Episodes of “Potion” coming to Kindle Vella


Amazon will be launching Kindle Vella in July 2021. Readers will be able to read and pay for episodes as they go. (First 3 episodes of each story are FREE). I have already uploaded a few episodes of my young adult fairy tale inspired urban fantasy, POTION. I am excited (and a little scared lol) about this new adventure! Stay tuned for updates.

Potion by Dorlana Vann

Hansel and Gretel survived their not-so-fairy-tale childhood and are now trying to live a normal life. But the teens’ dark past is summoned after three new girls arrive at their high school with a wicked agenda. Soon the siblings are lured back into the world of magic where evil witches can distort reality. They must uncover the deception before all the ingredients for a deadly potion are gathered. Or this time, there may be no escape.

Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,

Dorlana

Midsummer Nights Dream + Witches = Dream Spell Poem


Dream Spell was inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. England: 1595/96

And since it has a play inside the play – I wrote a poem inside a poem.

Dream Spell by Dorlana Vann

She never knew where she’d go when she closed her eyes.

Her deep dreams bewitched, and her sleeping soul stolen.

Always to follow her love through tomorrow’s skies. 

Cursed by her own craft, ties deliberately woven.

“I place this herb where I have cried

Hopes of waking beside a new lover.

For now and eternity we’ll be tied

His true love for me he’ll soon discover.

Neither time nor distance will love divide.

His heart will never beat for another.

Now sleep please find me before the new dawn

From which a charmed passion will truly spawn.”

The enchantment’s promise laced in bitter-sweet lies.

He loved her before they met and days gone golden.

Now they’re in yesterday’s forest, sweetly embraced.

But when he wakes, memory of love is erased.

The Frog Prince + Merlin the Magician = Weeping Lake (a fairy tale inspired short story)


Weeping Lake

by Dorlana Vann

weeping lake

Vivian stood beside of the lake. Her bright hair waved like the water as the wind graciously blew in from the south. She inhaled and then looked down at her newly acquired engagement ring. She had said yes, but she knew that wasn’t what she meant. Everyone had been there, watching them, watching her with anticipated excitement.

And since she did love and respect Scott, she didn’t want to humiliate him by saying no.

But it was just too soon. She didn’t want to marry the first guy she loved. She wanted to experience life and to be free to travel. She hated—for him—that she wasn’t ready to settle down.

She stared at the ring, the massive diamond sparkling in the sunlight. A diamond that must have put Scott back a couple month’s salary. A diamond that said, “You belong to me.” She only wanted to belong to herself.  “I wish …”

Vivian sighed wearily before everything seemed to happen at once: a gust of wind, her name softly spoken, and her ring vanished from her finger.

“Oh no!” she cried and dropped to the ground frantically searching. She pulled at the grass, ripping it from the dirt, turning in circles, tears wetting her face and plopping on her hands and knees. She didn’t stop until she had examined every piece of earth the ring could have possibly landed on.

She crawled toward the lake. If her engagement ring had dropped in there, it would be gone forever. How could she tell Scott she wasn’t going to marry him and that she had lost the ring? She placed her filthy hands on her face and cried for herself. Soon her wails could be heard for miles, and her tears had washed her hands clean.

“I can get your ring back,” said a masculine voice.

Vivian gasped and scrambled to her feet, heavy breaths flew from her mouth. But no one was there; nothing but a weeping willow swaying in the wind by the lake, green and lush with early summer. She wanted to run; her thoughtful time by the lake had turned strange. But she couldn’t leave without the ring.

“All I ask in return is but one small favor.”

“I’ve lost my mind,” she whispered as she desperately turned this way and that way, looking again for the speaker.

“I am but a lonesome tree, weeping in the mist of time.”

“Who’s behind there?” She ran around the tree, ducking inside its leaves, searching in the shade and up into the branches. When she made it back to where she had started, she said, “This isn’t funny.” She thought maybe she should go and get Scott; they could come back to look for the ring together. Maybe marriage wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

“All I ask is seven days of your time whenever I request.” At this, one of the trees branches stretched toward her and would have touched her shoulder had she not jumped back.

She stared up at the tree: breathtakingly beautiful, alive, and sad.

“Just say the word, and your ring will be returned to your finger.”

