The Strength of Winter

There was too much summer in Winter when she met the other queens. Blackberry wine burned her stomach as Summer and Autumn approached, pale in the blue light of her palace. Summer shivered in her cotton dress, her sandaled feet ankle deep in snow. Winter understood the bitter touch of ice. Her wife was dead. The winter would not end by her choice.

“Come to wrest power away from me, sisters?” Winter welcomed the hollowness the summer berries carved inside of her.

“The winter months have long passed and Spring is due her right to rule in turn,” Autumn said beneath the carved arches.

Winter laughed, gesturing to her ice palace around them. Windows of interlocking snowflakes, her crown of icicles, tapestries spun from frozen threads. All of her nice things. The rooms that her wife, Nadine, spent time in. The statues of her, carved in ice. Her face was already fading from Winter’s mind.

“You speak of turns like we’re children? You would take everything I’ve built this season and leave me with a puff of frost amongst the dew.”

“We want to help,” Autumn said. “We were sorry to hear of her death.”

A flash of a memory burned Winter’s mind before she managed to freeze it back out. Dark skin against the snow. The warmth of her kiss. Rage bubbled up hard and cold. “You were against us from the very beginning.”

(more…)

Bound in Blood

Fire rushed down Vivian’s throat and pooled in her stomach, soothing her nerves. After tonight, she would be someone’s wife. She’d never been anyone’s wife before. The tight, gnawing sensation returned to the pit of her stomach. Just a nip never hurt anyone, her granny always said. She’d only had one nip. Over and over again. She took another sip from the bottle.

A scrape on the other side of the door had her hiding the bottle away and hurrying to the washroom to brush her teeth. She wanted to be minty fresh for their first kiss. For her first kiss.

“Vivian, darling?” Her future mother-in-law called from the other side of the door before it squealed open, setting Vivian’s teeth on edge. “You’re still in your robe? Darling, you’re expected in the chapel in minutes! Come here.”

(more…)

March Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Cafe! Spring still seems to be dragging its feet, so pull up a chair by the fire and get ready for some entertainment.

This month, the Confabulators were tasked to write stories in which a character’s magical powers do not work when the character is drunk (or otherwise incapacitated, whether overly tired, sick, has the hiccups, or whatnot).

Two brave souls took on that challenge. Please join us this month to see where our Confabulators took the prompt.

Here’s the March schedule:

Monday, March 11: “Bound in Blood” by Eliza Jaquays
Monday, March 25: “The Strength of Winter” by Dianne Williams

 

At the Edge of the World

At the Edge of the World Dave thought it was a Tuesday when the stranger came. He’d tried to keep track, but it was hard. He was certain he’d missed days in his counting. There was no work week without civilization to insist on it. The world was gone and the only time that still existed was right now.

From the window in the kitchen, he watched Jonathon out in the garden, trying to pollinate the cucumber blossoms without any honey bees left to do the job. Jonathon poked at each tiny flower with a dirt-covered finger, convincing them to give up their pollen. He looked up and gave Dave a goofy smile, smearing dirt across his forehead. Dave laughed, short and sharp. But it was gone quickly as the memories of the world pushed back in on him.

Behind Jonathon, the laundry snapped in the warm, salt-flavored air, a soft contrast to the crusty ground and crashing waves beyond. Tuesday was always for laundry.

In the distance, the silhouette of a man crossed the isthmus that connected their homestead to a larger piece of land. No one had crossed that land in years. Dave had finally stopped feeling that clench in his stomach every time he looked toward it and now his stomach dropped. He called out to Jonathon, who hadn’t noticed him yet, while he went to get the shotgun.

(more…)

Like the Sun

“His smile is like the sun.”

Everything froze at those words and I looked about the crowded ballroom, trying to find him. The man who smiled the sun.

He wasn’t here. It was foolish to think that he was, that he could be here and I wouldn’t have known. Still, I looked about the ballroom full of bright gowns and tailored jackets one last time.

“It’s nothing at all like the sun,” I muttered as my gaze fell on the man across the room who was smiling our way. Smiling at me. And it was blasphemous to even suggest it.

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