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The Old Woman Watcher

Once upon a mid-winter, on a day when deep, dampening fog slipped into a wooded glade, an old woman set out on a day’s long journey.
            The cold was bitter and bone-chilling, penetrating the skin.  It was all the old woman could do to stave off the bitter shakes that stabbed at her gnarled, swollen joints.  But her journey was one of gravest importance, for the child—and the mother—were counting on her presence.
            When at last she arrived at the worn cottage with a thin thread of steam whirling limply from the chimney, she crossed the house’s threshold with words of blessing on her lips.  The fire was nothing to be proud of; only thin twigs, the sort that dry quickly, made up its tiny licking flames.  But a fire it was, and the old woman sat in a chair of wood and held her hands toward it gratefully.  She did not bother long with warmth, however, for a glance at the sky told her the night was upon them—yes, them.  For she was not alone.
            In a cradle under the window, lay the child.
            Its mother had gone, having left not long before—and it did not come as a surprise.  The old woman had travelled as fast as she could, but a woman on her own and a child for which to provide sees much toil and so it was that she had gone to sell her wares of delicate lace at the evening market where the wealthy promenade on such a night. 
            A dangerous night to be away.  This the old woman knew, and the toiling mother, too.  For it was the night of the Snow Moon—a night when the fog would abandon its seeping haze as quickly as it had come, and the Fae would come to claim bits of a realm no longer their own.
            Thus, with her eyes firmly upon the child’s dreaming face, the old woman kept her vigil.
            An hour, maybe more, passed, and they came.
            Skittering, their light feet dancing, first upon the dead garden, then upon the window’s ledge, then upon the cradles’ wooden top, they crept, and danced, and twittered amongst themselves.  And then their eyes turned as Fae as they might, and their hands reached for the child.  It was with a quick grab that they leaned to take what they mistakenly felt was theirs.  But it was with a sudden stop that they froze, their fingers inches from the child’s face.  For they had felt the eyes of the old woman watcher.
            Slowly they slinked away from whence they came.  In a moment it was as if they had never been.
            The Snow Moon sank below the trees, and the light went out of the sky.
            And the woman felt her weight sag against her chair.
            The danger had passed.

A Pattern in Winter

The first frost came, and all the leaves fell to the ground dead.

The second frost came, and all the ground gave up its green.

The third frost came, and brittle branches sought to grow no more.

And then came the snow, and all nature exhaled a sigh of relief.

The Silver Patterns

Patterns of silvery star-like things were known to weave in front of Sara’s eyes.
She knew, very well, the truth of what she saw.But it was not that she saw them, but rather when.For it was when she saw the patterned stars that for the briefest moment, she knew something of truth. The first time they came was when Sara happened upon a wounded swallow in aching, gasping, agony.Sara did not know the cause of the bird’s pain, but as she bent over and saw the bird slip away into death, there were the silver patterns, winding small about the feathered creature and Sara thought, as their glow faded, that perhaps they carried with it the bird’s soul. Another time, under a full summer’s moon, she and a lover took an evening stroll.What had begun as a walk, quickly become a dance, joyous and exuberant and filled with child-glee.Then, too, the patterned silver had come, and wrapped around the pair in shiny glistening abundance, and filled her heart with joy. Still once more they had come, on a day …

A Tale of Three Blessings

Once upon a time a small withered apple fell to the ground with a thud.
It was picked up by a grubby little hand and carried lovingly to the bedside of an old woman.She blessed the fruit, then took a bite.Smiling, she handed the rest of it to the child and said, ‘Plant this outside our door and see what it will bring.’ And so the child, a small boy, did as the old woman bid.Autumn passed into Winter, then into a Spring that was bittersweet, for one day the old woman died, and the boy found that he was all alone.Except that outside the door was an apple tree covered in blossoms.Seeking solace, the boy spent the night under the cover of its floral branches.At midnight, a spirit from the tree appeared and taking pity on the child beneath its boughs gave him these blessings three: that he would always be kind, that he would always be grateful, and that he would always forgive. With these gifts the child grew into youth, then into manhood, and eventually it came to pass that he became an old …

A Kingdom for a Soul

It had been a strange journey, Orrin thought as he approached the path into the mountains that ascended steeply.Strange and cold.
He had followed the signs as he had been bidden.Crossed the oak tree with a branch of yew.Blinked twice at the Pool of the Fallen Faeries.Chanted the Poem of the Wandering Lost in the Cave of Being. And so far none of it had restored what he had lost. The thing was, he needed help, and he needed it desperately.He had come to realize a folly he had made in his youth and was desperate to right it.He would take all the help he could get, and do all the tasks set before him.He would dance naked around a thousand faerie rings, if that was what it took to get his soul back. For Orrin had sold his soul. It had happened long ago, when life appeared less sweet.When the world seemed as though it had nothing to offer.And when ego said it did not matter if one possessed the essence of a self in exchange for all the power and riches one could imagine.What was self, Orrin had…