a Valentine’s day missed connection

Missed Connection – Centennial Park

For years I fed the birds at your feet from the little bench across the path. I hope you could hear their song when you were made of marble, or plaster, or whatever it is statues are made of.

This morning, as the sun shone and the songbirds clung to your outstretched fingers, trilling their song, you came alive. I thought my heart would burst. You were always grey, and suddenly your dress was scarlet and your skin flushed with color. Scratches marred your fingertips where the birds clung too tight. Anyone else would have shooed them away, but you didn’t. You waited until they took wing on their own. I think you must be the kindest soul I’ve never met.

Too shy, too damned afraid, and too unworthy, I watched you walk away unable to find the words to say I love you.

Later, I wondered.  I imagined you were under a terrible curse that finally broke. What if true love broke the curse? What if my love set you free and I was too afraid to speak to you? If there was ever any magic in this world, please. Give me another chance.

I’ll be waiting in the park where your statue once stood. I’ll be there every day from now until forever. You’ll know me by the crimson rose I’ll wear in my lapel. Please come. I miss you.

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Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

the mother Medusa

I am Gorgon. I spelled and cast all through my pregnancy to keep my daughter from my curse. This endless loneliness. The complications of her conception. She was born, whole, uncursed, her head of hair a joy.

I locked her in a spell of blindness for her childhood to keep her safe. There are those who thought me cruel. Perhaps not cruel, but selfish. For twelve years I had the daughter I always wanted, the cuddles, that precious breath of unconditional love.

When she first bled the spell unraveled. She knew it would happen. She gained her sight but lost sight of me. I hid in my shame and my snakes and she was safe. I loved her from afar. We sent each other messages and letters filled with love.

But I did not wish to miss her wedding. I had a tinker make a glass of mercury and silver, a strange alchemy of reflection. I saw her wed her love, aglow with life and promise, everything I wished for her.

I lowered the mirror, foolish and sorry for myself, and brought it up too fast, catching a glimpse of my own unfamiliar face.

And turned to stone.

I did not know my victims were still conscious, screaming from their mortared prisons. The mirror dropped, shattering on the ground, one last reflection of her smile, before it turned to screams.

Now, I sit, a decoration in her garden. The first time she’s seen me, I suppose. I watch over her and my grandchildren. One of them born with snakes of her own…

woman statue with bird bath
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when the Moon came for dinner

We invited the Moon for dinner last week. To our delight, the Moon accepted our invitation and was courteous enough to shrink down for the event. I served a meal of mulled stardust and broiled comets from a recipe book I bought in a dream when I was seven.

The girls, of course, wanted pictures and the Moon obliged. I must say, I am happy with how they turned out. It’s nice to have memories of special guests the girls can look back on once they’re grown.

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Little Nim, who rarely stays up late enough to enjoy the night sky, marveled at our guest and screamed when we tried to take them away.

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Evening, who can often be seen waving to the Moon and shouting “Hi, Moon!” every chance she gets, was especially joyful to see her friend up close.

Toys were pulled out and stories created. Evening insisted the Moon must have dragons, and the Moon did not disagree. Blizzard the cat wanted in on the fun and investigated Evening’s carefully staged dragon silhouette.

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Shortly after taking this photo, Blizzard snapped up the dragon in his fuzzy jaws and ran off with him. Much hissing and fire-breathing ensued. I was embarrassed over the cat’s behavior but the Moon insisted it was the most excitement they’d had since the Pleiades passed through last month.

Blizzard returned with whiskers singed and bent. We haven’t found the dragon yet but we can hear him in the basement at night, breathing fire and munching stolen cat food.

Nim cried when it came time for the Moon to leave. Evening gave them a hug goodbye. I packed up the leftover comets and sent them along in case the Moon got hungry later. We stood on the porch and watched the Moon float up into the sky.

“Can we invite the Moon for dinner again, Mum?”

“That’s up to the Moon, dear.”

 

 

a clutch of mermaid eggs

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It took years of searching under kelp and seaweeds, of slipping past barnacles at low tide, and hunting through the flotsam of a storm surge. At last I’ve found a clutch of mermaid eggs. With care and a stroke of luck, I might be able to hatch them. I’ve studied the manuscripts, the old legends scraped in stone. If I succeed – well, I’ll have a pair of mermaids to raise as my own, won’t I? Shh. Tell no one and I’ll introduce you to them one day.

The Antler, the Witch, and the Queen

The witch used an antler to make a sling beneath her cloak and settled the baby inside. She slipped past the guards, beneath the portcullis, and hurried into the forest.

Hours passed before she heard the howls and snarls of the dogs sent to track them. She lay the sling in the snow, removing the girl-child’s swaddling cloths in haste. Her fingers brushed the Mark of Future Ruler on the baby’s belly. The third girl born with the mark. The King and his knights had slaughtered the others for their sex. This one, the witch vowed to save.

The frenzied dogs drew nearer. Rabbits and birds fled past, leaping over the babe in the snow. The witch pulled her magic quickly to her and whispered a spell of shifting.

The baby cooed as she grew from infancy to womanhood in a heart’s beat. The old antler sling made a crown above her head. The witch thought it fitting.

