Book Review: Dreamways of the Iroquois

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dreams, iroquois, shamanism, dream symbolism

I recently picked up a copy of Dreamways of the Iroquois by Robert Moss at Powell’s when we were traveling through Portland, and it was so fascinating to me that I had to share it with you. You know I’m a voracious reader, and that often means speed reading through things where I’m looking for a particular nugget of wisdom or immersing myself in the style of a fiction writer. This book isn’t one of those. It’s like reading Rumi. It’s so densely packed with inspiring stories that I have taken it quite slowly and enjoyed every bit of it.

One of the best things about this book is that it will NOT leave you comfortable. It contains dozens of stories of Native American tribes honoring and acting out the dreams of their members in order to assure or prevent their manifestation, and sometimes… stuff got weird. I love reading about how people interpret their dreams and how they affect their waking lives, and to see it played out in communal traditions like this that even go beyond prophecies for the tribe is amazing stuff.

As a writer, I love books like this because it both helps me learn more about shamanic dreaming, shapeshifting and the like, which is a research interest of mine, and it gives me ideas for stories. If you like Carlos Castaneda’s tales of studying with a shapeshifting shaman, or David Abram’s Becoming Animal, I think you’ll really love Dreamways of the Iroquois. I would tell you more, but that’s really all there is to it. Solid book, fascinating content, great ideas and history woven together. Loved it.

Disclosure: I am not in any way affiliated with this book or its author. This is a voluntary and unpaid review and all opinions are my own.

Fail Fast, Grow Fast, Write Slow

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dreaming-novelist-banner-1.jpg

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I have been working and not blogging much this year, so I wanted to check in with a little update, for those of you following along or waiting for the next book. Six months with nothing published: that’s a while for me!

Not too long ago, life was a little nuts. Many of you already know the details so I’ll spare you the long list of crises my family was dealing with, but I wanted to check in and tell you if you’re not with me on Facebook: all is finally well. Life goes on. I have been abundantly blessed with the love and support of hundreds of friends old and new. You all mean the world to me. Thank you for your friendship. My family is doing very well in every way, and things are starting to feel like a very happy ending.

Best friends for nearly two decades, and now there are spouses and kids at the holidays! I am so blessed. Love you guys.

I’m working on three books simultaneously as we head into a new year. That may not sound like “write slow,” but the truth is I’m slowing down and trusting a bit more in life. It’s doing my writing some favors, and my peace of mind. Currently, I’m editing a book about dreams bleeding into waking reality, writing a ghost story set in Detroit, and trying to figure out how four witches living outside of time can interact with each other in non-linear ways while fighting over a magical island. I’ve got some things to keep track of, but who has a better job than this girl right here? Everything is awesome. I’ll get these books out to you as soon as I am happy with how they’re shaping up.

Thank you so much for all your support of my books and my transformation and healing these past few years. I love you all. I’ll be back soon with something weird we can talk about over coffee that none of us really understand. I’m currently studying the parallels between the holistic intuitive way chaos theory says one has to experience the rough geometry and fractal shape of space-time in order to fully understand the nature of the universe, and the corresponding holistic intuitive paths of shamanic visionary states that relate to the mythological and symbolic structures of storytelling and spiritual visions. And stuff.:) So we’ll have lots to talk about that will turn into cool stories, friends. Have a beautiful holidays, and I’ll talk to you online soon. Much love to you and your families.

To Experience Wholeness, We Have To See Brokenness

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Laura K. CowanMany of you know that I survived and repressed well over a dozen traumas and near-death experiences. I grew up for twenty years in chronic pain of all kinds looking for an explanation for how much danger I always seemed to be in, despite being told I imagined it. This childhood rocketed me into out-of-body experiences and altered states of consciousness, where I started seeing angels save my life and having dreams of the future and visions of heaven. I grew up with one foot in heaven, essentially, because I was in too much pain to stay in my body and was being brainwashed to believe I made it all up and that I was the crazy one.

The process of healing this kind of trauma is long and so difficult I couldn’t begin to explain, and it tends to suck me back into the chaos when I get into the details, so as I emerge from the recovery process I have been trying to find ways to focus instead on what opportunities this beginning offers me for the rest of my life. I am focusing on what I can offer the world that creates a portal to the amazing experiences I’ve had of seeing into spiritual reality, to help others find healing through the connections I’ve found with the Divine, with nature, and with other people and animals. Because connectedness and that feeling of wholeness you get when you touch the hand of God, or are told you are loved beyond measure by another human being, or are accepted despite your flaws, is the healing our hearts all need. It’s what we’re all looking for, and there’s good reason for that.

