October 19, 2016

Cover Reveal--He Sees You When He's Creepin': Tales of Krampus

Krampus is the cloven-hoofed, curly-horned, and long-tongued dark companion of St. Nick. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, within these pages, he’s always more than just a sidekick. You’ll meet manifestations of Santa’s dark servant as he goes toe-to-toe with a bratty Cinderella, a guitar-slinging girl hero, a coffee shop-owning hipster, and sometimes even St. Nick himself. Whether you want a dash of horror or a hint of joy and redemption, these 12 new tales of Krampus will help you gear up for the most “wonderful” time of the year.

The publication date is Nov. 22. Mark it! 

Featuring original stories by Steven Grimm, Lissa Marie Redmond, Beth Mann, Anya J. Davis, E.J. Hagadorn, S.E. Foley, Brad P. Christy, Ross Baxter, Nancy Brewka-Clark, Tamsin Showbrook, E.M. Eastick, and Jude Tulli.

Table of Contents:
Villainess Ascending by Steven Grimm
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping by Lissa Marie Redmond
Santa’s Little Helper by Beth Mann
The Business of Christmas by Anya J. Davis
Schadenfreude by EJ Hagadorn
Family Tradition by S.E. Foley
Krampus: The Summoning by Brad P. Christy
The Outfit by Ross Baxter
Family Night by Nancy Brewka-Clark
A Winter Scourge by Tamsin Showbrook
Bad Parents by E. M. Eastick
Memo From Santa by Jude Tulli

The awesome cover is by Samuel Connor Anderson. Find his work at: http://bit.ly/2eG1oIU
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Crossing Over: The Return of the Fairy Tale Dead, By Lissa Sloan

Summer is over.  Autumn is here.  It is almost time for Halloween, Samhain, and Day of the Dead--the time when the barrier between the worlds grows thin and the dead can return.  Myths and fairy tales are full of souls crossing back from the other side, or even the living going to the other side for one reason or another.  Many of the dead have unfinished business on earth, which often involves benefiting those they have left behind.  For instance, the head of the Goose Girl’s murdered horse, Falada, is still able to speak to his mistress and bear witness to the crimes committed against her by her handmaid.  The king overhears Falada and investigates, and in the end, the Goose Girl takes her rightful place as the prince’s wife, and her scheming handmaid is punished.  In "The Three Pennies" (which is included in Beyond the Glass Slipper, found HERE) a soldier pays a dead man’s debts to stop the man’s creditors from digging up his body.  To acknowledge his gratitude, the dead man accompanies the soldier on his travels, only able to go to his eternal rest when he has brought about the soldier’s happily ever after of marrying a princess and settling down in a comfortable castle. 

Sometimes though, the dead desire justice, possibly even revenge.  In the English tale Binnorie, when a dead princess’s breast bone and hair are made into a harp, the harp sings the terrible story of the princess’s death in the presence of her sister—the murderer.  This tale is similar to "The Singing Bone," in which the murdered younger brother’s bone becomes the mouthpiece to a shepherd’s horn and sings the story of the older brother’s treachery.

While some characters temporarily return from the dead through their own otherworldly magic, others experience a complete resurrection at the hands of the living.  Snow White returns from the dead with a kiss from a prince, or the removal of the poisoned apple from her windpipe.  The murdered brother in "The Juniper Tree" is able to come back to life after his sister properly buries his bones under the tree and he punishes his killer.  While not officially declared dead, Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny likely did not survive being eaten by the wolf, so their reclamation from his belly by the woodsman is a resurrection of sorts.  The heroine in "Fitcher’s Bird," on finding the body parts of her husband’s previous wives, puts them back together and returns them to life.  Similarly, the Egyptian goddess Isis seeks out the scattered pieces of her husband Osiris, bringing him back to life so they can conceive an heir to take the throne.

Perhaps less common are the tales when the living visit the land of the dead.  In Greek mythology, widowed Orpheus descends to the Underworld to beg that his beloved wife Eurydice be allowed to return with him to the surface.  His request is conditionally granted; Eurydice can follow her husband to the surface if he does not look behind him until she is out of the underworld.  Sadly, he looks back too soon, and he must return to the world of the living without her.  In The Devil’s Sooty Brother, an out-of-work soldier agrees to serve the Devil in Hell for seven years.   When the time is up, he returns to the world of the living to claim his rewards.

