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Fairy Tales

You won't see traditional fairy tales here, at least unaltered. But fairy tales do provide a great common language upon which to build a story or twist the old out of recognition.

by Amy Aderman
The bean nighe is never wrong. She sits by a stream, washing the clothes of those soon to die. The water runs red with blood but the stains never fade. If you are bold, she will answer three questions but she will ask three in return; only true words must fall from your lips. I went walking the night before my wedding and saw her green-clad figure crouched by the stream. "Will I have a happy wedding?" I called out, approaching.
Published on Apr 16, 2015
by Dani Atkinson
Once upon a time in a far off land, in a tiny room, in a tall tower, at the centre of a vast and impenetrable maze, the princess Adrienna cocked her head and frowned. "Who said that?" said the princess.
Published on Sep 14, 2012
by Dani Atkinson
Once upon a time there was a Giant Killer who was in town when a ball was announced inviting all eligible maidens to the palace, but she did not go, because she was only passing through on her way to another story. Which is just as well. She almost certainly could have won the prince had she a mind to, as she was VERY good at getting what she wanted. But her way usually involved trickery and many, many unfortunate innocent bystanders.
Published on Mar 10, 2014
by Peter M. Ball
When last I saw you, my sweet, my love, you were shrunk to the size of Grandma's thimble and plucked from the porch by the bees of the forest. We heard your cries, your wild shrieks of delight, as they carried you to the place beyond the southern brambles. Listened, after, to the silence that followed, to the empty fields and the dark shadows beneath the trees where no bee remained to hum its evening song. You've been gone now a five-month, and grandma does not remember you, nor does Jordy or Cousin Ferdinand or our dear, sweet Claudette. Whatever magic was used to shrink you, to make your final exit possible, has stolen your memories from those you once deemed close as family.
Published on Nov 6, 2015
by Annie Bellet
The gibbous moon hung over the crowns of the baobab trees as Afua slipped from her cot and headed up the cliff road to the house of the witch. Red clay wet with the night rains slapped beneath her heavy feet, her hurried strides belying the fear curling in her belly. It was a dangerous thing to steal from a witch. But after tonight, she would no longer be called Sahona, the frog. Afua had always brushed off the insults, thinking that she'd grow like her friend Talata had grown, tall and graceful. Afua stayed squat, however, with a pointed face like a chameleon's, blotchy skin, and bowed legs more suited to a lemur than a young woman.
Published on Mar 16, 2012
by M. Bennardo
As she crossed the café for the thousandth time that shift, Juliet suddenly caught sight of the man at the corner table, and the plate of beignets in her hand almost dropped to the floor. Avalanches of precious war-rationed powdered sugar tumbled down the mounds of the fried dough as her heart beat heavily in her chest and a dizzy sick feeling passed through her temples. As she set the plate down on the table, Juliet was only faintly aware of the half dozen boisterous Supply Corps stevedores sitting there--their dungarees already powdered by the last order of beignets, sweat beading in the V-necks of their open shirts, white caps floating above close-cropped hair. Usually she'd joke and laugh as loud as any of them, but now she could only squeak "More coffee, boys?" through a mouth that felt like it was filling up with cottonballs.
Published on Mar 28, 2014
by Stephanie Burgis
Needless to say, I didn't want to try on the slipper in the first place. "Why should I?" I asked Mama when she came to drag me away from my books that morning. "We both know I'm not the girl they're looking for. I was standing by your side last night, remember, when she first arrived. We both commented on how taken the prince was by her. You made a rude comment about the size of her collarbone, if you recall."
Published on Nov 1, 2013
by Tina Connolly
All us fellas loved Miss Violet May, right from the start. She came from the land of Twelve Thousand Lakes, came click-clacking on the train from North to South till she met worthless Sorry Joe Weevily, and he sweet-talked her into getting off and marrying him. We'd never seen a girl from that far north before. Course, them northern girls ...sometimes you don't see them at all, ain't that what they say? Leastways that's what I always heard. That them Twelve Thousand Lakes was fulla nothing but ghosts, spirits drifting around from one fingerling lake to the next.