I now feel myself skimming quietly along the bottom of the ocean of the emotions and trauma I’ve been through. You wouldn’t believe the nightmares that have plagued me my entire life. Until now. Now it’s all different. I feel almost as if I’ve died. Everything is so calm and full of joy. My life is blooming in a way I never dreamed it could. I understand how everything is connected, and how even this difficult start to life is a gift, allowing me to help others and find happiness myself at a much younger age than most people. In a sense, my soul was relentless in its pursuit of the truth, and I found it. I’m free, and I’ll never be lost or alone again, having experienced the abundant support of the world around me.

Lake Michigan, Petoskey, Music of Sacred Lakes, Odawa, nature writing, spiritual fiction, speculative supernatural, Thornton Wilder, Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Nick Adams Stories

I saw a video of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” today, the song that was playing when I felt safe for the first moment in my life a few years ago, when I finally got rid of the PTSD and hyper-vigilance that kept me alive as a kid. And looking over the ocean in the video, I could see the spiritual guides who have shepherded me to healing truths, the angels who accompany me everywhere (don’t worry: I have thoroughly investigated the possibility I’m mentally ill or hallucinating. I’m not.). I could see for the first time the beauty that lies at the heart of my abusers, even though their lives are a ruin. There is beauty at the core of everything, and in that discovery we find true healing and peace. I’ve found wholeness. I think that’s what I’ve been exploring and trying to share with you through my stories. Connection. Healing. Love.

I think that in order to experience wholeness with God or the universe, we first have to see the brokenness in ourselves and the people around us, and discover that it isn’t the final word. Duality, the ability to say “this is me, and this is my arm, and that is a deer, all separate from me the observer,” is necessary for our consciousness to observe anything about the world and to experience the nature of God, or the energy life force behind the world. And unity is essential to reality as well, for holding it all together, the tug we feel that says it’s essential that we understand we are part of a bigger whole that hangs together somehow, that we belong, that we are loved and accepted and have a home. It is the energy beneath matter, the object of superstring theory and m field theory, the connectedness religious and artistic mystics have tried to illustrate for humanity for millennia.

Both duality and unity are necessary for us to perceive connectedness and harmony in the world.

My early life gave me a crash course in disconnectedness–what happens when people feel they aren’t loved, don’t deserve to exist, run from shame, and don’t believe love is real. The effects of that are real and devastating; don’t think I’m discounting that for a second. It was people who didn’t want to face what happened to me or what they did to me who said it wasn’t real or didn’t matter, or that I made it all up. Disconnectedness is real. It’s a choice inherent in our free will, our ability to choose love or not. Without choice, love doesn’t exist either. Disconnectedness almost killed me or drove me out of my mind with confusion about what was real. But connectedness is also real. Unity and love are also real, and I believe it is the much deeper truth, served by disconnectedness and fear the way the devil serves God, pointing people away from what they don’t want toward what they do.

One of the desires of my heart: my stunningly beautiful back yard.

My childhood pointed me away from disconnectedness and straight to the heart of God, whoever s/he turns out to be. It’s an adventure. It’s a love story. It’s an endless rabbit hole I keep falling down, as I dare a little bit more to open myself up. Daring is not easy for me, having been raised by a narcissistic sociopath psychopath borderline who forced me to open myself up mentally and emotionally and then sucker punched me at every opportunity and told me it never happened. I know it’s not easy for you either. Some of you have been through even worse, and even the little wounds bite deep. But you can dare, even when you’re scared. Keep trying, loves. Just take one more step in the right direction, toward love, today. No matter what, hang on to your ability to love. It’s the key to everything. In the end, love is all there is at the bottom of everything, and it will save you. I can’t explain, I can’t argue for it with logical words, because words don’t suffice, but I can tell you stories about what I’ve found, and invite you along on this adventure with me. I’m so so excited for you and what you’re going to find for your sore heart. It’s beauty all the way down, even through the darkness. Please come with me. I have someone you really have to meet, on the other side of all this.

Magical Realism: How Much Is Realism?

