Posts Tagged ‘siblings’

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Cast of Wonders 308: Every Drop of Light


Every Drop of Light

by Rachel Delaney Craft

No one ever said no to Grace, because she almost died when she was a baby. That’s why we always did what she wanted to do, even though I was the older sister. That’s why, when we were kids, I followed her into the woods behind the old factory.

We had no business being there. But Grace just giggled as she skipped down the path alongside the eroded creek bank. “Anna, come on!”

I trailed behind her, imagining the knots in the tree trunks melding into stern eyes and puckered mouths. I felt I was in a giant, slow-moving lung: each rustling breeze was a deep breath in, each creaking branch a collective sigh. I felt the place might inhale me and never let me out. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 303: What You’re Missing


What You’re Missing

by Allison Mulder

“Something’s missing.”

The words slipped past Anya’s lips, not for the first time. Most days she could keep them buried under other, safer thoughts. But on quiet, peaceful days like this one, when she’d successfully coaxed Colton past the fences to the off-grid hills, the words had a nasty habit of wriggling out to warm themselves in the sun.

“Of course something’s missing,” Colton said, staring back toward the sprawling gray city. Sun sparkled off the high chain link fences between the hills and town. “No Wi-Fi, no cell signals. The power grid’s scrapped out here. If it bothers you, let’s head back.” He fiddled hopefully with his loose tie, obviously ready and waiting to tighten it.

Anya shook her head, enjoying the unfamiliar feeling of unbound hair swishing against her cheeks. “Not what I mean.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 290: Everything You Have Seen

Show Notes

February is Women in Horror Month, an international initiative which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre. Check out the hashtag WiHM9 for plenty of suggestions. Or if you have the stomach for stronger fair, our sister show PseudoPod.

You can find all our own Women in Horror episodes here!


Everything You Have Seen

by Alisa Alering

I went outside to get away from Chung-hee.

The snow in the courtyard was coming down in thick flakes, making that special kind of silence like the whole world has been wrapped in a cotton bojagi cloth and put away for the night. I thought at first that the guns had stopped. Then a flash lit the sky over our empty chicken coop. The boom traveled through the snowy ground, up my legs and spine and into my skull. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 281: Little Wonders 16 – Siblings in Space

Show Notes

The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Houston, Houston, Do You Read James Tiptree?

by Rachael K. Jones

After two hours of work, Daria got the space station’s recycler back online without Hugh there to help her. If he had just waited ten minutes while she tried resetting power. If he had let her double-check his gear before his spacewalk, like he was supposed to by all protocols.

If. If. If. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 273: Banned Books Week – The Wayfinder & His Sister

Show Notes

Don’t miss our other Banned Books Week episodes.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


The Wayfinder & His Sister

by Maria Haskins

 

Lizzie

Mama always said that the best stories are true and needful, even if they’re not real. I know that’s heresy, punishable by lashes or prison if you’re caught, but I don’t think mama has ever been much for following rules and orders, anyway.

She also used to say, that if you tell yourself the right story about who you are, and what you want to do, you can achieve pretty much anything. Last time she told me that was the night before she left. She was in her workshop; crystal goggles strapped to her face, curly hair tightly braided, bent over her workbench in her oil-stained overalls, wielding her tools as she assembled and tested the latest iteration of her metallic creatures, fitting together gleaming gears and polished alloys, tempered glass and minute atom-spirit engines.

I believed her. I believed her, even after she left for Old Vancouver with papa, even as Titus and I toiled on the farm every day without them, even as they did not come back after two or even three weeks. I believed her even as Titus and I set off on this desperate journey to find her and papa, but today, as an almighty storm breaks on top of me and Rex and Titus, turning the bruised-black sky into a writhing snake pit of lightning, I feel as though I’m losing my faith in mama’s words for the first time in my life.

(Continue Reading…)

Episode 229: Staff Pick 2016 – Questing for Princesses by Amanda C. Davis


• Narrated by Katherine Inskip
• Originally appeared in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection (2013)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy our audio producer Jeremy Carter’s favorite story from 2016, Questing for Princesses by Amanda C. Davis, narrated by Katherine Inskip. The story originally aired May 1, 2016 as Episode 208.


