Gnome Grown

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Sprig Gnome tends his woodland garden. Thistle shears help him prune raspberry canes. He mulches fungus shingles atop his den, waters moss, and collects dinner. Before his basket is full, a shadow darkens the glade. He ducks and dodges but all goes awry. Ida Owl grasps him in her talons, and she lowers her yellow eye.

“I’m done for!” Sprig howls. “Save me!” Will anyone hear him?

“Sprig, save it! I need your help.” Ida Owl grouches. “A splinter in my claw is driving me mad!”

“I see it.” Sprig extracts it with a yank of his thistle shears.

Ida hops side to side, flexing and gyrating. “Oh, what a relief. I must thank you properly. Hop on.”

Is she serious? Can he trust her? Sprig stows his basket. He climbs up her feathers like a ladder.

“That tickles!” Ida giggles. Then she flaps powerful wings. Sprig’s stomach bottoms out as they rise. Winds swirl and flow until Sprig worries that he’s seen his last night. He holds tight. They bank and loop. They hoot and holler. The air smells of crushed apples. He reaches toward stars as if they were snowflakes.

An owl and a gnome make the least-likely of friendships. News travels the meadow like a brush fire. A gnome is riding an owl! Unheard of! Unthinkable! Sequester Squirrel follows, swinging tree limb to ivy vine. Dentbottom Rabbit has to see it with his own rheumy eyes, and his great-granddaughter holds his arm. Dinwald Stag-King brings his large tribe to gape.

When Sprig lands, he feels as if the earth has stopped orbiting the sun. The air is too still. He waves good-bye to Ida, and follows fireflies into his den. His feet find each lump in the maple leaf carpet. His thistledown bed is squashed and untidy. He snips, clips and mixes until his forage stew bubbles and sings. The air fills with the scent of braising brined beetles. But he misses the scent of crushed apples and owl feathers.

Copyright 2016 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: We’ve been enjoying a lovely thaw like spring is visiting February. It makes me wish I could fly. I hope your dreams take you on fun flights of fancy tonight. Warmly, Brenda

Stone Turtle

Vermont Pond with loosestrife

Bear stopped for raspberries at Kent Pond.
Turtle basked nearby.
“You look delicious,” Bear sniffed. “Yum!”
His claws swept out.
Turtle disappeared, and his shell bounced.
It rolled like a stone.
Bear knew that stones hurt his teeth.
He lumbered away.
Turtle poked out his head, grinning.
“Works every time.”

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Wild Elvish Missouri Dreams

Photograph used with Permission of Heather's Photography

Grey Hairstreak Butterfly by Heather’s Photography

Delft ended the morning with a thunderous sneeze. The force of his sneeze made him flicker into his Grey Hairstreak Butterfly form. He heard a gasp.

“That wasn’t there a minute ago! Where did that butterfly come from?” A little girl with blonde curls held out a finger. Delft fled.

Just his luck to flicker into his visible form when some big human was looking. Delft flittered and fluttered, his butterfly form much slower than his invisible fairy form. His tiny feet landed on a yellow butterfly bloom. The girl sidled closer, moving slowly, as if he would not notice her. She was as big as a house to him, and he chuckled at her attempt at sneaking.

“Annaleise!” A boy called. The second she looked away, Delft flickered back into fairy form, now invisible to any but a magical or fairy eye. He held a finger to his nose, he felt another sneeze coming.

The boy appeared from behind a huge boulder, panting from running up the hillside. His brown hair was sticking up in all directions, and his shirt was half-tucked.

“I’m here! Oh, where did it go?” Little Annaleise could not see the butterfly anymore, and she was downcast.

“Annaleise, don’t disappear like that! Mom told me to look after you, and how can I do that if I can’t find you?”

“A butterfly came out of thin air, and I followed it.”

“You mean that fairy right there?” The boy pointed right at Delft. Delft’s sneeze escaped with an explosion, and he flickered into a butterfly again.

“There it is again! It disappeared and reappeared! It’s magic!” Annaliese clapped her hands. “Why did you call it a fairy?”

“When it doesn’t look like a butterfly, it looks like a little man with wings, black hair and a red coat. Come on, Annaleise, let’s go home for lunch.” The boy laughed. “The fairy will still be here later. Mom will be worried.” The two children disappeared around the boulder, heading down the long slope.

