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.

085

talisman of flight

The phoenix flew, disappearing into the azure skies forever. The sun glistened off his human lover’s fallen tears as waves crept up to steal them. He left her a feather, a talisman of flight. Angry, hurt, and unwilling to forgive him, she left it there.

The waves knew not to touch it.

The rocks held back. The sand shivered and lay still, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

A child toddled along, craving seaside treasure. Seeing the feather she grasped it and up and up she flew, soaring over islands, bays, and oceans, till she landed by the phoenix’s side.

The phoenix wondered what this could mean. Why had his human love sent a child in her stead? Could it be … his? But nay, such things aren’t possible. Are they?

“Bird,” said the child. “Fire.”

The phoenix nodded and sent the child home with fire. A fool’s gift to one too young to fear it.

Her village burned, till the waves came up and doused it, gathering the child and pulling her into the sea. Fascinated by the sky it could smell on her skin.

There it kept her, safe from flames. She walked the seabed a smouldering ember, her head above water. Not sky, not sea, not earth, not flame.

Not happy.

The embers of her skin cracked as she grew, dividing into plates. Toughening with endless callouses and turning green with algae. Her eyes brightened with inner flame and her pupils lengthened into slits. Webbing grew beneath her arms as the talisman of flight twisted them to wings.

She flapped the wings and left the sea, fire roiling in her belly. The dragon soared across the sky. She left the talisman behind, free.

Frightened waves hurried the feather to shore and dared not touch it again.

The rocks held back. The sand shivered and lay still, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

A child toddled along, looking for seaside treasure.

dragon season

We live by the tide rather than the sun when the season’s on. The world revolves around our nets and dragon bellows, catch sleep if you can, there’s a bunk on the bridge. Pee off the side, or pull up a bucket, we don’t spring for luxuries. Besides, urine attracts the dragons from the deep. For gear we’ve got a case of beer and a slicker. There’s a harpoon in the hold, but it’s best we don’t use it. Better to lure them away from the village, far as we can. Rumors say the dragons have a quota of three per village. No more. No less. That’s why we go out three per ship. Kiss your loved ones goodbye, we might not make it. But know if we don’t, they’re safe for the season.