Amanda C. DavisAmanda C. Davis writes dark fantasy, light horror, and the very softest science fiction. She has an engineering degree and an obsession with baking the perfect macaron. Her short fiction and poetry was collected in 2013 along with her sister Megan Engelhardt‘s work in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection, where this story first appeared. Check our her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

The story is narrated for you by assistant editor Katherine Inskip. Katherine teaches astrophysics for a living and spends her spare time populating the universe with worlds of her own, which you can read at her blog, Trisigmatic. She’s on Twitter as well.

 

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 228: Staff Pick 2016 – Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry


• Narrated by M K Hobson
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Galaxy’s Edge (July/August 2015)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

https://archive.org/details/Wonders228_201701

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy associate editor Alexis Goble’s favorite story from 2016, Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry, narrated by M K Hobson. The story originally aired March 13, 2016 as Episode 201.


Dantzel CherryBy day, Dantzel Cherry teaches pilates and raises her daughter, and by night/naptime she writes. Her baking hours follow no rhyme or reason. She is prone to dance as the need arises, and it often does. Her stories have appeared in Fireside, Galaxy’s Edge, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines and anthologies. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, daughter, and requisite cat. Follow her online or on Twitter.

 

 

 

M K Hobson

For your narrator we welcome back the fantastic M K Hobson, who has decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and here at Cast of Wonders. She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting. Detailing all of M K’s work in the Escape Artists arena might take longer than the story itself, so we’ve linked to her EA wikia page above, along with her social media links.

 

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 212: Selling Home by Tina Connolly


• Narrated by Chloe Yates
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally appeared in Bull Spec (Issue 6)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Tina ConnollyTina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series from Tor Teen. Her novels have been finalists for the Nebula and the Norton. Tina is also one of the co-hosts of EscapePod, and her narrations have appeared all over including all the Escape Artists podcasts, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. You can follow her online and on Twitter.

Tina also has just released her first collection of short stories, On The Eyeball Floor and Other Stories from Fairwood Press. Long-time EA fans will remember many of the stories from their previous podcast appearances.

 

Chloe YatesFor your narrator we welcome back Chloe Yates. As well as narrating, Chloë writes odd stories. She has written many short stories for the British Fantasy Award winning independent press Fox Spirit Books, and is currently working on both a collection and a novel for them. English born, she currently lives in the middle of Switzerland with her bearded paramour, Mr Y, and their disapproving dog, Miss Maudie. You can find her online and on Twitter, and if you’re very luck, the bar of the occasional British convention…

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 208: Questing for Princesses by Amanda C. Davis


• Narrated by Katherine Inskip
• Originally appeared in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection (2013)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Amanda C. DavisAmanda C. Davis writes dark fantasy, light horror, and the very softest science fiction. She has an engineering degree and an obsession with baking the perfect macaron. Her short fiction and poetry was collected in 2013 along with her sister Megan Engelhardt‘s work in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection, where this story first appeared.

Check our her website and follow her on Twitter.

The story is narrated for you by slush wrangler Katherine Inskip. Katherine teaches astrophysics for a living and spends her spare time populating the universe with worlds of her own, which you can read at her blog, Trisigmatic. She’s on Twitter as well.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

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Episode 201: Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class

by Dantzel Cherry

Darcy walked up to the gilded starship door and it dissolved, revealing what had to be the gaudiest room in the galaxy. Gold, silver, bronze, and minerals that probably didn’t even exist on Earth covered the high ceiling and walls in panels, interlaced throughout with precious stones – and was that tinsel? – depicting who-knows-what. The effect was much like a wild animal had eaten all the jewelry at Tiffany’s and then vomited all over the walls.  

Clearly the ability to travel through all the worlds in the galaxy and kidnap a fifty-two year old ballet teacher didn’t grant good taste in interior design.

The blue blob Overlord guard accompanying her spoke, its voice wobbling with each syllable, and Darcy jumped as a split second later her newly installed gray earslugs wriggled and translated:

“Behold, your students.”

(Continue Reading…)

Episode 199: Leapling by Nicole Feldringer


• Narrated by Michelle Ristuccia
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• A Cast of Wonders original!
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Nicole Feldringer holds a PhD in atmospheric sciences and a master in geophysics. In 2011, she attended the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and her fiction has previously appeared in the anthologies Press Start to Play and Loosed Upon the World both edited by John Joseph Adams. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Find her on Twitter. ‘Leapling’ is a Cast of Wonders original.

