Max Murphy had no idea he would wake up as an osprey.
He had read Kafka in school—compared to a roach, this seemed infinitely better. He soared high on thermals and took in the scenery. When he got hungry, he snagged a fish.
“I didn’t transfigure you so you could joyride.”
Max looked up from his fish into the grey eyes of a large tawny cat.
“A wizard,” Max said.
The cat grinned. “I knew you had the intuition.”
“Why, then?”“A mission. Follow, and find out.” He scampered away.
Max considered his fish, then flew off after the cat.
Author’s Note: I was contemplating Kafka one day and wondered, Why a roach? What if instead he woke up as something awesome?
We built the snow dragon in a forest clearing, our secret place. She was twenty feet long, from spiny snout to curving tail. For eyes we gave her bits of flint, for teeth dozens of the sharpest icicles. We fed her with our hopes and dreams.
“Will she fly?” I asked Ella.
She petted the dragon’s long, slender neck. Blue fuzz stuck to it from her mittens.
“Sure, if we believe.”
One day the bullies followed us.
We climbed on our dragon’s back.
“Wish real hard,” Ella whispered.
Wings of ice and snow flexed. Fangs of ice gleamed.
Author’s Note: Dragons are cool. Sometimes literally.
The butcher’s knife landed with a thwack, cutting short the chicken’s clucking. Alan carried it to the makeshift altar with the reverence of a pallbearer. He painted the signs on himself with the animal’s blood, and muttered the prayers as he struck a match.
Alan stood in the circle. “Dad?” he said, a begging in his voice. “Are you there? What should I do?”
The words croaked out from the chicken’s beak. Alan shivered as a draft blew out the light. “Put your money on the Cubs. Something tells me they’re going to have a very good showing this year.”
Author’s Note: I have a photographer friend who has another photographer friend who won a photo contest for taking a picture of a religious cult member performing an animal sacrifice. I have yet to see this picture, but I was blown away that this kind of thing is still happening. I wonder who (what?) the offering was for.
As a teacher of folklore, I had read about Her for years. Her billowing gown, those elegant legs. Her arms, outstretched and pale, as She asks for your last dance.
I thought I was doing okay after the accident. I missed Cerise, of course, and it hurt whenever I visited the grave. I never thought about hurting myself, or the weight I was losing to grief, or how everyone was noticing.
Imagine my surprise when I saw Her for myself, on the bridge I was supposed to be walking, not stumbling across. Imagine my surprise when she extended Her hand.
Author’s Note: I have lately become fascinated by folkloric accounts of The White Lady, an apparition frequently seen in France for centuries. While not all interactions with her are negative, some accounts depict her (and her dance) as an emissary to the afterlife. I also love the idea of a protagonist doomed, as many of us are, to meet his own death in both a shocking and entirely appropriate form.