The Fae Wood

There are those haunted woods. You know them. The ones you walked through that night when the mists lit up with an eerie luminosity and you knew you’d regret it if you didn’t follow the light to its source.

            The source was moonlight, of course. There was no surprise in that.

            But the twilit pond did surprise you.

            Not because it was a pond, but because of the Fae creatures that danced about it with their tiny bodies gliding about on shining wings, all gossamer and glow.

            When you stripped off your jacket and dove into the pond, that surprised you, too.

            Not as much as the Fae creatures on the other side who pulled you up as you gasped your breaths and told you that you would be there for the next hundred years.

            You didn’t mind.

            It had always been a dream of yours, a fancy of wonder and fairy tales. It was a fine way to spend a hundred years.

            But when you came back, the world was not much changed.

            So you had to do your normal living anyway.

            And when you had written a thousand stories, and found yourself gasping for air just because you were old, looking back you wouldn’t have changed a thing.

When the Earth Cried Out

 Once upon a time the earth cried out.     She cried out with a sound so tremulous that the universe paused.     It was the cry of bereavement, of trouble and sorrow.    She did so without agenda, only as one who bears witness to her own struggles.     And when the pause had ceased and all turned back into the natural rhythms of their motions, the trajectory of orbits and expansions and contractions all carried forth with infinitesimal difference, the change trickled down to the apex of the small planet who sighed and carried on.

A Tale on the Faults of a Utilitarian Calculus

Once upon a time, a little girl—the daughter of a great shepherdess—was gifted a sheep. The girl loved the sheep as though it were an extension of herself, caring well for it every day, and snuggling against its warm coat every night.      One day, a dragon flew down, eyed the sheep, and said to the little girl who had thrown herself in front of it, ‘if you give me your sheep willingly and with no fuss, I won’t burn your village to the ground.’      The little girl’s eyes went wide, then narrowed in a calculating fashion as the wheels of her mind began to wrestle.      ‘Dragon, sir,' she said, 'I cannot give you my sheep, not even to save my whole village, for I have promised to care for it. But you may eat me instead.'      The dragon blinked once, then twice, and then flew away from the sheep, the village, and the little girl, for he did not have enough logic in his heart to contend with that.

The Forest's Attention

Once a year there is a dance put on by forest folk. There is laughing and feasting and great steps round and round that are met by all who watch it with eyes of wonder.             It does not have a particular date, this dance. There is no ready calling that announces its presence or heralds the coming of the time.             The date is set when the moment is right. And for that, we must pay attention.             If one fails in that attention, the forest will give up its dance—magic must have someone to bear witness to it after all. And there have been years when there has been no one who sits with the long rhythm that lends sight to the moment of the annual gaiety. For this one moment is begot by gravity and gentle care, a sacrifice that leads to the merriment; a heavy price to pay for an observer.             If no one pays the price, the forest has no dance, and grows smaller.             Soon, like the fairies, it will wink out.             And then, what is left?

The Woman in the Tower

Once upon a time a woman sat alone, locked at the top of a stone tower.             When the people who had come to settle near the tower first approached it, they discovered her locked inside, and set about freeing her. The question as to whether she had been put there, or whether she had voluntarily ascended was to become a moot point, for when the door was finally unlocked, she refused to descend. Indeed, so often did those who wished for her liberty come to the door of the tower and try to remove her from the top most room in which she had once been locked, that, after a time, she discovered a way in which to lock herself in—and all others out.             It is unknown how long she remained locked in the tower room, for no one could get inside to see her, until a sizable knight, who happened to be passing, was asked to go up and use his hefty shoulder to beat down the door.             But when he did so, it was discovered that the tower had been abandoned; the woman’s where