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Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost storyMagical realism: the books in which anything can be real. Flower petals miraculously falling from the sky, never-ending psychic bloodlines, rose gardens that spit up children’s bones. It’s easy to see why this magical genre is such a favorite among people who discover it, because anything can happen. It’s adventure not only forwards but sideways and slantways, as Willy Wonka would say. I discovered magical realism through the traditional writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges, but I stayed to devour the entire genre because… well because I’ve seen some weird things in my life and I want to know what other writers think is possible. If you’ve already found the magic of magical realism, I think you’ll agree. Because the little secret about magical realism, and writers in general, is that even though we can believe six impossible things before breakfast, often we secretly believe that whatever is happening in our stories really could happen somewhere, sometime. That’s inspiring to me, that other people can show me the crack in the universe to walk through to find Wonderland, you know? Even if it’s just a little piece of our hearts that holds out for that dreamy reality, it’s there. Another rabbit hole to drop down. For my post in this week’s Magical Realism Books Blog Hop, I’m going to tell you a few things that I’ve actually seen, that led me to a sort of magical realist worldview. And then you might understand why I write about houses that haunt their families with voices of their children from many different ages in the past, trees that act as portals to shamanic reality, and angels and demons who fight over the destinies of churches. Because I’ve seen it, and I want to show you a little crack in the universe that I found.

I’ve written on this blog and my Facebook page before about my experiences growing up dissociated, or partly out of my body, because of the trauma of nearly dying over a dozen times as a child. Among people who grow up like this, it is common to hear these stories. I can’t tell you how to interpret them for yourself, because reality seems to be so ineffable that everyone perceives things through their own worldview lens… but enough stalling. Here goes.

blog hop 2015 datesAfter years of seeing angels and demons fighting over whether I would live or die through accidents and illnesses and being physically attacked growing up, I finally sorted through why this had all happened to me and what was wrong and started recovering repressed memories for healing. This helped explain why I felt a constant anxiety about my safety and had never known why, and a very good healer helped me this way: she told me that in order to have space to move around in the world without constantly feeling like I had to keep myself safe at the level of my skin (as if danger were always right next to me), one thing I could do was to ask archangels to come and hold space for me so I could breathe a little easier and they could keep me safe. That would have sounded nuts to me, except I had already had archangel Raphael come to me and heal me of terrible migraines when someone prayed for me a decade previous, and the healing was instantaneous, permanent, and other people present for the prayer saw angels too, to confirm what I was feeling–like silver light was pouring through my head and down my back, healing everything.

I had already felt some invisible force prevent me from turning my head to check traffic when I was out on my own taking public transport at the age of nine across bad neighborhoods with only my siblings to supervise, and then saw angels rush in to stop a car that came within an inch of hitting me.

I had already seen demons walking through the house I grew up in, and heard them screaming at me that they had a right to be in a very dark building in Chicago that was kitty corner to my hotel where I stayed on vacation when I was twelve, where I saw a ghost in the closet–a little boy who had been locked in there somehow and cried all night long, scaring the hell out of me that I was left all alone to deal with this supernatural reality without adults who could understand.

So, what the heck, right? I had also already verified that I am not mentally unstable and was not hallucinating, thank God. Some people, particularly people who grow up dissociated because their bodies are too painful to live in, also commonly see these things, probably because they are living in a slightly different dimension of reality. Kind of like having one foot in heaven, asking for the check a little early. So it’s for this same reason that I was struggling as a writer who studies the symbolism of mythology and deities and such with the idea that angels might just be concepts. Because archangel Haniel is sort of the same as the goddess Hecate in association with intuition and the moon. So what if the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, commonly invoked to help with issues that are thematically associated with protection, messages from God, and healing, are just energies or concepts like many deities in eastern cultures seem to be sometimes? Engaging with a particular dynamic in the world?

Well, because I’m psychic, having grown up with an intuition developed like an athlete’s muscle from needing to constantly be on guard against the subtlest sign of danger. So when I called in these archangels and actually perceived in my mind’s eye that they showed up, I was distracted from the healing we were proceeding with when Raphael laughed at me from his position in the corner by the door.

“You should know I’m more than a concept,” he said. “I’ve already healed you once.”