While most characters make a brief return from the dead, or come back for good, Persephone is an exception.  Kidnapped to become the wife of Hades, Persephone spends half of every year as Queen of the Underworld, and half in the world of the living with her mother Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. This story is one of my favorite expressions of the very human longing for the return of our beloved dead.  Perhaps this is why myth and fairy tale characters have so many encounters with the dead.  It’s just another way that fairy tales can satisfy our deepest wishes, even the ones that can never come true.  

What are your favorite fairy tales featuring the dead?  Join the Enchanted Conversation in the comments!

Illustration from "The Singing Bone."

Lissa Sloan's poems and short stories are published in Enchanted ConversationNiteblade Magazine, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, and Frozen Fairy Tales.  “Death in Winter,” Lissa's contribution to Frozen Fairy Tales, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Visit her online at her website, lissasloan.com, or on twitter: @LissaSloan.
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October 10, 2016

Finding Treasure: The Detectorists

Riches hidden in deep, dark caves and buried deep and forgotten in the earth are the stuff of dreams and fairy tales. Think of the caves in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," or "The Tinder Box" or the stalk leading to gold in "Jack and the Beanstalk."

All of these stories tell of everyday guys suddenly becoming rich. And we've probably all dreamed of  sudden riches through the lottery or some lost rich relatives. These are the the little stories we tell to take us through the mundanity of regular life.

And then there is the absolutely delightful, enchanting British TV show The Detectorists.

Set in a fictional town in northern Essex, The Detectorists, is one of the most ravishingly pretty shows I've ever seen. The countryside of Essex must seem like heaven to its inhabitants. The camera lingers on flowers and fields and bees and blue skies. Surely no ball Cinderella dreams about could be more lovely than Essex in the summer: I want to go there!

So how does this little, gentle comedy relate to dreams of riches found in fairy tales? The Dectorists are members of a metal detecting club. They dream of finding Saxon or Roman gold. The two extremely ordinary main characters have the usual humdrum lives of 21st century folk, much like the characters at the beginning of fairy tales. They fail to find gold. They struggle with everyday love and life, just like the rest of us. Indeed, the ordinariness of Andy Stone (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance Stater (Toby Jones) is a huge part of the show's pleasingly slow and gentle feel. Yet, the show is often subtly sharp humor and isn't always happy. It's not a sweet show, but for fans of big, loud laugh track comedies, slow TV that is The Dectorists is probably not going to have much appeal. 

But for those of us who still dream gently of a life less ordinary, The Detectorsits is a fairy tale of a show full of weirdness and hopes and the real love of friends. It's available in the US on Netflix, and if you are a lucky British viewer, you already know about it.

(The photo shows Lance on the left and Andy on the right.)

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October 7, 2016

Chosen Authors for EC Ghost Issue

The authors for the Ghost Issue of Enchanted Conversation are listed below. I think it's going to be a fun and offbeat issue. The choices were difficult, and I thank all writers and poets who submitted. Here goes:

Alicia Cole
Megan Hippler
Shari L. Klase
Fanni Suto
Hunter Liguore
Adam Knight
Gerri Leen

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October 6, 2016

Book Giveaway Call for Submissions

Hi Fairy Tale Fans!
I have the urge to do a book giveaway this month. I've given a lot of my books away, and will continue to do so, but I'd love to see someon else's books given away as well.

The reasons why I want to do this include a real desire to see other people's books succeed (when one fairy tale writer rises, we all do), a longing for some variety in book giveaways, and, to be completely candid, I want to continue to see traffic growth here at EC, which is now up to 30,000 page views per month.

There are a few rules for submitting: Your book MUST be connected to fairy tales, you must have an e-book option for the book, you must suggest your book to me    by contacting me at enchantedconversation@gmail.com. The deadline is Oct. 15, by 11:59 p.m., EST.

Hope to hear from some authors!

One more thing: I am not interested in books for kids under age 13.

