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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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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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.

 

 

 

dark and liquid matters

The soil drinks deep of long-awaited rain. Gnomes are fleeing from their flooded burrows.

The beach is closed for fecal matters, try again tomorrow. The Kraken feeds.

Reflections quiver and shimmer on the rock wall rising from the creek. A sylph’s breath upon stone.

A toxic algae flourishes in the depth of a lake. The lake demon grins and whispers “my garden is blooming.”

The humidity will be high this week and Environment Canada has issued heat warnings. The waterlogged ghosts of drowned people are expected to crowd the living this week. You have been warned.

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It’s been hot and humid on the mountain these past few weeks, making it hard to sleep. Sleeplessness has a strange, twisty effect on my imagination. The above lines are my muddled responses to things I saw or heard on the news. Future stories, perhaps, but the water theme tempted me to gather them together.

In writing news, the editor/publisher of the children’s bedtime story anthology Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes sent me this review of the book, mentioning that my piece, Leif the Story Hunter, was their favorite. That gave me a thrill.

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Print copies of the book are now for sale on the Patchwork Raven’s website for $65 (NZ, international shipping included). My print copy hasn’t arrived yet but I am watching for it.

Happy writing!

fragile things and bubble wrap

“I am Sifa of the Fabled Sidhe, goddess of fragile things. I have been sent to protect you.” The woman tore a strip from a roll of bubble wrap she held in her hands.

My heart fluttered. Should I run?

“Stay still. I won’t hurt you.” Her bright eyes reassured me.

She reached into my chest and pulled out my heart.

“Whump whump,” it said. “Whump whump.”

“I know,” she said, her voice reassuring. “There, there.”

I stared. My heart was an ugly purple and smelled of uncooked meat.

“Would you mind?” Sifa asked, lifting my heart.

I held my heart for her as she wrapped it in plastic bubbles.

“Whump whump,” it apologized.

“I forgive you,” I told my heart.

“Whump whump.”

The plastic crinkled as Sifa stuffed my heart back into my chest. “There. You should be good.”

I straightened up, a tickle in my chest.

“How does it feel?” she asked me.

“Whump whump,” I said, giddy as a child.

“Good.” She draped the last of the bubble wrap round her face like a veil, winked once, and disappeared.

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twisted

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I hide behind the twisted metal wreckage of the daily news. In my darksome cave, I am safe from the monsters of reality.

No one bothers to ask the monster under the bed what he is afraid of. But I’ll tell you, anyway.

It’s you.

The things you do to the children of your world. Yet they have nightmares of me. I’d shake my head and harden my heart, but I’m a monster. I don’t have either. I have to feel it instead.

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.