FAIRY TALE FLASH - The Rescue by Amanda Kespohl

She swam toward the place
where the wind roared
and the sky wept...
A boat capsized, tumbling a slim raven-haired girl into the sea. She hovered near the surface, surrounded by a hazy cloud of skirts like some sort of exotic jellyfish. Her legs thrashed against the currents that tried to draw her down. Her hands stroked futilely against the waves that tried to bury her. But the ocean was tireless, and she was not. In the end, it would swallow her whole.

Below her, the mermaid's heart stirred with sympathy. With a flick of golden fins, she swam toward the place where the wind roared and the sky wept. Her strong white arms encircled the girl’s waist. Very gently, she pulled her down into the depths.

Bubbles erupted from between the girl’s lips in a silent scream. Her hands clawed toward the surface as if she could pull herself up on her fingertips, like climbing a cliff face. But the mermaid was much stronger than any human girl. Crooning in her musical language, she drew the girl down among the colorful coral formations and held her until her struggles ceased. When the girl lay wilted like a crushed flower in the mermaid’s arms, the mermaid let her go.

Up, she floated, like an angel rising to heaven. Indeed, she glowed in the flash and flare of lightning. Only, the light did not subside as the rumble of thunder faded into silence. It intensified until the mermaid was forced to look away.

When she looked back, the girl’s eyes were open, studying the rainbow iridescence of her new tail. Shrugging out of the cumbersome cloud of her dress, she swam in experimental circles.

"Now isn't that better?" the mermaid asked in her singsong tongue.

"Yes," the girl burbled, her dark hair an inky halo around her pale face. “Much better. I’m not afraid anymore.”

Together, they swam along the ocean floor, the mermaid keen to show her new friend the wreck where she, herself, was born.
Amanda Kespohl is a fantasy writer, attorney, and folklore enthusiast from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Her short stories have been featured in anthologies such as Sirens (World Weaver Press 2016) and The Death of All Things (Zombies Need Brains, LLC 2017). She currently resides in Tallahassee with her beagle, Bailey. 
Check out her WEBSITE
or find her on Twitter at @amandakespohl

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

FEATHERS AND FUR: Tales from the Animal Kingdom - April 2019 - Table of Contents

Enchanted Conversation
presents the
April 2019 Issue
Tales from
the Animal Kingdom
Animals have played important roles in fairy tales, folktales, and myths throughout the ages. In countless tales, they have helped humans, tricked them for their own purposes or provided inspiration for a hero/heroine to achieve their goals. They also reflect different aspects of our own humanity, from the gentle and nurturing, to the aggressive and primal. Sometimes their stories are tragic, but also intensely beautiful as they portray the wild and unpredictable aspects of nature.

In this issue, ten authors will enchant you with their original tales set in a variety of locations around the world, featuring a variety of animals - from foxes and wolves, to herons, hares, panthers, and bees...and more! So, sit back and read some stories on this spring day, and we hope you enjoy your journey into the animal kingdom!

Who is in my tree,
eating my honey?
zteve t evans

Sly, crafty old magpie.
They steal things.
Shiny things...
Chris Collins

Susan Budd

Ah, Sharp-Tooth, I see you
have met the odd-feathered ones...
Laura Diaz de Arce

"Mehmet Bey, I can give you whatever you want."
"Give me your cap, your whistle, and your royal seal..."
Ed Ahern

He knew with great certainty that
the great birds had given him
the egg to take care of...
Ellen Stader

"Dear girl, why have you called me?"
"The man I loved has wronged me..."
Matilda Lewis

Welcome to the shadow realm.
I grant access to anyone who is clever enough...
Jennie Brass

Don't be foolish human.
Our stings are swift and true...
Michelle Kaseler

Shapes and colors filled in among
the stars of the grand stallion
glittering against the dark sky...
Written in the Stars
Maria Carvalho

And finally,
I want to thank everyone who reads Enchanted Conversation by sharing my favorite piece from Camille Saint-Saƫns' Carnival of the Animals...Aquarium.
I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.
So, thank you, one and all. Your support means everything.
- Amanda Bergloff, Editor-in-Chief

to the written works in this issue belong to the individual authors.

