February 27, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - Into Something New and Strange by Emilia Agrafojo

Light filtered through from above,
and her world expanded...
Water glistened as it trailed down the inner curve of her cell. Her long, pink tongue struggled to catch each drop, her mouth parched and desperate. Light filtered through from above, but not enough, and the walls of her prison were still so very strong, thick and unyielding.

Were her wings starting to unfurl? That would be the death of her, borne down into suffocation by the weight of fledgling bone and skin. She shifted slightly, gently testing the limits of her cage, and felt distinctly less open space above and behind her. Wings, indeed.

Shouldn’t she have been released from this containment hours ago? Days ago? It didn’t matter. Soon, it wouldn’t matter at all. She had so little time left.

It was a risk she had welcomed, the chance to become someone new and true overriding caution and judgement. She had flung herself into this metamorphosis, hopeful that youth and joy and hunger were enough to see her through to the end.

Light reflected across the pearlescent inner walls of her egg. Could there be more of it, or had a cloud only shifted overhead? The subtle cracks in the walls radiated a golden glow, then suddenly shuddered, widened, split apart.

Fragments of shell fell onto her back, light and dry. Her world expanded, her limbs released, and she stood, amazed. Arms and legs stretched, wings expanded in unwieldy delight. A body new, and strange, different and perfect.

Acolytes rushed to help her escape the remains of her chamber. She turned and faced the sun. Dragon, female, reborn.
Emilia Agrafojo lives in the Northeast US, with the appropriate prerequisite spouse and cats to complete her fairy tale. 
Follow her on Facebook HERE 

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

February 20, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - Beastly Heart by Shelby Kisgen

She’d once been beautiful.
The transition was slow,
like a shiny apple with a rotting core...
She’d once been beautiful. A charming child of giggles and grins, spoiled with praise for her cherubic face and doe-eyes.  

Bathed in compliments and gifts, the girl morphed. The transition was slow but vicious, like a shiny apple with a rotting core.  

One day, a witch approached the girl’s castle, requesting bread and a dry place to sleep. The girl laughed in her trilling alto before slamming the door. The thud of rejection echoed in the witch’s ears. With a raised staff, the witch cursed the girl with a body to match the reality of her heart.

The beautiful girl’s round face elongated into a distended jaw. Her wide eyes streaked with broken blood-vessels, stark and appalling on translucent skin. Her delicate hands rippled with protruding tendons, tufts of hair spurted from her pert nose, and her erect posture slumped as if a hill burst through her spine. She was beastly. Inside and out.

Only true-love’s kiss could break the curse and return her appealing outward appearance.

The ugly girl grew into an ugly woman as she waited for a loving man to take pity on her. To heal her with a kiss.

Then she waited some more. Waited for a man to see behind her ghastly face to the new-found beauty within. To the kindness and humility that only suffering and loneliness brings. The compassion learned by years as an outcast.

She might have waited forever, but one day, she looked in the mirror and gasped at the beautiful maiden blinking back at her.

Gone were her nostril hairs. Gone were her claws and blistered eyes. She was beautiful once again, an exact replica of herself before the witch’s curse.

But no man had kissed her. Beyond the initial horror and taunting, no man had deigned offer her a moment of his time. The curse was not broken.

But pain had made her heart lovely. And without a beastly heart, she had no beastly body.

Two days later, a man gaped as she strolled about the garden. She was polite, he was drooling, and before he parted, he dared to request a kiss.

She declined.
Shelby Kisgen is a book publicist by day and writer by night. Her short story, "The Weight of Laughter", was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy and Confident edition.
Follow her on Twitter @ShelbyKisgen
Check out her website: https://shelbykisgen.com

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

February 18, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - Faeries 4 Hire by Caleb Echterling

The on-camera spokes-faerie radiated a sincerity,
and Gary had a need for a love potion...
As a frequent consumer of 3:00 a.m. infomercials, Gary knew most services they pimped seemed a bit dodgy, as were, often, the infomercials themselves. But the Faeries 4 Hire advertisement stood out. The relative crispness of the production values gave the impression that no one was drunk or high during its planning and execution. And the on-camera spokes-faerie radiated a sincerity other wee-hours longform hucksters lacked.

Gary did have a pressing need for a love potion, and a dollar ninety-nine a minute wasn’t so outlandish, especially considering late capitalism’s inability to provide the marketplace with general purpose magicks.

The operator sounded as though she chain smoked potpourri blunts, and talked fast for someone with a financial incentive to stretch out the conversation, but Gary scribbled down the important bits.

“Teaspoon of unicorn tears, uh huh … three quarts of 10W30 motor oil, got it … seven crushed petals of a rose picked in fresh fallen snow … two black scales from the emo dragon of despair …  all mixed together in the pale glow of moonlight … I’m not sure where to find … oh, you sell everything required for the recipe … that would be a lot easier than … how much? … good Lord, that’s more than I make in a year.”
Gary sat cross-legged on his lawn. The ingredients for a love potion were piled into an upmarket blender between his legs. The waning crescent moon emerged from behind a cloud to cast its pale light onto his patch of earth, and Gary checked the faerie’s instructions one last time. He pushed the button for ‘Pulse’ and counted down from five. When the countdown struck zero, he switched the speed to ‘Liquefy’.

The next day, Gary sprang the concoction on the object of his desire. He hadn’t anticipated how much wrangling would be necessary to get them to drink viscous sludge from a 2 liter Mountain Dew bottle. An offer of currency, and a strong but false insinuation about the presence of a hidden camera crew for a revival of the Ashton Kutcher vehicle Punk’d, brought the bottle to their lips. Gary ended up wearing the entire potion, minus the one sip, first as a hat, then as an elegant shoulder accessory, and finally as a slick, sticky pullover.

Gary called Faeries 4 Hire to register his complaints. The operator had him recount, in detail, the potion preparation process. As he ticked off each step of the mixing, she added a curt “uh-huh” to the end of his sentences.

“There’s your problem,” she cut in. “Not moonlight. Moonlighting. With Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. In order to blend properly, the potion needs exposure to TV dramedy with a ‘will they/won’t they’ trope. If you leave that out it’s basically motor oil, which faerie research shows has the same effect as an angry potion. You fucked up, dude.”
Caleb Echterling's recent short story collection combines staid bios with insult comedy, ya filthy bastards. He tweets funny microfiction using the highly inventive handle @CalebEchterling. You can find more of his work at http://www.calebechterling.com.

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

February 13, 2019

CELEBRATING LOVE & VALENTINE'S DAY - Quotes, Art & Folklore

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
Enchanted Conversation is celebrating
LOVE this month
with some quotes, art, and folklore!




“If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.”
- The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin



LOVE & FOLKLORE
10 Superstitions About Finding Love
Superstitions grow out of the belief that a specific action or object will have an influence on one's life, and since many want to have love in their life, folklore abounds with superstitions about love and how to find it...
SIGNS YOU'LL FALL IN LOVE SOON:
  1. You stumble going up a flight of stairs.
  2. You have hairy legs.
  3. You dream of taking a bath.
  4. The lines on your palm form an M
TO DREAM OF THE ONE YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH:
  1. Sleep with a mirror under your pillow.
  2. Rub your headboard with lemon peel before turning off the light.
  3. Count nine stars each night for nine nights.
  4. Put daisies under your pillow at night.
  5. Take a sprig of rosemary and a sprig of thyme. Sprinkle them three times with water and place each herb in a shoe. Put the shoes at the foot of your bed.
  6. Stand in front of a mirror and brush your hair three times.
“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”
- A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Love Proverbs
from around the world
"A life without love is like a year without summer." —Lithuanian proverb

"There is no love like the first love." —Italian proverb

"It is love that makes the impossible, possible." —Indian proverb

"All men have three ears, one on the left of his head, one on the right, and one in his heart." —Armenian proverb

"A day lasts until it's chased away but love lasts until the grave." —Irish proverb

"Love has to be shown by deeds not words." —Swahili proverb

"Where there is love there is no darkness." —Burundian proverb

"Love itself is calm; turbulence arrives from individuals." —Chinese proverb

"Love lives in cottages as well as in court." —English proverb

"The heart that loves is always young." —Greek proverb

The rainbow stands
In a moment
As if you are here.
- Takahama Kyoshi
VINTAGE VICTORIAN VALENTINES
Where did the practice of sending Valentine’s cards come from?
The written Valentine’s message dates back to the 1500s when written messages of love were exchanged in Europe. By 1732, Valentine’s Day messages took the form of a written note on pretty paper with a special verse, but the practice of sending Valentine cards became a tradition in the Victorian era when papers made especially for Valentine’s greetings began to be marketed. As postal rates became cheaper in 1840, the sending of cards featuring hearts, cupids, flowers, swans, and romantic couples grew in popularity. With the improvement of printing methods, mass produced Valentine’s cards appeared by the late 19th century, and the practice of sending them continues to this day. Below are some examples of this Valentine's tradition from the Victorian era:

HOW DO I LOVE THEE
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
VENUS THE GODDESS OF LOVE
The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1485
VENUS, the Roman goddess of love, beauty, desire, fertility, prosperity, and victory, was born fully formed of the foam from the sea and rose from the water in a clam shell. She is also the mother of the Cupids (Erotes) who were a collection of winged love deities who represented the different aspects of love. 
“To love or have loved, that is enough. 
Ask nothing further. 
There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
ART GALLERY
Il Bacio (The Kiss) Francesco Hayez, 1859

My Sweet Rose, John William Waterhouse, 1903

Romeo and Juliet, Sir Frank Dicksee, 1884 

Venus and Cupid, Henry Howard, 1809

The Mermaid, Howard Pyle, 1910

First Kiss, William Bouguereau, 1873
WANT TO READ SOME NEW
Tales of Love?
Check out EC's
HEART'S DESIRE
February issue
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
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