January 31, 2018

Un rêve d'amour: A Dream of Love - February 2018 - Table of Contents

Enchanted Conversation Magazine
our February Issue:
Un rêve d'amour:
A Dream of Love
Love can be magical or tragic, star-crossed or end happily ever after--an unrequited love for another or two souls that are meant to be.

In this issue, we asked writers to explore the different aspects of love through stories, poems, and for the first time in the magazine, an illustrated tale in digital format.

How do you search for a love who does not want to be found? Can the secrets of a mountain draw lovers together? Does Hades look different when seen through Persephone's eyes? Can you find a knight ready to champion your cause, speeding through the desert with the lights of Vegas in the distance? Is a rainstorm at midnight or a snowfall at dawn the gift the sky gives when it falls in love? Should love hold one captive from its true being?...and more tales and poems on the intangible, glorious, frustrating, beautiful idea of the dream that is love.

The EC Team would also like to thank everyone who stops by and reads Enchanted Conversation Magazine. We hope you enjoy this issue and share your thoughts in the comments sections of the various stories. We’d love to hear from you!
- Amanda, Kate, Kiyomi, William, Angelika, and Craig
In the briny twilight, a storm gathers.
Sabrina N. Balmick

You made my quest yours.
Gerri Leen

She approached him not with fear,
but innocent boldness.
Margery Bayne

He'd known that something
waited there for him.
Deborah Davitt

Though the sky moved through
the universe, it couldn't stop fate.
Marta Pelrine-Bacon

He comes from a world of fire.
Salina Trevino

His heart he opened freely,
the day his eyes gazed upon her.
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

To every problem, there is a solution.
Beverly Alice Black

She built a world that floated in the sky.
L. Long

He feared he would never fall in love.
Laura Diaz de Arce

He shifted tides and tipped the earth
and broke the sky-wide silence.
Kurt Newton

No princes for you, then, my beauty.
Christine Hanolsy

The flowers that bloom in prominence
discover their radiance.
Shobana Gomes

ALL COPYRIGHT to the written works in this issue belong to the individual authors.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amanda Bergloff   CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Kiyomi Appleton Gaines - William Gilmer - A.M. Offenwanger  VISUAL ARTS EDITOR Craig Gassen  COVER LAYOUTS Amanda Bergloff

The Pearl - Sabrina N. Balmick

In the briny twilight,
a storm gathers...
In the briny twilight, a storm gathers, its edges stained grey as pearl. Fishermen scurry to moor swaying boats as a distant horn bellows a warning. King Luke, standing on his balcony, sips salted wine and watches the sea, his mind straying to the sea queen as her storm roils beyond world's edge. This storm might rage two, perhaps three nights. Forever, for all he cares. Tonight marks fifty years since she'd taken her leave of the world.

Laughter rises from the courtyard. The old king peers over the balcony to catch his granddaughter waving, the girl's sea glass green eyes sparkling with mischief. Her grandmother's eyes. He tilts a smile and she shrieks happily. Fat raindrops pelt down. She scampers away with her cousins, trailing laughter like bright ribbon.

Alone again, the king stands in the cold rain. When he is half-soaked and stiff-jointed, he retreats to his chamber. Muttering, he swings his cloak upon a hook before the fire, changes into dry nightclothes, and beds down. Memories of sea glass green eyes flit across his mind until sleep claims him.

Sometime after midnight, the fire dies. There in the hushed dark, the king dreams. Rain trickles like tears through an open casement and trembles across the room, little more than mist. He does not feel the air's chill kiss, or hear thunder crack open the sky. On the far side of his dreaming, the sea queen's voice beckons. He startles awake, an answer upon his lips.

The king lurches out of bed and stumbles to the balcony, ignoring complaining knees and groaning back. Panting, he leans across the railing, both hands gripping stone. He draws an open-mouthed breath, and tastes thunder in the air. A flash teases his eye; it is only his ruby ring, capturing lightning and flinging it out to sea.

A thousand and one thoughts crowd his mind. Dead, she may be. Or alive. He cannot know. Has no way of knowing.

Thumb and forefinger worry at the ring, a tiny beacon in the gloom. Hardly enough to summon anything. He's tried nearly everything, searched each year, wandering up and down the shore like a madman after dreaming of her and only her. Another year has passed, and another passing yet.

His fingers stray inside his nightshirt to fetch out the pearl hanging from its gold chain, her last gift to him, worn close to his heart ever since. He closes his eyes and recalls her skin beneath his palm, her breath at his throat.

"I don’t belong here," she had whispered, before she slipped into the sea with his heart.

Unbidden, he yanks the chain free. It falls forgotten at his feet while the pearl lies within his palm, a nacreous eye. His fist closes around the pearl, draws back, and flings it far out to sea. He cannot search for someone who does not wish to be found. The king withdraws from foam-flecked waves, and returns to his chamber. Behind him, the sea howls.
By morning, to his surprise, the storm has passed. Sunlight pours through his window to paint everything gold. His valet has attended his chamber while he slept, stoking the fire, laying out the day's clothing. A pot of jasmine tea steeps at his bedside. As he reaches for the teapot, a grey-gold wink beckons his weary eyes.

"No." He snatches the offering, cradles it between his hands. His mouth has gone dry and his eyes are wet. The pearl stares back, its grey surface gleaming gold.

Shaking, the king walks gingerly to the balcony. Sea foam dances at the shoreline. The sea curls away from the beach toward golden horizon. Tide rises and falls, bringing boats and news into the kingdom. The sight should be familiar. Nothing, this morning, is familiar. His eyes search the shore until he sees only light.

His hand, fisted around the pearl, aches. Pressed into his palm, he knows, is the pearl's imprint.

She has always been here.

King Luke bows his head and smiles. His fingers uncurl and drop the pearl into a pocket. He settles into his chair to pour jasmine tea, and listens to the whispering tide.

Sabrina N. Balmick was brought up on a steady diet of fairy tales and folklore. When she isn’t dreaming up new fantasy worlds, she leads content strategy and marketing for a national recruitment firm. She lives in South Florida.

COVER Amanda Bergloff

Love is Not Sweet - Gerri Leen

You made my quest yours...
I hated you when we first met
Cocky and so sure of yourself
A wannabe knight in a shining penis car with racing stripes
"Give you a lift?" you said, your eyes narrowing
In a way that said you'd given plenty of other women lifts
In this steed of metal and leather
Normally, I'd have ignored you
Except I needed to get somewhere
To him my everlasting love, my fiancé, my dream
Who might or might not be down here alone

At a conference he'd said would bore me

At a hotel it turned out didn't exist
Even though he pretended to be there on the mobile
Full of the right words of missing me
Loving me
But you didn't need to know that
I weighed my options for my quest
Taxis were in short supply, too many conventions the porter said
So I got in your metallic blue car, feeling the back of my thighs
Stick to the seat, hot in the summer sun
You had A/C but you wanted the wind, the top staying down
Wind blowing my hair as you grinned
The smile of the truly vacant or those who always get what they want
Jury was still out which one you were
"Business or pleasure?" you asked like you really were some cabby
I told you it was none of your business
Which made you laugh and turn the stereo up
Linkin Park blaring
My favorite song and it wasn't what I expected from your playlist
Bon Jovi, maybe, or Metallica if you were some headbanger
But my favorite band?
You glanced at me as I sang along
Smiled as you turned up the music
A smile no longer so vacant
So I told you part of the story
You listened well
We drove the tourist trap that is Clearwater Beach
You patient as I walked into motel after hotel after timeshare
"There's this thing called a phone," you said at one point, laughing
At the glare I sent you as I slid back into your car
"Why search for a guy who doesn't want to be found?"
I held up my finger, the diamond catching the late afternoon sun
Like the stone in the pommel of a sword
"Nice rock" you said as you changed lanes, turning into
The last hotel on the main strip—would I make you check the side streets now?
And why were you even doing this?
It wasn't like I was going to pay you
In silver or gold or my body
"So you love this idiot?" you finally asked as I sat
Unwilling to storm this last hotel
"He's a brilliant professor, well regarded"
As if those things were marks of character
"Can't be too smart if he left you behind"
Your smile free of unwelcome pity
Your truth: you thought he was an idiot for leaving me
I think that was when I began to fall
I closed the car door gently
Suddenly caring how I treated your things
And this time you came in, trailing behind me, your hand on the small of my back
Like a shield or a magic spell, protecting me, steadying me
When I slowed at the entrance to the bar, when I said, "Oh," and stopped
My fiancé, the love of my pathetic life, was dancing with his graduate assistant
Grinding into her, engaged in a mutual duel with body and mouth and tongue
I took my ring off and marched to him
He saw me, his face falling, spouting excuses I didn't want to hear
"I can explain"
"This isn't what it looks like"
"I love you"
I handed him the ring and turned away, giving you the best smile I could
"Mission accomplished.  You're off the hook"
"Not quite yet," you said as you decked him, sending him
Sprawling into a table full of peeled shrimp
That odor would be hell to get out of his clothes
"He's no prince. He'll do it to you, too," you said to the girl
Then you pulled me in, tucked under your arm, and led me out to your car
"He's an ass," you said, and I nodded
There was no arguing such a strong truth
I started to walk away, not sure where I was going
Uncaring that my luggage was still in the trunk of your car
I was unmoored, my happy ending slain
"You need a place to stay?" you asked
I wanted to cup your cheek, grant you a bounty
For being my second on this fool's errand
"You gave me a lift and searched all day
You made my quest yours
Anything else is above and beyond"
Your grin was bright and innocent
I wondered why I'd ever thought
You some creep who waited for lonely women in beachside bars
"My room has a couch as well as a bed.  I'll flip you for it"
I stared back at the motel, wondering if my fiancé was down for the count
Or back up and dancing, vertically screwing that girl
"I'm not very good company"
"Have I cared so far?"
Your smile, your self-deprecating little shrug, the dying sun shining off the metallic
Blue of your oh-so-silly car
I fell even deeper
Rebound, I could imagine my friends saying
Won't last, others would say.
You're too different—that was probably true
But the guy who was perfect for me was cheating on me
What had common ground gained me?
I'd chased the fairy tale and it betrayed me
I walked back to your car as you hurried to open the door
"My lady," you said, mocking but not in a way that hurt
A shared joke, a thing that might grow and become a funny thing we did
You a knight, I your lady
I grabbed your arm
"Thank you"
You kissed my cheek, stubble rubbing against my skin
In ways my ex-fiancé's carefully shaved face never had
"What if we don't bother flipping that coin?" I asked
Voice dipping into a register I hadn't used in a long time
Daring and sexy and full of resolve to lose myself
Your laugh was deep and hearty and full of something strong and real
And just a little bit dangerous
I fell the rest of the way
And landed with a laugh
And now we speed through the desert
The lights of Vegas ahead of us
The penis car is a bronze convertible now
A custom color you spent a fortune on
I lean my head back, let the hot air rush over me
There'll be no Valentine's Day flowers in our room
No champagne since you're a beer and whiskey guy
No hearts anywhere, no florid cards that promise eternity
But as we stop at a light on the outskirts of this neon city
You reach over, squeezing my hand, your smile tender then
Curling up, turning mean, but not at me
"I'm so glad he was an idiot"
The traffic light turns green and we are off in a squeal of tires and
Overtaxed speakers, blaring out our favorite Linkin Park song
"I am, too," I murmur over the booming chorus
"I am, too"
Gerri Leen lives in Northern Virginia and originally hails from Seattle. In addition to being an avid reader and an at-times sporadic writer, she's passionate about horse racing (the racing part, not betting), tea, whisky, handbags, and art. She has work appearing in: Nature, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, Grievous Angel, Grimdark, and others. She's edited several anthologies for independent presses and is a member of SFWA and HWA.
Follow her on Twitter @GerriLeen