 

Sonata & Fugue, psychological murder mystery, Laura K. Cowan, imaginative fiction

 

True, Raphael, that’s true.:) Maybe I write because I still can’t tell what’s real and what’s my mind trying to make sense of the world, after so many of these crazy experiences that were helpful to navigating my childhood but no less strange than the situations that precipitated them. But maybe it’s a crack in the universe, guys. Maybe it’s personified not just because I need it to be to understand it, but because there is a personified intelligence behind the universe, even if it doesn’t consist of an old guy in a bathrobe. Every time I peel back the layers I find the energy underlying matter, and the light flowing out from behind reality, but from within that light I hear a voice, and I see a face, and there is so much love and so much beauty that I couldn’t possibly describe it to you. That’s why I write what I do, and that’s the story from most anyone who has had a near-death experience, it seems. Whatever this world is made of, there’s no doubt in my mind it’s pure magic, and the more cracks we find, the more rabbit holes we drop down, the more overwhelmed with joy we will all be.

Pick up a magical realist book today, and walk through another crack. You never know where you’ll end up, but if my hundreds of experiences of this kind and those of other writers and explorers are any indication, you’ll end up somewhere better than where you are now. Adventure is calling you. Have fun, lovelies.:) Many blessings on your adventures. Tell me what you see when you get back.

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop. About twenty blogs are taking part in the hop. Over three days (29th – 31st July 2015) these blogs will be posting about magic realism. Please take the time to click on the button below to visit them and remember that links to the new posts will be added over the three days, so do come back to read more.

Suffering & Rest

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Suffering and Rest, It's Good To Be On Earth, Visions in Love and Rest, Laura K. Cowan, magical realism, spiritual fiction, shamanic storytelling, metaphysical fiction, fantasyGood morning, guys. I’ve got a   new book free on Kindle for a few days (out in paperback too in a couple weeks). It’s the seventh I’ve published and the last of the “yikes my childhood was terrifying and here’s the way through” books, where I offer what I’ve learned about how to hold on to love. I hope it blesses you.

Suffering & Rest is two stories about people deciding if they want to live or die, one who has lost everything and goes to a shaman, who instead of placating him with proverbs starts telling him strange stories about ghosts who play drinking games and the suffering of grass. The second story is about a young girl who wakes up in a garden and has to decide if she’s in a room in heaven or has been kidnapped by a psychopath. But then the flowers dust off a place for her to sit down and she wakes up drowning in the fountain and knows she needs to find answers and make a choice. I hope you enjoy these stories. Next up something a little lighter, I promise.:)❤ Blessings.

Get Suffering & Rest for FREE on Kindle.

Sonata & Fugue: And The Rose Garden Is Spitting Up Children’s Bones

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Sonata & Fugue, psychological murder mystery, Laura K. Cowan, imaginative fiction

I’ve got a really fun book coming out this week, and here’s a secret: you can pick it up on Amazon already! I just have to do a Goodreads giveaway and a few launch activities this week before its official release date April 15th. If you want to pick up a copy, the links are below, and it will be free on Kindle for a few days this week as well. I hope you like it! It’s by far the most adventurous book I’ve written so far, kind of what you would get if you put Alice Hoffman, John Crowley, and Gillian Flynn in a room and made them rewrite Agatha Christie’s cozy mysteries, I guess.:) Details below.

Sonata & Fugue [Available in Paperback and E-book]

A famous pianist disappears, leaving behind a bloody suicide note. Her therapist visits the family under the guise of grief counselor, but his motivations are ambiguous. Soon he finds himself helping investigate the family for not just one murder but two, three, four…. This is a family with secrets, which begin to spill out the edges when a prodigy’s dreams come back to haunt everyone she once loved, who didn’t love her very well in return. But nothing is quite as it seems in this fairytale cozy mystery set in modern L.A. The house begins to torture the family of pretend elites with voices from the past, the golf course is accused of eating the paparazzi, and the rose garden seems to be spitting up children’s bones. What has happened to the family Scoville? No one is helping poor Mr. John Thibodeau find the truth, not even the lovely late Kate Scoville herself, if she even knew which reality was real.

With this, her first mystery novel, Dreaming Novelist Laura K. Cowan is back bringing her unique inter-dimensional, magical realist twist to the classic cozy mystery. In part a bit like Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden, a touch like a classic Agatha Christie Poirot mystery, but still completely standing on its own, Sonata & Fugue is a rabbit hole sucking you down into a musical world of intrigue, mental illness, and betrayal, all with Laura K. Cowan’s signature imaginative touch. This book will remind you of all your favorite hauntings, and yet you’ve never read a ghost story quite like this.