When the dogs arrived they circled, sniffing, round and round, but only a naked woman, a bear, and the fast fading scent of baby remained. The dogs couldn’t read the mark upon the woman’s belly, or see the bear had the old witch’s eyes.

Whining for their lost trail, the dogs scattered into the forest.

“Best stay in this form for now, little one,” said the Witchbear, gathering the woman in her arms.

The future Queen cooed.

The Witchbear reached for the antler. Best keep it. It made a fine crown.

white concrete building interior with antlers hanging
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Sister Toad

A witch turned Breanne into a toad for making fun of the witch’s warts. “I earned every one with a spell well done,” muttered the witch as she walked away. Now Breanne had warts of her own and hid underground where no one could see her.

The only person she would allow to visit was her sister, Senora, who came every Saturday.

Years passed. The girls grew up.

One Saturday Senora made an announcement. “You should know, I took up magic. I’ve studied and studied and I’ve finally got a spell to turn you back into a girl.”

Breanne croaked with joy.

Senora shut the door and hung her lantern on a root. She cleared her throat and readied herself for the spell. “Toadstools to footstools, nightmares into dreams, turn sister toad into a girl!”

There was a shimmer of light and Breanne the girl stood where the toad had been.

“It worked!” Senora whooped with pride.

Breanne gazed at her hands, whole and unwebbed at last. How she had missed them. How she had missed her own beautiful face! She yearned for a mirror.

Breanne reached out to embrace her sister, grimacing as she noticed a witch wart appear on the end of Senora’s nose. “Gross! You’ve got warts.”

Senora’s anger crackled in the air. “It’s a badge of honor for a working spell.”

“Ugh. Get rid of it.”

“As you wish, you ungrateful toad.” Senora’s spell dissolved, the wart disappeared, and her sister turned back into a toad.

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Toby’s Alicorn Adventure is out and it looks amazing!!

Toby’s Alicorn Adventure, my middle grade fantasy short story about a little girl who finds an alicorn (unicorn’s horn) and uses a magical website to find its lost owner, is out in this month’s issue of Cricket: the Realm of the Imagination!

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It’s a real thrill to see my name in the table of contents of a magazine I love reading with my eldest daughter. She says it’s exciting for her too but… I might win the excitement award on this one.  *wink*

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Artist Benjamin Schipper illustrated Toby and he did a marvelous job. I’m so thrilled to see my characters come to life.

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In the story Toby posts an ad to find the owner of a lost alicorn on a website for magical creatures called the Hag’s List. After posting her ad with directions to her bedroom window to claim the alicorn, a few shady characters turn up.

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My story was inspired by my partner’s misadventures trying to sell a tractor on a buy-and-sell site popular in our area. If you’ve ever tried to sell something on the internet, you can probably relate to the strange responses Toby gets.

I am happy to admit I squealed with delight when I saw the flying rhinoceros got his own illustration!

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If you want to read it for yourself or think your kids would enjoy my story, it is available on Cricket’s website, many fine bookstores, and your local library.

Happy writing!

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo!

After a dangerous voyage from the Rivendell wilds of New Zealand, my print copy of the children’s anthology Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes has finally made it to my mailbox.

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This is a larger book than I had pictured, much bigger than a typical scribbler (school notebook). The print is a nice size for reading and the full page illustrations preceding the stories pop off the page. All of the illustrations were done by artist Jon Stubbington.

The table of contents is a series of those illustrations rather than words, which works well for the younger end of the 3-7-year-old audience. They select a picture and their readers turn to the page to read the title. This frustrates me a little, I’ll admit, being used to titles in my tables of contents, but my girls love this feature.

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My story contribution, Leif the Story Hunter, sits somewhere in the middle of the book. Of course I flipped there to read it first. It’s about a boy who lives in the woods with his father, hunting for stories which they trap inside blank books and sell to the bookstore in the city. It’s a wonderful life, but when they trap the wrong story Leif’s father is held hostage until Leif can catch a replacement. Lief has never hunted on his own before…

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This is a fun book, and what’s great about it is that it’s geared to kids, not adults, on every level of its design. If you’d like to grab a copy, you can find them at the Patchwork Raven.

That’s it for now but stay tuned because the September 2018 issue of Cricket: the Realm of Imagination is out and I’m watching my mailbox for it. It takes a little extra time to make it into Canada but it’s going to be worth the wait because my funny fantasy story ‘Toby’s Alicorn Adventure’ is inside! The girls and I love reading Cricket and I am so excited to see my story inside those beloved pages.

Happy writing!

ghosts of the apocalypse

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The ghost flames flickered over the branches, tasting the sweet sap. For half a breath we thought them safe until the phantom flames shimmered and spread their tendrils. The trees were engulfed. The flames rushed through the forest, devouring everything. When they finished with the Boreal, they started on the Amazon. Not a single dandelion was spared. Life on Earth was over.

Some say the phantom of that fire ate our souls as well, but there comes a bitter heartbreak to being forced off-world which lends itself to poetry and dark, deep thoughts of loss. We, the broken, exist to survive now. Our children will not be burdened by this darkness. For them we carry on.