The Blue Lady, Conclusion


The city was struck by a plague. The old man spoke these words in such a matter-of-fact tone, and little Abigail accepted them without so much as a question. They made no sense to the ghost listening in, though. Evelyn couldn’t remember a plague.

“You probably visited the hospital they built to treat the illness,” he continued. “They built it too late—by then, many people had already perished.”

The fire danced in the hearth, as if nodding in agreement. The spirit dared take a step closer, self-conscious for the first time in years. She saw Abigail shiver a little, wrapping herself up in a blanket.

Outside the window, a heavy breeze rattled the trees, making the floorboards creak. It was not a new sound—the house had always been drafty—but its familiarity made Evelyn feel oddly out-of-place.

“There was something wrong with the water that year,” the man continued. “It poisoned many people who lived in this city. Lady Evelyn was one of the first to perish. Her death was blamed on a witch believed to live in the forest, one who was jealous of the young girl’s beauty. That portrait has been on the mantle ever since.”

“Do you think she’s still here?” asked Abigail, as the spirit took a step away from them and the warmth of the fire.

Her grandfather smiled, looking more lively than he had at the beginning of the conversation. “I know she is, but not for long. Today is the anniversary of her death.”

When he uttered those words, the Blue Lady felt her bond vanish. For the first time, she realized she was free like the wind, no longer gripped by the impulse to roam in search of attention. She took another step back, puzzled—what was happening?

“Is she unhappy?” the young girl asked.

Her grandfather’s smile held. “I think she’s free.”

She’s free. The Blue Lady found herself vanishing into the familiar space of the house, fading into the fibers of the wallpaper, melting into the floorboards. She allowed herself to be carried off by memories, absorbed by the comforting truth.

“I think it’s time to put that portrait away,” said the old man, several seconds later. Despite his old, aching body, he got to his feet and reached up for the portrait on the mantle.

Abigail watched her grandfather carefully remove the portrait from its spot, putting an end to eighty years of mournful display. She gazed at the wall, hugging herself tightly with the wool blanket, and whispered to the ghost she knew was no longer there.

“Happy birthday, Lady Evelyn.”

The End


The Blue Lady, Part II


The wind appeared to whisper words as Lady Evelyn walked up a familiar cobblestone road. Her destination was in sight, the home where she’d grown up. Light spilled through one of the windows; she remembered it had been the parlor where her father used to sit and read.

It had been years since she came here, but she could not bring herself to feel more than deja vu. Little excited her these days. Hopefully in this familiar place, she would find puzzles to pass the time.

It was a handsome house with red shutters. Two rocking chairs sat abandoned on a frosty deck. Though candles had been placed on the windowsills in form of protection, she was not a dark entity to be scared off by superstition.

She slipped through the door with no great effort and looked up at a familiar crystal chandelier; to her right, a winding staircase inched to the second floor. Her feet made no sound as she made her way to her father’s parlor.

Inside, two people spoke in quiet voices. The first was a child. “What a cold night, Grandfather.”

“I know, Abigail.” There was a sigh. “The fire should warm you soon enough.”

Evelyn peered into the parlor, where the fireplace had indeed been lit. She saw by its glow that two armchairs had been occupied, one by a girl of eight or nine. Across from her, a feeble old man hugged himself against the draft.

There was sadness in their eyes. It was strong enough to shock a ghost.

Her wandering eyes stopped on a portrait hanging over the mantle. It was a painting of herself at the age of sixteen, three years before she breathed her last. She’d been in the forest for so long that her own face startled her.

In the painting her dark hair was braided, woven into the same style she wore now. Her blue eyes peered from the depths of the painting, an uncanny likeness. She wore a blue dress much like the one she’d been buried in.

Abigail spoke, voice oddly hushed. “It always feels like that painting is watching me, Grandfather.”

Evelyn wondered if her presence could be sensed by the living in this house.

“Souls often haunt objects. It lets them catch a glimpse of the living.”

“Will you tell me how she died?” asked the girl.

“It’s a grim story, dear.”

“I’m old enough.”

There was a long pause, and he sighed. “Very well. I don’t like how your mother protects you from everything.” He looked into the fire for a moment, reminiscing. Then he clasped his hands and began.

“Eighty years ago, the city was struck by a plague.”

To Be Continued…

The Blue Lady, Part I


It was that time of the night when insect voices rose in chorus over branches in the breeze. Some said the sighs of a miserable woman could be heard, always a little heavier than the wind. Few came to this part of the forest—only those with hearts of steel dared to camp here.

If only they would visit more often. The Blue Lady got so very lonely with nothing to haunt but owls in trees.

Her long, silky robe made no sound on the ground, though sometimes by chance it would move in time with the rustling foliage. It was clear material, shiny like it had been the day she bought it; sometimes she could still smell the dye.

