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When The Shoe Won’t Fit

When the Shoe Won’t Fit By Margaret McGaffey Fisk   Tiptoe pushed the cradle, her stiff overalls rustling with the movement.  Her large, flat foot almost crushed the delicate vines making up the cradle’s form.  “Hush, little one.  I’m here.” She looked down at the cherry red face of her newest charge and frowned.  Tiptoe could feel heat radiating from the infant.  She’d never seen a fairy grow hot before, or turn red.  The warmth pulled her closer, so different from the chill most fairies radiated. Stroking his face, she cooed at the baby and rocked the cradle in time to...

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These Hands

These Hands by Shaun Ryan   I wait in shadows, head bowed.  Outside, in the sun’s blessed light, the crowd roars its delight as some man or beast meets their end.  Steel clashes against steel, a song that sings in my blood.  My heart quickens as brass trumpets blow a glorious fanfare.  The prince has arrived. My nephew, Galen, who serves as my arms bearer, hands me a ribbon of crimson silk.  He is my brother’s son, orphaned now, my charge. Standing, I whisper a final prayer to my grandfathers and tie the fabric around my brow.  The crowd loves this minor affectation.  It is part of my character, my trademark, but serves a practical purpose as well.  When the heat of battle is upon me, it will prevent the sweat of my efforts from blinding me at the worst moment.  I check my sword belt and scabbard, making certain they are secure.  The battered leather greaves receive the same careful scrutiny, as do my boots.  The sword remains sheathed.  I have no doubt as to the weapon’s state of repair.  It is a part of me, handed down from father to son since the beginnings of my family’s long, bloody history. Far down the dim corridor, a gate crashes open, stout oaken planks meeting ancient stone with force.  The booming echo rolls past on a breath of hot...

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