Pick Your Poison

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Pick Your Poison, fairytale anthology, humor, fiction, fantasyWow, normally I like to write about whatever’s noodling around in my head, like the metaphysical nature of… everything. But lately I’ve been busting out one anthology after another. Here’s the final for the year, as far as I know. Pick Your Poison: A Faery Tale Therapy Anthology, is an anthology of humorous or dark takes on what happens when your favorite fairy tale characters close the book on their stories… and end up in therapy.:) I’ve got a story in here called “Baba Yaga No More,” a suburban twist on the Russian myth of the house with chicken feet and its very nasty owner. You can get it in Kindle or paperback on Amazon, in time for Christmas ordering. Thanks for all your support! I’ve just finished writing a new book but changed my plans a bit. Four more books to write in quick succession, then I’ll get back to publishing the next two I have nearly ready for you early in 2015. I’ll be back soon with more info. Also I’ve got a new project in the works to create a more oral storytelling version of what was going to be my Modern Story Project this year. Be back soon with details. We’re traveling here and there and everywhere for the holidays. Blessings and be well!

Happy Halloween, Good Puritans ;)

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Sins of the Past, historical horror, horror anthology, supernatural horror, Good Puritan, Laura K. CowanHappy Halloween, everybody! In honor of the horrific holiday, I have a story out in a new historical horror anthology called Sins of the Past. My story is titled “Good Puritan,” a short story about possessed Puritans burning each other at the stake.

Religion plus supernatural horror. Go figure.😉 Go buy the book and rot your teeth, stat!

Purchase Sins of the Past

Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood — The Gold Witch, An Original Fairytale by Laura K. Cowan

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Hi guys! I’ve got an original fairytale, The Gold Witch, out in a new anthology called Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood. The paperback just came out last night, and I wanted to share my story with you here, because it means a lot to me. Also, I think you’ll really like some of the other stories in the anthology, so go pick up a copy for Gothtober or Christmas. I hope you’re having a great month. Blessings.

