September 28, 2018

SATURDAY TALE - Safe Arbor by Judy Darley

My sister nods her branches
with the breeze and murmurs...
I hear my sister’s rumblings through my own dreams and feel the fear spreading through trunk and down branches to the twigs that mimic my fingertips. I sense the shudder of light and dark rushing through her rings. Sometimes we jolt awake at the same moment and I slip out of bed, hurrying to open the window. I see her leaves trembling, reaching for me, and I lean as far as I can out into the moonlit air, murmuring, Ssh, sister, you’re okay, you’re okay.

When morning comes, I make my coffee and carry it across the lawn to the bench I got my grandson to position in my sister’s shelter.

I can hide in you, I tell my old playmate. Among your reaching branches and below your twisting trunk, I can be a shadow, or a speck of drifting dust. I can lie low and pretend to be the earth you rise from, a layer of fallen leaves, bark sloughed loose by wind and rain.

You can, my sister agrees. You can pretend all you want with every cell of your being.

I can mask my voice with the whisper of air passing through your boughs, I say. I can be the footsteps of the insects that riddle your depths. I can be the creak of you leaning with gravitational pull, or straining for the sun.

My sister nods her branches with the breeze and murmurs: Just as I can play at being you with your blood and bones, flesh and skin. We’re all just cells, aren’t we?


We flourished from the same source, my sister and I – from the same complex net of cells. Ma planted the apple tree when I was born and buried my placenta to nourish the roots. My first memories of my sister are of lying in the grass where her trunk met the ground, and watching her wave slender limbs against blue skies. And I remember her apples, small and squat and sharp.

Now she is almost as tall as the house, while I… I am shrinking. My spine compacts with decades of gravity’s pull, and the face in the bathroom mirror is that of an old, weather-beaten woman.

Somehow I never expected time to march on as it does.

Time moves differently for my sister, but only just. The average age of an apple tree is 100 years, so it could outlast me by ten, twenty, more. Some make it to 200 years. I tell my sister that in wonder, and I touch my palm to her trunk. But the idea of either of us outliving the other makes my heart contract.

In winter I pay my grandson to prune my sister and ensure light filters through her canopy, ready to search out flowers and fruit. I get my hair cut and styled on the same day, and after my grandson leaves, we compliment each other coyly on our revamped looks. What a pair of beauties, I say, teasingly. No wonder the birds and butterflies can’t stay away in spring.

Last time he came, my grandson left a brochure on the kitchen table. It shows a large house like a hotel, populated only by old people. He thinks I might like it there.

“For a holiday?” I asked.

He looked uneasy. “Or longer.”

He told me they have a garden with trees in it.

I glanced out of the window, towards my sister, and didn’t bother to respond.

I think that’s what the nightmares are about. A dread of separation. We’ve never parted for more than a few days in all these years. We’ve lived each of the seasons together, experienced summer swell and fade more than eighty times over.

Her apples aren’t what they once were. They have a woolly edge, as though deliberating softening to suit my weakening bite. But when I bake them in a pie, blanketed in pastry and custard, I taste our childhood.

My freezer is full of apples, sliced and laid out in creamy layers, stored in old ice cream tubs. I don’t get through them any more. The neighborhood kids who help to pick them are barely interested in taking a handful. I used to leave out baskets full in front of the house, with a note saying ‘Free to a good home!’ but most stayed where they were, gaining brown spots and holes where earwigs had burrowed in. Then one day someone made off with the basket, leaving the apples neatly piled up on the curb.

I told my sister to save her energy and grow fewer, but she rustled gently and whispered: Making apples is what I do.

It’s cold now. Nearly winter. Just a few last leaves remain, waving bravely in the wind. I’m tired, and I can feel that my sister is tired too. There’s something budding deep inside each of us. Honey fungus perhaps. Some strain of cancer. A few stray cells bedding in.

Season after season we’ve seen. We’re lucky, the pair of us, to have felt so much for so long.

I lean back against the bench, gazing upwards, and I know my sister is here with me. Together we watch as a single leaf quivers at the end of a branch, half-twisting on its stem, and lets go.



