May 20, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - My Thoughts on the Breeze by Carmen Redondo

Tell us of how Mother
saved you on this very seashore...

Often, I wonder what became of her. Every day I follow my duties as a prince, knowing that one day I will be king. My wife and I are very happy, raising our children and taking them for walks by the ocean. They often ask me to tell them the story of when I was shipwrecked and almost drowned.

“Tell us of how Mother saved you on this very seashore,” they beg.

I always laugh and oblige, despite the fact that they have heard the tale many times. I explain to them that I was found in the sea and brought to rest here. I faintly remembered the face of the maiden who rescued me, but I could not find her. Later, my parents found a princess I was to marry and when I saw her I knew she was the one who had restored me to life.

I love seeing our children’s happy faces when they hear how content I was to find her, their mother, but there is one thing they do not know. Every time I tell them this a part of me thinks back to the other maiden I met before my wife. She was charming, and she reminded me so much of my rescuer, but I could not make myself believe it was her. When I met the princess, who became my wife I realized that indeed I was correct about the other maiden, she had not been the one.

I had started giving up hope on finding my beautiful heroine, and I had even thought that I would marry the young girl who had become my friend and was always so kind to me. I wish I knew why she was unable to speak. I never heard her voice. The last time I saw the mysterious maiden was out at sea during my wedding. I was filled with joy to be married to my princess but every time I glanced back to look at my friend her face seemed so sad.

When the sun rose the following morning, my wife and I could not find her. She had vanished overnight. We looked out to the ocean, and the crew searched, but she was never seen again. Surely, she must have drowned for there was no other explanation of her disappearance.

Now I stand next to my wife, smiling at my children’s laughter as they play in the sand. Every single time I think about the long-lost maiden a gentle breeze passes through me, as if in comfort. Perhaps the wind carries her truth. Again, I wonder what became of her.   

Carmen Redondo loves fantasy and fairy tales, which are elements she often includes in her writing. She loves reading a good book, watching a new movie, enjoying warm weather, and eating pizza. She is currently writing her first full-length novel. You can purchase a book that includes two of her short stories here:
You can follow Carmen on Twitter: @storieswriting

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

May 11, 2019

SATURDAY TALE - The Woodcutter's Daughter by Kiyomi Appleton Gaines

She howled and wailed as if she suffered a great pain,
and it made him weep to bring her such sadness...
There was an old woodcutter and his wife who, more than anything, wanted a child to call their own, to love and raise, to care for them in their old age, which was fast approaching, and to carry their name and line into the next generation. One day while he was in the forest, the woodcutter heard a high, small mewling and he followed the sound to the hollowed out trunk of a tree he had felled the year before. Inside he found a tiny baby girl - left to exposure, he and his wife would assume, no doubt because she was a girl - yet they had for so long wanted a child that the woodcutter brought her home. That is the account he gave his wife when he passed the child into her arms. The woman put the child to her barren breast to soothe her, and in the morning sent her husband to buy a goat. And though she fed the child on milk and porridge, still she pressed the small girl to her breast, though whether for the child's comfort or her own became less clear.

The child grew in stature and strength, and the wife grew frail and ill. In time the woodcutter's wife lay down to rest and her spirit left in the way of all dreams and did not return again. The woodcutter mourned her briefly, yet was soon consumed with caring for his daughter. She was the most beautiful child he had ever seen. She was perfect in every way, and he told her so often. She seemed to grow more vibrant with his praise, and he found he could not be parted from her. He took her with him into the woods. She ran and played while he worked. When he saw her lips cornered with red, he chose not to notice further. Blood meal in sausage, blood meal in soup, it made a body strong, he reasoned. When he found her with a bird, feathers scattered around her, it's small broken body in her teeth, he resolved not to take her to the woods again, and he brought her chicken from the market, cooked fresh and delicious.

When he left again to his work, she howled and wailed as if she suffered a great pain, and it made him weep to bring her such sadness. He raced back to the house and comforted and soothed her with apologies and promises not to leave her again, his perfect, precious daughter, who was the greatest gift of his life. He had been wrong to think to leave her, he realized. Instead he should not venture so deep into the woods, though this increased his labor mightily.

He took her with him also into town to sell his wood. He drew the attention of everyone who stopped to the beauty and sweetness of his daughter. She was as good and pure as fresh milk, as new snow, as water from a mountain stream. And each visitor would ask after his health, his strength, his business, with concern. They did not see the delights in the girl that he did, and this angered him. She had become his everything, and the fault was their own if they did not see why.