SOONGOORA THE HARE: An African Folktale by zteve t evans

Who is in my tree,
eating my honey?...
Soongoora the Hare was hungry, and wandering through the forest, came across a huge calabash tree. Hearing a strong humming sound, he looked and saw buzzing in and out of large hole in the trunk, many bees.Thinking he would like some honey, he went into town looking for someone to help him.

He met a big rat name Bookoo, who was in fact a very respectable citizen of the town. Smiling, Bookoo invited him to sit down and rest in his house. 

Soongoora thanked him, and sitting down sighed,“Sadly, my father has recently passed away and left me in his will, a bee’s nest of honey. Would you like to help me eat it?”

Bookoo loved honey and readily accepted the invitation and accompanied Soongoora to the calabash tree. Soongoora pointed up to the hole where the bees were buzzing in and out and said, “There, we must climb up.”  

First, both cut a bundle of dried grass and climbed up to the hole where they set the grass alight, causing lots of smoke. The bees became too sleepy to bother them, allowing Soongoora and Bookoo to tuck into the honey.
As they were enjoying the feast, out of the forest sauntered Simba the Lion who sat at the bottom of the tree looking up at them and growled, “Who is in my tree, eating my honey, looking down on me while I look up at them?”

Soongoora whispered to Bookoo, “Shhh - keep quiet! He is old and crazy. Keep quiet, and he will go away.”  

Simba did not go away and grew angry roaring, “Tell me who you are, now!”

This terrified poor Bookoo who stammered, “It is only us, only us!,”  

Soongoora rolled his eyes and shook his head.  He knew this meant trouble and whispered to his friend,“Wrap the grass around me and shout down that you are going to throw grass down.  Tell him to stand back, well out of the way. Then slowly climb down the tree.”

Quickly, Bookoo wrapped the dry grass around Soongoora. Then he shouted down, “Watch out down there! Stand well back!  I will throw this bundle of grass down and then come down myself.”  

Hearing this, Simba moved away from the tree, and Bookoo threw the bundle down and then began slowly climbing down.  As Simba looked up watching Bookoo climb down, Soongoora crept silently from the bundle of hay and sneaked off into the forest without being seen.

As soon as Bookoo set foot on the ground, Simba pounced upon him saying, “Who else was up there with you?  Where are they?”

Poor Bookoo was terrified and stammered, “It was Soongoora the Hare.  He is down here with you now.”

Simba looked all around him and then growled, “There is no one else here!”  

Panicking Bookoo insisted, “But I wrapped him up in a bundle of dry grass and threw him down to you! Can’t you see him?”

“Of course I cannot see him...so I will eat you!” said Simba angrily and without any further talk, ate poor Bookoo. Then, Simba began looking round for Soongoora, but after searching high and low and not finding him, gave up, but did not forget.

While Simba had been distracted eating Bookoo, the wily hare had slipped away into the forest.

A few days later, Soongoora fancied some honey and went to see his neighbor, Kobay the Tortoise, saying, “Hey, Kobay, my friend, I know where there is some good honey. Why not come with me and have some?”

“Who does the honey belong to? asked Kobay warily.

“It is my father’s, and he has given me permission.” replied the hare.

“Good, let’s go and get some!” said Kobay eagerly.

Arriving at the great calabash tree, they gathered up dry grass from all around and climbed up to the hole where the bees had their nest. Setting fire to the hay, the bees soon became sleepy from the smoke and Soongoora and Kobay were soon feasting. As they were enjoying the honey, they heard a voice growl up to them saying, “Who is that up my tree?”

“Sssshhhh! It’s only Simba” said Soongoora to Kobay. “Say nothing and he will go away.”

“Come down from my tree now!” roared the lion angrily.

Kobay looked suspiciously at Soongoora and said, “You have deceived me! This tree and honey is the property of Simba.”

The lion roared, “Who are you?”

“There is no one - only me and Soongoora.” answered Kobay as Soongoora rolled his eyes.

Simba had not forgotten his encounter with Soongoora, and he was sure he had him trapped and was determined to catch and eat him.

