May 23, 2022

Poetry Showcase: Untruths About the Desirability of Wolves, By Megan Engelhardt

 

Editor's Note: Want to know what it's like to be eaten by a wolf? Today's Poetry Showcase feature, originally published in EC's "Little Red Riding Hood Issue" from 2011, is one interpretation of this idea. Enjoy!

People like to think there was something sexy

about the wolf. 

There wasn't. 

It was a wolf and I was nine

and wouldn't have known what to do with a sexy wolf

anyway.


The sexiest thing in the woods that day

was Grandma,

who sometimes still goes dancing

with the widower cobbler from the village,

now that those elves do all the work.


Even if he was a smoldering pillar of manhood

(or wolfhood)

how would that have helped?

It's not like he seduced us into his stomach. 

Not like he batted his eyes

and showed some chest

and told us how beautiful we were

as we crawled into his belly. 


Sexy wolf?  Ridiculous. 


Here's the truth:


He was a wolf, big with big full eyes

and big ears and big sharp teeth. 

His paws were big enough to knock you senseless

with one blow,

his appetite and his jaws big enough

to swallow you whole. 

His stomach was big enough to fit two people. 


Being eaten was fast and it was hot and it was wet

and it was over before I even knew what was happening. 


Being pulled out by the woodsman was like being born,

like fireworks and waves on the beach

and a gasp of air when you've been holding your breath. 


What's sexy about that?


And if I have grown up to become a wolf hunter,

a leather- and wolf skin-wearing hellion,

it seemed only natural,

and what I do with my wolves

is my business.


Megan Engelhardt has previously been published in the Silver Boomer books anthology, From the Porch Swing.


Image: Jessie Willcox Smith

Help support EC is through our Patreon page. There are several tiers to choose from, starting at $1.00. All levels have amazing rewards, and with your generous donation, we will be able to publish even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, so please consider becoming a patron!

May 21, 2022

New Products in EC's Zazzle Store for Summer!

 

Hello Enchanted Friends,

We hope you are all having an enchanting May. We also wanted to let you know that we have some new products in our Zazzle store...and we're adding more all the time!


When you purchase something from our online store, every penny earned from that purchase goes to paying the wonderful writers we publish on our site and also goes a long way in keeping EC around, so please, check out some of our fairy tale products below:

"Queen of My Own Fairy Tale"

DESIGN AS A

& MUG

Show everyone that you're the queen with these products made for any fairy tale fan.

"Queen of the City of Mirth"

VINTAGE BOOK COVER DESIGN AS A

Gorgeous vintage book cover tote to carry all those fairy tale books.

"Eat. Sleep. Read Fairy Tales."

DESIGN AS A

Do you love fairy tales? Well this "Eat. Sleep. Read Fairy Tales" canvas tote and tee are perfect for any fairy tale fan.

"Fairy Tale Animals"

DESIGN AS A

Charming fairy tale woodland animals are here to enjoy some tea in this mug with you.

"Book Worm? You Mean a Book DRAGON"

DESIGN AS A
You're not a "book worm," you're a "book DRAGON" - so let everyone know with this fun canvas tote that you can carry all your books in.

"Cinderella Silhouette"

DESIGN AS A

Let Arthur Rackham's gorgeous silhouette art inspire you to create your own stories in this fairy tale inspired notebook.

"Sleeping Beauty"

DESIGN AS A

MUG

Beautiful classic Sleeping Beauty design on this mug that will please any lover of fairy tales.

 

"Queen of the Ebony Night"

DESIGN AS A

NOTEBOOK

This notebook with a gorgeous vintage illustration, by Edmund Dulac is a perfect journal for your dreams.

"Lost in a fairy tale. Don't want to be found."

DESIGN AS A

Another way to help support EC is through our Patreon page. There are several tiers to choose from, starting at $1.00 up to our new $25.00 Enchanted Scholars Tier that just launched - Details HERE.


All levels have amazing rewards, and with your generous donation, we will be able to publish even more stories, poems, and articles in EC, so please consider becoming a patron.

