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Showing posts from June, 2017

Table of Contents, 'Donkeyskin' Issue

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What an issue we have this month! Lots of poems and some stories--all intriguing and entertaining. As usual, the competition was fierce, and it was clear that the challenging original story really made our final contributors use their imagination and writing skills.

All of the fabulous art was created by Amanda Bergloff, contributing editor and art director here at EC.

Here's the table of contents:

Knight of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, Angie Dickinson

Hide, Lissa Sloan

Worth the Wait, Jeana Jorgensen

Courage's Lament, Cara L. McKee

Boyskin, Dusty Thorne

Dishwater Dreaming, Debby Zigenis-Lowery

The Swamp King, Laura Diaz de Arce

With Diamond Dress, Michael Delaney

Knight of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, By Angie Dickinson

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(Based on "Cat-skin," by the Brothers Grimm.)

The tales are never as simple as they seem. My mother’s ending was unhappy, contrary to popular belief, and I have been forced to become my own fairy godmother. Shocking, I know, but there hasn’t been a real fairy godmother in these parts since the days of my great-grandmother. I’ve been told she was the last.

These days, a fairy godmother of one’s own would be very useful, for we have a dangerously mad king. This could be considered an advantage, if you happened to be one of the greedy old lords who pulled the strings behind the throne, awkwardly lifting the limp, royal fingers to sign decrees with an ignorant and complacent scrawl. If you kept the vacant fool happy in his whims, why then, the land would be yours to rule, as a royal advisor with the heart of a tyrant.

What, after all, was the harm in executing all the millers in the kingdom? They could be replaced, and in return, your pockets were lined by the tax reforms that the …

Hide, By Lissa Sloan

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Every girl wants to be chaste Or is it chased? Either way, I ran from you Taking only what I could carry in a nutshell
I thought I knew about men With their twinkling eyes Protective arms And strong shoulders for riding on
But I was a child I did not know
About chins rough with stubble Eager hands And ardent whispers, hot in my ear
I suppose you only want what’s underneath  To get to the meat of it Of me
So I ran  I ran from you and I hid So deep within So deep beneath Ermine and hare and mink Fox and bear and wolf Sun and moon and stars Cloaked in a garment so impossible Not even you will know me
Waiting, watching, I curl around my secrets Crouched in a hollow Under the stairs Outside your door
Where the sound of your boot The touch of your hand The scent of your skin Whisper in my blood That you are not the man I thought
Would you be the one To look beneath the furs and dirt  the glitter and gold  the skin and bone And get to the heart of the matter?
And what would I find Hidden inside your layers Of courtly manners And ani…

Worth the Wait, By Jeana Jorgensen

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I didn’t always flinch at kindness but now a stray hand at my elbow to steady me while carrying trays crumples me.
The first year after I left, I was only good for washing dishes, leaving my fur matted with water and lye while my eyes stared unseeing.
There is no story to remember: here I am only a scared animal that does as it is told with quickly-working sooty fingers.
The second year after I left, something inside me unfurled. Whatever my father reached inside me and broke stirred just a little.
Pastry blossomed under my fingers transforming into sweet buttery shapes with only a few stray hairs and people noticed.
The third year after I left, the cook stopped scolding me the maids stopped teasing me and if the prince noticed, I didn’t.
I wove a beautiful thing and only later knew it a net, too absorbed by suds and sobs that came on suddenly.
The fourth year I could breathe again, wear the dresses without shuddering, touch and be touched without freezing, and I noticed the prince noticing me.
There is no story, bu…

Courage's Lament, By Cara L. McKee

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Oh father, you who helped to give me life and with me truly mourned my mother's death,

you've watched me grow but now your gaze has changed
and fills my fragile form with newfound dread.

Oh father, you have haloed me in heaven
and yet you cannot see the worth of me.

Oh father, you have lustered me in moon
yet won't reflect upon your monstrous will.

Oh father, you have splendored me in sun
that I would set, burning my form away.

You cannot see my heart within my form
and would possess me, hoard me to yourself.

Oh father, all you see is what you want
and not what I've become, nor what we had.

Oh father, I would beg you let me go
for I fear what you may do to your soul

which is already shadowed and so I
shall hide my light, shall flee, dressed in the drab

of donkey skin, and yet still not escape
for all the world is filled with foolish men

who wish to capture women's fragile light
all heedless of the person there within.

I cannot help but glow and grow and change
my weakness is no offering …

Boyskin, By Dusty Thorne

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Long ago, in a golden palace atop a tall mountain, there lived a dangerous king and his captive queen, a woman whose beauty had so enticed the king upon their first meeting that he had conquered her entire village, just to possess her. He had married her almost immediately, and within a year, she had become pregnant with the king’s child, henceforth delivering a daughter on the night of the harvest moon.

