The Spinet and the Music Stool

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The Spinet and the Music Stool

They were the words every lover dreads: I’ll always cherish our time together.

The spinet wanted to bellow out his misery, but his strings just gently vibrated with sadness. She was much younger; he’d always known their time together would be short, a song rather than a symphony.

But the new walnut pianoforte, with his rolling bass and piercing climax of high notes, his seductive dynamic range – it was too much.

Take care my love, whispered the spinet in moderated tones. May your heart be filled with happy tunes.

And his own heart broke within him with a jarring twang.

M J Lewis ©2016

Coming along very late to the party this week due to internet problems. I appear to be still in a Hans Christian Andersen mood – not sure why.

Thanks to Rochelle, our busy host at Friday Fiction, and to Jan W. Fields for the photo this week. For more musically inspired 100-word fiction click here.

The Little Ecstasy Girl

 

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The Little Ecstasy Girl

Christmas Eve: nobody was buying; the crowd was high on holiday happiness and the bouncers were on to her.

She shivered on the steps, not a single pill sold. Just one, then she’d dare to go home. She felt warmer almost immediately. She looked up – velvet and diamonds. One more and the stars began to sing, the purest most beautiful sound she had ever heard. She lifted her arms and swam towards the light, her whole being vibrating with their brilliance.

Christmas morning: the husk of a girl lay curled on the steps, frozen fingers clutching an empty bag.

M J Lewis ©2016

With thanks to our own shining star at Friday Fiction, Rochelle and to Amy Reese for the photo prompt. Thanks as well to a certain Hans Christian Andersen. (Have never had a Danish visitor – that would be nice!) To visit a constellation of stories click here.

The Blacksmith’s Wife

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The Blacksmith’s Wife

The blacksmith’s wife was once a raven-haired beauty. They say the Faerie King himself lured her from her marriage bed, where her husband snored contentedly, and flew with her up the chimney to the Palace of Stolen Dreams. And there, on a mattress stuffed with lilacs, beneath a chandelier tinkling with babies’ teeth, he treated her to a long night of brittle passion.

So now, her beauty faded, she dozes fitfully in the crook of her husband’s arm, one hand on the cradle of her blue-eyed daughter, and she listens for the soft tread of the debt collector.

M J Lewis ©2015

Very much missing my Sunday night fix of the BBC’s adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Highly entertaining, but also served to remind us – and we do need reminding – that fairies never ever, despite their misleading name, play fair. Put a saucer of milk on the back step at night, then stay well away.

And the clouds wept to see it all

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And the clouds wept to see it all

There was once a robin who fell in love with an oak tree. Through spring showers and balmy summer days, he trilled forth in his fine livery to attract the sun and warm his love’s leaves. In autumn, he admired the turning of emerald to gold.

How quickly my love ages, but how beautifully.

In winter he stayed too long and tumbled unnoticed, to die amongst the moulding leaves.

At least we die together, he sighed.

Waking to her hundredth spring, the oak tree raised her budding limbs to her lover, the sun, as she prepared for the year ahead.

M J Lewis ©2015

This week I’ve come over all allegorical in time for Friday Fiction, hosted by the lovely Rochelle, with contributions from scribblers from around the world at this LINK.

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Wolf Girl

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Wolf Girl

The traveller’s eyes shone bright in the firelight; his cape steamed with the enticing odours of tobacco, damp leaves and the wide reach of the sky beyond the citadel.

‘It is both easier and harder to hunt in the snow: sound and scent are muffled, but there are tracks.  Bloodied prints led us to a rocky outcrop where deep within a cave we found a girl, wrapped in a pelt of pure white, at her breast a wolf-cub of the softest silkiest grey.’

He shifted and held my gaze for all to see, as the memory ached within me.

M J Lewis ©2015

Inspiring photo prompt this week for Friday Fictioneers, from Doug MacIlroy, which I’ll be investigating properly now I’ve used it to go down some weird fantasy route. Can hear someone saying something about snow in Chile. Interesting…

Thanks as ever to our host, Rochelle. Many more stories to read here.

Beyond The Horizon

From his attic room, Hans stares longingly out beyond the line of trees. All winter he’s slept restlessly, in a bed that has grown unaccountably small, dreaming of faraway places.

Head west they say, for a hundred days, and you’ll reach a city where men and goblins walk free and unashamed – women too, of course, and perhaps a goblin girl with a wide smile and coils of green hair.

He’ll wait until the lambing is over and the top field ploughed, for the last hard frost.

Hans! Breakfast!

Hans straightens up, banging his head painfully on a low beam.

Shit!

M J Lewis ©2015

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Oh, those 100 words! Poor Hans was milking a goat, when Rochelle looked over my shoulder and said, Lose the goat! And apologies to any hard working parents and/or porridge makers – you were reduced to two words. What larks! Thanks to all fellow Friday Fictioneers – elves, humans, goblins, whoever – who drop by to play. And of course thanks to Rochelle (at Addicted to Purple) for linking our tales together and to Sandra Crook  for the photo prompt.

Finally, I stand humbly before the very brave, very lovely Terry Pratchett; he will be sadly missed.

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