Vivian was positive that her distraught over losing the ring had caused her to hallucinate. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to say okay? And if some extraordinary supernatural event was happening to her—maybe she wasn’t aware that trees could talk because they never had anything to say to her before—what would be the harm in saying yes? It was a tree for goodness sakes, and trees were rooted in the ground.

Her confusion and desperation collected as she cried new tears. “If you get my ring back, I’ll do whatever you want.” When she felt a slight tingle, Vivian immediately looked to her hand, and there her ring sat as if it had never been lost. Without another thought about the tree or her promise, she ran home.

***

 

A few months later, Vivian sat at a coffee shop sipping her espresso and writing an e-mail to her mother who lived faraway.

Scott hadn’t taken the breakup very well. He had cried and told her he forgave her but would never forget her, nor would he stop pursuing her. He swore that she would eventually be ready to get married.

She felt a presence and glanced over her laptop and across the table.

“Is this seat taken?” the guy asked. His eyes blazed amazing green, and his facial features were symmetrically perfect.

Vivian could only shake her head, trying not to smile too widely.

“You are not an easy one to find, my dear Vivian.”

“Do I know you?” She closed her laptop.

“You no longer wear the ring.”

“No, it didn’t work out. Are you a friend of Scott’s?”

“I am friends with you.”

“No, I’m pretty sure I would know if you were my friend.”

“We met months ago by the lake. You said you would spend seven days with me if I retrieved the ring.”

“Is this some kind of joke?” But she had told no one about what had happened because she really didn’t believe it herself.

“No joke. You made a promise.”

“I made you that promise?” She put her hand on her face and gently scratched her cheek.

“I am the tree, cursed by the lake many centuries ago.”

“Really? If you’re a tree how is that you sit across from me now?”

“Since you promised to spend time with me, I am temporarily released from the curse of loneliness.”

“So you’re saying that being a tree isn’t the curse.”

“If you go back on your word my roots will go back into the ground, and I will have to endure another century alone. And I doubt if I waited twenty centuries, I would ever find a creature as lovely as you on land, sea, or soaring in the air.”

From that day on, they were inseparable. She spent her mornings listening to him tell of times before her own and spent the evenings wrapped in his arms. She grew to love him from her fingertips to her toes, from the depths of her soul, from there until eternity.

And she also believed him.

On the seventh day, her heart was filled with sadness. Would sitting under his branches be enough for her.

The ceremony was small, just the two of them, and at the place where they had met. As soon as he placed a ring of twine and twigs on her finger, his curse of loneliness vanished.

Two blissful willows swayed in the wind by the lake, green and lush with early summer.

The End

 

New SFT cover 2019.jpg


Weeping Lake
is one of the short stories from my collection Supernatural Fairy Tales: Fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories. It was inspired by Brothers Grimm’s The Frog Prince from Children’s and Household Tales. Germany: 1812, and the legend of Merlin the Magician.

En garde WIP – Bring every Weapon in your Writing Arsenal to the Battlefield


I’m in the middle of a fight. My Work-in-Progress is my opponent, and right now I feel like I’m losing. I’m frustrated. However, I have to remember that this is how I feel every time I write a rough draft or edit. And this is not the time to give up; this is the time to dig in, think, and analyze. But in order to push past the negative thoughts, I’ll have to bring every weapon in my writing arsenal to the battlefield. 

Weapon #1 – Frustration

Frustration? The very thing that is making me feel anxious is the very thing I need to write/finish this book. Writing characters into corners creates fabulous, productive frustration.  It’s the magic portal past that top layer of fluffy clichés and memories of already written stories to raw imagination. Without frustration, I have no chance of winning.

Weapon #2 – Character Goals

It seems so simple but sometimes when I’m in the middle of a story, I forget this basic tactic. All I have to do is ask myself “What is the character’s goal at that moment?” If they don’t have a goal, then I have a big problem – but at least I know why my story is not moving forward. 

Weapon #3 – Emotion, Thought, Decision (I have these words handwritten and tacked to my bulletin board.)

These three little words will move my story to the next goal – Let’s say I’ve just ended a scene and I’m like “What do I do now?” I ask myself “What is my character feeling (emotion) after things didn’t go the way they planned?” Then my character has to think (thought) about what they are going to do next – which will lead me to their next decision – which is their next goal.  

Weapon #4 – Mix it up

I have the same habits every time I write. But when my draft starts trying to push me around (you know, writer’s block), something has to change. So instead of starting where I left off, I might go to the end and work on the very last scene, or I can go to the beginning to reintroduce myself to the inciting incident. If I really want to go crazy, instead my normal ritual of Morning, Coffee, and Quiet, I can change it to Night, Wine and Lots of Noise.   