Published on Feb 25, 2014
by Matthew Cote
As far back as anyone in the sleepy mountain town could remember, Old Hagatha One-Eye had lived alone on a dusty track in the woods. If you followed the paved road into what passed for Main Street in this valley, kept the dam on your left when you crossed the river, and continued on through the woods, you would find her. How not, with all the signs guarding her property? No Trespassing; No Soliciting; Private Property; Keep Out!
Published on Sep 30, 2013
by Sheila Crosby
It was pretty scary watching the witch sing "Happy Birthday". Instead of being pursed in disapproval as usual, her mouth stretched into a smile so wide that it made me think of strychnine. Meanwhile her eyes stayed as cold and unblinking as a hawk, with a nose to match. She wore the inevitable silky blouse, twenty years out of date and buttoned right up to her wrinkled neck, but today it was little-girl pink. Even her trousers were pink. The outfit clashed hideously with her strident plum hair, and I couldn't help thinking they were going to get stained when she shinnied down the tower.
Published on Nov 22, 2010
by Amanda C. Davis
There is nothing here, in the bright bronze center of the desert--nothing but the great walled city with gates shut tight, and at the base of them, clutching them for comfort, me. I have come so far that I forget where I started. The city begs for stories, in words I can only hear through my fingertips. My head is full of them, but I do not know whether they are mine.
Published on Dec 2, 2014
by Ellen Denham
***Editor's Note: An adult story with mature, adult themes*** When I see you for the first time, a shark-sized shadow slinking around the mad-hued corals below, I gasp through my snorkel. But curiosity gets the better of me, and I linger, floating above. Your arm emerges first. A man swimming so deep without a tank? The instinct of rescue thrusts me into a dive. Then I see your segmented tail, mottled gray. And only then, your beautiful face, upturned, startled--almost human except for the flexible antennae extending from your jaw. I push back to the surface, a creature of land and air--unlike you--needing a breath to make sense of what you are. You rotate to face me, your torso well-muscled and pale as marble, like a Greek statue. Watching me, you coil and uncoil the jointed carapace that forms your body from the waist down, allowing me glimpses of the tender flesh beneath. A gesture of trust, or of submission? Your gaze is calm, eyes wide with wonder as mine must be beneath my mask.
Published on Nov 22, 2012
by Megan R. Engelhardt
I knew the girl would never give up her child. I knew before I asked. That is the sort of deal you only make if you're young and naive and facing execution and the idea of a child is so very far away that it is an easy thing to give up.
Published on Jan 31, 2012
by Eugie Foster
The dim shadows were kinder to the theater's dilapidation. A single candle to aid the dirty sheen of the moon through the rent beams of the ancient roof, easier to overlook the worn and warped floorboards, the tattered curtains, the mildew-ridden walls. Easier as well to overlook the dingy skirt with its hem all ragged, once purest white and fine, and her shoes, almost fallen to pieces, the toes cracked and painstakingly re-wrapped with hoarded strips of linen. Once, not long ago, Aisa wouldn't have given this place a first glance, would never have deigned to be seen here in this most ruinous of venues. But times changed. Everything changed. Aisa pirouetted on one long leg, arms circling her body like gently folded wings. Her muscles gathered and uncoiled in a graceful leap, suspending her in the air with limbs outflung, until gravity summoned her back down. The stained, wooden boards creaked beneath her, but she didn't hear them. She heard only the music in her head, the familiar stanzas from countless rehearsals and performances of Snowbird's Lament. She could hum the complex orchestral score by rote, just as she knew every step by heart.
Published on Sep 26, 2014
by Katina L. French
AszI brushes the endless knots out of my daughter's hair. She giggles and says, "It's like Rapunzel's, right?" I snort and kiss the top of her head. I do not say what first springs to mind, which is that Rapunzel's real name was Persinette, and calling a girl "Rapunzel" is basically like calling a modern girl "spinach salad."