 

 

 

Michelle RistucciaFor your narrator this week we welcome back Michelle Ristuccia, who listeners may remember from a previous pair of really excellent stories. Michelle enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to read and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best motivation. You can find out more about her writing and her rabid love of science fiction and fantasy at her website, stalk her on Twitter, or read her reviews at Tangent Online.

 

 

 


Since this is a leap year, that means you have one extra day to use the special promo code DF0DICMWES to get Issue 1 of Mothership Zeta for just a buck from Payhip! And while you’re there, check out Issue 2 featuring stories from Sonja Natasha and T. Kingfisher, artwork from Elizabeth Leggett, plus The Story Doctor column by James Patrick Kelly and much much more. Better yet, as a discerning EA listener why not subscribe and get Mothership Zeta delivered fresh to your inbox every quarter. Available from Amazon, Smashwords, Payhip and Weightless Books.


The Escapepod flash fiction contest has landed. Come to our forums and follow the tracks to see if these are the droids you have been looking for. Vote to determine which three winning stories will be purchased and run as a special bonus episode of EscapePod. Stories will be published on a members-only section of the forums, so come join and participate today.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

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Episode 182: A Troll’s Trade

Show Notes

Dedicated to Graham Joyce, Clarion West 2010 Instructor


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


A Troll’s Trade

by Sandra M. Odell

Maybe I should have listened to me mudder, been a mason or a carpenter, but I was young, hornstrong, determined to make me own way.

“A what?” she said, and stirred the stew so hard the pot tumbled right off the fire and spilled into the river.

I picked me nose and spread it on a cracker with a bit of brie. “A florist.”

Me mudder scooped what she could of the stew back into the pot and set it back on the fire. “What would your da say? He built our bridge with -”

“With the sweat off his nose before he got tricked by the Maiden of Merriwether and turned to cheese, yah, yah, I know. Chisels and mortar and nails aren’t me thing, is all.”

“You’re a troll! Where are you going to live if’n you can’t find a bridge?”

I tossed a bit more gravel into the stewpot for a proper crunch. “I’ll find something, easy peas porridge.”


Yeah. Me mudder threw me out on both ears and without even the porridge. Too bad, because there weren’t no bridges neither. I looked long and hard. Looked so hard, me eyes bugged even more. Even went as far north as the Pigling Lakes, thinking plenty of water made for plenty of bridges. Did you know some folks think a fairy is a boat?

I figured maybe I could live someplace else, become a trendsetter. I mean, trolls don’t always got to be masons so it don’t always got to be bridge, right? I tried a vine trellis, even a vineyard row, but neither had that special hidey something that makes a place livable. Haylofts were awful high up, and root cellars offered no privacy. Chicken coops? No thank you; I have me pride.

So, I did the only thing I could. I went to live under a porch. It wasn’t proper or even fancy, but it was a roof over me head. The folk family kept goats and chickens, had a garden with lovely sweet peas in the spring and winter squash blossoms in autumn. There was even a field a good skulk away with red and orange poppies, and rose mallow. I grabbed the kids’ ankles at least twice a week to keep in shape. I could have wished the folk mum didn’t always hold the most tender, but, well, florists can’t be choosers.

Though it does make a mouth drool just thinking about it.

Thing is, there isn’t much room under a porch, not like there is under a proper bridge. Always dirty and spidery, no room for flowers or pots let alone a nice vase, and I could never stand up. Made for a nasty belly rash, that. Not even a place to set up a spit or me smallest cook pot.

No, life under a porch was not for me. The local bridges were all taken, all except for the comfy stone bridge south of the city proper with the not so comfy ghosts. I heard tell of a gray beard who lived under a city bridge and was maybe looking for something less busier, so I went to see what we could work out. Well, he worked me out alrighty, right out from under his bridge with a roar and a tumble. Him and his silver coins woven into his back hair sos the trollops might find him fancy. Fah!

