The Maze of Longing as retold by M J Lewis

Is it Friday already? It must be because here is another photo prompt (this time by the appropriately named Melanie Greenwood) to put us the mood to write for Friday Fictioneers. Thanking, as ever, the excellent Rochelle for her graciousness and energy. (Does she ever sleep I wonder?) Please click on this LINK to find an eclectic mix of stories from across the globe.

Lacking inspiration this week, I took myself up to the attic. I tripped over a box of video cassettes, heaved the defunct enlarger out of the way and squeezed past the dusty old cider press. And there it was, my grandmother’s book of fairy tales, its foxed pages turned by many before me.garden-maze

The Maze of Longing has several versions. One involves a magic apple and an unbelievably short pregnancy, followed by a precipitous labour and a post-partum trek over hill and down dale. (Don’t you just hate it when they sanitise these stories for children?) Another is so sad your heart might break into a million pieces if you read it.

This version is somewhere between the two.

A mathematical point of information: one way to solve a maze is to place your hand on one edge and let the maze take you hither and thither until you emerge from it. It’s not necessarily the quickest way, but it works.

The Maze of Longing, as retold by M J Lewis

There was once a miller’s wife who, though she loved her husband dearly and often, bore no children. Setting out one bitter morn, she crossed woodland and valley until she came at last to the maze of longing.

‘Plunge your hand into the thorns and do not take it from there, lest you lose the path,’ instructed the wizened gatekeeper.

At the very centre, nestled in the grass, lay two sweetly swaddled, nut-brown babes. Tearing her bleeding hand from the briar, the miller’s wife scooped each infant to her bosom, left and right, and turned to find she was lost.

M J Lewis © 2015