Weapon #5 – A Pen (After all, it is mightier than the sword – yeah … I went there.)

Good old fashioned pen and paper brainstorming can get me through tough jams. I jot down every idea that comes to mind. I write down the questions I need answers to, problem solve if I’ve written a character into a corner, and/or make a difficult decision on which direction I want to go.

Weapon #6 – Trust Myself

I had a dream the other night that an artist was frantically rearranging her pictures on display at an art show. She couldn’t get them perfect. I told her she knew colors and she knew balance and at some point she had to trust herself.

Trusting myself is important when I have to backtrack and cut sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes entire scenes. Deleting words can painful, but sometimes it is necessary roughness – But what makes it a little bit easier is that I don’t actually annihilate them, I just put them in word-jail (another file folder) for “just in case.”

So now that I’ve reminded myself that I have the tools to get this rough draft finished, I’m ready to get up and fight. Because this battle is worth fighting.

What is your secret weapon that leads you to a writing victory?

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

Little Red Riding Hood Inspired Short Story


Silverweed Muffins (2008), was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood from Children’s and Household Tales. (Brothers Grimm, Germany: 1812) which in turn inspired my YA novel, Silverweed : a supernatural fairy tale.

Silverweed Muffins

by Dorlana Vann

Swiss drove like mad in his little red car, down into the valley, down the narrow winding roads, and away from the gravesite, but he would never be able to travel fast enough to escape his guilty thoughts. He should have never shooed those birds away. He should have heeded his mother’s other countless warnings of bad luck, dark omens, and words of wisdom that he had only seen as silly superstition. But now she was dead, and he was alone in the world, except for his ailing grandmother.

He sped into his driveway and made an abrupt stop, hitting the steering wheel as he finally allowed his required tears to fall. He was eighteen-years-old and thought he was too old to cry, at least in front of people. No one could see him now.

After a while, he began to think about the last conversation he had with his mother. A conversation he put to the back of his mind because he didn’t want to believe she was going to die. His mother loved her legends and fairy tales, and at the time, Swiss figured she was just getting some of her stories confused with reality. Still, her last words fought to be remembered. “Protect your grandmother. Don’t ever talk to strangers. You must carry on the tradition by making her muffins and taking them to her every day … every day by noon, without fail. They must always be the silverweed muffins.”

His mother had delivered a basket of silverweed muffins to his grandmother every day, for as long as he could remember. When Swiss was ten, he’d asked his mother why she didn’t just make a whole bunch and leave them there. His mother had said, “This reminds me to visit her. If I didn’t go one day, perhaps I would not remember the next, and soon I would completely forget. Now we can’t go and forget to take care of grandmother, can we?”

As he opened the front door to his house, he was still thinking about his mother’s last dying words, which was her last dying wish, the realization that he had inherited this daunting job depressed him even more. His grandmother had outlasted his mother, and could possibly outlast him, so this task would be his, forever. Make and deliver her muffins every day…

He wasn’t as sure about what his mother had meant when she told him to protect his grandmother. She lived far into the remote woods away from civilization. She didn’t even have a telephone. No one was going to call her and scam her out of her money, if she even had any. Perhaps his mother meant, take care of, instead of protect. Just get her the muffins, he thought, that was all he could do that day anyway. Maybe later he could ask his grandmother about what his mother had intended.

Swiss stood in the kitchen and mixed the ingredients to the recipe he had known by heart since he was six years old:

2 c flour

½ c sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

2 egg

1 c milk

¼ c vegetable oil

¼ c silverweed leaves

After he had baked the muffins, he put them in the lined red basket and covered them with a white linen napkin. This first muffin delivery venture wasn’t going to come close to the noon deadline his mother had requested. Oh well, he thought, as long as she receives her muffins today, all will be well.

He didn’t drive to his grandmother’s house as fast as he had driven away from his mother’s funeral. He actually turned on the music, hummed along, and had lovelier thoughts of happier times. He began to remember the trips he and his mother used to make to his grandmother’s when he was a child. It wasn’t just the visit that had been pleasant, but also the car ride. They would play games, their favorite being, I Spy.