Published on Oct 29, 2015
by Sarah Goslee
I never really loved her. I never loved her, but from the first moment I saw her I coveted her, desired her in the way the ivy desires the castle wall, or the oyster the pearl.
Published on Dec 12, 2012
by Theodora Goss
She waited until autumn. She wanted to wait until the children were home and back in school. Bobby had been at soccer camp--Robert, he wanted to be called now, which was confusing because his father was Robert too, so when she called either of them, they both answered. He started tenth grade and slipped right back into his usual routine of school, soccer, and hanging out with friends, like a fish sliding through a pond without making a ripple. It was Eleanor she was worried about. At the end of seventh grade she'd quarreled with her best friend, or her best friend had quarreled with her, and Eleanor had said they were never speaking again, then had run up to her room and cried with the sort of passionate intensity best left to itself. That summer she had gone to riding camp, and then visited her grandparents, Robert's parents, who lived in a large house surrounded by pastures and forest, where her grandmother had made all her favorite foods. Somehow, over Facebook or Snapchat or whatever teenagers were using at the moment, a reconciliation had been effected, and Eleanor and Emily were once again inseparable. But Eleanor was the sensitive one, the one who secretly wrote poetry, so it was Eleanor she was worried about.
Published on Nov 13, 2015
by Lydia S. Gray
***Editor's Note: Here be mature and potentially disturbing themes. Read on upon your own recognizance*** The old watchmaker went to the builder of dreams. "Make me a wife," he said.
Published on Aug 15, 2012
by Sarah Grey
She is no longer a girl, dreaming while sweeping the ashes away. She is a queen, and a queen, says her beloved king, is ever the paragon of perfection and grace. Her feet have grown wide with age. Still, she stuffs them into glass slippers, narrow as reeds, that rub her ankles raw. Every step is agony--the stabbing clink of a towering crystal heel against marble, the shattering pain through the bones in her legs.
Published on Jul 8, 2013
by Alexandra Grunberg
"I think you dropped this." Connor held out the pencil that had rolled under his desk. The girl sitting behind him took it, staring at him with wide brown eyes. For a moment their hands brushed each other, then the moment was over. Connor turned around to finish his math test, but the girl was unable to finish hers.
Published on Oct 3, 2013
by Eliza Hirsch
***Editor's Note: Adult story, and some adult language*** The sky is clear because I'm calm. Or maybe I'm calm because it's clear. Hard to tell, sometimes.
Published on Apr 22, 2014
by Joanna Michal Hoyt
My sister Amy came back smiling from the village well, saying she'd drawn water for a beggar-woman. She gasped when the first rose fell from her mouth, followed by a rain of diamonds. She'd thought it reward enough to see her kind lovely face mirrored in the woman's eyes. But it didn't take her long to decide that she deserved the gift, and that her sharp-tongued older sister deserved less. I was fool enough to resent that, so when I went to fill a kettle and a lady asked for a drink and asked after my sweet pretty sister, without asking how I was, I bade her draw water for her sweet pretty self. I faltered when the snake fell from my lips.
Published on Jul 25, 2011
by Michelle Ann King
The coachman knows his place, so he stays outside, even though the music swirls in his head and tries to draw him into the ballroom, with all its vibrant colors and beautiful dancers--glamorous, graceful people whirling around the floor in complicated patterns, not needing to look where they're going because they fit so perfectly into the shape of this grand, wonderful design; people who belong, who follow their steps and play their roles and smile so gloriously because they know, they all know, that they are precisely where they are meant to be. And he knows it too, the coachman, even as he presses his face against the window and tries not to breathe so that it won't cloud his view; he knows his place is outside, with the horses, stroking necks and smoothing manes and whispering soft nonsense to soothe the restless shivers of these strong, magnificent beasts that gleam like snow in starlight and draw the coach along the winding, uneven path to the palace with unerring, sure-footed speed. They know their place, their role and function, just as he does. Just as they all do. Carriage, driver, horses, footmen: a perfect, integrated team. All this he knows to be true.