Judy Darley is a British fiction writer, poet and journalist whose work appears in magazines and anthologies and in her debut short story collection Remember Me To The Bees. Sky Light Rain, her second collection, will be published by Valley Press in Fall 2019. Judy has shared her stories on BBC radio, as well as in caf├ęs, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church.
Find her at http://www.skylightrain.com,
And follow her on Twitter @JudyDarley

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

September 23, 2018

CELEBRATING AUTUMN - Fall Quotes, Art & Folklore

AUTUMN IS HERE
and Enchanted Conversation is celebrating
with some quotes, art, and folklore!
We're looking forward to this time of year with later dawns and earlier sunsets...a time when beauty takes a last colorful breath before winter sets in. And of course, late September has the harvest moon which has inspired stories, poetry, and song. So please enjoy some of our favorite things about fall below!
AUTUMN by A.Mucha (1896)





"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, 

The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth 
And you walk under the red light of fall 
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain 
The sharp, gentle chill of fall. 
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn 
The night that brings the morning of spring 
Come to us, Lord of Harvest 
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us ..." 
-  Autumn Equinox Ritual
Autumn Leaves & Folklore
  • According to an old superstition, if you catch a red or gold leaf falling from a tree during autumn, you'll be free of colds for the next year.
  • Another variation on this superstition is that for every leaf you catch, you will have a lucky month the following year.   
  • And, once you have caught your leaf, keep it safely throughout the winter, until new green buds appear on the trees in the spring.
"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb color effects as from August through November." Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905
Harvest home, harvest home! We've plowed, we've sowed We've reaped, we've mowed And brought safe home Every load HARVEST HOME SONG

PUMPKINS are seen as a symbol of the harvest around the world and thought to bring abundance and have near-mythical restorative qualities.
The Pumpkin in Folklore
  • A witch can turn an unsuspecting person into a pumpkin by eating the number of pumpkin seeds in the person's name.
  • The jack-o-lantern custom derives from Halloween folklore to ward off evil spirits.
  • In the tale, Cinderella, pumpkins are useful, as the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a carriage, but at midnight it reverts back into its original form.
"Autumn arrives, array'd in splendid mein; 
Vines, cluster'd full, add to the beauteous scene, 
And fruit-trees cloth'd profusely laden, nod, 
Complaint bowing to the fertile sod." 

-  Farmer's Almanac, 1818
AUTUMN FIRES
Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
   And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
   See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over, 
   And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
   The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
   Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
   Fires in the fall! 

AUTUMN ART GALLERY
Autumn Meadows, James Renwick Brevoort, 1868
Autumn in North America, Fredric Church (1856)
Autumn Landscape, William Louis Sonntag, 1892
Autumn, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1573 




The HARVEST MOON
is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox.
It rises within a half-hour of when the sun sets, and when farmers had no tractors, it was essential that they work by the light of this full moon to bring in the harvest.

HAPPY FALL!
Share what you love about this season in the comments section below!
EC's editor-in-chief, Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE


Check out Jude's novelette:

September 15, 2018

DOUBLE FAIRY TALE FLASH - Hungry by Nidheesh Samant AND Dragons and Maidens by Monica Wenzel

It was not my fault. I was hungry.

We were poor folk. My mother and I worked very hard to make ends meet. Once winter had passed, things became even tougher. All our savings had been depleted. Mother asked me to sell our cow. Hesitantly, I had obliged and taken our cow to the market. No one wanted our old cow. At the end of the day, just when I was ready to go back, an old man showed interest in her. He offered me ten beans in exchange. Magic beans they are, he had said. I believed him and traded my cow for them. After I told mother, she was livid. She sent me to bed without giving me supper. Starving that I was, I ate the ten beans.

I repeat. It was not my fault. I was hungry.
How would I know the beans would turn me into a giant boy? 
Nidheesh Samant is a marketing professional from India, taking his first steps into the world of writing. He enjoys soup and dark stories, and their combination even more. He writes short stories on his blog: thedarknetizen.wordpress.com
Follow him on Twitter @darthnid 
“I said I don’t eat maidens.”

The knight pointed his sword at the dragon. The sun glinted off of it and momentarily blinded the dragon.

“I don’t care. Here she is.” He pointed to the maiden. “Where’s my gold?”

“Your gold sits in your castle. My gold is in my cave.”

“I need more.”

“Need? You think you give me a woman and I’ll share my fortune.”

“Dragons love eating maidens. I tied her up for you so she won’t run.

The dragon stepped closer and sniffed.

“I prefer cattle. Or knights.”

He swallowed the knight before he could run.
Monica Wenzel is a high school Spanish and French teacher who lives in Minnesota with her husband, toddler son, and two cats. She enjoys photography, reading, and travel, in addition to writing. She won the Geek Partnership Society writing contest in 2015. 

Covers: Amanda Bergloff

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