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Foibles and Frailty

 Once upon a time there was a little girl who trespassed on the lawn of an evil sorceress. To punish the little girl, the sorceress cursed her with a piercing gaze, that she might always know the inside truth of each person she met.

    Well, inside truths are not always pretty. And the little girl ran afoul of cruel people first. Thus, her curse bore witness to the nasty bits that can be found so easily inside. In fact, so easily do those nasty bits rise to the front of a piercing gaze, that the little girl did not think that goodness could be found in anyone.

    The little girl was both ashamed and proud of her gift. Her foresight to the worst of a person's character kept her from many an ill intent. Her judgments gave her the thickest skin. But her knowledge kept her from kindness and carved her sharp as nails.

    Until she met a little bear whose inside truth held no drops of malice. He had been cursed to see only goodness in others, and so he had been poorly used. And yet, in his hope, he was all sweetness and wonder.

    The little bear saw little goodness in the girl, save for discernment. The little girl saw only the little bear's virtue. And so, each shocked the other into friendship.

    The little girl taught the bear of foibles and the little bear taught the little girl of frailty, until they could both make their way in the world wisely.

    In the end, it was as though neither had been cursed at all.

The Little Beast

 Once there was a little beast who had been betrayed. Cruel friends had said crueler things and made him an outcast.     Poor beast thought he had lost all the fun. All the games. All the light and good things.     And so, he turned to embrace dark things. In a literal kind of way.     No longer did he play in the daytime.     No longer did he wake and eat and chat with those he once called friends by the light of the sun.      He shuffled along in the night, alone and bare and wanting.     Except, one cannot go along into the dark of night forever, because not all nights are dark. And one night, the little beast met the moon. The moon was wild and crazy and fun, and set out little tasks for the beast to do in her sweet light. Gathering water touched by moonlight. Plucking apples from the trees, so much sweeter for having ripened away from sight. Dancing on a hill top in a very silly way, so that the moon might chuckle and pat the little beast on the head, and call him a tiny darling t

Three Old Women

 Once upon a time there were three old women who sat together and worried about the fate of the world.     'But what can we do about it?' pondered one.     'Little at our age,' said another.     'Are we so sure?' asked the third. 'There are things, perhaps...'     'Like what?' asked the first.     'Smiling?' put forward the third.     'Oh, that is very good,' said the other. 'And maybe serving tea?' she added carefully.     'Yes, and perhaps crafting a book filled with all the things we have learned in three lifetimes...' mused the first, with her fingers round her jaw.     They smiled at one another. They had tea. And in the next moment, when they started the plan to tell the stories of their lives, the world began to change.

The Calm After the Storm

Once upon a time a woman walked, hunched and bent, into the middle of a field. A storm was brewing. She could feel the creaking of the forest around the field as it braced itself for the squall. And then, it came. The wind blew and it gusted and it galed, but she simply stood in the midst of it, her hands clenched in fists at her side.     The rain came and went. Lightening flickered and thunder crashed. The wind began to whirl, and the force of it was enough to make the woman's body shake.     Still, she stood.     The storm ended.     The woman lifted her head as she left the field. Her steps were strong, her back straight. She showed no sign of the wearying hours she had spent in the throws of the weather.     She walked into her cottage, sat down in a chair, and smiled.      All was calm.

Anyone to Tea

Once upon a time a young woman lived in the forest. She made herself a home there, and though it was simply put together, she was happy to have anyone to tea.     Simplicity made it  a lovely place to take tea. It was filled with all the wonder of the forest: welcoming rooms of perfect moss and wood, curious windows that looked out onto views filled with forest wonder, places for dancing, places for reading, and, of course, a marvelously golden room that hosted a large silver teapot perfect for afternoon guests.     A fell wind came through the forest one night and crumpled her home to the ground.     The rooms were felled by broken trees, the windows crushed to powder, and the silver teapot destroyed beyond repair. No room, no wall, no decor stood between her and the forest.     Scrounging through the rubble, the woman found an unblemished pot - a saucepan made for stirring small portions of savory nothings.      She filled the pot with water, built a fire amongst the ruins of her hom