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Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French

Metaphorosis January 2019Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake.

She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong.

Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers.

And yet… There was something wrong with the air. It didn’t smell right.

She carried on towards the way out. Now and then she stopped, sure she’d heard a noise, that someone would discover her trespassing at any moment.

Eventually, she came to a set of doors that were not her exit but instead an entrance to the stairwell, leading both up to the higher floors of the college, and down into the basement. Tendrils of smoke crept out from underneath the doors.

She pushed one open out of curiosity, only to find another person on the other side of it, slowly coming up the stairs.

They both paused.

The man opposite looked like a student, who ought to know in an instant that she was a fraud and sound the alarm for intruders…

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Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French
Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong. Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers. And yet… There was something …
Read it "Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French"
Five Star Review – Alyssa N. Vaughn
“We need to get serious about losing weight.” my mother says as she tosses the empty pizza boxes next to the recycling bin. “I beg your pardon?” I manage to sputter, following behind her to break the boxes down into smaller pieces that will actually fit inside the bin. My toddler, Johnny, is in bed already, but my mother insists that we have “girl time” at the end of each one of her unannounced visits. …
Read it "Five Star Review – Alyssa N. Vaughn"
The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner
Christmas Eve, 2014, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada When Craig came into the living room with two steaming mugs of hot mulled cider, Adam had already moved the small pile of Christmas gifts from under the tree to the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table. The room smelled of wood smoke and pine and now cinnamon and apples. A two-storey window showed the deep blue Lake silvered by the moon under a black sky. The moon, …
Read it "The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner"
Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek
The prince was old before his time. Candlelight from ballroom chandeliers softened the gray in his hair. He whirled yet another eligible young lady through a minuet, his movements practiced and sure, but he limped, round-shouldered. He was not yet twenty-five. “The hall looks so elegant,” the lady simpered between steps. “Like a winter wonderland.” “My mother’s idea.” Roderick smiled because he should. “She knew a ball would melt the midwinter cold.” The queen mother …
Read it "Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek"

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It came from R.W.W. Greene

R.W.W. Greene’s story “The Stars Don’t Lie” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 29 June 2018. “The Stars Don’t Lie” started out because I wanted to write about someone overcoming a disability. I teach high school, and most school days I visit a little coffee shop run by kids in the special-education program. It’s one of the best parts of my day. The idea of a human attending a centaur school came from that. Lesa, …

A question for Alyssa N. Vaughn

Q: Duckbilled platypus – result of divine distraction, or alternate universe crossover?

A: So the platypus belongs to the mammalian subclass Prototheria, which sounds like a kingdom from World of Warcraft and most of the animals that belong to that group are extinct. It’s pretty much the platypus and the echidna, and both of them are weird as crap. Did you know that the echidna doesn’t have nipples? It has milk patches on its skin instead. So does the platypus. And the platypus is one of the only venomous mammals. It only produces its venom during the platypus mating season. What the heck.

Honestly, my favorite thing about the platypus is that it is one of several species that have hypothetically stopped evolving. They said “yup, being a venomous beaver-duck is totally working for me, y’all go on ahead” and that’s how we got platypi. They are nature’s old man, grumbling about these species today, with their placentas and their nipples and their non-beak-faces and their no-venom-producing-claws. The platypus wants you to stop trying to explain Snapchat to it and go outside once in a while, for goodness sake.

I may be a platypus.

I’m really stuck on the subclass though. “Your quest will take you to Prototheria, therein you must seek the strange creature of venomous claw and hideous beak, very nearly the last of its kind…”


Alyssa N. Vaughn’s story “Five Star Review”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 11 January 2019.
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A question for Amelia Dee Mueller

Q: How do pets/children/significant others help/hinder your process?

A: I keep the part of me that’s a writer a bit secluded from my family and friends, and they don’t really hear from that part unless I have a piece that’s done and ready to be torn apart by the real world. By then I’ve built some armor around the work and can take any comments they might have, good or bad. If I let people whose opinions I highly value see a piece before it’s ready, I wouldn’t be able to take any of their criticism, no matter how constructive. Strangers’ comments, however, I can take all day long and feel very little personal affiliation and see the room for improvement their negative feedback can bring. I think this comes from my journalism degree, because I didn’t have a choice as an undergrad but to let strangers eat up my words and spit them out again. I personally found that my journalism instructors were tougher than the creative writing teachers I worked under for my minor, but they all made me a better writer in the end.

The only thing that might hinder the creative writer in me is my day job, which I love, but it’s hard to sit down in the evening to write and mentally switch from the kind of writing I do for work to the kind of writing I do for me.

But my cat generally lets me work in peace, because if I’m writing it means I’m not forcing her to cuddle with me. She, similar to lots of great writers, needs her space.


Amelia Dee Mueller’s story “The Lightkeeper’s Wife
in Metaphorosis Friday, 1 February 2019.
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About Helen French

Helen French is a writer, book hoarder, TV-soaker-upper, digital project executive and biased parent who grew up in Merseyside and now lives in Hertfordshire, UK. You can find her on Twitter at @helenfrench.


Helen French’s story “Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 18 January 2019.
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Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek

The prince was old before his time. Candlelight from ballroom chandeliers softened the gray in his hair. He whirled yet another eligible young lady through a minuet, his movements practiced and sure, but he limped, round-shouldered. He was not yet twenty-five. “The hall looks so elegant,” the lady simpered between steps. “Like a winter wonderland.” “My mother’s idea.” Roderick smiled because he should. “She knew a ball would melt the midwinter cold.” The queen mother …

It came from A.C. Worth

A.C. Worth’s story “The Tapestry” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 22 June 2018. “The Tapestry” has its origins in the idea that someday we might live in a world containing organizations who maintain/control its timeline. The creation of St. Clare’s (patron saint of television) and St. Benedict’s (patron saint of history) monasteries, the Actuator’s guild and other medieval elements were inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, which contains images from the Norman conquest of England …