Published on Oct 26, 2015
by Mai L Lee
The clock tower rises above the city, its bricks stained black. The hour hand rests against the curve of the eight, and the minute hand points due east, toward the wall where the forest creeps along the perimeter. The hands do not change. The cogs have long since melded with rust and rot, and the tower bells are silent.
Published on Nov 19, 2010
by Nathaniel Lee
They said they'd driven her out of the village and into the woods, and that wasn't a lie. But she found that she preferred the woods. Things were easier out there. A curse means less when you're alone. And her toads could roam where they liked. Not that they often did. Toads don't ask for much, and they know how to appreciate a good place to sit. At first, she still spoke several toads a day, in shock or boredom or just to hear the sound of her voice. But speaking turned out to be a kind of habit, and as time wore on and she had no one but other toads to talk to, she spoke them less and less. Which was just as well, since the forest was hardly limitless and could not have tolerated an unending deluge of invasive toad-words.
Published on Oct 31, 2014
by Yoon Ha Lee
The princess was born beneath owl-stars and sickle-moon, to the cries of the palace ravens. When she was five, she collected the feathers of birds to weave into her hair. When she was ten, she practiced identifying birds so that she could paint them from memory. The queen would come from time to time to view the paintings, and lay her hand upon her daughter's head, and smile. When the princess was fifteen, her mother died. The death was not entirely unexpected: it had been a long winter, and the queen had never been in the best of health. If the princess cried, she did so beneath her mourning veil, where no one could see the tears.
Published on Jan 30, 2015
by Christine Lucas
“And did you find God, stranger?” Aisa asks, scrubbing the shirt she’s washing harder. There’s a persistent tint of guilt around the collar that the river waters won’t clean. “No, I didn’t.” His voice is weary, hoarse, the dust of countless roads lining his throat and lungs. He settles down on a fallen trunk close to her, rubbing his leg. “I haven’t seen anyone wash clothes this way in ages, and I have wandered far, and for a long time. Why?”
Published on Dec 2, 2010
by Mark Patrick Lynch
In the white of the snow, dusk-stained and bordering invisible, the footprints were increasingly harder to follow. The curled moon was little use to see by. It turned the land grey. Clouds would soon make everything dark. We'd have to use our electric torches then, and that could ruin it all. "We're too slow. We're not going to make it." Prentice halted, bringing me to a stop also. He paused to reclaim his breath. "Once we're in the woods it'll be like midnight. We'll never find her."
Published on Dec 19, 2012
by Melissa Mead
The hardest part was spreading that silly rumor in the first place. I didn't use magic. A dairymaid's pay doesn't cover hiring sorcerers. No, I spent months discretely complimenting the ladies who came to the dairy on the delicacy of their complexions, working my way up to the nonsense about, "A true princess can feel a dried pea through a dozen mattresses." Soon the dressmakers doubled their orders for fine silk and satin, because any lady with pretensions to quality claimed that ordinary calico chafed her delicate skin. People are foolish and vain, and our former Royal Family doubly so. Word spread to the Palace. The Prince broke off his engagement, claiming that his planned bride was "too coarse," and commandeered enough geese to make a dozen feather mattresses.
Published on Jun 21, 2012
by Melissa Mead
"It's time to take the children into the forest," said Stepmother. Father winced. "Must we?" he said. I winced too. All the feasting in the world couldn't erase my memory of Stepmother angry, back when she was teaching me and Gretel to call her "Stepmother," and the man "Father."
Published on Aug 13, 2014
by Melissa Mead
Sister knew about wicked stepmothers. No one warned her about wicked stepfathers. Stepfather only noticed Sister at night, in the dark. When she saw Brother's bruises, Sister declared "Mother's too scared to help us. Let's go into the forest. We'll be safer there."
Published on Jun 6, 2011
by Melissa Mead
The frog basked in the sun. Settled in the soft muck of his pond, he didn't notice the princess until she scooped him up and pressed her hot mouth to his skin. He kicked out with his strong back legs, and tumbled into the water again. Safe!