Delft dove into the grasses, and zigzagged to a huge beech tree. His friend Barnor was atop a Rudbeckia. He blended into the patch of yellow in his Pearl Crescent form, partially covered in golden pollen.

Photograph by Heather's Photography

Pearl Crescent Butterfly by Heather’s Photography

“Even with invisibility and shapeshifting, you still almost got caught!” Barnor snickered. He had seen the girl following Delft, but he hadn’t been close enough to overhear.

“That boy is a mage!” Delft exclaimed.

“No!” Barnor disagreed, flicking into his wood elf shape, his red hair gleaming. He brushed pollen from his mossy coat. “Magic has died out of the human race!”

“He saw me in my fairy form! He told his sister I looked like a little man in a red coat!”

“Oh, no!” Barnor was horrified, gazing at Delft’s red coat. “We will have to tell the Horned King.” The Horned King lived deep in the wild Ozark Mountains.

The last golden rays of the setting sun bathed the Horned King where he towered over the elves, stately in his stag form.

“Something will have to be done about that boy,” the Horned King’s deep voice proclaimed. All the fairies nodded agreement.

“But what?” thought Delft, with another sneeze. The fairies all agreed to move farther from the humans. In his dreams that night, Delft fled from the boy endlessly over green Missouri mountainsides. Something had been started that day, that could not be undone.

Ozark Sunrise by Heather's Photography

Ozark Sunrise by Heather’s Photography

 

Copyright 2015 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: This flash fiction is dedicated to the child in all of us, and to my grandfather, who was a math teacher, a school principal and a collector of butterflies. All three photographs were used with gratitude toward and kind permission of Heather’s Photography.

Wordle # 5 – The Albatross – Fairy Tale

Georgia has created a delightful, colorful fairy tale that keeps you guessing until the end. I hope you enjoy it!! My kids are on school vacation week this week, so my internet time will be greatly reduced, but I’ll catch up next week. 🙂 Warmly, Brenda

Flash Fiction: Dandelion the Boggle

Dandelion the Boggle

Dandelion was not like other Boggles. Boggles, when still, look like tree stumps. They are wider than they are tall, and have thick woody legs and arms. Their heads are flat on top. They can run fast, shaking the earth with their heavy feet. Some Boggles carry sticks, banging them on the ground to scare small animals from the underbrush for their dinner.

But Dandelion did not like to run, he preferred to ponder the flowers. Instead of eating fish, squirrels or shrews, he liked to nibble moss and chew the tender bark of baby sugar maple trees. One day, his twiggy fingers were wiggling out the pine nuts from a large cone when Fandang ran by, chasing a water rat and banging his Boggle stick. Dandelion froze in place, hoping Fandang would not notice him. Fandang always made fun of him.

Fandang dazed the rat with his stick, stuffed the limp rodent in a bark bag and turned to Dandelion with a sneer.

“You can unfreeze, Dandelion, I know you are not a stump!!” Fandang jeered. “Want some rat?” Fandang swung his bag near Dandelion’s head, which was home to several yellow dandelions. The bag knocked into a tall dandelion that had gone to seed, and the wind carried seeds up into the sunlight. Fandang struck at the seeds with his stick, but they floated easily away from it, bobbing higher in the turbulence.

“Fandang, why do you hunt rats? They don’t even taste good.” Dandelion asked his question softly, trying to make his question as light as dandelion fluff, but Fandang’s words still struck him heavily.

“Boggles eat meat.” Fandang thrust his flat head toward Dandelion. “Rats give me a fun run, and they don’t get away like those pesky river rats. You should eat meat!”

“Pine nuts are delicious, and I don’t miss meat.” Dandelion rubbed his bark nose.

Fandang gave a disgusted humIMG_6386ph. “You’re weird. Why did I have to have you for a brother?” Fandang ran off into the wetlands, squish-squashing as he neared Trickle Brook. Dandelion felt sad as he watched him go, but he munched a few pine nuts and contemplated some dwarf irises.

 To read more about Boggles, click here.

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Inspired by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Fairy Tale Prompt #3.

