just an old worker bee

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Frederik sensed the seasons changing. He knew he didn’t have much longer before the frosts came and the cooler temperatures brought an end to his life. If he found himself a new hive in time he might stand a chance, but he would have to leave his best friend.

The same best friend who offered him the shelter of her petals when his old hive cast him out. He was just another worker bee who got too old and too slow. The flower didn’t think so. She loved him, and she appreciated all the pollen he’d brought her over the summer. He didn’t know it, but she had saved her sweetest nectar for his daily visits.

She didn’t have much more than a month to go herself before the winter took over and scattered her seeds to the wind. He hugged her close. He would never leave.

for the kids who get bullied

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We all have those days, even when we’re too old to admit it, when we’re nursing secret hurts from bullies it feels no one else can see but us. The isolation and the disbelief don’t make the bullying hurt any less. Just because there aren’t any witnesses doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Your hurts are real. I believe you. And so does my old friend, this nifty flying feline fairy here.

He doesn’t look like much, but he can unleash fairy vengeance like you’ve never seen. Ask him for help, and he’ll be there. He’ll knot their eyelashes together if that’s what you need. He’ll smear an invisible stink on the bottom of your bullies’ new shoes. He’ll ask his trusty monster friend to set up shop beneath their bed, and clean out all the grocery stores of their favorite foods. If they’re far too awful for such niceties, he might even pee in their bathwater. Whatever sort of vengeance he deems your particular bully might deserve.

You won’t get the chance to see him at work, but he’ll tell you all about with cookies and popcorn (and that’s the best part). He’s a good guy. Trust me, I’ve asked him for help a few times myself.

 

an artifact of curiosity

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The first twin leaned in and inspected the thing. “It could be anything: a crashed spaceship, a shriveled-up alien that couldn’t survive in our atmosphere…”

“Or a disembodied eye sent to spy on us by some weird old wizard!” said the second twin.

“You guys are so dramatic, it’s just a dried up rosehip,” said the girl.

The boys stopped and stared at her a moment before shaking their heads. “No way. If that’s not worth a fortune in some wizard’s herb shop, I’ll eat my shoe.”

The girl reconsidered. They were the only other kids in the neighborhood. She wanted them to like her, needed them to like her if she wanted to have anyone to play with. “Well, did you know rosehips can cure scurvy?”

“What, like in pirates?”

“Yeah, like in pirates.”

“Whoa.” The boys looked at her with a new respect.

 

a squish of rotten apples

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It isn’t easy being an apple, employed again and again as a deliverer of fairy tale poison, forbidden fruit, pressed into ciderhood, and baked alive inside a pie. Yet in the first fine summer of innocence, growing content upon a loving mother tree, there is no better life than that of an apple. Born from a flower into a cloud of buzzing bees, growing in the heat of a hot summer sun, ripening to cool autumn kisses, oh, there is a reason they taste so sweet.

Wait, no, that one’s tart! So tart!

“That’s right, you monster! Stay away from my babies!” said the apple tree, pelting down a rain of bruising fruit.

I tried to run but I slipped in a squish of rotten fruit, smearing myself with startled worms and brownish goop. I won’t soon forget the sound of her laughter as it shredded the last of my dignity.

far too much woman for just one season

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“Old Man Winter’s not so bad. I mean, he has a right to be here, and sometimes he’s downright cozy,” said Mother Nature, shaking her head. “I just don’t understand why he insists on leaving his beards all over the place. And don’t even get me started on the way he hides all my handiwork under snow.”

“Is that why you two have such an on-again, off-again relationship?”

She tossed her hair and sent me a glare. “Listen, I’m far too much woman for just one season. Judge me if you dare, but just remember who’s in charge of wrinkles and stretch marks at the end of the day.”

cinderspider and the idiot prince

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Somewhere, a clock struck twelve, the bells ringing out into the night. She dashed away across the meadow, wet with rain, eager to escape before her fairy godmother’s spell fell to pieces. Her feet soon grew soaked, her gown soiled, and in haste she dropped her shawl. Oh, she knew the story required her to leave behind a glass slipper, but glass slippers were hard to come by, and they were just so pretty she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

The prince chased after her, losing sight of her in the darkness. He plucked the shawl from its perch in the weeds and brought it back to search for clues. He hired his best forensic analysts, eager to find his lost lady love. Of course he didn’t know that after the spell broke, the shawl would turn into a spider’s web again.