Published on Mar 23, 2012
by Matt Mikalatos
Warning Signs. One in every 250 children experiences inter-dimensional travel before the age of eighteen. Siblings and cousins are 40% more likely to enter another dimension than single children. If you discover your child hiding medieval items (crowns, trumpets, tapestries, chastity belts, swords, etc.), take action immediately. Likewise, if potential magical artifacts are found (uncommon rings, buttons, feathers, etc.), confiscate the item(s) and talk to your child. Watch for imaginary friends, talking animals, or strange behaviors (avoiding sidewalk cracks, fear of open closets, obsessively locking bedroom windows, etc.).
Published on Jul 4, 2013
by Jeremy Minton
A skull stares from the floor beside the bed. Grasses sprout from the hollows of its eyes. Ralph hardly notices. He scans the grass for hidden thorns, for anything that slashes, stings or bites. Finding nothing dangerous, he puts it out of mind. It's just another skull. He's seen so many bones by now, they've ceased to signify. They're like the flies, the flowers, the green-tinged light. They're like the cracked and peeling walls, the rot, the dust, the creepers on the floor, the sleepers dozing in their cloaks of mold. Tom had said--
Published on Dec 5, 2013
by Lauren K. Moody
Long ago, an indifferent father and a sweet mother bore a child. Her father called her "son" when he called her anything at all, but her mother recognized the girl truly as she was. Whatever name they gave her at birth fell away from disuse. Her mother died when she was still young. In her tenth year her father remarried a cold woman who had two daughters of her own. When her husband's child refused to dress in breeches, cut short his hair, or answer to the proper masculine pronoun, she declared he could be a gentleman among them, or a scullery-maid and serve them.
Published on May 30, 2012
by Lisa Nohealani Morton
The first thing she's aware of is weight. After too long asleep, her limbs are tingling and twitching, aching for movement, and something is impeding them. She only has a moment to register the feeling, to translate it into a word, pinned. Then the pain comes, and transfixes her in place. She hears breathing, fast and harsh, and she squeezes her eyes shut tighter and thinks of her spinning, until the needle melts and she can escape this false awakening.
Published on Dec 31, 2013
by Michelle Muenzler
She should not have jested about the tenderness of the Captain's ribs last week. Even guards have breaking points, peanut brittle thin.
Published on Sep 14, 2010
by Mari Ness
He still believes I will turn into my mother.
Published on May 10, 2013
by Mari Ness
Published on Sep 24, 2013
by Mari Ness
Published on Sep 25, 2013
by Mari Ness
"Stop speaking," he tells his wife. "I'm sorry," she says, flinching. Another glittering diamond and a gleaming pearl drop from her mouth; she grabs a fine napkin, pressing it against her bleeding mouth.
Published on Feb 20, 2014
by Mari Ness
The village is not in any guidebook or on any map. Even satellite photos somehow miss it, always by some unexplained chance looking at the area only when it is covered with clouds or fog, or during some blip in the satellite's programming. You will also not find it named on any website, or on any news site, despite the excellence of its single restaurant and the comfort of the small hotel next door. When asked, the residents only shrug, and point out that it is not a very interesting village, after all, however lovely the surrounding mountains, and the world has many excellent restaurants, does it not? And with that, the conservation always shifts to food, or music, or wine, or sports, or tales of long ago. Nothing about the village, which is, after all, not very interesting. Despite this, one or two strangers make their way to the village every year. Some have come, they say, for the restaurant, or for the hiking trail, or to truly and literally get off the map at a relatively reasonable price. They talk to the villagers, sample the food, wander in the mountains.