Thank you all and

Stay Enchanted!

Kate & Amanda

May 20, 2022

Update: Chosen Authors Have Been Contacted


Hello Enchanted Friends:

I’m still waiting for responses from all of the writers I contacted, but I have already sent emails to the people whose stories and poems have been accepted. If you have not received an email by now, on May 20, it means your submission was not chosen.

I’ll announce the names of chosen authors tomorrow. 

As has consistently been the case this year, there were many good submissions I had to pass on. Don’t let rejections from EC get you down.

Stay Enchanted!

Kate

***

Image is by Jacques-Émile Blanche, and is called “Woman Reading.”

Update: Still waiting for a response from one author due to my goof up. But ALL chosen authors have been contacted by now.

May 19, 2022

Throwback Thursday: A Burning Tale, By Lissa Sloan


Editor's Note: There are those that walk their own path and are misunderstood. Thought of as cruel and unfair, when their story is told from their perspective, a different understanding can be had. After all, fair is fair. Please enjoy author Lissa Sloan's take on a classic story in today's Throwback Thursday, originally published in 2016.

They say you should not speak my name. They say if you so much as whisper it, I might appear. But on nights like tonight, some folk cannot quite resist. How beastly she is, they say, with her jagged teeth, gobbling up small children who stray off the path. How terrifying is her hut that turns on chicken legs, with its fence made of thigh bones and burning-eyed skulls. How fearsome are the three horsemen she commands, the first black as the night, the next white as the dawn, the last red as the sun.

 

And just between us, say stepmothers to stepsisters, she would be just the thing to rid us of this tiresome bit of baggage, this motherless, worthless servant girl.

 

They say I am only a story. Too wild, too ancient, too ravenous to be true. But some nights they do still think of me, if by chance their flames go out. For on this shortest night, when my Dark Midnight is at his weakest, all good folk make their fires the brightest. They make them burn high and hot, all the brief night long, feeding flames to my Red Sun that will last him all the year. If by chance, on this night of all nights, if the fire has gone out, if the last candle flame is guttering and sputtering, then stepmothers and stepsisters could almost believe I am real after all.

 

For they know one more thing about me, besides my crooked nose, so long it touches the ceiling of my hut when I lie down to snore my rattling snores, besides my red eyes and my iron teeth and my hideous claws. They know I keep the light burning.

 

Off with you, they shriek at the child, and don't come back without a light. They believe in me just enough to think we will do their neglected work, this little slip of a girl and me. Or they send me their unwanted rubbish, this leftover girl, in hopes that I will finish her off. I don't suppose they care which. They believe I will do their bidding.

 

And so they send her, a hungry little waif with nothing to guide her but the shine in her eyes and the doll in her pocket. She does look good enough to eat. But fair is fair, and I always give my visitors a chance.

 

Oh yes, I know the girl's secret. That little bundle of rags she keeps in her pocket. Her mother-doll. It led her through the blackness, right to my door. Turn left at the path. Now right. Now straight ahead. Tell the hut, 'turn your back to the forest, your front to me,' and it will show you the door. I know the child feeds her doll scraps of meat and crumbs of cake and thimbles full of tea. I know that in return, it does the impossible tasks I set. We understand each other, this doll and I. It nods to me as the girl comes through my door. And I nod back. Fair is fair.

 

And when my hut is neat as a pin, grain sorted and seeds cleaned, I send the child on her way, before my shortest Dark Midnight is over. She must be home before he gallops past her, making way for my earliest Bright Dawn. I give her the favor she requests, for fair is fair and I have my reasons. This red-eyed skull will light her way, speeding her home, task completed.

