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A decade of shavings covered the floor of Lewys’s carpentry shop. He didn’t bother sweeping any more, although he probably should — wood without magic produces a drab dust that desiccates the throat, shrivels the lungs. He coughed and gulped from his flask, stepping back from his work. Carving the finishing scrollwork on yet another hope chest for the latest bride-to-be in town did nothing to fill his own hollowness.
“Wait for me,” she had whispered in the wytchen grove so many years ago, her berry-scented breath caressing his cheek, “I will come back to you.” She’d taken magic with her, in the wytchen dust glinting in her sunlit hair as she waved goodbye from the newly-carved wagon. She took his heart as well, but left hope in its place.
Over the years, hope had drained into loneliness, empty and aching, present in the sound of his saw’s jagged edge, the taste of his own cough-strained, stale breath, the starkness of his bedroom above the shop. No chance of a bride now, for him, in this small town where he had spurned all coy glances sent his way, waiting for his true love to return.
He wished he hadn’t waited.
Still coughing, Lewys threw open the window shutters. He gulped fresh air. Delighted cries of children entered with the breeze.
A pageant wagon creaked into the town square outside his shop, horseless, shedding curls of magic onto the cobblestones from its warped wytchen beams. Children dropped coins into a box attached to the wagon’s carriage and scrambled for seats. Eyes widening in shock, Lewys unconsciously dug his fingernails into the windowsill. The wagon’s wood was peeling, its stage floor crooked, but it was still the same one. The only one.
Wytchen Wood – Lori J. Fitzgerald
Sharpington’s Coffers – Current Score 49.8 – Erik Goldsmith
The Cure for Cancer – Ryan Fitzpatrick
The Wife of Fabian Vitalik – Mariah Montoya
Q: What hero (of any gender) would you name your child after, if we lived in a society with names like that?
A: Princess Eilonwy! As a boy, I would sit in the corner of my hometown’s public library in the summer and read and reread the Prydain Chronicles, always wishing I could be as brave and creative and self-knowing as Princess Eilonwy of Llyr.
Mari Ness spent much of her life wandering the world and reading. This, naturally, left her only able to eat chocolate, snark about popular culture, and occasionally write. She lives in central Florida, with a scraggly rose garden, large trees harboring demented squirrels, and two adorable cats.
Joshua Phillip Johnson writes, reads, and teaches in a small town in Minnesota. His house is 100-years-old this year and probably doesn’t have any ghosts in it. He can be found online at