Here are some of my books, if you'd like to read the kind of books I like:

Beyond the Glass Slipper: Ten Neglected Fairy Tales to Fall in Love With--find it here: http://amzn.to/2dVj0zZ

Frozen Fairy Tales can be found here: 

Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampushttp://amzn.to/2dVjKoD

If you don't use Amazon for e-books, visit  World Weaver Press and looked for the titles. You can find options there: 


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September 28, 2016

Ghost Issue Submission Window Closes Friday

Don't turn your glittering ghost story (or poem) into a sad overripe pumpkin, get it in by Friday, Sept. 30, at 11:59 p.m., EST.


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September 23, 2016

One Week Left to Submit for Ghost Issue

Okay spooky poets and storytellers, you've got one week left to submit. 

Here's a link to submission guidelines:

Inspiration--realistic, isn't it?

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September 17, 2016

Michael McDowell, Read His Books Today

About a week ago, I was looking for classic horror titles to read, and came across the book, The Elementals. It's a Southern Gothic mind blower that builds slowly to a very creepy finish.

I was left asking who is this author, Michael McDowell, and how could I have missed him for so long?

I was hooked. I'm a very fast reader, so soon, I was looking for more McDowell. I read Cold Moon Over Babylon, which I liked as well. I just found out that a movie based on it, Cold Moon, will be released next month. I had no idea.

Now I'm reading Blackwater: The Complete Caskey Family Saga, which is not really horror, but has horror elements.

I am entranced. Why hasn't a tv series been made out of it?

So, what does this have to do with fairy tales? Well, there are elements of the supernatural, at a minimum, in each book, as well as transformation. Also, women are very powerful in his books and make things happen. They don't stay victims long, when they are victimized.  This guy got women as people.

Oh, and he also wrote the screenplays for Beetlejuice and and Nightmare Before Christmas. Had he not died an untimely death, on Dec. 27, 1999, I think he'd be way more famous.

He wrote a lot of his books in the'80s, and, given the popularity of Stranger Things, which was amazing, I think lots of people will be hooking up with relics of '80s culture. Start with McDowell.

But read the fairy godmother issue first, please.
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Fairy Godmother Issue Table of Contents

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The 1% Fairy Godmother Strata, By Janet Bowdan

If you ask me, they get more credit than they deserve
swooping down at the last minute with a wand and a fancy
like that’s going to solve all the world’s problems.  Where
have they been while the rest of us are struggling to get the
work done?  Sure, they came to the naming party, brought a
something useful like “the voice of a lark” or “tresses as gold
as wheat,” flutter of wings, wave of magic wand, bye-bye, see
in 20 years or so once you’ve grown up and gotten interesting.
By which they mean ripe for romance with a side order of
the status quo just to set it right up again claiming to be better
at it
than the previous lot.  Different, maybe.  Less experienced, sure.
And okay, let’s say our fairy godmother pops in, rights a wrong,
restores the lost heiress to her family and high position,
throwing in
a makeover while she’s at it: where was everybody else all
those years
watching as the wicked stepmother abuses her, the oblivious
neglects her, the family she doesn’t fit into bullies her? 
a small flock of bluebirds and a couple of mice were going to
step up?
Thinking that was going to be sufficient?  Why was nobody
or if noticing, why was nobody trying to help? How is that
going to turn out by the time the fairy g shows up—good,
patient?  What view of the world would you have, left to fend
for yourself?

Bio: Janet Bowdan's poems have been published in APR, Denver Quarterly, Clade Song, Verse, Gargoyle, Free State Review, Wordpeace, and other journals, most recently Meat for Tea and Amethyst Arsenic. She teaches at Western New England University and edits the poetry magazine Common Ground Review.  She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband, son, and sometimes a stepdaughter or two.

Image by Emma Florence Harrison.
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The House That Jack Built, By Erin Wyble Newcomb

The house that Jack built sat atop a hill along the well-worn trail of Fairy Tale Forest. He called his establishment “The Giant’s Brew,” and he offered his customers the finest in regional cuisine, all sourced locally. It was a comfortable house, where the fire was always stoked and the wine was always sweet and the bread always rose and the cheese never turned.