A silken sleeve slid off her arm as she waved off a firefly. It darted out of her way, scuttling into the night. Nothing could stand between her and her goal; she had chosen to make a change in her life—erm, afterlife.

Evelyn, the Blue Lady, was headed back to the house where her life had ended. She found no comfort in the cold forest, so empty of humans to interact with. She would lurk in the shadows of her old chamber, basking in the familiarity of those cerulean walls.

If she was doomed to roam this earth for all eternity, she wanted to spend it in the place she’d once called home. She felt no sense of belonging here with the trees and birds; they were so full of life that she was a trespasser, but she wouldn’t be for much longer.

Lady Evelyn would return to her home. She had tended to it all her life, hosting parties in the parlors she so lovingly designed. She might only be a spirit now; however, that house had been her home. She chose to wait out eternity in the place that had seen her laugh and cry until her last day.

It was the first choice Evelyn had made since her death. Nothing could get in her way, and thankfully little could slow a ghost in movement.

Her blue cloak made an invisible trail. She walked, head up, determined—dying to go back home.

To Be Continued…

The Looking-Glass, Conclusion

This random bit of fiction I started writing for fun will be a novella soon. Over the course of four days, it’s grown into a plot full of potential, and it’ll be a lot of fun to expand. If you’ve been reading it all this time, I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you!

“Stop lying. What do you see in the mirror?” the looking-glass faery demanded, taking a threatening step closer to the man, who peered into the reflection with uncharacteristic interest.

“Why would I go to the trouble to lie?” asked the traveler. “I see you in this reflection. You’re standing in my way. Whatever does it mean?”

Wrenching the looking-glass away, she looked at the surface, determined to prove he was making it up. Then she let out an exasperated sigh—because when she looked at her reflection in the glass, she was indeed standing in the traveler’s way.

“How difficult can it be to tell me what you see?” she cried.

“I told you what the looking-glass showed me. Do you not see it, too?”

The faery glared at her reflection in the mirror, so deceptively like what the traveler claimed to have seen, and something inside of her snapped. She’d been deceived a third time, and could not find in her the energy to keep arguing.

She hurled the looking-glass against a nearby tree and listened to it shatter. Never again would she read a mortal’s fortune. Never again would she stand on this road waiting for new clients. This traveler had taken the joy and passion out of her gift.

“Well, then,” she said furiously, “if in your future I am in your path, I intend to follow you for the rest of your days.” With a wicked grin, she took a step closer. “Don’t you wish you’d been honest with that reflection now? You will never get away from me. Never!”

But the traveler’s eyes shone with amusement. “No, I’m quite glad I said what I did. I’ve always wanted a travel companion. Don’t you wish you would be more careful with your words?”

“You will pay for this!” the faery cried, taking another step towards him.

“I suppose we’ll have to see,” said the traveler with a boyish grin, “won’t we?” And he broke into a run up the road, laughing at her anger.

The faery could not leave him alone—it was against her nature to break a promise, even one made by accident. She would prove herself to be a horrific travel companion. She would make him pay for having outsmarted her three times.

Revenge in her heart, she stormed after the traveler, leaving the shattered pieces of her looking-glass in the forest behind her.

The End

The Looking-Glass, Part III

The traveler returned on his own a day later, his nephew nowhere to be seen. He closed the distance between them, watching her with bored acceptance. “Fine, then,” he said. “We made a deal. Where’s the looking-glass?”

The faery didn’t reply immediately, puzzled. She’d grown accustomed to superstitious villagers seeking her out for her ability. This man’s lack of interest was almost offensive. She eyed him suspiciously for several heartbeats.

“I sent the boy to find you,” she said, stalling. “Where is he?”

“Oh, him? He can’t find his own head,” came the nonchalant reply.

“I sent him on a specific mission to find you. I should track him down.” Once I finish my business with you, she added silently.

As if he had heard her thoughts, he asked, “Why does it matter whether you see my fortune or not? I’m one person.”

“You’re not special, if that’s what you’re asking,” she said irritably. “Your fortune is probably gray and dull. The only reason I need to read yours is because you made me agree to a deal—that I would wait here for a week and then you would look into the mirror.”

“Is that it?” asked the traveler, looking surprised. “You can’t find a loophole? I thought the Fae were oathbreakers.”

Ignoring that remark, she continued. “I’ve never yet broken a promise, trivial as it may be. Until I finish my business with you, I cannot leave this spot on the road.”

“I see,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets. The faery didn’t like his thoughtful expression as he continued. “Out of curiosity, what would happen if I walked home now? Would you be forced to wait another week?”

The looking-glass faery clenched her fists, resolving never to make a deal again. If someone refused to look at their reflection, she would not agree for them to return. It wasn’t worth the trouble of hunting them down.

“And what would happen if you broke a promise?” he continued, ignoring her glare. “Would you lose your wings—or worse, your looking-glass? Why is it so important for you to be honest about giving away bad fortunes?”