Published on May 15, 2014
by Mari Ness
Later she changes the tale, calling her husband a giant who liked to crunch on human bones, the intruder a fool willing to trade a cow for beans. She builds up everything: their manor becomes a castle, the hill a cloud, the earthen walls thick bulwarks of marble and granite, the copper coins bags of gold, the battered instrument with its broken strings an enchanted harp that can sing. The beanstalks in their garden reach the sky. She adds in jokes, references to proverbs, nursery rhymes, other legends. Her hands creep out from their pinched position at her side, gesturing, flaring, as she laughs. She does not mention just how heavy the earth had been beneath her shovel.
Published on Jul 17, 2014
by Mari Ness
He carried the squirming animal to his--no, their, he had to remember that now, their--bedroom, struggling to avoid her sharp teeth. The oversized ring he had given her glimmered on her left front leg; she had spent most of the evening biting and licking at it, when she had not been growling. He had ordered the musicians to play louder, to cover up the noise, but the growls still lingered in his ears. When he reached the room, he secured her chain to one end of the bed, and sat gingerly at the other end. The waxing moonlight flooded the bed, giving a silver sheen to her red and snowy fur.
Published on Mar 20, 2015
by Mari Ness
The dollmaker needs a year at least for each doll. Sometimes two. They are all handcrafted, of course, and the time needed to make the skin feel exactly like human flesh and settle on the bones, you understand-- The stranger is not interested in understanding. "Two months."
Published on Jun 5, 2015
by Mari Ness
Other people, it must be said, did not see a child, but rather rose petals delicately stitched together with what looked and felt like spider silk, soft and fragile to the touch. Yellow petals, for the most part, though where the child's face should have been the petals were white and pale pink, and where hands and feet might have been, the petals were dark red. But no one said a word. They knew her tale: twelve children, all born dead, year after year, until her husband, broken with her sorrow, had also left, leaving the woman alone in a silent house limned with bright flowers.
Published on Jul 16, 2015
by Mari Ness
The blacksmith has several objections. For one, he does not make shoes. Oh, horseshoes, definitely, but that is an entirely different matter, and something that he does with a local farrier, quite an expert, if the prince is in any need. Human shoes, however, are an entirely different matter. He is not even certain where to begin; surely a cobbler would be of more assistance? Those shoes, too, could be heated, if really necessary. For two, as surely the prince knows, it is one thing to get a shoe on the foot of a calm horse while others hold the horse; the horse, after all, has hooves. And as a purely practical matter, his forge is nowhere near the prince's hall. He will not be able to keep the shoes red hot, as requested. He does not think the fires in that hall--he bows, with the utmost respect--will hold the same heat as his forge. He swallows as the cold iron brushes against his throat.
Published on Sep 24, 2015
by Wendy Nikel
The queen hoarded the barrels of seed, keeping them locked within her coffers among the diamonds and gold and strings of perfect pearls, remnants of the former days of prosperity and excess. The seeds would receive neither sun nor water nor nutrients from the soil until unlocked by the shining key strung around her neck. Day after day, she sat upon her throne, and the villagers lined up before her, pleading. It was only her loyal guards, with their sharp swords glimmering in her peripheral, who kept the villagers from severing her neck to get at that key. "Have mercy!" They cried as though their tears might change her mind.
Published on Sep 4, 2015
by Laura Pearlman
Wednesday, September 14 I saw a unicorn in a bakery window, just for an instant. It was beautiful and luminous and just like the one in my dreams. I blinked, and it was a cake with a picture of a unicorn in frosting. It was super-realistic, though.
Published on Oct 30, 2015
by Torrey Podmajersky
He looked at my year's work, listed out on paper. He drew breath through his long nose. He stretched his neck. It looked like his collar was trying to bite his head off. "Let's talk about your gifting, shall we?" He didn't wait for me to answer. He stabbed the middle of one page with a pudgy finger. "Seventeen candy canes. Let's start there."
Published on Sep 3, 2012
by Steven Popkes
The sails are not black but they should have been. The three of us don't know it. I stand aft. Sometimes talking with the Rafe, the tillerman. Sometimes not. Mostly we watch her wait in the bony bow, drawing the light out of the air to shine around her. Looking towards France. Looking towards Tristan, of course. I was, too, for I could not have loved him any more than if he were my own son.