But then he remembered the last time they had played. He spied something red and his mother guessed, a car, a leaf on a tree, a bird, and so on, until finally she had given up. And then he told her, “I saw a little red man, right there beside the road. Didn’t you see him? He had horns like a goat and a long tail.” Curiously, he didn’t remember her saying anything to the contrary like, “You saw no such thing,” or “You must have been mistaken.” No, she had said, “I didn’t see him.” And that was the last time they ever played the game. He had forgotten all about it, until that very moment. He shrugged off the strange mood the memory gave him; silly little boy’s imagination, that was all. His mother had filled his head with her foolishness.

There had been a furious thunderstorm the night before that had left water standing in the ditches beside the road. Swiss’s grandmother lived in the dense woods. He knew the dirt road would be a long drive of large puddles and fallen limbs, and he didn’t want to tear up his little red car. So he parked it, put on his jacket, and grabbed the basket of muffins. Dusk had already arrived, and he did think twice about leaving the shelter of his car behind; the walk back would be a dark one.

Once he left the initial clearing in the woods, the night seemed to grow by a couple of hours. The chilled wind blew its breath on the back of Swiss’s neck, making him wish he had worn his jacket with the hood. When he began to wonder if he had become lost on the straight stretch of road, he stopped and turned several times. That’s when he thought he saw someone in the woods, right off the road. He figured it was merely shadows and the suggestive surroundings but decided he would walk faster at any rate.

When he dared to investigate again, he was positive he saw someone, this time behind a slender tree. Glancing behind every couple of feet, Swiss walked as fast as he could, trying not to let on that he knew he had a tail. But when it seemed this person wasn’t going to give up, he stopped and waited until he heard a rustling that was most likely his follower. He didn’t enjoy being scared, so if this person was going to attack him anyway, he would rather it was not an ambush.

“Hello?” Swiss turned around after a few seconds. “Excuse me, why are you following me?”

At this, a man stepped out of the bush. He wore a cowboy hat and dirty boots. He looked big, rough, and hairy. In his left hand he carried a massive rusty ax.

Now Swiss wished he would had run to his grandmother’s instead of challenging a stranger. He took a giant step back and cleared his throat as he looked around for a weapon. He knew his basket of muffins wouldn’t do him much good, even if he had cooked them a bit longer than usual. Swiss stood as tall as possible. His voice didn’t hold much authority on its own, so he gave it a beat of deepness when he said, “You’re trespassing. Please leave this land immediately.”

“Trespassing?” the man said with the volume of a jackhammer. “I’m just doing my job, son.”

“And what job would that be?” Swiss was thinking, murderer, assassin, bear hunter …

“I’m a woodsman.” He squinted his already hard to see eyes under the massive entanglement of hair on his face. “I cut down trees.”

“Why would a woodsman be following me?”

The man laughed a vigorous belly laugh. “Following you? I am not interested in your whereabouts.”

Immediately, Swiss felt a bit foolish. His total day had been eerie, which must have left him jumpy and paranoid. Swiss thought that perhaps there were more of these woodsmen about.

“Right,” Swiss said. “I’ll be on my way.”

“Need some help? You lost?”

“No, this is my grandmother’s property. She lives just down the way.”

“I see. What’s there in that basket?” the man asked and took a step toward Swiss.

“Just some muffins for my grandmother.”

“Wouldn’t happen to be able to spare one, would you?”

Swiss didn’t doubt that the grubby man lived in the woods, as well as worked, and most likely starving. Besides, he had accused him of being a stalker. “I’m sure my grandmother can spare one.”

After the man was handed the muffin, he took an enormous bite and then picked it up to examine it. “Kind of odd tasting. What’s in here?”

“Family secret,” Swiss said and smiled. “Well, I must be getting on my way. My grandmother is waiting.”

Swiss walked on, checking behind him periodically to make sure the man wasn’t following him. He saw no sign and was satisfied after a while that the man was who he’d said he was.

Finally, he made it to the clearing that started the yard. It was much brighter there, the full moon blared like a spotlight on his grandmother’s house. Trimmed hedges and flower gardens decorated the skillfully manicured grounds. Swiss thought about how his grandmother, being practically bed ridden, employed people to work in her yard. She also owned most of the woods for many miles and therefore must have hired the woodsman to cut down some trees on the path to her house.