She ignored his questions, holding out the looking-glass, hoping it would hide the desperation on her face. “Aren’t you a little bit curious about what you’ll see? It could answer a question about your future. It could settle a mystery from your past. It may open exciting new doors, or close dreadful old ones. Take a look, and tell me what you see.”

He peered at her for several seconds, with an expression she could not trust. She held her breath, prepared to fight him if he tried to walk away again. It was a great surprise when he looked into his reflection without arguing any more.

The faery waited, heart pounding. She could finally get off this road and go somewhere else. She would never come back.

The traveler cleared his throat and said, “I see you.”

To Be Continued…

The Looking-Glass, Part II

Read the first part here!

In the week that followed that deal, curiously few pedestrians passed on the looking-glass faery’s dirt road. She sat on a fallen log, waiting for someone to do business with; all she got was a chill and a cranky temper.

It was evening on the seventh day when the bored traveler returned, deep in conversation with a younger man who accompanied him. The faery stood and waited for them to meet her. She’d been thinking about his fortune for days now, and was determined to read it.

When the traveler spotted her, he rolled his eyes. “Still here, I see.”

“We made a deal,” the faery retorted, “and I’ve been waiting for a week. Now I will see your fortune.” She held out the looking-glass.

“Sitting here for a whole week?” he asked, glancing at the young man, who smirked. “Don’t you have somewhere to go?”

The faery spoke through gritted teeth, glaring at him. “Take—it!”

He laughed. “She swears she’s going to tell me a truth that’ll disturb me,” he told his companion, “if I just look at my reflection.”

“Oh, really?” The young man looked curiously at the glass. “Does it have to be disturbing?”

“That depends on the sort of person you are,” said the faery. “Do you want your fortune told, too?”

He took the looking-glass and peered into his reflection. “Why would you pass up the chance to have your fortune told, Uncle?”

“I was in a hurry. Do you see anything?” the traveler asked his nephew, who had the expression of wonder worn by other regular mortals. It was enough to calm the faery’s temper; she didn’t like thinking that somehow she’d lost her ability to charm.

But his reply was surprising. “No, nothing special.”

The faery narrowed her eyes at him. No one looked into that reflection without seeing something unusual; perhaps the two had made some sort of pact to drive her insane. “Have you taken in all the details?” she asked.

“I have. Should I recite some kind of spell?”

She took the looking-glass and wiped its surface with a sleeve, doubtful that it would help much. “Clear your mind and take a look at the reflection until something appears to surprise you.”

He did, staring at it with a look of comical concentration. Rubbing away goosebumps from the chill, she waited, anxious to get it over with and hand the mirror to his uncle. They still had a deal to carry out.

“I swear I don’t see anything,” he said, after several heartbeats. “Do you, Uncle?” Looking up, he frowned. “Where did he go?”

Oh, I should have known. Clenching her fists, the faery turned and peered down the road, but the man she made a deal with was nowhere to be seen. He’d seized the opportunity to escape while she was distracted.

“Go find him,” she told the baffled young man, “and tell him to come back, or I will trap you in the glass so you can see what’s in it!”

He shoved the object back at her, pale with fright. At least one person still took her seriously. “No need for threats—I’ll go find him. Uncle? Uncle!” She listened to his footsteps as he thundered down the road, shouting at the top of his voice.

The faery kicked away a pebble and sat on the log once more, blood boiling. She would read that traveler’s future, if it was the last thing she ever did. She would not be fooled again.

To Be Continued…

What Art Teaches

Someone dear told me once that art is about learning.This applies to writing as well—but we aren’t just learning how to improve our craft or tell a story; we’re learning how to prioritize projects.

Right now I have two novels to edit and a little something I started in a notebook today. I’m learning to keep the plot bunnies at bay so I’ll actually put books out when I finish writing them. The Autumn Prince and Serenade both need work; if I give those plot bunnies the attention they want, I’ll be writing and writing without publishing anything.

I was going to launch another serial this spring, Daughter of the Forest, but I don’t think I’ll have time. I’ve been working on the draft, but it won’t be done by April; it might become a summer project. I’m eager to dedicate my blog to storytelling again; however, I’m going to do it when I know I can give it my all, like I did in October with The Autumn Prince.

Art is about learning to tell stories, no matter what your medium—but you have to figure out your limits. How much can you handle at one given time? It’s important to allow yourself a breather to binge-read a series or stare out the window at nice weather.

The Autumn Prince (novel) and Serenade should both be presentable by the end of the year if I learn to manage my time. I will keep you updated; I am so excited to have more books out!

If we don’t take the time to rest and reflect, our art will sound lifeless and forced. It took me this long to accept that truth. Each story will have its turn, but right now I have to focus more on editing than writing new manuscripts.

What are your plans for this spring? How do you handle demanding plot bunnies?