But, really, what Jack wanted most was not a house but a home.

So one day, after a suspicious but fortuitous explosion at the local mill, Jack brought home a bride. The mill sat in a charred heap of ashes, which meant Jack had to travel a little farther afield for his flour. That was inconvenient, no doubt, but he’d always suspected the miller of adulterating the flour anyway. And now at least the miller’s daughter, Milli, was free to marry Jack. On balance, the circumstances worked out in favor of Jack’s house, and Jack always paid attention to the balance. It was not a poor house, and Milli’s presence made it so much the richer.

Now Jack and Milli kept house together, and “The Giant’s Brew” prospered. There was magic in the place, folks said. The bean soup was out of this world. The bread was made with flour so fine it was worth more than gold. There was a goose who laid the most glorious eggs every day and twice on Sundays. Anyone could look in on Jack’s house, though, mercifully, it was not a house of glass. Jack and Milli called it a house of dreams.

But all that changed the day Mr. Wolf paid them a visit.

Mr. Wolf took the finest seat by the fire and basked his bare toes in its warmth. He guzzled the wine and tossed the bottles onto the floor, where they shattered. Shards of glass littered the floor, and all Jack’s guests had to tiptoe around the appetites of the Wolf. Perhaps the dream house was, after all, only a house of cards.

Mr. Wolf shed fur all over the chairs and frightened the goose until she passed stones instead of eggs. He devoured the food without bothering to compliment the cooks and left trails of breadcrumbs wherever he went.

At first, Jack and Milli tried to appease the Wolf, not understanding that the nature of the beast is wanting. My house is your house, they said. For every drink and every morsel, Jack and Milli slaved away and never charged the Wolf a cent. Not that he would have given them one, anyway. But it was always service with a smile, and every comfort on the house.

The lady of the house grew fed up first. She’d escaped, with no subtlety but lots of style, from the house of her father and its terrible curse of servitude. She didn’t marry Jack to transfer her bondage from one man to another. Certainly not for the Wolf’s sake. The girl who blew up her father’s business didn’t believe in half-measures, nor halfway houses.

Milli urged Jack to evict the Wolf, but neither one of the proprietors of “The Giant’s Brew” knew how. Mr. Wolf drove business away. The fire in the hearth dimmed and the wine soured and the bread failed to rise and the cheese turned moldy. Still, the Wolf stayed, showing no appreciation for fine food and no discernment of poor fare. He understood hunger alone, and no matter how much Jack and Milli toiled, the Wolf’s belly rumbled for more. The house that Jack built was a safe house no more.

With each passing day, the realization dawned on Jack and Milli: they were prisoners in their own home. Something had to be done, and quickly, before Mr. Wolf ate them out of house and home.

Now Milli, having a personal history and penchant for pyrotechnics, entertained the possibility of burning the house down with the Wolf inside. Jack discouraged this idea, bearing a preference for setting his house in order rather than bringing it down. That was no kind of victory for Milli, but Jack also had no intention of being the fool who built the house so that a wise Wolf could live in it.

One night, while donning the fuzzy white slippers given to her by her fairy godmother, Milli at last knew what to do. She’d call upon Faye, the aforesaid fairy godmother, who’d promised her three wishes and fulfilled thus far only two. Jack slept soundly in bed. The Wolf snored on the hearth rug. Milli nursed two secrets, and the first was Faye, whom she invited into her house with good cheer.

Her fairy godmother stepped across the threshold of Jack’s house. She slipped past the snuffling Wolf and the closed door of Jack and Milli’s bedroom. Milli waited patiently for Faye’s arrival, knowing that the house that Jack built held many doors.

Faye opened the kitchen door, took one look at her goddaughter, and knew Milli’s second secret, a confidence neither Jack nor the Wolf suspected. “A baby on the way!” Faye cooed. “And here I thought I was attending a housewarming party!”

“Not at all,” Milli insisted. “I need your help once more, to clean house before this is a full house.”

Faye nodded. A child would truly make the house a home—but not with the Wolf making himself at home.

Faye had helped Milli move house before. Milli secured the match that blew up her father’s mill, but Faye secured the information of Rumpelstiltskin’s name. And Faye made the match between Jack and Milli that secured their happy, humble home.