And it was such a nice bridge, a right full overpass. Worked stone arches, strong pylons, no ghosts.
Fuddleswort up north said I would be better off going over the Old Bones Range and find me a gulley bridge. Edfart said Fuddleswort was full of stinky soup, and I should get me a big pot, cook up a folk stew with peppers and baby fern, and make meself at folk home. Fuddleswort said baby fern didn’t hold up, and to use kale.

“Baby fern.”

“Kale.”

“Baby fern!”

“Kale!”

They locked horns, and I left them to make out for themselves.

I almost crawled back home, but what with the rash and all I couldn’t take the pain. There was nothing to it but to braid buttercup crowns and thunk trollish thoughts.

The answer? Money. And for money, I needed folks.

The folk pa seemed a decent sort as far as folk go. He did have the heaviest step, but he didn’t tromp over me just because he could. A regular folk with no charms or trickery about him, which is good; cheese is for eating, not being. As I understood it, he worked the market selling fresh eggs and his wife’s bakings, more like burnings, actually, which was perfect for me.

I thunk me thoughts all the way through, and when he came down the two short steps early one morning to gather eggs I was ready for him.

I grabbed his ankle at the bottom step. The folk pa whooped and took a tumble, basket one way, hat another, and me holding on. He tried to jerk his foot away, and I jerked back. “I want to talk to you,” I said. I glowied me eyes so he could see me. I must have glowied them too well because he fainted dead away. Folks. Never scare when you want them to.

A few seconds later he came to and tried to get his feet, but I still had one. “I just want to talk.”
His eyes bugged and his face turned all sorts of colors before he settled down. There was enough of me hand and arm showing that he could follow it under the porch to me not so glowy eyes. “You’re real,” he said, rather, squeaked.

“Yah.”

“The children. They said you – ”

“I’m a troll. That’s what I do.”

He gulped. “Are you. . .Are you going to eat me?”

Not without cooking him first. What does Edfart know. Grown folk are best braised. “No.”

He managed a sit and then bent low for a closer look. “What are you doing under my porch?”

“It’s me summer home. I need to use your fireplace.”

He moved his leg. I didn’t let go.

“My what?”

“Fireplace. Your fireplace.”

“My fireplace?”

This wasn’t going like I thunk it would. “That’s what I said.”

“All right. Why? And how did you get under there? I thought you trolls are, you know, big.”

Like that, I pulled his leg all the way under the porch.

The folk pa squealed. “Okay, okay! You’re a troll. Big troll, huge troll, massive, ginormous.”

“Better.” He smelled ripe with sweat, nothing a little oregano couldn’t fix. I gave him his leg back.
To his credit, he didn’t run. He got to his hands and knees, still peering under the porch. “So, if you don’t mind my asking, why do you need my fireplace?”

“I want to cook.”

His eyes bugged again. “Not the children, I hope.”

Kid pie with potatoes and pearl onions. Me drool made the ground all muddy. “No.”

I could have wanted for flowers, but food would do. I set out what I needed from market. He listened, nodding his head with all that floppy red hair. “I’ll, um, I’ll have to tell my wife. Midge. She’s my wife.”

“Yah.”

He squinted his eyes for a better look. I glowied mine, and he decided he’s seen enough.

“Right,” he said, and mopped his brow with a muddy hand. “You’ll do your cooking, and then you’ll crawl back under the porch to eat. I hope.”

“No, then you take it to market.”

That’s when he figured it was best to get on gathering eggs. I liked him more already.

That night, when the candles were guttered and the dark everywhere, I crept inside and found me fixings on the plank table. Houses give me the willies with their shuttered eyes and walls and doors; they’re too housey. I put it out of me mind and set to work. True to our agreement, the grown folks stayed in their beds and left me good and alone. Good thing, too. I eat when I get nervous.

Before the first of them made a noise the next morning, a baker’s make of cherry clafoutis wrapped in checked muslin waited on the table. I snuck out of the house just as the most tender set up a hungry squall. Lucky for him I’d made extra.

With the eggs gathered and whatever folk do in the mornings done, the folk pa set off to market with the eggs, me luscious clafoutis, and two of his wife’s custard pies. “Have a good day,” I said around me last mouthful.

He nodded, and stepped a little faster on his way.

As usual, he was home after sunset, baskets swinging from his arms and a frown on his face. He settled himself on the first step and sat without a word. I heard a muted tinkle, muffled metal on metal.
What was he waiting for? I cleared me throat and he nearly fell off the step.

