Flash Fairy Tales
Edited by Megan Larson
This column combines two literary traditions, the fairy tale and flash fiction. Flash fiction is an unusually short story form, usually at least under 1,000 words, and often under 500. Flash fiction can be a demanding format to work in, but its size makes it wonderfully useful for publishing. These flash stories will all be fairy tale or children story retellings, and would probably be best appreciated if readers are familiar with the original tales behind the retelling. Of course, with so many cultural traditions among the members of Elfwood, this is not always possible, and so is not a requirement.
We'd love to see your stories -- be sure to take a look at the submissions guidelines below before sending anything in.
The Woman and the Rhubarb
by Kasey Hanson
Once upon a time, in an enchanted forest, the sort absolutely teeming with pumpkin coaches, talking wolves and frogs that, against all evidence to the contrary, claim to be princes, there lived an old woman. Now this old woman had once been, surprise, a young woman, yet for some reason unbeknownst to the womanís woefully confused parents or the rest of mankind, the woman had never bought into the whole ďmarry Prince CharmingĒ thing. Not only was the name rather unoriginal, but most of the Princes werenít actually all that charming. And since the level-headed young woman wanted to neither caper around the forest in a red cloak, lie in an enchanted sleep nor become an understudy in the TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES THEATER COMPANY, LIMITED, her parents were quite at a loss. But the industrious young woman soon left of her own accord and, as quests were quite respectable things to pursue, her parents breathed a sigh of relief.
The young woman traveled far and wide. She crossed several oceans, climbed multiple mountains and cavorted through forest meadows, yet she did not find the object of her search. Several times, she asked passing princes, yet as princes are more than usually dense specimens of men, and had refused to ask directions, they too were lost. On more than one occasion, the young woman was forced to run ahead and warn the waiting damsel and dragon that the prince would be late for his scheduled appointment.
After seven months of searching, the young woman found herself in a complex of caves surrounded by hundreds of short hairy men. After several confused explanations, the woman realized that she had wandered into a dwarven mining strike. It seemed that although the Stupendous Seven of Snow White fame had made their fortunes, their fellow dwarves still toiled away in the mines.
Suddenly struck by an idea, the young woman leaped onto the nearest box of strike posters and called for volunteers for her new business venture. There was, the young woman claimed, a demand for enchanted produce: magic peas, beanstalks and the like. Dwarves, as everyone knows, have notoriously black thumbs, and consequently, the young womanís proposal had them laughing until they cried. They loaned her some money for her journey and soon had her on her way, telling her to go back to Prince Charming and her dragon-guarded turret.
Not the type to remain discouraged, the young woman continued her quest for an able-bodied labor force, and hit gold with second-born sons. Always overlooked when their older brothers marry the princesses and their younger brothers, infamously lazy, discover golden gooses and make their fortunes, second-born sons were in desperate need of jobs and low on morale. The young womanís proposal was immediately accepted, and the wildly successful FAIRY-TALE FOODSTUFFS, INC. was born.
Decades passed, and the now middle-aged womanís company grew. She had branches in the farthest reaches of the world, and was the preferred manufacturer of magic vegetables of the majority of witches, jealous mothers and boys named Jack. Yet for some time, the woman had felt oddly troubled, as if there were something she was still meant to do.
Oddly enough, in the midst of her soul-searching, a slumped and dejected looking huntsman walked past the womanís corporate headquarters. Spurred by some fickle fancy, the woman lit a candle, went out to meet him and asked him what had him so depressed. The tale he told her was filled with woe and heartache. Some days ago, his wife, pregnant with their first child, had had a sudden desire for spinach and rhubarb salad. Fortunately, or unfortunately, their next-door neighbor was a wizard who had the most succulent and delicious vegetable garden. Now this wizard, with whom the huntsman and his wife were friends, had offered vegetables to the couple whenever they might want some. The man, afraid that his wife might literally go mad, therefore felt permitted to take some spinach and rhubarb from the wizardís garden for his spouse. He simply hopped over the fence dividing their two lawns and plucked a few choice specimens from the wizardís rather large garden.
However, it seemed that that weekend, the wizard had planned to enter his produce in the county Horticulture Festival. The huntsman had unwittingly plucked the very veggies the wizard was going to enter. Understandably upset, the wizard insisted that the man replace her spinach and rhubarb so that he didnít lose the competition. However, as the huntsman and his wife had already eaten the unfortunate vegetables, that solution was impossible. Overcome with guilt, the man sent his wife to live with her mother so that he could focus on the problem without any distractions (His wife had the annoying tendency to get lost in the forest and get eaten by the wolves she met there. In fact, the huntsman met his wife when he saved her and her grandmother from just such a beast).
The woman sympathized with the manís plight and offered him the best FAIRY-TALE FOODSTUFFS, INC. had to offer. Overjoyed, the huntsman accepted and invited the woman home to meet the wizard whom she had saved. After accepting his offer, the woman gathered her suitcases and let the huntsman lead her home.
The wizard, it turns out, was delighted with the replacement vegetables and was as interested in vegetables as the woman, often spent hours with the woman discussing farming techniques and soil density and other such topics interesting only to gardeners. The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months and the womanís visit lengthened until no one could remember a time when she hadnít been there. Years later, the then plump and wrinkled old wizard turned to the then white-haired and smiling old woman while both were pulling weeds in the vegetable garden and asked if she would marry him. Beaming, the old woman accepted, and they lived happily ever after.
Needless to say, their vegetables always won first place at the Horticulture Festival.
Flash Fairy Tales are retellings of classic fairy tales or beloved children's stories.
There are a few guidelines to remember for submissions:
* 1000 words or less
* Fairy Tale Retellings or Reimaginings
*In the email that you submit, please include the name of the original fairy tale on which your story is based.
* Stories should be proofread and edited before they are submited. Stories with lots of errors simply will be rejected.
* Woodworks retains first publication rights. This means your story should not appear on your shelf, on your website, or anywhere else until we've either accepted and published it or rejected it, or four months have gone by from your original submission without a reply.
* If your story is accepted and published, we'd like to ask that you wait until next month's publication before having the story appear somewhere else.
* Stories can be sent in at any time. However, only stories received before the first of the month will be considered for publication in that month's issue.
Send submissions to
. Questions can be directed to our contact form.
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