Published on Dec 24, 2010
by Jonathan Vos Post
Once upon a time there was a princess, beautiful as moonlight, but sighing as she meandered along the forest path one warm early summer in an intentionally unspecified year. "Oh me, oh my, how lonely and sad and pitiful it is to be a princess who does not want to marry the vapid prince that would benefit my father, the King's, geopolitical agenda. How I wish that there were some quick fix to this unsolvable problem." A voice rose from a small pond, rimmed by bulrushes.
Published on Oct 7, 2013
by Stephen S. Power
The mirror's seen a lot of bullshit in its time, but this beats all. The princess Mewlin and some nameless bard stumble into her room, kick the door closed and fall on her bed. In minutes they're naked. He starts to roll on top of her, but she stops him with her hand.
Published on Oct 9, 2014
by Cat Rambo
The mouse sang to the moon. He sang, "Great Wheel of Cheese in the sky, eaten by the Mysterious and restored each month to hover again, grant me a favor. Grant me a bride."
Published on Sep 22, 2014
by Melanie Rees
Hunched on the waiting-room floor, a gargoyle clasped a chair leg with razor sharp talons. Its ridged spine protruded through its leathery skin. I glanced at Ms. Shipley at the reception desk.
Published on Jul 11, 2012
by Sean R Robinson
Robert did not expect the sea-witch to live in a house, not one with a blue door and small hedges that lined the walkway. He thought that the seagulls overhead probably worked for her, watched for her. He knocked on the door, though the arthritis made his hands hurt every day. Three knocks and the door opened.
Published on Jul 21, 2014
by Lynda E Rucker
The man is tapping out a tune with one foot, a tune that is a mystery to everyone but him. The tune goes something like this: tap tap tap pause tap tap tap pause tap tap tap tap pause tap tap tap tap pause. It's worse than having a pop song stuck on repeat inside your head because instead of trying to shed it you keep trying to capture it, and the only man who knows the secret is still tap-tap-tapping but he isn't going to reveal a thing. He's not; and you know it by looking at him. You know it first by looking at his shoes, which are brown leather, scuffed and laced up wrong with floppy worn tongues. Above the shoes, a flash of thin ankles: he's lost his socks. You feel sure "lost" is the right word, not "forgotten" or "not worn." He had socks at one time and now, for whatever reason, they are gone. Above the thin ankles, frayed denim hems. The jeans (Granny still calls them dungarees; you do not know why this piece of information rises unbidden in your thoughts) don't fit the bare ankles and the battered shoes. You think: normal. That's it; the jeans are the attire of a normal person. The shoes are things a crazy person would wear, shuffling through the city on their broken-down backs, talking to people who aren't there.
Published on Oct 31, 2012
by Melody Marie Sage
I remember we celebrated with the dark chocolate torte at L’oiseau D’or. Its glossy black ganache was splashed with a comet trail of 24 carat gold stars. The gilt leaf dissolved tasteless on my tongue. The idea of it was titillation enough. Ian talked about the project, and I pretended to listen to him, enjoying the sound of his voice, the exuberant parabolas he made with his hands. I was an artist. Chemistry, nanotechnology, bionics, and their various intersects, did not interest me. Colors did: the yellow candle flame flickering on his irises, the flush at the base of his throat, the creamy ivory tablecloth beneath my fingers. I smiled into my champagne. No, that is not entirely true. I loved learning about science in school, but Ian was on another level. He virtually spoke his own language. Only a select few of his colleagues could parse the intricacies of his logic. Now, I wish I had listened more closely.
Published on Jul 17, 2015
by Jayson Sanders
You arrive at dusk as you always do, during that fragile moment when a thin, orange ribbon struggles to restrain the onrushing blackness. For one sweet, pregnant moment you pause, and we are like a child, in a world all his own, watched by a loving mother he does not see.
Published on Jul 10, 2013
by Memory Scarlett
Estelle refused to let Richard linger in her presence as his father lay dying. "You should be with him," she said. "He needs his family close by." Richard scraped a hand across day-old stubble. "Let us pray he disowns me with his last breath."
