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 …

Family Tree – Lindsey Duncan

“Halett,” Rithshara called out of her dressing chamber, “where is my youngest son?” She pondered the crimson headdress versus the black, and decided on the former, which didn’t pinch. There was no reason menace couldn’t be comfortable. “Serving his unjust punishment in the underworld,” Halett replied. The dark, wiry man with the odd eyes — one brown, one blue — was clever, but occasionally, he tried too hard. She frowned. “My youngest living son, Halett. …

I Will Go Gently – Susan McDonough-Wachtman

They sat in their deck chairs, watching their son fish. “Has he caught one?” she asked, gently rocking. Walter squinted out at the lake. “I don’t think so.” “I think he did.” “Did you see it?” Ellen had the sight, but to Walter’s constant exasperation, she made no distinction between things she saw and things she saw. “No.” He looked at her. Her eyes were on her knitting. “How could you know, Ellen? You’re not …

Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon

25 December, being the Birth-day of Isaac Newton, Physicist: Madam, Your stepdaughter has arrived and been installed in the tower chamber, per your instructions. This has already led to the predicted difficulties, as my dinosaurian bulk cannot fit within the narrow tower. When she refused to descend for supper this evening, I was reduced to flying outside her window and poking my face in. I found her combing her long hair, which raises my second …

Graveyard – Arlen Feldman

The crew had already started calling it the graveyard. If it was a graveyard, it would be hard to choose a bleaker site for it, on a planet pretty much made up of bleak sites. I walked as close as I dared to the edge of the cliff, and looked down over a thousand meters of sharp gray crags spreading out all around under a dark, thunderous sky. I felt the wind tugging at me, …

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, and I Love You – L’Erin Ogle

The cave sits in a hillside, with its mouth yawed wide open. It is the kind of cave suited for raising the dead. Shadows move across dark spaces as the witch drags the shattered spines of small trees across the entrance. She stacks them high, leaving a small space to wedge herself through. Soon a fire is lit, its dull glow chasing away the lingering shadows. The fire flickers, and smoke curls in ribbons towards …