Come down right now!”  demanded the lion

“We are on our way!” shouted Kobay.

Soongoora  said, “Quick, Kobay, wrap me up in a bundle of that hay. Then shout down to Simba to move away and throw me down. Then, you slowly climb down, and I will be waiting for you on the ground.  Don’t worry, he is old and harmless!”

Kobay did as instructed, but began to think he could not trust the hare, realizing he would leave him alone to face the angry lion. Throwing down the bundle, he shouted out, “Look out below, I am throwing Soongoora down!”

As soon as the bundle hit the ground, Simba pounced upon it saying, “Ha, Soongoora the Hare, now I have you!”

Holding the hare by his ears, Simba picked him up and looked him in the eyes saying, “Now I have you, what shall I do with you?”

“Well,”  said Soongoora, “Whatever you do, I would not try to eat me. I am terribly tough and taste awful.”

“Hmmm,” said the lion, “how can I make you taste better and become tender?”

“The only way  I know is for you to grab my tail, whirl me around your head three times, and then beat me upon the ground. That will be make me less tough and taste much better.”

Simba grasped the hare by its short tale and whirled him around his head three times. As he attempted to beat him against the ground, the tail slipped from his grasp, and the hare ran off into the forest, much to the anger and disappointment of Simba. Knowing he could not catch him, Simba turned his attention to Kobay who had now reached the ground.

“You have a hard shell. What can I do to make you more palatable?” asked the lion.

“Well, that is easy. All you have to do is place me in some mud and keep rubbing all over hard until my shell falls off,” replied the tortoise.

Simba carried the tortoise down to the waterhole and began rubbing mud all over him. He did not notice that the tortoise had slipped away as he had been fetching mud and began rubbing it all over a rock instead.  He rubbed and rubbed until his paws bled and realized he had been tricked again. This made him very angry, and he focused his anger on Soongoora the Hare, deciding he would find him and eat him.

Angrily, Simba went off in search of him, asking each person he met along the way where Soongoora the Hare lived. No one knew because as soon as Soongoora had got home after his encounter with Simba, he had persuaded his wife that they should move to another district, so no one now knew where he lived.  At last, Simba came across someone who pointed and told him, “There on top of the mountain is the new home of Soongoora the Hare.

Simba wasted no time in climbing up the path to the house, but to his disappointment, found Soongoora was not at home, and the house was empty. Therefore, he decided he would hide and when Soongoora and his wife came home, he would jump out and eat them both. Soon after, Soongoora and his wife came walking up the path to their new home.  The ever alert Soongoora noticed strange tracks going up the path and realizing it was probably Simba come looking for him, told his wife of his suspicions.

“I think it would be best if you went and stayed with our friends as I  believe Simba is looking for me!” he told her.

“Oh, no,” she said, “My place is with my husband.  I will stay with you, come what may!”

“No, you must go and stay with our friends - Go now!” but Soongoora was very touched and pleased by his wife’s display of loyalty, and he watched affectionately as she trudged reluctantly back down the path. As soon as she was gone, he followed the tracks up to the house. He suspected Simba was inside waiting for him, but was not absolutely certain.

He stopped to think of what to do, and having an idea shouted, “Good day to you house!  How do ye do?”

Hidden inside the house, Simba heard him, but not wanting to give any hint he was there, said nothing.

Then Soongoora shouted, “Well, this is very strange! Everyday I pass this house and shout ‘Good day to you house! How do ye do?' and the house always answers back, saying ‘Good day and how do ye do yourself?’ perhaps there is someone inside today?”

On hearing this, Simba thinking it would be suspicious if the house did not answer, shouted, “Good day and how do ye do yourself?”

With that, Soongoora laughed saying, “Ha, ha, Simba the Lion, now I know you are inside! Who has ever heard of a talking house?”

“Soongoora the Hare wait until I catch you!” roared the lion.

But Soongoora laughed and said, “Ha, ha, you are all huff and no puff, you will never catch me!”