Published on Jul 10, 2014
by Rene Sears
You watch the mermaids swim. Sometimes you think of joining them. They're like parrotfish, bright and pretty. If you joined them, they would scatter like a school of fish when a predator comes along. So you do nothing but watch from the shadows. From there sometimes you see ships, and shipwrecks, and sailors. They, you are less tempted to join. They only come to you when they want something. Mermaids looking for feet, sailors looking for a knotted rope to capture wind, it's all the same. They fear what you are as much as long for what you can do. If they see you outside of your lair, when they haven't come to you, they flee, or stuff their ears with wax. You are not meant to approach, only be approached.
Published on Jun 17, 2014
by Robert E. Stutts
***Editor's Note: Adult fairytale. Adult themes.*** Even in high summer, paths through these woods are difficult to find, let alone follow, overrun as they are with brambles and briars and bracken. But in summer there is the sun above you to warm your head, and the green of trees to cheer your heart.
Published on Feb 4, 2013
by Henry Szabranski
Published on Jan 22, 2013
by Henry Szabranski
Published on Jan 24, 2013
by Henry Szabranski
Published on Jan 23, 2013
by Eliza Victoria
***Be Advised. Mature Language in the story that follows*** There was a girl in a white dress crying inside the MRT station. She was sitting all by herself on a bench on the platform, farthest from the entrance but closest to the doors of the first car of the train. She was all alone because the train had just left, taking the rest of the commuters with it. Dante, on his way to work, had missed the train. He would have missed seeing the girl's wings, too, if he weren't standing at the right angle.
Published on Jun 8, 2012
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Gunthar sat in stoic silence, a woolen blanket folded over his lap, facing the fireplace. Ada set her basket of fabric and lace onto the frayed rug and eased herself into the chair next to his, pulling it closer to the fire. He kept his eyes on the flickering flames. "So, it's over?"
Published on Nov 7, 2012
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
My name is not Elisabeth. My eyes are not full of tears. My life has not just changed forever. My best friend is not dead.
Published on Sep 2, 2013
by JY Yang
Anja returns with the groceries to find her dead husband sitting by the white fence he'd built, pale hands uprooting grass blades and dispersing the shards into the wind through bony fingers. She doesn't know what he was wearing when he died, but the long thin figure by the gate is clad in the matching grey windbreaker and track pants she'd given away weeks ago. When he embraces her, winding spindly arms around her like a vise, his hands are cold and his hair smells of salt. "The boat came in early," he says. "Are you surprised?"
Published on Jan 23, 2015
by Christie Yant
He is telling the wrong story. He wants to explain it in terms of magic and wishes and fairy tales, but the right language for this situation is the language of gravity and magnetism, of galaxies and gas giants. It is a mechanical, technical problem--a problem of mathematics and science. The problem is that I want him to go back where he came from, and he won't.
Published on Apr 3, 2012
by Anna Yeatts
I didn't miss the little house in the woods until it was gone--its stools carved to fit my stunted legs and its eaves lowered for my unnatural arms to fetch the dried apples down on a winter's night. Our king has lost his queen. He has ordered his forests cleared. His grief has become my own.
Published on Apr 8, 2015
by Kathryn Yelinek
Three teenage girls crowded round the terrarium on the desk in Annabel's room. It sat amid an avalanche of fingernail polish bottles and schoolbooks. In one back corner of the terrarium, a frog cowered. "Kiss it!" Lacey said to Annabel, fanning her freshly pink nails.
Published on Dec 15, 2011
by Caroline M. Yoachim
The pond where I grew up was swampy and buzzing with insects. I slept in a bed of stargrass, and Mother whispered lullabies in the gentle current. Mother grew up in the ocean, and she hated our pond. Too many memories of Father lingered beneath the surface, long after drought had stolen him away. "Why don't we go back to the ocean?" I asked.
Published on May 25, 2015
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