First the Flame, Second the Bell.

Their eyes meet across the burning glade. Fire still trails from the hands of the first, and the flames dance in her sad eyes.

The second is covered in ash. She hugs a cat to her chest. It buries its face under her arm.

‘I know you,’ says the second, as if in a daze. Her gaze sharpens. ‘Did you do this?’

The first recoils. The flames in her hands flicker; the fire around her dims, then brightens. ‘I didn’t mean to. It just … happens.’

‘Just happens?’ She coughs. Her eyes narrow. ‘A fine way to shirk the blame, when you’ve been caught flame-handed.’ The cat in her arms squirms, then resettles.… Read more

Lost

They met at twilight: a woman, scratched and sore, and a fox with mauled ears and eyes like reflected stars.

The fox had one leg lifted, poised to flee. The woman pulled her tattered coat tighter about her as she sat among the leaf-litter.

‘I’m lost,’ said the woman. ‘But I can’t go back. I won’t.’

The fox tilted its head to one side, yipped, and picked up a careful pace.

And through trees and darkening light and desperate hope, it led the woman to her new home.

Another microfiction for Mastodon. Image by n4pgw, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

The Present Revealed

‘That can’t be right,’ she said.

‘It is the truth,’ the fortune-teller replied. ‘See for yourself.’ He gestured with a hand laden with many rings to the crystal ball that sat between them.

She glanced at the ball, then jerked her gaze away as if stung. ‘All I see is me. You’re just telling me what you think I want to hear, but I fail at everything. I’ll never succeed. I never have.’ She stood up scurried from the room, head down, shoulders raised in tension.

The fortune-teller watched her go, eyes dark and unreadable through the veil he wore.

‘You will,’ he whispered.… Read more

Cry for help

She heard howling in the night: desperate, ragged calls that faded into brokenness. The neighbours’ dogs were silent.

She put on coat and boots and stepped out into chill air under a hazy moon. Her footsteps squelched along a pavement still moist from the memory of rain.

She followed the howls away from her house and up the hill to the old churchyard. No foxes or rabbits skittered past; no bats hunted above.

A hulking figure crouched on the churchyard wall.

It was a misshapen thing of fur and fangs and bulging muscles. A twisted wolf-creature, man-like only in the broadest strokes.… Read more

Shattered Curse

They met in the soft glow of the shattered curse. Rose petals, thorns, and glass shards crunched beneath their feet.

The prince reached for his lover with shaking hands. He gazed up at him through long lashes. ‘It’s truly over?’

The Beast, as they called him, took the prince’s slender hands in his own heavy paws. ‘It’s over,’ he said. ‘The enchantress is gone.’

The prince drew his leonine lover into a gentle kiss.

At last, the Beast was free to love unchained.

Just a little Beauty & the Beast retelling!

Image by congerdesign, used under Pixabay License.… Read more

Strange Spells (The Exchange)

In support of the kickstarter for BOOKS & BONE, I played a game on Mastodon where people could name a gem to me, and in exchange I would write a toot-sized (or tweet-sized) encounter with a strange spell. The encounter was not necessarily related to the gem.

Here are the results. I hope you enjoy them!

Image by Josch13, under Pixabay License.

Amethyst

You hear a crystalline ringing like pure, musical bells. Following it to its source leads you to a café tucked into an alley. You’ve never seen it before. Its sign is faded and painted with rose petals.… Read more

Her Crown, Restored

The queen peered through the hedge, her muscles bunched tightly.

Her fur had lost its gloss and her tail, once a regal pennant, was now thin and rat-like.

She knew in her heart that she was a queen, but she looked like a beggar now. Felt like a beggar. And much as she had tried, she wouldn’t make it on her own.

She watched the woman with the others of her kind, saw the gentleness. The woman, she had been told, who could restore her crown.

The queen gathered her courage. ‘Excuse me!’ She rushed through the grass. ‘Pardon me, but –‘

She hesitated at the woman’s feet, unsure of the welcome she would receive.… Read more

The Girl With Chickenfeet

A longer microfiction for Mastodon.

People were cruel to the girl with chickenfeet. ‘She’s hideous!’ they would cackle in her face.

‘The poor, ugly thing,’ others would whisper behind her back.

She bore it all with hunched shoulders and a leaden heart.

At night, she would stare at her feet and flex the long, scaly toes with their talons, and she would try to picture them smooth and bland and ordinary.

Every time she did, she grew a little smaller, choked by silence and shame.

She could pluck her feathers and hide her arms in long sleeves, but nothing could disguise her chickenfeet.… Read more

Terrifying, Beautiful

‘I love winter,’ she would say as the wind chapped her cheeks.

She loved winter when she had to wade through snow and she loved winter when she came home soaked through with rain.

She loved winter when she cuddled under a blanket and when the steam from her hot chocolate fogged her glasses.

People would question that she loved winter when it broke the electrics in her car or froze her pipes, and she would laugh.

‘Love doesn’t have to be easy,’ she’d say. ‘I love winter even then.’

When she opened her door to a figure in a flurry of snow, she paused.… Read more

Never the Sky

I wrote a serial toot fiction for mastodon written in 1 toot a day for every day of October (or that was the plan, anyway!) It was a labour of love, so I wanted to share it here before it disappears into the archives of social media. I hope you like it.

1

I stepped out of the door and into heavy rain. Crushed leaves slushed the streets and the grass was still brittle with the memory of summer.

My boots skidded and slipped on the doorstep. I caught myself and examined the floor.

The culprit was a small blue card, bright against the cement.… Read more