The Blacksmith’s Wife

lilacs

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.

The Café of Impossibilities

stephen-baum

The Café of Impossibilities

It’s down an alley between the shops, around a corner that isn’t always there. You push open the low door and a soothing murmur of conversation greets you. The coffee is frankly mediocre, but Amelia looks great at – what was it? – thirty-eight to your careworn fifty-five. Amelia who always knew the importance of trivialities, who cheered each tiny triumph. In a quiet corner your dad forgets to drink his tea; your fingers itch to stroke the old cat’s fur. But too soon you’re out in the crowded street and that isn’t really the back of Amelia’s head disappearing from view.

M J Lewis ©2015

Here is my contribution to Friday Fiction, presided over as ever by the amazing Rochelle. The sweet-peas are blooming out in the garden, or tennis is on the telly if you prefer to stay inside behind gently wafting curtains. It is indeed a lovely British summer. Thanks for visiting wherever you are.  (And to whomsoever stopped by from Mongolia only this week, multiple thanks.)

Thanks also to Stephen Baum for this week’s photo.

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