January 8, 2018

Fairy Tale Flash Monday - Matches

Love can penetrate 
the dark and the cold...
Enchanted Conversation is pleased to present the debut of Fairy Tale Flash with a story from author, Jane Dougherty. 

Fairy Tale Flash: fairy tales, folklore, and myths told in 100-500 words, is our newest bi-weekly feature, and EC is seeking submissions for stories. Read the submission guidelines to what we're looking for HERE. 

Let us know what you think of this story and our Fairy Tale Flash feature in the Comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!

Nobody bought matches from raggedy urchins. They were too afraid of having their purses stolen. The little match girl huddled in a doorway out of the wind and wondered how she was going to go back to her stepfather with almost all of her matches unsold and barely a penny in her pocket. Snow was falling thick and fast and she was so cold she couldn’t have moved from the doorstep even if she had wanted to.

She tried to remember what warm felt like and struck a match just to watch the tiny flame burn. She struck another because it took the numbness from the tip of her finger and thumb. She struck a third before she forgot the feeling of warm. She was forgetting so much, forgetting even where she was supposed to be going. The falling snow and the cold that was like feathers made her forget and feel almost happy.

She struck another match and in the bright flame she saw a face. She saw her mother, dead when she was almost too small to remember. Almost, but not quite. She smiled and struck another match, and the face loomed closer with an expression of sadness. The little match girl struck matches one after the other, afraid to lose the face that bent over her, the eyes full of love that she remembered from long ago. One after the other, the matches died and fell into the snow, and soon there were none left. She blinked. Through the falling snow and the cold and her tears, the face full of concern was still there.

“Mama?” she asked the night and the spent flames. Arms enfolded her and lifted her from the cold step, and before she drifted into a state so close to death she could touch the cold door, she felt the warmth of a real human mother.

Mama? Her lips mouthed the word, and the woman who lived in the house beyond the cold doorstep, the woman who had lost all of her babies at birth, held her tight and nodded.

“I will be.” 

Jane Dougherty is Irish, brought up in Yorkshire and now living in South-West France. She writes stories where the magical and the apocalyptic mesh, where horror and romance meet, and the real and the imaginary cohabit on the same page. Her first YA post-apocalyptic fantasy trilogy is published by Finch Books. She has self-published three collections of short stories, and has poetry and short fiction published in anthologies, literary journals and magazines. 
Check out her Amazon Author Page HERE
Blog: https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
Website: https://wildgeesebooks.com/
Cover ART by Amanda Bergloff

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17 comments

  1. Dear Heavens! Brought gooseflesh and a lump to the throat. I've always disliked the 'moral' proposed in the fairy tale - don't burn all your matches or else to a little girl (and millions of other poor children who live desperately - who has no recourse whatsoever), while this story brings the true message home emphatically!

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    1. Thank you, Petru. I'm not sure whether the author is supposed to reply, but I'd like to :)

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    2. Getting a reply from the author is a good thing, I think! So thanks for responding.

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  2. Beautiful. Sad and hopeful too.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. Poor kid deserved a bit of love.

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  3. What a beautiful twist on the tragic original.

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    1. Thank you, Kate. The original is just too sad for words.

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  4. Definitely evoked emotions in me, from one extreme to the other. Beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Guy. All stories should evoke emotions, but I'd rather cry with happiness than because a child dies.

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  5. Darn you, you made me cry! :) Beautifully done, thank you.

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    1. I'm pleased you liked the story, and that it made you cry. It means you are a sensitive human being :)

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    2. Sometimes too much so. I never liked "The Little Match Girl" - it's too sad. Until now! 🙂

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    3. I'm not sure it's possible to be too sensitive. It's true, it makes life difficult and having a thick skin means you can shrug off its unpleasant aspects, but is that what we should be doing? I sound like Mother Theresa don't I? :)

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  6. I really enjoyed that.
    Thank you :)

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  7. Lovely ending, brought a lump to my throat and tears.

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