He dreaded walking into the house that he once looked forward to visiting. It felt different now. Today, it would be especially painful. She would ask about the funeral, be sorry she wasn’t able to make it, and make him relive the entire event. Not only that, he knew that this was only the beginning of many countless trips he would be taking to see her. Every day he would have to bring her the muffins.

He opened the door. “Grandmother,” he called, “it’s me, Swiss.” He snapped on the lamp in the living room and saw the familiar cozy furnishings draped with homemade quilts and afghans. The smell of cinnamon tea filled his nostrils as he walked into the kitchen and set the muffins down on the counter. He took a muffin out of the basket and set it on a small saucer.

“Grandmother,” he said again, wondering now if he had come too late, and she had gone to bed.

He hesitated at her bedroom door, not wanting to disturb an old lady and her sleep. Except his mother’s words came to mind: every day … every day. He tapped lightly on the door and then opened it.

The room was dark, but he could hear his grandmother’s grunts and snores from the back of the room. Aware of the lamp next to her bed, he made his way, muffin in hand, toward it. He snapped the light on.

At first the brightness blinded him. “I’m sorry I’m so late. It’s just that it’s been an aw—” He stopped with his mouth open, stared, and then heard the crash of the plate as it hit the floor. For there in his grandmother’s bed was a huge, hairy wolf. And the wolf was awake now, glaring at him.

The wolf had big eyes, a big nose, and what big teeth it had. It growled, saliva gathering at the corners of its mouth like a mad dog. Swiss stood petrified, but only for a second, because the wolf then leaped out from underneath the cozy blankets. Swiss found his feet and scrambled backwards, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the wolf because it actually wore one of his grandmothers long pink nightgowns.

“Grandmother,” Swiss yelled, and then quickly scanned the room for any sign of her. Perhaps she hid under the bed or maybe in the closet. He didn’t want to even think of the obvious, but he didn’t have time to have a good look, because in the next instant, the wolf had lunged and pinned him to the hardwood floor.

Swiss shielded his face with his arms as the wolf tore at him with its claws, ripping his clothing open like a candy wrapper. The sharp nails dug deep into his flesh causing Swiss to cry out in pain. His mind desperately analyzed the situation. He had two choices: keep fighting and prolong the agony or die a just as painful but perhaps quicker death. At the very moment Swiss had decided to move his arms and let the wolf finish him off, the heaviness of the animal lifted, and he heard it howl out in pain. He didn’t dare move. His entire body felt like it was on the spin cycle as hard adrenaline pumped through his heart. Finally, with large breaths, he sat up.

The wolf lay on the floor with an ax in its side. Swiss stood up, but not wanting to take any chances that the wolf would attack him again, he kept his distance.

Swiss flinched, ready to run, when the woodsman stepped out of the shadows and retrieved his ax. The red blood of the wolf poured out onto the floorboards.

“My grandmother,” Swiss managed to get out of his dry mouth. “Have you seen my grandmother?”

The woodsman frowned at him and then subtly motioned with his eyes for Swiss to look at the wolf.

When Swiss looked, his head did a spin and a swoon. There on the floor in the place of the wolf lay his grandmother.

“I’ve been tracking her for years,” the woodsman said.

Panic wrapped itself around Swiss’s reason. His whole world swirled around in his head. “I thought I saw … There was a wolf. My mind, in the darkness, my eyes … I’ve been so upset today.” He looked up at the woodsman who still held the bloody ax. “Why would you kill my grandmother?” He could feel anger and guilt rising to his face. Protect your grandmother. He had not been able to protect her for a single day. Don’t ever talk to strangers. What had he done?

“That was not your grandmother, son,” the woodsman said. He turned from Swiss and yelled, “She’s over here.”

Three men in military uniforms entered his grandmother’s room. Two of them carried a stretcher. They put it down beside his grandmother. The third man touched her neck and said, “She’s dead,” like he had solved a great mystery, and then placed a white sheet over her body. The first two men picked her up.

“Wait,” Swiss said. “What do you think you’re doing? Stop … STOP!”

They paid no mind to him but continued their job and placed her on the stretcher. They picked up the stretcher just as Swiss ran in front of them, blocking them from going any further.

“Did you hear me? Put her down.”

The woodsman nodded to the men who had looked to him for answers. “It’s all right,” he said. “Just give us a few moments.”

The men placed the stretcher back on the floor and then walked out of the bedroom.

Swiss said, “I don’t know what’s going on. But I do know that you just chopped my grandmother with an ax. I’m calling the police.” But as he said the words, he did understand that all was not normal.