Cover Amanda Bergloff
Enchanted Conversation Magazine
on Twitter

The Mountain's Heart - Deborah L. Davitt

He'd known that something
waited there for him...
The miner carved a path to the mountain’s heart,
though everyone said he was mad to think that he’d hit a seam
in this rough, unpromising patch—
not a trace of color in any stone he dredged up from the depths.
But he’d felt something when he first looked at its face,
a tremor in his hands, a twist low in his gut,
and he’d known that something waited there for him.

Nine years he dug, propping and shoring;
spent each night wrapped in the dull ache
of work-sore muscles and delicious exhaustion;
found just enough glistening opals
to pay for the pumps he needed
when the boiling water escaped the rock—
a narrow escape for him, dropping pick
and running up the shaft on scalded feet.

Still, though the mountain seemed intent on his demise,
sometimes trapping him at his claim for months
with a snare of winter’s snow,
and never paid him enough wages to offer
more than a penitent’s diet of bread and beans,
he persevered.

He grew thinner by the year, slower to words
when he went to town; people there
called him a gray ghost, a vagrant,
a lost soul who came down to the valleys
covered in stone dust;
a hermit, but not, to their mind, a holy one;
he never told them of the silent songs
he heard the mountain sing,
of the chorus that water made against rock,
the ringing rhythm of his pick against stone.
He never told them that when the mountain sang to him,
he raised his voice and sang back,
and sometimes, the echoes that he heard,
returned distorted, in some other voice,
calling his name.

In the ninth year, he broke into an open cavern,
a bubble of space deep in the mountain’s bowels,
and as he waited for the foul air to escape,
he felt again that twist in his gut, the itch in his hands,
heard the mountain’s voice
pounding louder in his mind, and hoped that somehow,
through his years of diligence and privation,
to have been found worthy,
as he prepped his lantern for descent.

Deep inside, in a grotto formed of stalactites
and stalagmites, joined together like a grove
of flowing, flowering stone, he found her, growing
like a blossom from their bark, attached
along the long, lithe line of her spine.
Her tangled hair fell like dendrites,
like the swaying branches
of some seared, scarred nerve,
lifting up into the ceiling,
tangling through the branches
of the stone trees;
it gleamed like crystal, unyielding,
flayed his work-rough hand
when he reached to touch it;

When her eyes opened,
he felt neither fear nor surprise,
but met her opaline stare
with dazed wonder.
“Did you call me to free you?” he whispered,
hesitating over the words,
lest the sounds profane the sanctity of the air.

She didn’t reply, but the song rang louder
in his mind, and the sweetness of her sad smile,
was an answer of its own,
as a chill spread through him.

He looked down at his wounded hand,
to find the blood congealing into corundum.
He reached out once more, setting his fingers
against a cheek made of chalcedony,
and endured the poison as it wracked his body
till it reached his heart, as he’d reached the mountain’s,
transforming, transfiguring him,
into rutilated quartz, shot through
with gold, like stars falling from the heavens.

And then his carefully-shored tunnel
collapsed behind him, enwombing them in night.
Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Reno, Nevada, but received her MA in English from Penn State. She currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son. Her poetry has received Rhysling and Pushcart nominations and appeared in over twenty journals; her short fiction has appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Compelling Science Fiction, Grievous Angel, andThe Fantasist.
For more about her work, please see www.edda-earth.com.

Cover by Amanda Bergloff