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The Thief and the Golden Apple

Once upon a time there was a golden apple purported to have a wealth of magical properties. The apple itself was situated inside a locked vault surrounded by a guarded castle by order of the king of the realm. He had had the apple for some time, since just after the death of his wife, whose life would have been saved had the apple been found soon enough. But those who were sent in pursuit of what was, at the time, little more than a fable, came back too late to save the queen.

            After the queen’s death, and, more to the point, because of it, the king locked up the apple so that no other person could have access to its powers, claiming that this was the will of God. And so, a good many people who would otherwise have been saved, were lost.

            Now, it so happened that several years after the queen’s death a thief was passing through this particular king’s realm, and in the midst of her time in inns and lodging houses, she heard tell of the fabled apple set behind lock and key. The thief found in a challenge a kind of infinite excitement, and so set about a plan to try and break in; first to the castle, then to the vault, and then to escape with the apple.

            The plan went as the thief expected until the very last moment when she was about to hoist herself over the castle’s battlements. She was apprehended by the king’s faithful sorcerer—a man apt to do the king’s bidding without question. But as he cast his spell on the thief and the apple, he failed to remember that one of the apple’s key properties was in resisting forced magic. And so, the thief laughed and crept over the wall to freedom.

            When she had arrived in her lodgings, she placed the apple on the bed and stared at it for some time. She had heard the legends of its powers, and knew what it was she possessed. She herself had no ailments that the apple could cure. But she knew that she could get a great price indeed for a product of such magical potency. To make the sale, however, would take some time.

            As she planned and plotted her recourse in the coming days, she would lunch in the king’s city, and she could not help but witness sickly beggars at street corners, the dead carried through the roads on carts, and the weight of the chief physic as he made his way to and fro the sick houses about the city. Her eyes were ever heightened on those of ill health most likely because of the prize she possessed, until the thought of it bore down on her so heavily, that she turned the apple over to the physic. And in so doing she was able to do what the king could not.

            The king knew, by means of his sorcerer, of the apple’s loss, and at first was filled with rage. And as he saw the health of his citizens improve, he knew what it was the thief had done with the magic apple. But as he saw the change in his city, the health of his people, and the sounds of whistles and bells floating about him, a change came over his heart.

            He put out an order to his best trackers for the thief to be brought to him, and it did not take long for her to be apprehended. Fearing the worst, she came before the throne trembling. But there was little point in her terror, for the king placed his hand in the thief’s and thanked her.

            Thus, it was that the king was set free from his grief.

Two Old Women and Their Tea

  There were once two small old ladies who sat down, one day, to tea. On the table were fruit scones, clotted cream, and raspberry jam, all made from the labors of their own four hands. It was the tea that had made the longest journey. Indeed, its journey was much longer than the cream that came from the cow that pastured near the old women’s cottage, the raspberries and honey that came from the bees they kept and the bushes they harvested, and the wheat they threshed and ground, the eggs they gathered, and the currents they plucked and dried.             In fact, the tea had come from nowhere near their cottage. It came from far off lands, where the air grew moist and hot, where each leaf was plucked by fingers far different than those the two women possessed. It came by means of caravan routes filled with goods and on the backs of people carrying heavy burdens, and then it traveled on the decks of well-worn ships across many seas. It made its way through ports and customs, had its

A Glass Sky

  A woman sat on the steps outside her home, broken. She looked up at the stars. It was the best time—the dead cold of a winter's night—when the world’s upper layers turned to glass, and through it one could see every star that ever was.      She started to count them, each shining dot of light, as though it were a lifeline. And so it was. The infinity of the stars meant, to her, an infinite possibility of life, and if she could never count them, then she would remain herself.      One, two, she began….      A thousand and fifty-three…      She was frigid then, her nose so cold it might not have been there.      A thousand, eight hundred and two…      Three thousand two hundred and thirteen…. She couldn’t count anymore. It was then that relief came, in a sigh from a breath that ran through her like hot wine.      The stars weren’t going anywhere.      And neither was she.      Not yet.      For the world seemed full of possibility again.

The Little Girl's Three Wishes

  There was once a little girl who was granted three Christmas wishes.      For the first, she wished for calm; for the second, that there would be peace. But the third wish did not come to her lightly. Indeed, it took her several minutes of pondering over the possibilities of all else that could be wished.      But then she thought of it.       A perfect thing.       One that filled her heart with glee and set her fingers to tingling.     She wished for snow.

Winter's Breath

It was the Spring that made her weep. Early Spring, just as the sprouts pushed up from heavy earth, the burden of it pressed through with equal parts inevitability and magic. Still, it was the loss of something; a barren landscape, of faded harsh lines and cold silhouettes that filled her with this mourning. How long it would be until Autumn broke! How long until the return that made her feel like she could sleep in her own skin and be at peace. For following Spring, came the mock of happiness that glories in a sudden fleeting beauty and tantalizing warmth that is nothing more than a shortened, sharpened shock. But then, just then, as the leaves would begin to slip and the colors would start to riot, one would begin to breathe. For one knew then that death was on one’s doorstep. Death, best greeted with a kiss on each cheek. For it was only when it arrived that the air grew clear as crystal and breathable as the fumes of the finest wine. The blow of Winter’s solemn breath that br