“She is the property of the United States Government. Thirty years ago, she traded her citizenship for compensation and help. She’s werewolf, the real deal, and she needed help to stop killing people. After she signed her life over to us, the scientists found that silverweed kept the symptoms of the disease in check. Only, as soon as she was better, she reneged on her deal and fled with outside help. I have been tracking her ever since. It seems I found her just in time.”

Swiss sat on the edge of his grandmother’s bed. None of it made sense, but yet, things began to make more sense than ever. The muffins. “Still,” Swiss whispered, feeling the sting of his slashes shouting something else at the same time. “She wouldn’t have hurt me.”

“Son, she had no control once she changed.”

Changed, Swiss thought. His grandmother transformed into a wolf and then tried to kill him.

“I’m really glad you spied me in the woods today,” the woodsman continued, “If not, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try those muffins. The taste of parsnips confirmed my suspicions, and since there was a full moon, I feared for your safety. I really hoped I’d be able to take her in alive.” The woodsman shook his head. “I’m really sorry about your grandma. But I hope you realize that more than your life was in jeopardy tonight.” With that, the woodsman stuck his head out the door and told the men to come back in.

This time Swiss didn’t say anything; he just let them take her away.

“Here’s my number.” The woodsman handed Swiss a card. “You can have her in a couple of days, so you can give her a proper burial.”

Alone in his grandmothers’ room, Swiss put his face in his hands and cried for the second time that day. He ached all over, especially on his right side. He reached down and held it. “Ouch,” he said, as lifted his shirt to look. He saw his blood pooling at surface of a wicked bite. Swiss knew too well what it meant. His mother had told him countless stories of vampires and werewolves.

This meant he would share in his grandmother’s fate.

He thought that perhaps he should stop the man to tell him and show him and ask what he should do. No, he already knew what to do.

Silverweed muffins every day … every day.

The End

Silverweed Muffins is one of the short stories in my collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Inspired (silly) Poem, Little Liar


Little Liar was inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Joseph Cundall Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children. London:1850

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith: 1916

Little Liar is a poem from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.

The Little Mermaid Inspired Short Story


His Soul Inspiration
by Dorlana Vann

“Have you read this?” My husband, Philip, held the book of fairy tales I had bought from a used bookstore for my niece’s ninth birthday.

“Well, not that one, but I’ve read fairy tales before,” I said as I shut the door and stepped out of my heels.

He shook the hardback of nearly 500 pages. “Not like these.”

“Yeah, sure I have.  ‘The Ugly duckling,’ ‘The Emperor’s New Suit,’ ‘The Little Mermaid’…”

“Right-right-right. These are them but not like the ones I’m sure you’re thinking of. They’re not all fairy princesses and happy endings. They’re darker, full of hardship and pain and broken hearts.”

“All right,” I said. His excitement confused me because it didn’t match what I thought he was saying. “Do you think I should take it back and get Emily something else?”

“No. I mean, yes, you should get Emily something else. But no, don’t take this back.”

I scratched my head. “Are you okay?”

 “I’m more than okay—I’m terrific!” He set the book down on the couch, wrapped his arms around me, and twirled us around. As he put me down, an amused smirk transformed into a wide smile and huge eyes. “The Little Mermaid!” he exclaimed.  

Philip had been having a rough year, trying to find his inspiration to paint. This sudden strangeness made me queasy, and I was a little surprised that he had cracked before I had. Not that I didn’t respect his work, goals, and dreams, it’s just that I had some of my own. And working two jobs to support a starving artist had never been my plan.

He had picked up the book again and was flipping through it when I decided to go run a bubble bath.

“Syrena, here it is. I want to read this to you right fast.”

“I’m really tired. I just want to go soak in the tub.”

“Please. This is it. This is what I need to get me out of this slump. Please, just listen and see.”

I sighed as softly as I could manage and took my place beside him on the couch. He began to read: “The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep …”

***

“Well, it’s definitely different than the Disney version,” I said after he had finished reading the tale. “I didn’t realize it was so sad.”

“Anything else?” he asked slowly.

I shook my head and shrugged.

He quoted: “Her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea. And she wrapped herself in her long, thick hair.”

“I’m sorry, Philip. I’m tired. I’m not getting what you’re getting at. Just tell me.”

