Some people boil apricots in honey wine or pickle pumpkin for the winter, but I make preserves of a different sort. I have it all: the timid spring sunlight, gentle and cool; the hot summer sunshine, smelling of wildflowers and joy; and the last rays of the autumn sun, bittersweet and mellow. I run my fingers over the dozens and dozens of jars in the cellar.
It’s that time again.
The sun won’t rise for a month.
That’s when my demons come out, screaming and scratching for attention.
I hope I can last until the summer sun scorches them away.
Author’s Note: The winters in Finland are long and bleak. Can you imagine not seeing the sun for a couple of months?
Each time the couple kissed was like a slow execution to Vanordan, the court magician. He had grown up with the princess and harbored a childhood love. But a prince from a neighboring land couldn’t be refused.
There were many such lands, Vanordan realized, and he was young. Why stay and torment himself?
He packed his wand, his spellbooks, his herbs. Before leaving, he brewed a steaming green potion. “A farewell gift,” he said to the princess, and turned his back.
Suspicious, she dumped the potion in the royal garden and watched, a bit sad, as a gorgeous rosebush sprouted.
Author’s Note: Some tales of unrequited love end in malice, but they don’t all have to.
Carol polished the keys of her new baby grand. It was the sort that could play a number of tunes for itself.
She’d bought it at an estate sale. The previous owner had been a great pianist in his prime, his skill butchered by arthritis setting in his fingers. Carol was fond of playing herself and vowed to use her fingers on the instrument while she could. She tapped a few notes of “Greensleeves” and went about her chores, the song still playing in her head, until it wasn’t.
Carol whipped around, recalling she hadn’t switched the piano to auto.
Author’s Note: As a child, I loved going into lobbies and seeing pianos play themselves. As I aged though, I wondered how easy it would be for ghosts to take over without anyone knowing.
She flickered her fingers and watched as the static fizzled across the screen. She wasn’t allowed to watch TV anymore but there was a small CCTV screen outside her cell. The police said her “Breaking Bad” stunt was the one that went too far but really, she knew that breaking up Ross and Rachel was the last straw. Eventually—after a tumultuous relationship with an eighties heartthrob—the police tracked her down and locked her away with nothing but the blurry CCTV screen.
A smile lifted at the corner of her mouth. She’d never tried a book before.
Author’s Note: There are a lot of things I can imagine doing with this power. Watch out Lizzie Bennet.
Claudette helped Charlie so much with his French lessons.
No, mon chere, not jer tem, its jeu tem
They met at the start of his immersion trip and were inseparable.
No, pomme de terre, not Meem chose, mem shoz
She was so sweet, always correcting his pronunciation.
No petit frois gras, not arretezzz, its arreteyyy
So thoughtful. Only correcting every other word when they were with friends.
So perfect she was. So fluent. But her English was a bit off.
This time he corrected her. “It’s ‘Oh my GOD’, not ‘gawd’ ‘what are you doing with that NIFE’, not ‘nuf.’”
Author’s Note: Because what could be worse than being perfect.
They are always about: dark blobs on the blue ceiling of my home. Their boats swirl past, the wooden bellies an endless annoyance. I can feel them up there, their prying eyes on the lookout. It has been a decade now, since anyone last caught sight of me.
She was a small one, no larger than my youngest offspring. I knew there was no harm in showing off, the tiny set are rarely believed. I let her see my fins, my tail, the shimmer of the water on my curves.
She said nothing. I knew she would keep my secret.
Author’s Note: I kind of like the idea of a lake monster who knows the local tourist industry is hunting for pics or video of it, and toys with them instead of cooperating.
The Lloyds wanted a house with character.
The old Victorian had character, all right, but to keep her real estate license, Evelyn was required to disclose the “paranormal occurrences” the previous owners had reported. The Lloyds exchanged a glance and asked for a night to think it over… in the residence.
The next morning, Evelyn met them at the door. “Find anything?”
Mrs. Lloyd was disheveled; her husband groggy. “We stayed up all night, but didn’t see a thing.”
“Great! You’ll sign the papers then?”
“Hardly!” Mrs. Lloyd huffed. “We wanted a house with character; this one’s not even haunted!”
Author’s Note: I read an article recently about what exactly realtors are required to disclose about a property’s history and found it so interesting that I just had to fit it into a story. In case you’re wondering: the laws vary by state.
“I can’t believe you. You promised me you were going to be nice.” Violet clenched her fists in frustration.
“I was nice! I could have transformed him into a newt, harvested his eye. It’s hard to come by fresh eye of newt these days. Sometimes they give you toad, sometimes salamander. The market is a dishonest place.”
“You didn’t have to transform him into anything! He was just taking me to the dance.”
“He still can.”
“Dad, you turned him into a cactus.”
“I gave him a pot; he’s portable.” Her father smiled in satisfaction. “Just don’t dance too close.”
Author’s Note: Surely a wizard father would be as protective of his baby girl as any other father. No gun threats needed from a wizard though.
The cold didn’t bother Steffon Drake at first; the isolation, though, almost drove him mad.
Above, red hot streaks of debris continued to rain—remnants of his exploration pod. Only the escape vessel had worked properly. It steamed in the ice and snow behind him as he took in the alien world.
Blinding whiteness. Drake dimmed his helmet lenses, then oriented himself south. He could calculate his latitude after sunset, but he figured a minimum of four months’ walk to clear the glaciers and reach his colleagues at the equator.
Drake hoisted a rudimentary survival pack, sighed, and started walking.
Author’s Note: This story came from an image of a group of colonists landing on a new planet, only the landing goes awry for one of them. Perhaps it’s a snippet of something larger.
He loved feeding off the pain and suffering of others. A sweet dessert. He licked a sharp tongue over glistening teeth.
“I’m so sorry Mrs. Rosen, you and your 4 children have to find somewhere else to live. I can’t give you another rent extension.” He let the tears wash over him slowly then walked away.
Behind him, he could hear the doorbell ring inside the Rosen’s house. Not again. He turned and watched IT hand the widow a package full of money. His soul crashed down.
IT flitted by and smiled. His demon was generous and sweet and taunting.
Author’s Note: I love demons. Why should they all be mean?