The forensic team each came to the same conclusion.

The wedding took place in the palace, a quiet affair. The queen wept, as did the king, though he had his own reasons for doing so. Had the whole world gone mad? What kind of a prince fell in love with a spider?

The prince, in his defense, never expected to lift his brides’ veil and discover a spider underneath. How had his love become a spider? Had science failed him? No, it couldn’t be so. He’d danced with her, whispered sweet nothings in her ear! So he wed her just the same.

The spider suspected the prince must be mad, but life in a palace, out of the elements, with only the choicest of flies for dinner? What spider would refuse?

From somewhere high above the scene, the fairy godmother looked on, shaking her head and washing her hands of all of it. She deemed Cinderella better off scrubbing floors in a nice pair of shoes than getting mixed up with this lot.

 

 

the return of the autumn monster

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The autumn monster has awoken. Hungry after three long seasons of hibernation, she stretches and gets to work without delay. First, she chooses a maple, her favorite, to begin, and puts her lips to the bottom of a leaf where it meets the stem. She takes one last look around to make sure no one is watching and – she sucks out all the green. SLURP!

 

 

the seedhead, the spider, and the ogre

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Sure, she’d gone to seed. It happens. Still, she began to feel a little used, pulled in different directions by the weight of his web. She never signed up for helping him catch his prey. She liked bugs – they pollinated her for goodness sake! The day he decided to move into her seedhead without permission she put her foot down. Well, her metaphorical foot. More of a root, really.

It may have been overkill, but she called in a favor from the local ogre. He obliged by crashing through the undergrowth, colliding with the web, and carrying it away, stuck to his hairy ogre arm.

The spider peeked out from where he napped in the seedhead, grumbling. He should have taken the hint, but he was a bit thick, even for a spider, so he cast out a sticky thread and let the wind carry it where it willed.

The ogre, watching all of this and grinding his teeth in frustration, thundered back, plucked the seedhead from the stalk and shook the spider out. Terrified, the spider ran away. The ogre grinned and turned to his friend, realizing too late he had picked her and now she was gone.

“Oh,” he said. He felt bad but ogres don’t dwell on such things. After all, she’d be back next spring.

 

 

the enchantment of the fireweed cloak

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“Winter will arrive sooner than you know,” said the old queen with a sniff. “I have no desire to be cold. I hear you are the tailor of the warmest cloaks in all the land.”

The bespectacled little man nodded, too afraid to speak.

“I want your warmest cloak, and I want it tomorrow.”

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible, you grace. You see, my cloaks, they aren’t the usual kind. They’re bewitched by the elves who help me to make them. They will only be as warm as the wearer’s need, and you, my grace, have no need. ‘Tis best reserved for the poorest of peasants, for I am afraid you will freeze.” He cringed and waited to be hauled off to some dingy dungeon.

“Nonsense! You will make me a cloak at once. I command it.”

The little man nodded with sorrow and returned to his shop. With the help of his elves he collected the wool of fireweed seeds and washed it in dewdrops. They carded it on the back of an obliging porcupine, and had it spun by spiders in exchange for a cozy corner in the workshop over winter. As the little man slept the elves wove it into a lengthy cloak of shimmering snow.

“Fit for a queen, but made for a pauper.” With a heavy heart he delivered the cloak to the queen.

The lady commended its workmanship, admired the richness and the softness of the cloth, and paid him well for his efforts. Still he returned to his home with his head hanging low. It did the queen little good to admire her fancy cloak, come winter the conditions of the cloak’s enchantment would hold sway.

Sure enough, as winter snows began to blow, she shivered in her beautiful cloak, but her vanity would not allow her to wear another. There were fires to be warmed by, and spiced wine for drinking, after all. Until, of course, her carriage lost a wheel one dark, cold night, and she waited for rescue alone with her pride as the coachmen went ahead for help.

The bespectacled little man hung his head and cried as he heard that the queen had frozen to death in the night, and her sons now fought for her crown.