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Stealing Tales

The robber girl tries to make a game of it. How many girls will struggle through the snow this year, searching for loved ones taken by bears or snow? How many will turn back? How many will swear, on their lifeblood, that they had not married bears, but men? That the boys they had played with in the snow were innocent, good, even after their words had turned into weapons of ice? That the bones they have broken--the scars on their skin--came from their journeys, or their families, and not the men they hunt for? That they have spoken to flowers, to crows, to the sun? That they will die before they shelter with robbers? That they are grateful for kindness, wherever found, even in a cold den of thieves.
The robber girl has little else to do, after all, in the summer months. Truth be told, they do not even have that many people to rob, which perhaps accounts for the temper of the girl and her mother. Robbers come and go, yes, but come largely to escape capture and torment in other kingdoms, leaving when they realize that this land of little law has little to steal. She feeds her animals, torments her mother, stirs the soup, and waits for the girls, dreams of the tales they tell her, of cities and castles, roses and apples, glass slippers and rings.
And so she guesses, and counts, and guesses again. Someday, she tells herself, she too will go to the north to seek the queen of ice and winter. Or marry a bear, or speak to the sun and the moon. Someday. The girls who enter her roof are not always princesses. They are not always pure. They are not always kind.
And she--she is a robber girl.
She can steal their tales for herself.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Author Comments

The tale of leaving a sword in a bed is an old tale from Arthurian legend. I never felt it would be particularly effective. This is just one of the reasons.

- Mari Ness
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