Simba ran out the house and gave chase, but Soongoora easily out paced him, laughing as he ran. Simba soon grew out of breath and knew he had been beaten. Therefore, he mustered all his pride and dignity and walked in his most stately fashion back to the calabash tree. Lying down and falling asleep in its shade, he vowed to have nothing more to do with Soongoora the tricky hare.

In April 2013, zteve t evans launched his first blog that focused on legends, myths and folktales from around the world at Under the influence!. This has has grown steadily receiving visitors from 200 countries around the world so far. He has published a Kindle ebook, Havelock the Dane:Hero-King of Two Realms and has contributed  articles to the #FolkloreThursday website regularly since its launch and haunts Twitter here @ztevetevans

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff


Sly crafty, old magpie.
They steal things.
Shiny things...
‘Sly, crafty old magpie,’ grandma said. She smiled, and we watched wide eyed as she smiled her hundred-times grin; each crease in her face beaming another curve; sideways, upside down.

‘They steal you know.’ We watched her reach up to the tufts of twigs in the apple tree, blinded by the sun. We ducked from it as she strained to the glints.

‘Shiny things.’

The chitter of the monochrome magpies heightened as she pulled out tarnished silver and broken pieces of necklaces and handed them to our wide-eyed, wide hands.

‘Five for silver, six for gold. Do you know that on the other side of the earth, magpies don’t chatter, but flute? And they don’t steal, they swoop down and attack your eyes.’

We flinched. Grandma’s stories. Silver, gold, secrets, violence. Keeps you meek and the world magic, keeps you safe, keeps you fed your supper with no complaints, and in bed by eight.

Grandma winked at us, and we stepped back as the bickering chutter of magpies scattered in a shimmer of eye aching blue and ebony.

‘Time for tea girls.’
Over our bread and jam, grandma taught us the full rhyme. We ran upstairs after supper to the attic to sit cross legged on the floor and face each other. We were captivated by these thoughts of silver and gold and the secret lives of magpies.

‘So when you see two magpies, it’s good luck?’

‘Yes, because they’re married.’

‘What do you think a magpie wedding is like?’

We are momentarily lost, thinking about this.

‘Well I think they have to bring silver and gold.’

‘What sort? In sort of thread and material? Or piles of coins? Or goblets?’

We ponder again.

‘Coins have got to be hard for magpies to carry around. Maybe silks they can tie to their ankles like streaming ribbons. And thin pendants they can carry in their beaks. But what about the bad luck?’

‘Well, if one is alone, it means his wife has died.’

‘Or her husband.’

‘But why is it bad luck for three for a girl?’

This is troubling. Are we bad luck too; double bad luck? Were we not supposed to be born? We stare at each other seeking comfort in the endlessly renewing fascination of our matching faces. We are more accustomed to each other’s face than our own.

‘Maybe it’s more simple. It’s just a married pair, plus one.’

We look at the floor, doubtful, and tug our skirts in thought. Then a chitter by the window disturbs us, and we skip up to lean out of the sash from grandma’s attic and watch the magpies going to bed.

Grandma combs our hair into bunches which we hate, and we go out into the lane. We skip along holding hands, reciting ‘one for sorrow, two for joy.’ We stop every time we see magpies to count them and whenever we see a solitary one in its white waistcoat and shiny black jacket, we remember to shout, ‘good morning Mr Magpie, how’s your wife?’ We alternate this with ‘Mrs’ and ‘husband,’ to make sure we’re fair.

A man stops to watch us throwing bread to the magpies.

‘They could be your witch familiars!’ he laughs, while grandma frowns. ‘Those two look the same. Just like you two.’
We don’t really know what a familiar is, but we like the sound of it.
Next door had a cat. It used to chase the magpies, and we laughed to see ten of them see it off; ‘what’s ten magpies grandma?’ ‘ten for a surprise!’ and the cat slunk off to sulk. Grandma told us other versions and used to chase us when we saw ‘eight for a kiss!’ but it always ended up with the devil somehow.
‘Are magpies evil?’ we ask each other. We’re not sure.
‘But it’s always two for joy.’ We are calmed. Whether three is for a girl or a funeral, the two of us are always for good luck.
We go into the forest at night. We planned it for weeks like a midnight feast, like a treasure hunt. We would find the home of the magpies and bring back everything they stole. We imagined reuniting tearful princesses with their jewels, and we would be heroes and be rewarded. It felt a bit like a betrayal of the magpies, but maybe we never thought we’d really steal their treasure. We just wanted to see it, shining and heaped up with the magpies dancing round it.
We went into the forest at night.
We went into the forest.
We were afraid in the dark, but we held hands and took turns being the bravest. We reminded ourselves that there are no bears and wolves; those mindless savages that can’t be reasoned with or be moved by two little girls in the woods. We were not lost, we marked two notches (two for joy) in a tree every time we changed direction. '