The girl wanted a toy, she wanted food, she wanted a drink, she wanted some sweet, a ribbon, to be held, he must sing her a song, he must tell her a story. She always needed more, and was never satisfied, and her cries would sound through the whole market if the woodcutter delayed at all. He ran in every direction to bring her what she wanted. He found he had no time for his neighbors, for his own best interests.

He needs a break, some of the villagers said; since he lost his wife, he has no one to help him. They clucked their tongues and went in turn to care for the child and let the man rest and see to his health and his livelihood. Yet he sent them each on their way. The moment he left her, the girl started up her howling, and he knew the truth, that no one could ever care for her as he could, because in their envy they did not see her goodness and beauty as he did. His business waned as did his health, yet his only thought was that the girl would be satisfied.

"What is it you want, my pet, my beauty," he asked her, "tell your old father what you need. Anything you say will be yours."

She had been waiting for him to ask, and the girl's brushy red tail twitched from beneath her skirt. "Mother's heart made ninety-nine," she said, "and yours shall be the final."

And the woodcutter, like a man compelled, opened up his shirt, "My heart is already yours, most precious one," he said.

The fox pounced and as he felt his heart rend from chest, the woodcutter seemed to recall that misty day when he had found her, the stories of catching a fox by its tail, and of wishes granted, the bargain struck and how eager he had been to pay her price, any price. And with a quick snap of her jaws, the fox gained her immortality.

She bore the name of the woodcutter and carried it on. That family lives here still to this day.
Kiyomi Appleton Gaines is a contributing editor at Enchanted Conversation Magazine who writes stories and articles inspired by folklore and fairy tales.
Find more of her writing at A Work of Heart
and follow her on Twitter @ThatKiyomi

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

May 10, 2019

FAIRY TALE FLASH - The Protector by Connor Sassmannshausen

Fate chose to intervene.
Fate offered the fae an opportunity...
I clamber into bed, and my mother tucks the blankets around me. “Tell me a story, mama.”

She smiles at me. It’s my tenth birthday. I should be too old for this sort of thing. But tomorrow I begin training to be a fae warrior.

“What kind of story do you want to hear?” she asks me.

“Why are there warriors?”

She sighs and begins my bedtime story.

“Long ago, at the dawn of time, the Great Beings fought for control of the world. Everyone in our world knows the story. War, Death, Plague, and Famine were rampant, leaving destruction in their wake. The fae alone stood against them. Our greatest warriors stood against them, but all but four fell before their terrible foes.”

It’s a simple tale, not meant to frighten me. I’m sure she’s leaving out bits that I shouldn’t hear, yet.

“And Fate chose to intervene. Fate saw the damage and offered the fae an opportunity. Four daggers were gifted to the surviving warriors that would allow each to kill one enemy, but at a terrible cost. War cannot be destroyed, just as Death, Famine and Plague will always exist. The beings that hold the power can be killed with the dagger.”

She pulls out the blade from the sheath on her belt, showing it to me, the metal glittering in the soft light of my room.

“Those great warriors took on the fell creatures, slaying them. They took on the powers of those they killed, becoming the Horsemen themselves. Fate took from them the daggers, and gifted them to others in the fae line, to watch over fae and humans alike.”

She takes my hand, pressing it over the hilt of the dagger, her hand over mine. The metal feels strange beneath my fingers, and a tingling sensation rolls up my arm.

“When the eldest in the family line turns ten, they begin their training to become a warrior. And when they turn eighteen, they take the dagger from their mother or father, becoming the protector. Should the Horsemen arise again it is their duty to kill them and take their place. They must fight to control their powers, else they become what they themselves killed.”

She lifts her hand from mine, and I hold the knife by myself.

“This is the training all young warriors must face, to fight against the powers of the Horsemen, both to stop the bloodshed and to prevent themselves from causing more.” My mother leans down, pressing a kiss to my forehead. “This is what the fae now are, the protectors of humanity.”

I look over the metal. “But who do we kill?”

“We will not know until it is time.” She takes the dagger, replacing it in her belt, and stands. She tucks me, snuggly into bed again. “Sleep. Tomorrow you begin training to be a protector of the world.”
Connor Sassmannshausen is an Australian based American author who enjoys reading, watching movies and cross-stitching.

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff