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Magic's Call

Eric Witchey has sold stories under several names and in 12 genres. His tales have been translated into multiple languages, and his credits include over 160 stories, including 5 novels and two collections. His work has received recognition from New Century Writers, Writers of the Future, Writer's Digest, Independent Publisher Book Awards, International Book Awards, The Eric Hoffer Prose Award Program, Short Story America, the Irish Aeon Awards, and other organizations. His How-to articles have appeared in The Writer Magazine, Writer's Digest Magazine, and other print and online magazines.

Across the gravel path to Marble Mooring Pier, the tideline marks the middle ground between the world of Men and Mare. In that space between ebb tide and king, stands an aging, red phone booth, an artifact of a bygone day when stories ruled the minds of all folk and the sea and land shared marvelous magics and machines. Even now, when land folk have moved on to cells and satellites, the seafolk make magical calls from time to time when the tides are high.
She rides the king tide inland, sent by her father to make the call, to bring the mystical food that symbolizes human domain over all that is dry. Between waves and with care to stay hidden, she rises from seafoam and sheds her tail to rise on legs and stride, a goddess in her glory, to the secret booth once shared between the worlds and now forgotten by Men.
Distant yet, a few humans amble slow and cold through morning air, trudging from and to while carrying cups of steam in hand and hunched in shoulder and head as if the air is not thick enough to let them show their pride in form.
She has been warned. Neither speak nor sup with those who cannot swim the deeps without suits and false fins. Do what you have been sent to do. Do no more. Tarry not, and do not, of all the temptations, step upland and across the high-tide line.
She makes her call to the Market of the Sea, and she orders the marshmallows, small in the jumbo bag, for her father's feast. By ebbing of tide, they will be placed in the booth, for this is not the first time her people have ordered such. She hangs up the phone. Relieved and relaxed now that her task is half done and only time separates her from success, curiosity pulls her gaze outward and upland from the windowed booth and into the sea-green eyes of a man who stands tall and straight and offers both his cup of steam and a mesmerizing smile.
She steps from the booth. The scent of the steam and the joy in his eyes draw her upward and inland.
"You look cold." He offers his steam. "I'm Frank."
"I am undone."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 19th, 2022

Author Comments

Like most humans, I'm a beneficiary of, a willing participant in, and a victim of love. The Love's Call stories began as a speed writing warmups based on randomly selected prompts. One of the prompts was the question, "What does romantic longing and love feel like for mythic creatures?" Composition took place, as it often does, in a fever of sublime madness. Revision, a cognitively complex process and the hardest part of writing flash fiction for me, turned the first drafts into stories by exploiting details to imply character lives that extend into a greater world than actually appears in the text so that the reader can bring those lives into focus in a single thematically resonant moment of change.

- Eric Witchey
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