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 man.  He had wandered often and far in his lifetime, and now it made sense for him to return to the apple tree of old who had once blessed him thrice.  Far and long he travelled until the day came where he sat once more beneath the boughs of an old withered tree—as old and withered as he was himself—and reflected on his long life.
            Through all the ages his mind did pass over, and in all the places he had been, in all the times through which he had lived, he found that not one word, not one deed did he think back upon with regret.
            And thus it was that when his body gave way and his spirit departed the mortal world, he found himself at peace.

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…

A Witch's Hallowe'en

Elena signed with exasperation.
The kids had arrived, as they did every year since they had discovered that she was a witch.Every year on this day.Samhain.The second biggest day of importance for her work.How she was supposed to get everything done that needed to be finished within the next several hours and deal with that ragged lot was beyond her. The list of things she had to do unrolled before her mind.There were herbs that had been drying since summer to prep into poultices for the McCready’s arthritis, and the small bones of Mansy to grind in the mortar and pestle to be sprinkled out in the graveyard that the small mouse had loved best.There were the black cats to feed and house when they were evicted from their homes, as they were on this night every year.The midnight lotus would not water itself at eleven fifty-five that evening.And on top of all of this, there were the tonics to have prepared by midnight so that they could soak up the perfect quantity of less light and more dar…

As the Earth Cries

The trembles and moans reach the mist and the wind as they hear pain as sound.They are not alone in hearing, for all creatures, the trees, even the waters in all their depths can hear it.
They hear that the earth cries. Now a keening wail; an aching deep within the belly so guttural that it cannot bear to keep silent.Now one of shuddering horror; of monsters seeking, lurking, soaking up their gains as painful etches into skin.Now another of moaning; of lingering in unfulfillment that has lasted so long, fear takes over and says ‘you will never be made whole.’ Oh, there is no doubt in the mind of the mist and the wind and the creatures and the waters why it is the earth cries. It is the cry that mourns a final death—and they have long known its coming. And then a soft, surprised cry. What has the earth seen, the mist and the wind and the creatures and the waters wonder.Why has the earth changed its mournful tune? They peak behind their self-made curtains, the wind and mist and all—thus they k…

A Beginning of an End

Once upon a time, in a land strewn with strife and fearsome monsters, there lived a mild creature.
It was a small thing, so small that it lived in a low knothole of a gnarled tree—a tree of an age so great it could remember what the world was like before cruelty and terror ruled over the land.Inside the knothole was a cozy home, complete with all things that bring comfort—books, good food, and a warming hearth fire—and protected by a thick door made of the bark of the gnarled old tree itself, so that the hole was hidden, and thus kept out the malicious foe. But where no enemy can wander in, nor can a friend.And so the little creature was lonely.A loneliness made all the worse by the quivers and shivers and shakes of constant dread that came from living with the knowledge that, outside its home, the world was filled with horrors. So powerful was the fear that resided in the little creature’s heart that even in its lovely home, it could not even imagine a different world. The creature’s fea…