“Oh, you are there,” he said.

“Sit on the ground,” I said.

He did. I couldn’t see his face, but he worked the cap in his hands like a folk mum on wash day. “You sold them all?”

“I did.” He opened his cap, pulled out a few coins, held them low so I could see. “Five silver and three half-coppers. Your share.”

“What about your wife’s pies?”

His hands drooped, but he didn’t let go of the coins. “Still have them both. Everyone wanted more of your tart things.” He lifted the corner of the cloth over one basket. “I don’t even think I can get the goats to eat these.”

I wouldn’t want to eat the goat that ate her pies. “Too bad.”

He presented the coins a second time.

“Keep them for now,” I said. “You’ll be needing them for market tomorrow.”

“All of them?”

He sounded somehow wistful, and that’s when I was certain.

“We’ll work something out,” I said.


We started small, a few popovers here, a pile of raisin tarts there, on the folk holidays sugar buns stuffed with goat cheese and apricots. I added slugs and potash to me sugar buns, an acquired taste, I know. On the days he came home with empty baskets, I let him keep two silver coins and I buried the rest in a hole at the back of the porch. The kids soon had new shoes, and the oldest kid a red ribbon for her hair.

A baby goat went missing the night the folk pa counted out me hundredth piece of silver. No idea how that happened. Quite tasty with a toe jam glaze, though.

Like a good bridge, good business needed a strong foundation; the folk pa bought the fixings at market, and I did the cooking.

“We’re bringing in enough that I put silver down on Ha’penny Jack’s old stall today,” he said one evening from his place at the front step. “I’m moving over tomorrow. It’s big enough for a stool if I want, maybe even a second body if business keeps up. Midge thinks it’s a good idea.”

I wasn’t in the mood to be happy for his larger stall. The rash was bad enough I had taken to staying on me back, and now the tip of me nose was sunburned from poking up through the porch slats. “Fine.”
“You all right?”

“Just spiffy.”

“No harm. Just asking.”

I thunk about ways to rub me belly against the porch without catching me pelt in the cracks. What he thunk about, I hadn’t a clue or care.

The sun was an orange memory when the folk pa said, “There is one thing, um. . .Heh, I don’t even know your name.”

“Of course you don’t,” I said as testy as I pleased. “Trolls don’t tell folks their names because folks with magic can do nasty things with them.”

“Oh. I didn’t know. What, um, what do I call you? ‘Ginormous troll under the porch’ is a bit awkward.”
I huffed. “Call me Troll.”

“Troll. Makes sense. I’m Sando Loggerson.” He waited, shifted his feet, kicked up dust when I didn’t want to sneeze. I let him wait.

“So, Troll. Midge and I were talking last night before you came in, and she wondered.”

“Wondered what?”

“Well, if you could maybe share a few of your recipes.”

There wasn’t room to roll me eyes, either.


One late summer evening while I sat under the moon scratching and fretting on how me plans were taking longer than I thunk they should, Edfart and Fuddleswort surprised me with a visit. I don’t get many visitors; don’t really have a place for entertaining. Still, I set out some field greens with scabby bits and a light vinaigrette. Only the best for friends, I say.

I couldn’t make tails or nosehairs of me troubles, so I settled those two down and told the whole story.

Fuddleswort nodded, and picked his nose to garnish his salad. “Told you you should have looked for a gulley bridge.”

“I don’t want a gulley bridge,” I said back.

“Says the troll with porch rash.” He sniffed and went on eating.

“Why not’s just eats the folk and make a bridge of their house?” Edfart said, picking scabby bits from between his teeth and sucking his finger clean.

Even the thought made me shiver. “Don’t like houses, not at all.”

“Don’t got to keep it a house. Knock out the walls, leave the roof, and you gots yourself a bridge. Easy as mud pie.”

Now, there was a thunk. I rolled it over between me horns. “No, still too housey. It’s a bridge or nothin’ for me.”

Edfart gobbled up the rest of his greens. “Suit yourself.” He stood and headed for the house.

Just like Edfart to not listen. “I said I wouldn’t be knocking out the walls.”

He waved at me over his shoulder. “I heard you. I’m still hungry is all.”