 

And yet I gave her more, more than she asked for. My blazing skull will light not only the candle and the fire, but the whole house and more. For I have not forgotten stepmother and stepsisters waiting idly inside, thinking I will do their bidding. I do no one's bidding. And yet my Red Sun will be fed. When he follows my Bright Dawn, his mount's hooves leaping into the air to take his place in the sky, he will never be so long or so strong as he is this day. By their burning, the stepmother and stepsisters will feed him so well that he will warm the land and ripen the crops like never before. He will bring plenty and health, full bellies and strong beasts. At least until next year. My Red Sun and I, we make no guarantees.

 

And that blessed, tasty little morsel? The doll in her pocket will whisper to her all she needs to know. Don't go in the house. Hand the light through the door. Run for your life. And she will be wise enough to listen, and brave enough to carry on. That suits me well, for someone must live to tell the tale. And fair is fair.

 

They say I am only a story. But I keep the light burning.

Lissa Sloan's poems and short stories are published in Enchanted Conversation, Niteblade 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. 

 

Image by Ivan Bilibin

May 16, 2022

Poetry Showcase: Waking Up Snow White, By Kim Malinowski


Editor's Note: Today's Poetry Showcase, originally published in EC's "Rain Issue" from 2016, is an interpretation of Snow White where there is a mutual rescue...

I smooth the wet fabric around her collar,
trace and tuck her gown.
We are both wet from rain, and I can see that she has awoken,
tears trickling down.
I taste the brine as our lips
bump.
Nothing happens, she doesn’t pretend to wake up.
I know what dead lips look like—shriveled and pale—like so many lovers.
Too many apples to count. I’ve waited and practiced
and now her lips are soft and full.
I hold her hand, trace a line and whisper—“I know you are awake.”
She takes her hand back.
“I was never asleep, just waiting.”
“Well, I’m the Prince.  I’m supposed to rescue you.”
Rain trickles down my back.  There should be fireworks or something.
Not wet.
“Maybe I’ll love you,” she smiles.
“Maybe I’d like to be dry.”
I brush her cheek with my hand, savoring the softness.
I pick her up, and we go inside.
Kim Malinowski earned her BA at West Virginia University and her M.F.A. at American University. Her work has appeared in War, Literature, and the ArtsMythic Delirium, as well as others.

Altered image by Heinrich Lefler

May 12, 2022

Throwback Thursday: The Kappa, By Kelly Evans

 

The kappa, a creature many believed
did not exist, protected the family,
and it respected the grandmother...

Editor's Note: Today's Throwback Thursday is a tale, based on Japanese folklore, that was originally published in 2018. Enjoy!
There was once an old fishing village in a remote area of Japan. The head family had lived there for hundreds of years and had fished in the nearby sea for just as long. The family had fallen on hard times, and now there was only Takahisa and his aged grandmother. Takahisa’s parents had been fishermen, but had died when he was a child. His grandmother had done her best raising the boy, teaching him about the old ways and recounting traditional tales each night at bedtime. But when Takahisa grew to be a young man, he rejected the old ways, to his grandmother’s great despair.

One day, the grandmother was cleaning fish on the shores of the sea. With her was a kappa, a creature many believed did not exist. The kappa had protected the family since an ancient ancestor had saved its life, and it had grown to respect the family and love the grandmother. The old woman and the kappa worked silently; the kappa’s clawed hands cleaning fish as ably as the grandmother’s wrinkled ones. The kappa was shaped like a monkey but it had the skin of a lizard, scaled and damp, for it was a creature of the water. The kappa always carried water from its home in an indent on the top of its head, for in this way the kappa could move about on land. Those smart enough to trick the kappa into losing this water could control the creature. This was known to the grandmother, but she respected the kappa, and it helped her willingly.

As the grandmother and the kappa were finishing for the day, Takahisa wandered by on his way home. He went to his grandmother but, instead of greeting her respectfully, he called her names, as he often did those days.

“Old woman, why are you still out here? You should be inside, serving my dinner!”

“Grandson, I am old and do not move as quickly as I once did. If you help, I will finish sooner, and you will have your dinner.”