“It’s you! You have to be my model.” His eyes sparkled, and he looked so happy, happier than I had seen him in a long time. I even felt a tinge of exhilaration myself. It had been awhile since he had asked me to model for him.

“Okay.” I smiled. “Mermaids are topless, right?”

He danced his eyebrows up and down. “You betcha.”

“It sounds like fun. Saturday morning, I’m all yours.”

“No, no, no. Now.” He stood up and held his hand out to me.

“Now?” I whined.

“I can’t take the chance of losing this, this feeling.”

After a few seconds of staring into his imploring but loving eyes, I agreed by taking his hand and letting him lead me to the studio/guestroom/home office.

A few of his paintings hung on the walls: abstracts from his college years, pencil drawings sketched when we were on vacation at the beach, and one of me when we first met. The evening really made me think of that time, when he was so vigorous and full of dreams. When his passion oozed from his fingertips, and he saw the world differently than anybody I had ever met before; he noticed colors before shapes and talked in hues and aura, like others talked current events.

It didn’t take him long to direct me into position. I was on the floor leaning on my elbow, legs out beside me, and my hair down and draped over the front of my chest, like a mermaid’s. I knew he was in his zone, no longer seeing me, but seeing through me and to my spirit. 

“Beautiful,” he said, and walked behind the easel and white canvas.

Unable to see his face, only his arm as it gently followed the hand holding the paint brush, I knew not to talk, not to disturb him as he created the new, improved me.

After what felt like hours, my mouth began to dry. I needed water. Surely, he would understand that I needed a little break—I opened my mouth to tell him, but my tongue was completely limp, and I couldn’t even swallow. The silly words from the story came to mind: “Then she cut off the mermaid’s tongue, so that she became dumb, and would never again speak or sing.”

Trying to laugh at the thought, I felt a strange pinch in the middle of my stomach. An involuntary grunt finally came from my throat, and when I realized I could make this sound, I tried to get Philip’s attention.

I guessed he couldn’t    hear me because he was too focused on his work.

I squeezed my eyes open and shut, trying to clear the buzzing that had begun in my head. And then I saw the waves of color beaming from me to Philip’s swooping arm. At first, I thought it was the result of the light bulbs and my blinking, but it didn’t go away. It was dark outside, so there was no sun playing with the window’s glass. These streams of gold and red and blue were coming from me.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain run up my arm, and I couldn’t hold myself up any longer. I collapsed. “…  and it seemed as if a two-edged sword went through her delicate body: she fell into a swoon, and lay like one dead …” I thought Philip would soon notice me and tell me to sit up—but minutes passed, and he never glanced away from the canvas. The pain moved down to my legs and so did the beams of colorful light.  “… she felt as if treading upon the points of needles or sharp knives.”

As I grew weaker, my confusion faded. It became clear that if I didn’t get Philip’s attention, I would die, which promptly turned into: if I don’t stop Philip, I will die. “Haste, then; he or you must die before sunrise.”

I pushed my torso up with wobbly arms, every muscle burning. I couldn’t feel my legs at all. “She has given us a knife: here it is, see it is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet … return to us to live.”

I remembered the scissors on my desk behind me. I loudly grunted as I reached and grabbed them, dropping immediately back down. I lay there, time passing until I was able to pull myself forward by plunging the scissors into the carpet and using them to move across the floor.

With each breath, my lungs tightened as if the air in the room was poisonous. I coughed and gagged, but still Philip did not stir. Finally, I lay beside him at his easel, taking a moment to gather some strength. The hand that held the scissors ached and so did my heart at the thought of what I had to do to survive. I used the rest of my might to pull myself up, leaning on my left hand, and brought the weapon behind my head with my right.

When I shifted my view, the painting came into focus. It was complete, save for the sun. Philip dipped his brush into the yellow and orange mixture, and I examined The Little Mermaid, letting the scissors fall behind me as I marveled at her beauty. She was alive. This painting was Philip’s dream, his life’s work … his masterpiece.

Easing the brush away from the bright sun, Philip whispered, “Finished,” as I fell into soft darkness.

“…and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.”

The End

His Soul Inspiration was inspired by The Little Mermaid from Fairy Tales Told for Children (The third booklet). Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark:1837

Click here for a copy: The short story is from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales – fairy tale inspired short stories. Free with KindleUnlimited.

His Soul Inspiration was originally published in the ezine: Enchanted Conversation

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