Fuddleswort stood – “Now there’s an idea.” – and followed after.

“Hold on now.” I came up and hurried right behind. “You can’t be doin’ that.”

Edfart rubbed his belly. “The salad was nice, but no ways a meal for a growing troll.”

Fuddleswort smacked his dead-fish lips. “Yeah. You said they gots an oven. We could whip up a crust and make pasties.”

Human pasties with capers and fennel. Yeah. Almost as good as a braise.

Wait. No.

Quick like, I got ahead put out me arms. “There’ll be no eatin’ of the folks, understand?”

“No worries, there’s plenty for us all.” Edfart made to step around me, and I stepped with him. He frowned, and glowied his eyes. “Come on.”

I stood up straight, head and horns above either of them. “They’re my folks, and I says no eatin.”
“Like he said, there’s plenty to go around.” Fuddleswort wiped the drool off his chin. “Seeing’s as you’re the host, you get the first pick.”

They made to go around on both sides. I grabbed a horn on each and shook them up good. “When I says no eatin’, I mean NO E – eatin’.”

I couldn’t give a proper roar or I’d wake the folk, so I choked it off quick.

“Oi!” Edfart grabbed my wrist and tried to pull free. I held on troll tight. “Didn’t your mother teach you no manners? It’s rude not to share.”

“Yeah.” Fuddleswort waggled his head, but didn’t do no better. “What’s all this?”

Yeah. What was all this? It wasn’t like I didn’t have a taste for the most tender, or even the older folk sometimes. So why wasn’t I letting them have a sit down with me?

Maybe because I wanted the folk all to meself. Or could be I’d come to like having the folk around. Possibly. Sort of. A little.

I shook those two until their eyes rattled in their sockets. “They’re my folk and I can do with them what I please, and what I please is no eatin’. Got that?”

I slammed their heads together like pig iron bells and dragged them back to the stream.

I dropped them down, and settled myself between them and the folk’s house. Now and again Fuddleswort would look to the house, or Edfart would make to stand, and I’d glowy me eyes at them until they settled back down.

Finally, Edfart pulled up more greens and rubbed them around the inside of the salad bowl. He stuffed the whole scabby wad in his mouth and muttered around the stems.

I made like to reach for one of his horns. “What was that again?”

He swallowed the mouthful and hunched his head to his shoulders. “I said leave it to a florist to get all flowery soft.”

“That’s ri – ” Me thinking came back and dropped the last piece into place light as a rose petal. Flowers? Flowers!

I grabbed Edfart by both horns and kissed the end of his warty nose. “Edfart, you’re a genius!”
He wiped off the slobber. “Wait. What?”

“Flowers! Don’t you sees? I got so tangled up in thinking folks would pay for good food, I never thought they might pay for good flowers.”

Fuddleswort scratched the side of his head. “Do they pay before or after they wipe?” He covered his face with his hands. “Don’t kiss me!”


Straight away I had Sando bring me flowers whenever he could. I used up the folks’ pitchers and jars until he could bring home proper vases. While sweet and savory memories of me mudder filled the creepy house, I used dried moss and earwax as a base for me arrangements. Balance, proportion, color, and earwax. Lots of earwax.

Sando took me creations to market, and most often they sold better than me bakings. Business was good, as much as nine silver some days. The grown folk talked of finding a house in the city for the family, and a proper bridge for me. I sent me mudder a scroll with the good news. She sent me back a phbtbtbtbtbt, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Fuddleswort and Edfart were dumbfounded.

“What’s all this about?” Fuddleswort said one mid-winter night as I handed him an arrangement of holly berry and ivy. The snow made his bridge look less rickety, more bridgety.

“I made it meself,” I said, proud and a bit self-conscious. I was going places but still lived under the porch.

Edfart gave me a long sniff. “You smell like. . .pansies!”

“Hothouse sweet peas, actually.”

Fuddleswort held up the basket and looked it over. “What do I do with it?”

Edfart picked at a leaf. “I think it’s a salad.”

I slapped him upside the horns. “No, it’s not a salad. You put it somewhere nice to look at it. Here.” I took the arrangement from Fuddleswort and looked for a place where it wouldn’t get stepped on or lost in the snow. No good. I looked at the soffits under the bridge, and then to Edfart. “Behind you! A dragon!”