The Wolf, though, was a formidable adversary with nothing to lose. He was playing with house money. Faye thought about their enemy: a man and a monster, a lamb and a brother, a king and a slave. He prowled and howled and scowled. He was always hungry, but his belly was full of stones.

In the kitchen, the goose honked in her sleep. Another nightmare about an enemy in her nest, no doubt. She couldn’t understand why Jack and Milli gave Mr. Wolf house room, but she’d lost most of her credibility for complaints when she stopped laying those golden eggs. Faye turned to the slumbering bird and observed the pile of stones that had replaced the eggs.

Here is some of what Faye knew: Stories are like stones. You can carry one in your pocket. You can throw one away. You can skip one across the water, watch it bounce, see it sink. You can believe it’s forever because you don’t see the way it gets worn down in its telling. You can pass stones and you can pass stories. You can build them up and they can weigh you down. They are weapons for a mob or a slingshot. They are memories for the forgetful, which is all of us. There are hearts made of stone and hearts made of stories, and Milli herself made up the heart of her home and the heart of this story.

Milli sat in silence, too, examining her fairy godmother examining the pile of stones. She didn’t know much about stones or stories. But she knew monsters and she knew men. No difference, really. There’s a bit of wolf in all of us, or we wouldn’t get so confused. She couldn’t see clearly because the difference didn’t exist. It was a matter of form, not content. Either way she felt heartsick and homesick for the house that Jack built.

As the two women sat, observing the goose, a plan formed in their minds, and they were content. This was the house that Jack built, but Milli would be the one to salvage their home. There was no other place like it.

Faye weaved a spell around the stones. And as Jack and Mr. Wolf slept, Milli and her fairy godmother surrounded the Wolf with stones. Milli laid the cornerstone and the pile replenished itself until Faye laid the capstone. Mr. Wolf’s stone house was an in-house job, built by dawn.

When Jack awoke the next morning, the only traces of Faye were the tidy housekeeping that he attributed to his wife. He forgot the Wolf, and though from time to time he wondered about the odd stone wall in the house he’d built, he never questioned his wife, and she kept her secrets close to home.

Their baby came to fill their house with joy, and once more “The Giant’s Brew” bustled with business on the high road of Fairy Tale Forest. Sometimes strange noises emanated from behind the stone wall, but the guests’ cheer suffocated the sounds. Sometimes Milli worried that Mr. Wolf, too, could call upon a fairy godmother. She knew Faye’s work was all freelance these days.

And one night, Mr. Wolf did just that.

“Quite the performance,” he nodded to the stone cavern. “You really brought the house down. But it’s a bit claustrophobic for my tastes.”

So Faye used her magic to roll away the stone from one side of the Wolf’s house. He could come and go as he pleased then, with Jack and Milli none the wiser. He came, at last, to consider it his home away from home, and the fairy godmother was happy to come and drink with Mr. Wolf while he considered his next two wishes. They toasted the health of Jack and Milli and called down blessings on the house that Jack built.

And as the years passed, Mr. Wolf became something of a homebody. He never used those final two wishes from the fairy godmother, because he enjoyed her home visits too much. It never occurred to him that she might come just the same.

Milli suspected sometimes that Faye worked both sides of their transaction, though she knew that a house divided against itself could not stand. Sometimes, she thought she saw the Wolf coming and going. But mostly, she reminded herself that, after all, Jack’s house was a house with many rooms. She poured her heart into the house that Jack built until it became the house that Jack and Milli built. And who could say what lay in that house?

Erin Wyble Newcomb writes, reads, and teaches in the Hudson Valley. She writes regular columns for Christ and Pop Culture and Organic Hudson Valley, as well as scholarly articles. This is her first foray into fiction, which fits her love for all things fairy tale. She keeps up her compulsive list-making on Twitter @ErinWyble.
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Sun, Sky, Moon, By Priya Sridhar

(Inspired by "Donkeyskin")

I read your scroll demanding
A gown woven from the sun's rays
Embroidered with the brightest sunset
And the darkest flowers

I walked into the woods
Past the tallest trees, the thorniest bushes
Climbing the tallest hill
That climbs into the curving sky.