Into the forest.

The moon is half full exactly and we can see the ghostly outline of its shadowed half. Black and white, a bit like a magpie. It’s a cool night, but not as cold as winter and we have our jumpers on. The forest is thick and shudders around us, leaves whisper, and we tighten hands. We follow a crook in the path into a clearing.

And here is the Magpie King and all his court, resplendent in black and white, the green blue shimmers of their feathered coats gleam in the light from a vast pile of silver and gold heaped before him, and all the other magpies skip and flap around. The sound is deafening and the movement of black and white, white and black dizzying until all color and shapes break down and become each other, identical twins, and we stop pretending to be brave now. The Magpie Court has us in its beak.

When the Magpie King steps forward, we see his silver chain of office resting on his white breast and there are gold ribbons streaming from his legs. Behind is his throne in giddy opal and amethyst, and there are pillars framing it in emerald and gold, like the moon floating in the forest. When he speaks, it is the corvid call and chatter.

‘What two little girls dare to leave their beds in the middle of the night to wander my forest?’

We look at each other. No heroic plans of returning treasure now. We speak up.

‘We wanted to admire your beautiful court. We wanted to see your silver and gold.’

We wanted to tell the lonely magpies not to be sad and give them company.

‘So you wanted to gawp at my riches, not bring any?’ the king squawks. The talons on his feet gleam and his beak is razor sharp. His eyes widen and the rage swells his huge wings.

We shuffle awkwardly. We apologize. We beg to be allowed to go forth from that place and return again with gifts for the magpies.

‘No,’ the King’s voice ratchets. ‘Thieves fear thievery most of all.’ He circles us, inspecting us both, our bunches, our socks, our jumpers, his wings barring us from the rest of the forest. ‘You have seen our secret to never be told. Now I need a bargain to be sure you won’t steal our secrets or our treasure.’ And he lunges for us and drags at us, and all the magpies peck and push and the world is black and white and sharp and we are pulled apart for the first time in our life.

It always ends with the devil somehow.

‘Bring back treasure,’ the king commands. ‘Before you can leave here together.’

I run alone through the forest.
Our eyes are both stinging, we know, and our throats both breathless and shut; we both feel the empty air at our side, but I am so cold in the forest.

Back home I slam through the door sobbing and empty drawers – I have become magpie eyed for shiny things. I scoop up teaspoons, clocks, small figurines, I steal granddad’s watch and grandma’s wedding rings and pearl earrings from the painted china pots she keeps on her dresser.

Out again into the night, I run with these offerings for the magpie king to pay for my sister back again.
Crafty magpie, grandma said. Sly old bird.

Back into the clearing, there are no birds; no opal amethyst throne, no court, no sister. I lay down with my bag of offerings and wait. I watch the moon sink and the sky fade from black to white. I wait until I get hungry, and I get cold, and I stay waiting. I wait alone for days with the seven-magpie secret.

Crafty old magpies. They steal things.

In the grey dawn, a single magpie drops onto the branch of the dead oak above me. It chatters mournfully.

One for sorrow.
Chris Collins used to write on her narrowboat in between teaching and Morris dancing. Now she writes in a burning room in Australia in between trying to spot kangaroos and Morris dancing. She takes inspiration from the powerful beauty of nature from whatever was out of the hatch of her narrowboat, to the bush of Australia where she currently lives. These are all melded into magical stories or poems with themes of folk culture, fairy stories and pagan ritual. Website:christinaelizabethcollins.co.uk

Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff