warms from use. I try to make you as comfortable as I can, though it's been so long since the cooks warmed the stoves and the maids dusted away the thick coat of time on the woodwork. The ladies of the house are not pleased with their efforts. 40


Welcome, welcome. The door is open but just for you. Your sweetness is noted. How you draw your love close in the chill of the entry. If only there were split wood to light in the fireplace, you'd see how warm this place can be. How merry it is when the lamps are lit and the stairs shine with carefully oiled perfection. How the carpets are swirls of exotic beauty when the leaves are brushed away. I'd make it perfect for you if only there was more life, like there used to be. You make your way deeper, leading the way with your lady following close behind. Everyone is following close behind, drawn to you like a moth to a flame, the flicker of your life lighting our path. You find the dining room, lit with the few candles we have left, long table set only on one end for you. The light that drew you in, a candelabra casting a pool of warmth in one of the grandest rooms. Two tall chairs, upholstered in velvet and gilded cherubs still shining, sit pulled at an angle, inviting you. A bottle of our finest wine and two goblets sit next to plates filled with what we remember, fine offerings once so frequent now flittering shadows remembered only sometimes. You sit in the light, staring at the food. Muttering things we don't understand yet. You move so much faster than we do, but soon we hope, you'll tell us things. I'm sure you will be the toast of the house. Embraced and loved by all. Yes, I know you will, for the others already gather, outside the pool of light. Sitting in the chairs, watching you sip the wine they offered up. Enjoying the warmth of your fluttering words. Missing how it felt to be like you. How they want to feel it again. At last, the moment of truth. 41


You came here together, some kind of test of strength or of your bravery. You laughed as the others pressed in, knocking things to the floor in their need to get close. That pool of light on the table a thin shield, a false blind set by the many who live in these walls. My walls. They rush in when the light finally sputters, clutching you with all their strength. They know you will love it here. You'll be treasured by them. A new family. And your love for each other? It never has to die. That is my promise to you. My promise as the breath freezes in your lungs, crushed out by the many who inhabit my walls, my rooms, my floors. My family. We are a wonder of memories. You will never become bored. You will add your own knowing to ours and we will grow together. As your spirits rise in the silky dark and your eyes open to the beauty of all that sustains itself in my walls, the lovely existence that waits for you, the others gather you up and lead you about, dressing you in their ideas, feeding you their memories of life, you glance around and smile.

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I part my planks, allowing the husks of you, your detris cocoons of unshackled skin, to fall into the underneath of me. You'll never need them again.

Welcome Home, dear ones.

End



Contributors TO SEEK A SPELL - 7 Deborah W. Sage is a native of Kentucky, USA. She has been published in Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Eternal Haunted Summer, Literary LEO, and the 2022 Dwarf Stars Anthology. A former business executive, who after years of being committed to the bottom line. is gaining equilibrium in her psyche through her endeavors in folklore. Image: Evelyn DeMorgan, 1903

ASHES OF ROSES- 9 Renee Carter Hall's short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Strange Horizons, Podcastle, and Daily Science Fiction. She lives in West Virginia with her husband. Readers can find out more about her and her work at www.reneecarterhall.com, and she's also on Twitter as @RCarterHall, retweeting probably too much political stuff and definitely too many cat pics. Image: Artist Unknown from 1897 copy of Beauty & The Beast

THE LAND BY THE SEA - 11 Idalene is a speculative fiction writer and poet who has had work included in anthologies published by World Weaver Press, Darkhouse Books, and Transmundane Press, among others. She lives in Denver, Colorado, and collects vintage toys and books. Image: Lionel Walden

HUNTER’S MOON - 12 M.P. McCune lives in New York City with her family, which includes a bearded dragon. She primarily writes flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work has appeared or will be appearing in Atlas and Alice, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Mythic Picnic Tweet Story Project and The Vestal Review. She frequents Twitter as @MPMcCune2 Image: Julius Sergius Klever, 1908

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Contributors THE LADY & THE GHOST - 16 Jennifer A. McGowan won the Prole pamphlet competition in 2020, and as a result, Prolebooks published her winning pamphlet, Still Lives with Apocalypse. She has been published in several countries, in journals such as The Rialto, Pank, The Connecticut Review, Acumen and Agenda. She is a disabled poet who has also had Long Covid for 15 months at time of writing. She prefers the fifteenth century to the twenty-first, and would move there were it not for her fondness of indoor plumbing. Image: from Pixabay

THE FLOWER WITCH - 22 Ellen Huang (she/her) wears the occasional cape and writes lots of fantasy. She reads for Whale Road Review is published/forthcoming in K’in, Sword & Kettle Press, Grimoire, Gingerbread House, White Stag, From the Farther Trees, Apparition Lit, Awkward Mermaid, Sirens Call, Crow Toes Quarterly, Lanke Review, and more. She has a few simultaneous projects in her tentacles, including a fairytale chapbook, a diverse fantasy collection, and an ace horror anthology. Follow if you wanna: worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com Image: Kay Nielsen, 1925

THE PEASANT, THE PEA & THE GHOST - 27 Carol Scheina writes and edits as a freelancer. In free moments, she dreams up strange stories while trying to keep the cat from jumping on the keyboard and messing everything up. She has been published in the Winter 2018 edition of Enchanted Conversations. Her work can be found at https://carolscheina.wordpress.com/.

Image: Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1860

IF THE BODY FITS - 33 Julia Stilchen grew up loving all things fantasy, paranormal and science fiction. She especially enjoys reimagining fairy tales, retelling them with an entirely new spin. Aside from writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, occasionally playing video games, and working on creative projects. Image: from Pixabay 47


Contributors THE WORD WITCH - 37 Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books. She is also Enchanted Conversation’s special project’s writer. Image: Edward Robert Hughes, 1901

WELCOME HOME, DEAR ONES - 40 Donna J. W. Munro teaches high schoolers the slippery truths of government and history at her day job. Her students are her greatest inspiration. She lives with five cats, a fur covered husband, and an encyclopedia son. Her daughter is off saving the world. Writing is Donna’s painful passion. Her pieces are published in Corvid Queen, Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), It Calls from the Forest (2020), Borderlands Vol 7 (2020), Pseudopod 752 (2021), and many more. Check out her novel, Revelation: Poppet Cycle Book 1, and her website for a complete list of works at https://www.donnajwmunro.com/. Image: from Pixabay

W.H. Margetson, 1908

Kay Nielsen, 1914

E.R. Hughes, 1908

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Wojciech Gerson, 1850



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