A sheaf of silk hung from my hands,
Dyed the color of marigolds in bloom.
I held it on the hill, feeling the setting sun
Entering the rippling cloth.

I caught each glistening, sweltering ray
So that the silk glowed and blazed
So will your daughter glow
In the gleam of your eye

I read your next scroll,
The handwriting curved and neat
Asking for a dress tailored from the sky
Embroidered with the finest clouds

I climbed the castle's tallest tower
Each step creaking my bones
Until I read the cobwebbed window
And climbed the narrow spire.
Thin muslin, blue and grey
Hung from my fingers
Spun with the stormy gusts
And tore at the fragile corners

I caught each breath of wind
So that the muslin murmured in pain
So will your daughter rip
In the heat of your heart

I read your last scroll,
The demanding words in a nervous scrawl:
A dress the color of our moon
Embroidered with the placid stars
I took white satin to the nearest lake
To spread on a makeshift loom
Carved from the spindliest rowan
Until the stars and darkness blanketed the water.
When the moon showed her face,
I drew her light from the lake's reflections,
A perfect mirror that turned away
Waxy-grey melted with charcoal black.

The satin absorbed these whites and greys,
Turning and twisting in my grasp
So will your daughter writhe
In the grasp of your hands.

Priya says, "Enclosed below is the poem "Sun, Sky, Moon" inspired by the fairytale "Donkeyskin". The idea came from the fact that if the princess had a fairy godmother telling her to get the dresses to delay the marriage to her father, then the king would have a magical servant who could get the dresses.

"Laksha Media has accepted "Memoriam" for publication in their 2017 anthology Where the Stars Rise. Beneath Ceaseless Skies accepted "Jeweled Nawab Resort" for publication in spring 2016. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles published "The Opera Singer" in the 2015 Lovecraftian anthology, She Walks in Shadows. Alban Lake released my novella "Carousel" for publication in fall 2014." Priya has numerous other writing credits.

Image by Harry Clarke.
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The Memory Ball, By Stuart Suffel

The footsteps were familiar, flabby but firm. The baker's son. I did not move from my desk. I glanced at the calendar. Ninety days exactly.

He rapped on the door, opened it and stood on the threshold. He was a giant of a boy, arms like rolling pins made from barrels. “Papa said it would be all right if I called. It being the time.”

Ninety days. Enough time to mourn anyone, according to local wisdom. I didn't answer. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. I smelled the bread he held in his hand. Fresh. I gestured that he enter. He ambled over, placed the bread on the desk before me. “That's just for starters,” he said.

I grimaced inwardly. If Saorcha had been sitting here his father himself would have come, but only after sending a basket of baked goods every day for a week first. But I was not Saorcha. I nodded a thank you. The bread did smell good, and I was hungry. I hadn't eaten since yesterday and it was noon now. “Aaron, isn't it?”

He nodded, grinning. “Papa said I need a wife.”

I frowned. A wife would cost a lot more than some freshly baked bread. His father was testing me. I looked at Aaron. He was a harmless fool. I wouldn't be too hard on him. I gestured that he sit. He shook his head. “I have to go back. Papa said to make sure that you said you would help.”

Papa was getting on my nerves. Maybe a sow would be the ideal wife for his son? I nodded. “Yes. I'll help.”

Aaron grinned his thanks. He sauntered towards the door. “Sorry about Lady Sorcha,” he said as he left.

I flinched as I heard my late wife's name. Aaron waved as he left. I knew his sentiment was genuine. Maybe not a sow. Maybe the tailor's daughter. A sweet girl. And just as dumb as the baker boy.

Love was both complex and simple, I reflected, as I picked up the bread and moved over to my meagre fire. It was spring, but I still felt the cold. Spring. No doubt there would be many 'love potion' requests, and more marriage 'assistance' requests. Spring. Not too long ago it was winter.

I poked the fire with one hand and hooked a pot onto one of the cooking irons with the other. The pot contained some cold soup. It would go nicely with the fresh bread. I stared into the fire, watching the flames rise higher. Saorcha made the best soup in the village. Had made. Past tense. She had passed.