Edfart whirled around. “Where?”

I yanked out one of his back hairs, and wrapped one end around the basket handle. I bent the other end into a hook, considered me options, and hung it as close to the middle of the stretch as I could. I stepped back. “There.”

Edfart rubbed his back. “I still say salad.”

Fuddleswort stared at the bit of color hanging in the middle of the snow and dark. “I dunno. Brightens the place up a bit, don’cha think?”

During spring and such, extra flowers and greenery were kept fresh in a bucket wedged between two rocks in the stream. At the end of every market six-day, I made an arrangement out of what was left for the plank table to make the folk house seem less housey. I didn’t give the arrangements much thought after the fact until the night Sando and Midge came into the kitchen.

Mulberries are a favorite summer treat, me mudder’s mulberry and frog kidney pie in particular. Fresh out of frog kidneys, I can’t eat just one, I’d decided on mulberry pasties for market. In the middle of spooning out the next bit of filling, I heard a step and a low gasp behind me. I whirled around in a splatter of mulberry syrup.

Sando and Midge stood at the door to the loft stair, he shamefaced, she wide-eyed. “She said she would come down with or without me, so. . .” Sando hitched a shoulder and smiled as best he could.
A hand on her elbow, he led her to the plank table where I worked.

The spoon dripped in time with their steps. I licked it, and stuck it behind me ear. “Mind the mess,” I said. Some part of me noticed that she didn’t have the most tender with her, the rest of me was too surprised to care. Sando went to market, but he never did anything without her approval. She could end it all right here and I’d have to live under a porch foreverer. I’d be nothing but rash and stinky soup.

They stopped at the corner of the table. “Troll, this is my wife Midge,” Sando said, gesturing to us both. “Midge, this is Troll.”

Such a small woman; no wonder her step was so light.

Midge looked up, up, up at me. “You really are big, aren’t you?”

I shook me head, the spoon knocking against a horn not as loud as me knocking knees. “Not so much. You’re just short.”

I smiled. She paled. I stopped smiling.

Sando put his arm around her. “What he means is -”

Midge shushed him with a look and a wave of her hand. She pushed the bowl of mulberries and trays of dough circles aside, and climbed onto the table. Her robe and shift bunched up around her twig legs, not that she seemed to notice but Sando did. As he pulled her clothes stuff back down, he flushed and gave me a sidelong look. Folks is the craziest people sometimes.

Midge brushed Sando’s hands away, took two steps towards me, and looked me right in the throat. In fits and starts, she reached up and took me horns in her tiny folk hands. I let her pull me head down until we were eye-to-eye. Right to say that at that moment I’d have rather gone to live with the ghosts.

“Thank you for the lovely flowers,” she said, and kissed me on the peeling tip of me nose. “Tomorrow I’ll mix-up an oatmeal rub for that rash.”


I’m a troll. I don’t believe in happy endings, but comfortable ones aren’t so bad.
The city council approved Sando’s petition for a house, and he set to building. The family moved before the autumn rains. This new house has a room specifically for cooking. Another room; I’m not certain I like it.

Sando did something he calls hired to a kid, and now the kid minds the shop when Sando has other business. Sando’s oldest kid seems quite taken with him. No idea what she sees in him, though; folks aren’t much for looks. Midge helps me with bakings, and almost never burns things anymore. The younger kids love to take their friends across town to feed the ducks, particularly if they know I’m home.
Home. I’m a city troll now, and I have a city troll bridge. I’d paid another visit to the gray beard. He reached for me to show me what for, and I hit him over the head with me bag of silver. All them coins scattered out, and his eyes glowied right up. Said he wanted something smaller, less cluttered. I directed him to Sando’s porch.

The overpass is more than enough for one troll, and comfortable for three. I call the main arch me own, and Fuddleswort has the east arch near the stables. Edfart likes his span bridge over Lockjaw Gorge too much to move. Me mudder is coming to visit this summer, and I wonder if she wouldn’t fancy a place in the city, with rabbits and kids and squirrels fresh for the pot.

Yeah, maybe I should have listened to me mudder, but if I had I wouldn’t have such splendid flowerboxes under a bridge I can call me own.