Fae Flash Fiction: Banga

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Banga was looking for a place to hide. The Boggle, Fandang, had surprised him and his baby sister splashing in Trickle Brook. His sister, Ruby, had hid in the lee of a granite boulder. Banga darted below the waves in his fish shape, drawing the Boggle away from his sister, and the much bigger Boggle almost caught him in his fingers, which were like a tangled net.

Banga flipped up onto shore, and then changed in a flash to his elven shape. He ran as fast as he could toward the trees. The Boggle’s hairy feet thumped behind him, accompanied by the bing bang whack of his thick Boggle stick. A nearby sycamore looked young, but maybe old enough to be a bit hollow. Fandang was close behind him, and Banga could smell his hot, sour breath. The sycamore’s camouflage bark might confuse Fandang’s bad Boggle eyesight. Banga swarmed up it.

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Sure enough, Banga found a hollow, in the crook of the thickest branch. No leaves had broken from their buds yet to provide cover. He hid in the dark nook, holding his breath. He heard Fandang stomping around in last fall’s leaves. Boggles like to catch Dolphinis, but Banga was practiced at getting away. Dolphinis were the smallest of the Merfolk and the only ones to live in freshwater. Like their larger cousins, the Sea Merfolk, they could grant wished. Boggles always had plenty of wishes, many of which would cause Dophinis no end of trouble granting.

He held his sweet breath, afraid the scent would lead the Boggle straight to him, until Fandang’s last bing bang whack of his Boggle stick faded into the distance. Then Banga zipped back to his baby sister, Ruby, the youngest Dolphini of Trickle Brook, where she was pretending to be a tigerfish, leaping out of the water and eating mosquitoes. They would both be safe another day.

brook in early spring

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

References: http://www.nycgovparks.org/news/daily-plant?id=19242

The Red String

By Anja at Oh Pithy Me

By Anja at Oh Pithy Me

As Megan wove sprigs of lilac into Bella’s black hair and then pinned her veil in place, she asked: “Bella, remember the witch and the red string?”

Bella was hooking pearls into her ears, but she stopped for a moment as memory overtook her. Megan and she had been friends their whole lives. One spring day, Megan’s mom had bribed Megan’s big brother, Stefan, to take the girls to the ice cream parlor. They passed the witch’s house on the way.

Peeling paint and rotted gutters had festooned the ancient Victorian behind the low juniper hedge, and all the neighborhood children believed a witch lived there. The three had stopped and looked up, Megan with a delicious shiver. Crows flew out of a nest by the chimney, cawing loudly.

“I dare you to go ring the bell,” Megan liked baiting her older brother, Stefan, to do things that got him in trouble.

Continue reading

The Dragon and the Phoenix

Yangshao never knew what woke him from his thousand year sleep under the frozen taiga. His muscular, golden legs and long limber back snapped and creaked. His lungs filled with crisp, clean air, as he emerged from deep under the ice. Brilliant lights at the far horizon drew his sharp dragon eyes south. The night sky filled with swirling reds, yellows and oranges, and these colors reminded him of his best friend, Xin-Yin, the Phoenix. Brilliant blue star shapes expanded, filling the sky as the other colors faded.

Yangshao’s back rippled side to side like a snake as he flew up and over the larch and birch forest, his vertebrae cracking like saplings in an ice storm. His golden claws clenched and released, easing their stiffness, then reached up to itch between his horns. His whiskers trembled in the cold wind, and he started to feel alive, his senses filling with the forest fragrance. He brushed the tips of snow-laden spruce trees for the joy the showering powder gave him. He felt his magic renewed from his long years of slumber.

His senses expanded over the lands searching for Xin-Yin. Where was she? Continue reading

Published Fairy Tale, Part 2

On October 22, Friendly Fairy Tales announced the publication of a new, previously-unpublished story, The Day the Dragon Flew up the Chimney, on The Paperbook Collective October 2013 Issue 3.

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Click to read Part 1. As promised, here is the Final Part:

Henry decided he’d better keep an eye on the dragon, so he followed it closely. The dragon was flitting from chair leg to chair leg. He would hop up onto chair arms or tables and eat the food right off people’s plates and drink the tea right out of people’s cups. Everyone was so busy talking that no one noticed a thing.

Then the miller’s wife reached for one of her cookies, only to find that it had disappeared. “That’s odd,” she said.