“Help? To clean fish? Why should I help? It’s your duty to make my dinner and to make it on time!”
“And what duty do you perform, that you deserve food?” The kappa’s lips curled in a sneer.
The grandson was shocked; the kappa had never addressed him before. But the feeling was quickly replaced by anger. “I’m the head of this household. I need no other reason to demand that my dinner be served to me on time.” He turned towards his grandmother and gave her a disgusted look. “This old woman is no longer of any use, she’s too slow, the busu.”
At this the grandmother cowered, and there was great sadness in her face. But the kappa was so offended it flew into a rage. “I can no longer be attached to a household where such a man lives.” It glared at Takahisa, who now sported a look of superiority on his young face.
“Good! Be gone, we don’t need you.” The grandson stormed off, the kappa returned to his pond, and the grandmother knelt by the water’s edge and wept.
For weeks, it seemed the kappa had disappeared. But the grandmother remembered the old ways and prepared herself for what she knew would come. Then one night, an old fisherman was attacked while returning home late in the evening. He was horribly wounded, and the other villagers were terrified when they spoke to him.
“Tell us what happened, Masa.”
The old man tried to sit up in his bed, to better address the villagers who’d come to visit, but he was old and weak, and his injuries great. “I was walking home, having caught only a single fish to feed my family. The moon was full and lit my way.”
He gulped in air before continuing. “Suddenly a heavy fog descended around me, and I could no longer see the path home. I know the way so continued, my feet guiding me. Then I heard a noise, a wet slapping sound close behind me. I stopped and the sound stopped; as soon as I started again, the sound resumed. I began to run, when I felt knives in my back, sharp and fierce.” He rolled on his side and exposed his back to the visitors, who gasped when they saw it. There were five angry, ragged gouges running from his right shoulder down his entire back. The wounds were already infected, running with pus and corruption.
The fisherman continued his tale. “The force of the pain caused me to fall, and I scrambled on my hands and knees. A foul odor enveloped me, and I heard laughter behind me, deep and muffled, as if coming from beneath the water. I tried to get away but something grabbed me by the ankle and dragged me back.”
The neighbors gasped and looked at each other. “How did you get away?”
“I don’t know.” Masa shook his head. “I kicked as hard as I could, and finally I was released.”
Takahisa’s grandmother was in the crowd and saw the wounds. She alone knew what had harmed the old man and prayed this would be the end of it. She knew it wasn’t, though.
More attacks followed, and no one was safe. A young farmer was left mutilated after a particularly vicious assault, his left arm ripped from his shoulder. If not for a skilled healer, he would have died from his injuries. Men, women, and children were hurt, and the injuries grew until the villagers feared leaving their homes.
A few brave men knew they had to fish to provide food for the village and ventured out cautiously. But all the fish were rotted and inedible because the kappa had cast a spell so that anything removed from the water would be poisoned. The village soon began to starve.
Yuriko, Takahisa’s girlfriend, met with the young man in the field where they’d shared more joyous times, and begged him to apologize to both his grandmother and the kappa. Despite her pleading, Takahisa was still too proud.
“You’re just an emotional woman, don’t bother me with your tears.”
“Taka, people are being attacked, and the sea has been poisoned. The villagers are starving.”
“Bah. There is no magic here, the kappa has no power. All will be well soon enough.”
Desperate, Yuriko tried to reason with the young man one last time. “You must do something!”
Takahisa turned, his eyes flashing his anger. “Why me? As soon as I’m able I will leave this place and go to the city.”
“Your family is the head of the village, we need your help!” But Takahisa had stopped listening. Scowling, he strode away from Yuriko, leaving her standing alone.
Sighing, the young woman headed home across the field, passing close by the kappa’s pond. As she neared the water there was an enormous splash, and the kappa suddenly appeared. The creature leered wickedly at Yuriko and, when she tried to run, it grabbed her arm with its scaly hand and pulled her closer, leaving red welts on her flesh. The terrified girl screamed and struggled to get away but it was no use; the kappa would not let her go. The kappa dragged Yuriko into the water and held her captive, beating the poor young woman daily.