I broke off some bread and ate it quickly. The past was for fools and fairies. A popular saying here in the village of Urram. I wondered if it was fools who had made up that saying. Or maybe fairies? Well there was still enough fools around I could ask. Not so many fairies left.

Fairies. Sootasense. What was it she had said to me? That she was leaving Urrum? I glanced at the calendar again. Today. She was leaving today! How could I have forgotten! I jumped up off my fireside stool. I had to say goodbye. Maybe...maybe I could even convince her to stay. Losing Saorcha was bad enough. If I lost my oldest friend as well...

She was still there, sitting outside in the sun. Fairy houses were usually pretty small, but the house Sootasense lived in was almost as big as a human house. But then, Sootasense was almost as big as a human. When my dear mother had asked her to be my Godmother, Sootasense had asked why? My mother, so it was said, answered, “because he's got a big head and tiny shoulders. He's going to need the hands of a big fairy to keep it from falling off.” Not a faint-heated soul, my dear departed mother.

Sootasense grinned at me as I approached. “You remembered then?”

I nodded back, too out of breath to talk.

“Running? Your broom not working?”

This was a ongoing joke. Wizards didn't use brooms. Except maybe to sweep things now and then. Although Saorcha had done most of that – even when I asked her not to. I frowned. I just had to stop thinking of her. I had to. “It's in the shoemaker's shop – getting a new handle fixed,” I quipped between breaths. A version of my ongoing response.

Sootasense laughed, as she always did. “Come inside, I've a going-away present for you.”

I always liked entering her house. It was full of some many colorful bits n bobs, from fantastically colored necklaces, scarves, hats and brooches she made by hand, to crazy-shaped glass vases, goblets, and dazzling mirrors of every size, each with three, four, or more sides. I was shocked by what I seen when I entered. It was empty. Shelf after shelf was completely empty. I felt a sadness hit me in my stomach.

“I have sent my belongings ahead,” Sootasense said. But I didn't respond. She touched my arm.

“Please Walter, sit down.” She gestured to a nearby chair.

I sat, still a little shaken. I looked around the house. “So, it's true. You are leaving. For good.”

She nodded. “It is time,” she said. I didn't know what that meant. She gave a smile. “Here, great Wizard, this is for you.” She picked up a small plain box from off a nearby shelf. I was sure the box wasn't there a moment ago, but such was the way of fairies. She handed me the box. “Open it,” she said.

I opened the box. Inside was a crystal ball. I lifted the ball out of the box. “Oh, a crystal ball, thank you,” I said. “That's ...very nice of you.” I already had six or seven crystal balls – two of which I had bought from Sootasense!

The fairy grinned. “Not a crystal ball. It's a memory ball. Close your eyes, rub your hand across it, then open your eyes,” she said quietly.

I did as she requested. When I opened my eyes I nearly dropped the ball. It was Saorcha. She was dancing and laughing across the village green. I remembered. It was four summers ago. At one of the village festivals. The Festival of Light. I stared at the image. It was as real as I could possibly have imagined.

“Now, close you eyes,” Sootasense said softly.

I didn't want to, but I did. The ball faded to black and so did Saorcha. Sootasense spoke again. “The ball holds many memories. As many as you hold.”

I had to choke back my tears. I forced myself to say something light, to ease my emotions. “I thought you fairies believed it was best to forget about the past?”

Sootasense grinned. “You're thinking of fools,” she laughed. Her face then became serious. “Honor those who have passed, Walter. They shall never die as long as your memory lives. But do not hold them prisoner, and do not let them imprison you.”

I walked with her to the front door. We embraced and I say my goodbyes. I watched her mount her small donkey. I watched her until she disappeared into the distance.

The box now sits above my work desk. It has been there for some years now. My new wife Laura, keeps it free from dust. I still open it, on occasion. Though now the occasions have grown less frequent. In some ways, the fools were right. We cannot live in the past.

But it is nice to visit, now and then.

Stuart Suffel is from Ireland. He writes short fiction and the longer version also. His favorite treat is chocolate sambuca ice cream. He tweets @stuartsuffel.
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