“Miss Miller, Ma’am,” said Henry. “A dragon has eaten your cookies.” Meanwhile the dragon had moved on to Phileas Farmer’s plate.

“Henry!” scolded his mother. “Stop telling fibs and don’t filch people’s cookies. Now for the last time, go and play. Honestly.”

“But Mama,” protested Henry. Sadly, his mother just shook her head at him and waggled her finger. If his mother wouldn’t believe him, who would? Henry watched as the tiny dragon plundered the room of its teacakes, its cookies, its biscuits and its tea with cream. A hum of conversation arose as more and more villagers were puzzled to discover empty plates and cups. Henry wondered how such a tiny dragon could eat so much.

Then the dragon had the temerity to steal from his father’s plate, and that was more than Henry could bear. “Daddy, Daddy,” cried Henry. “The dragon is stealing your biscuits!” The whole room stopped to stare at Henry. Henry’s father seemed very embarrassed.

“Henry, I told you not to fib!” cried his mother, standing up.

“But I’m not!” Henry replied.

“Then where is the dragon,” asked the mayor with one last laugh. Henry pointed at the hearth where the dragon perched, fickety-mickety finishing up the last chocolate from the plate of Mrs. Farmer. The fire had died down a little, but he was still clearly visible against the glow.

When the dragon noticed everyone staring at him, he gulped down the cookie and flew straight up the chimney.

Everyone gave a gasp, and the mayor and several aldermen raced over to try to look up the chimney. No one could see anything for the fire and the smoke.

Henry’s mother and father came and gave him hugs and apologized for doubting him. The villagers all patted his shoulders and told him how brave he had been. He was the village hero thereafter. And when Henry grew up, they elected him mayor. To this day they tell stories of the day the dragon flew up the chimney.

THE END

Copyright Brenda Davis Harsham April 1, 2005

New Fairy Tale Published!!

Friendly Fairy Tales is pleased to announce the publication of a new, previously-unpublished story, The Day the Dragon Flew up the Chimney, on The Paperbook Collective October 2013 Issue 3. Thanks to Jayde Ashe for publishing this story!!

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Excerpt from The Day the Dragon Flew up the Chimney

One day, the sky was so dark that day seemed like night. No work could be done in the village of Miller’s Bend. All the villagers gathered in the great hall to tell stories and visit with each other.

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door. Everyone looked around in wonder. Everyone in the village was already inside the great hall. Whoever was outside must be a stranger.

After another booming knock came, the mayor went to open the door. He looked left and he looked right, but there was no one there. He did not notice a tiny dragon no bigger than a teacup dart into the hall and hide behind a chair leg. Everyone else was looking up at the mayor’s shoulder, and they didn’t see the tiny dragon either. Everyone, that is, except a little boy named Henry who was no more than three.

Now Henry had been playing marbles near the door, and he was just the right height to see the dragon. He went at once to his mother’s knee, but she was talking to the miller’s wife. He pulled at her skirts, but she said, “Henry, I’m talking to Eliza, go and play.”

Henry tried his father next, but his father was talking to the mayor.

‘There was no one there,” said the mayor.

“Isn’t that odd?” responded Henry’s father. Henry tugged on his pant leg.

“Henry, go and play. You can see I’m busy.” Henry’s father did not listen.

Henry decided he’d better keep an eye on the dragon, so he followed it closely.

To find out what happens to Henry, adult readers can download the Paperbook Collective with work by many fabulous writers here or please check back on Friendly Fairy Tales for the rest of the story in a few days…

Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham

Baby Coyote Scares Halloween

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Baby Coyote lived in a den with his mom and dad, deep in a wood surrounded by the roads and houses of big folk. Mom and Dad Coyote hunted at night. In the early morning, they woke Baby Coyote. They fed him, played with him and kept him safe. They usually slept away the long hours the big folk were walking the trails, but sometimes they would hide and watch them pass by. The big folk seemed to see nothing at all that was not on the trails. Baby Coyote thought they were funny, especially when they would exclaim over dragonflies or poison ivy.

One morning, his mom and dad had to go visit the faraway woods. On the sunshine oak next door, hidden in the nasturtiums behind a round door, lived a happy gnome. His name was Iron Hair, for his stiff, spiky gray hair. Continue reading