When Takahisa heard what had happened to Yuriko he was furious, and rushed off to fight the kappa, vowing to kill it. When he arrived at the pond, the creature was waiting for him. Its lips, cold and grey, grinned at the boy while its beady black eyes silently mocked him. In his haste Takahisa had forgotten a weapon, but was sure he could kill the kappa with his bare hands. He lunged at the creature again and again, trying to grab the thing’s neck.
The kappa sensed each move before it happened and easily avoided every one of the grandson’s attacks. It took pleasure in the young man’s efforts, and rewarded Taka with a swipe of its clawed hand each time. Takahisa grew angrier with each attempt, and was soon so frustrated, he threw his head back and screamed before rushing away, the kappa’s mocking laughter following him. When he returned home, his grandmother tried to help him with his wounds but Takahisa shrugged her off.
“Be gone, old woman, leave me be.”
“My grandson, you will not defeat the kappa in this way.”
The grandson growled. “And what do you know about it? The creature is cunning but I was unprepared. Tomorrow I’ll win the fight and rescue Yuriko.”
“But grandson…”
He interrupted. “Speak to me no longer, busu. This is none of your concern.”
The next day, armed with a ceremonial knife that was once his father’s, Takahisa returned to the pond and ordered the kappa to appear before him. When there was no response, he repeated his order more loudly. Still nothing happened. He cursed and swore oaths, yet the kappa did not appear. Takahisa returned home in tears. His honor demanded he save Yuriko, but he was failing. He was losing his love and could think of nothing to save her.
That night, he remembered the days when he had been a young boy, and his grandmother had held him and told him the old stories. He crawled from his bed and stood before his grandmother, who had stayed up late to mend Takahisa’s cloak. Bowing, he addressed the old woman.
“Grandmother, I beg your forgiveness. I’ve behaved most shamefully and have been an insolent grandson. I’ve treated you very poorly, and I apologize deeply.” When he finished, he looked up and saw tears running down his grandmother’s face. Thinking he’d hurt her further, he rushed to his grandmother’s side and threw his arms around her like he’d done when he was a child. The old woman laughed, and they talked late into the night.
The next morning Takahisa rose early, made tea for his grandmother, and snuck out of the house quietly so as not to wake the old woman. He approached the pond and stopped by the water’s edge.
“Kappa! I respectfully ask to speak with you.” Takahisa backed away from the pond. A few moments later, the kappa appeared, its scaled skin dripping. The creature stood before Takahisa and waited. The grandson took a breath.
“Kappa, I’m ashamed of my behavior, both to my grandmother and yourself. I offer my apology.” Takahisa bowed deeply to the kappa and waited. He remembered from the stories his grandmother told him that the kappa was a very old and traditional creature. Sure enough, the kappa, following the proper etiquette, bowed back to Takahisa. As it did so, the water it carried spilled from its head onto the ground. The kappa shrieked, a cold strangled sound, and froze.
Takahisa approached the kappa slowly. “Please accept my apology, I meant you no harm. I only wished to show you that I’ve changed. I humbly ask you to release Yuriko, and return to my family and help my grandmother again. I promise I’ll be respectful of the old ways. And I’ll replace the water on your head.”
The kappa, while frozen, could still talk. It thought for a moment, then agreed to let Yuriko go and return to Takahisa’s family, for it had decided to give the grandson a chance, and it missed the grandmother greatly. Takahisa kept his word and became a great man in the village, kind and helpful to all. The kappa apologized to Yuriko and helped to heal her wounds. When she was well enough, Yuriko married Takahisa and together with the grandmother they lived their lives in peace.


Kelly Evans lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband Max and two rescue cats (Bear and Wolf). Kelly worked in the financial sector as a trade technology project manager for over 25 years but retired last year to write full time. Her short stories have been published in numerous magazines and E-zines as well as a horror anthology, where her fourteenth century historic-horror story was received with enthusiasm.

Cover Art: "Carps" by Hokusai, Wikimedia Commons
Layout: Amanda Bergloff
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