Not all was well, however. As the queen had never wished to be taken from her home, she deeply resented the king for all he had done to her, though she never felt brave enough to say so to him. Instead, the queen focused on helping their daughter to grow up in the golden palace as well as she could, often by schooling her to understand and predict the king’s mercurial moods in order to avoid confrontations with him. Meanwhile, her daughter befriended many of the servants in the king’s palace, as she was not permitted to venture far beyond the palace, nor down the side of the mountain, …

Dishwater Dreaming, By Debby Zigenis-Lowery

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Dare I hope? Steaming water reddens my hands, Skin once white as apple blossoms And smooth as velvet petals.
The prince has asked for a cake baked by me… Did he see? How could he see Beyond this stinking Pelt I wear?
Dare I hope He has seen beneath this shaggy skin? I rinse a heavy pewter cup, Take up the next.
Once I caught the eye of a king. I shudder. How the thorns and branches of the wood Tore at my face and hands As I fled My own Father.
But this time it is a prince, Young, winsome. I rinse the last cup, Dry them all quickly with The rough, Homespun Cloth.
I shall sneak into the orchard. Aye, when I am done. The apple trees are blooming, Their petals will be just the thing To transform these work-worn hands To the hands of a queen.
Debby Zigenis-Lowery is a reteller of folktales, a historical fantasy novelist, and a poet. You can find her blogging at https://literatelives.wordpress.com/ or indulging in her favorite addiction at https://www.pinterest.com/debbyzig/.

The Swamp King, By Laura Diaz de Arce

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Once there was a rickety, old house between a large orange grove and an ancient hidden swamp. It was a small cottage that sat on stilts to account for the times the nearby river flooded. It always seemed a little unsteady, and if a hard storm came, the walls would creak and the house would sway this way and that. The people who lived inside could live and die by the strength of the storm, always fearing that a harsh one would blow them over.This cottage sat next to an orange grove, when the wind blew west the air would smell like sweet fresh citrus. But when the wind blew east, it would be the hot, moss-ridden breeze of untamed wet air and decay. The swamp had a fierce reputation for the people who lived near it. It was filled with poisonous snakes, alligators, and predators of all kinds. If the rain came there was no safety from the climbing waters. More than one hunter had disappeared in that swamp looking for game, and search parties were often too afraid to go near. They said that…

With Diamond Dress, By Michael Delaney

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He tells me nightly as he brushes the golden locks that keep me here, we're gazing at my likeness
Why do I feel like the pale reflection?
Blue eyes stare back at me my mother’s, he says his little princess is growing up, it’s not fair being the fairest.
Running a hand through silver hair, he compliments my blood red lips I bite my tongue
Focus on the frame as his hands trace mine a familiar line only wants my happiness where’s my happy ever after?
I’ll do anything he says, with diamond dress waiting in the wings should I fly into his arms just name it even Rumpelstiltskin’s name is not too much to ask
“Bring Mother back,” I tell him.

Michael is a short story writer and occasional poet, with a passion for fairy tales, folklore and mythology.  His work is featured on the website Mythraeum, and his Native American fairy tales were finalists in Crown in a Box's short story contest, "Redefine a Princess."

London, We Are With You

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London, Manchester--the U.K. has been suffering terrible bombings and other public attacks in the last few days. And that recent tragic and terrible Grenfell fire is so unutterably sad.
Today, I woke up to find that it looks like some lunatic creep drove a van in a crowd of people just leaving Ramadan services.
All I have to say today is that no matter how crazy the US may seem these days, the overwhelming majority of us send love and compassion to our great ally and friend.

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology Review, By Amanda Bergloff

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Norse mythology has been enjoying a pop culture revival lately both in theatrical films and on television. Marvel Studios movie, Thor: Ragnarok, (to be released in November of this year), the History Channel’s, Vikings, (now in its sixth season on television), and the critically acclaimed cable TV adaptation of NeilGaiman’s book, American Gods, (featuring an incarnation of Odin, the All Father) are examples of these tales working their way into our modern storytelling narratives. When I saw NeilGaiman’s latest book, Norse Mythology, at Barnes and Noble, I thought it was a good time for me to familiarize myself more with these myths.
The book was not what I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. Quite frankly, I thought Norse Mythology would be all new stories, featuring Gaiman reworking these tales into new takes on the characters in the Norse pantheon. What I found instead were straightforward, traditional retellings of the original myths. Gaiman notes that he went back to the oldest s…