–Laura

Darkly Never After Fairytales

The Gold Witch
By Laura K. Cowan

From Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood

Once upon a time there was a boy made entirely of gold coins. Gold coins stacked to make legs and arms, a gold coin for a belly button, and particularly bright and big gold coins for eyes. He tried not to move too much in his cage, to keep from shaking himself to pieces. There was no reason to move around anyway, even if he could. The world outside his enclosure was dark and cold. Rock walls surrounded his hanging iron box, and the witch who fed him only came to see him once a day, when she would light a fire in the next room to warm him.
Every night the witch would come to the boy, and she brought him sumptuous feasts. The boy loved the sweets in particular, sticky rolls so light and fluffy they tasted of hardly more than sweet morning air. But the witch extracted a price from the boy. Every night she came to his cage, she demanded that he give her one of his gold coins.
“But they are all I am made of,” he protested. “What will I do if I lose the pieces of myself?”
“I need them,” the witch insisted. “I am dying, poor boy, and your gold coins are my medicine. I melt them in my cauldron at midnight each night and pour the paste onto my face, and it improves my health. You see?”
And the boy made of gold could see. The witch had a face that glowed with a golden light. She was beautiful, despite her black and tattered robes, and grew more beautiful and healthy-looking every day. The boy gave her a coin when she asked, though he had a rattling feeling in his middle about it. He did not want her to die, if she was sick. And she insisted that he was the only one who could save her life. And he did not want to be alone.
“That is why I have to keep you in this cage,” she told him, “so that we can be together and you can be safe from gold thieves until I recover and we can go away from here.” He believed her, because he could not remember a time when he had not been in the cage. It did feel safer than the dark cave around him. He gave her the coins, because he could not remember ever not giving her his coins. He worried sometimes. His legs seemed a little thin. But he could not remember if they had once been thicker, made of more stacks of coins than now, or not. The cave and the cage was all he knew and all he remembered.
The witch became more beautiful, and the boy became thinner. One day the boy began to count. He had to stop thinking of the witch’s sickness and her beautiful face in order to do it. She seemed unhappy with his lack of attention when she came to feed him, but he concentrated. If he kept just the number of coins he had given her in his mind, he could manage to keep track.
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. On the day when the boy gave the witch his thirtieth coin, his knee rattled and he had to grip it tightly to hold it together. “Surely you are beautiful enough now, dear witch,” he said that night as he handed over his coin. “Are you yet well?”
“Am I well? No, indeed,” said the witch. “I waste away and am terribly exhausted by it all, and these feasts I cook for you take so much of my energy I do not know when I will be fully recovered. This has been hard on me, this recovery. I was once twice as beautiful. But now, I am little more than a servant, cooking you these extravagant meals.”
“Oh, I am sorry,” said the boy, and sat down in the middle of his cage. He had the creeping rattling feeling again, that something was wrong, that the witch wanted to grab through the bars at him and take a fistful of coins from his chest instead of just the one. But she smiled at him and told him he was lovely, and she showed him her progress. And his limbs loosened once more.
“Am I not becoming more beautiful by the day?” she asked.
“Yes,” the boy agreed. “You look quite healthy indeed.”
“Health is just the beginning,” she snapped. But then she smiled at him again. “I wonder,” she said in her sweetest voice, “if you would give me a second coin tonight. Maybe if I could get better more quickly, I would have the energy to make you even more sumptuous feasts. And then we could both recover. If I give you more food, your coins will be replenished and we will both be whole.”
The boy’s coins trembled, and he held himself tightly around the middle. “I do not know that I have two coins to give,” he said quietly.
“Selfish boy,” the witch snapped, rushing up to the bars and reaching through. Her eyes were like fire, reflecting back the glow of his body. “You are made entirely of gold!” she said. “How could a boy so beautiful not be willing to share of his wealth with others? Especially a poor sick woman.”
The boy cowered away from her grasping hands. Her face was lovely, but her nails that scratched the cage floor were the color of the cave walls, ragged and smelling of wet rocks. She tore up the floor of the cage with her claws and sent the boy’s cage swinging. “Give me your eyes!” she demanded. “Your biggest and brightest two coins should be enough.”
“But then I will not be able to see!” the boy wailed. “You would not take my eyes.”
“You do not need them,” the witch insisted. “I am here to take care of you. I have loved you well, have I not? I have protected you from gold thieves and fed you the finest of foods and kept you warm with my fires. Help me. I need your eyes.”
The boy shivered and cowered in the back of his cage, and he would not speak to the witch any more.
Finally she stopped shaking his cage, and she gave the boy the coldest look he could imagine. He felt his gold feet begin to freeze. “If you will not give me what I need,” she said in a voice of smothered fire ash, “then I will take it.”
The witch left without feeding the boy that night, and he was hungry.
In the morning, the witch came back. Instead of being angry, she was smiling again. She had baked a whole pile of sticky rolls and held a mug of hot chocolate by the cage door. It steamed and reached out to the hungry boy with the scent of deep flowering things, releasing a sudden flash in his mind of bright flowers.
Flowers? The boy was surprised. How was it that he could remember something called a flower? They were the brightest red and climbed up a stone wall in a green glade. He had never seen a green glade. He wondered how he knew what a glade was.
He drew in his breath, and the witch looked closely at him. “What is it, my dear?” she said.
“It is nothing,” he insisted. “Could I please have some of that to drink?”
The witch drew the mug to her dusty chest. “First,” she said, “I want two coins. From your chest.”
“But I cannot!” gasped the boy. “I will be all used up soon! Please let me eat.”
“I brought you these wonderful foods to replenish your coins,” the witch insisted. “This way, we can both be made whole.”
The boy looked at the hot chocolate and the sticky rolls. He looked at the witch. “Very well,” he said. “But only for today. I need to see that my coins come back when I eat those rolls.”
“All’s fair,” the witch cackled, and tossed the entire plate of rolls through the bars.
The boy sat there all day and late into the night, eating the sticky rolls one by one, until he felt quite sick.
His coins did not replenish.
The next morning the witch came back before the boy had even woken up for the day. She rattled the cage with her stone-nailed hands. “Boy!” she said. “Your coins did not work last night. Quick. I am desperate. You must give me three coins today.”
“But the food did not work either,” the boy said. “My coins did not return. I cannot give you three coins, I am sorry.”
The witch grabbed the cage bars with her hands. The boy could see now. Her skin was no longer smooth, even by her face. It was splotched with gray freckles. The golden sheen of her smooth face was fading. “Isn’t the gold working anymore?” he said. “Oh, I am sorry.”
“It will work,” she insisted, “I just need more to complete my cure. Give me the coins.”
“But I cannot,” the boy said. “I am falling to pieces. My legs are so thin I cannot stand anymore. My arms rattle all night.”
“Selfish, selfish boy!” the witch cried. “You are nothing but gold! How can you deny me? You care nothing for me, a poor old woman with no one in the world to take care of her. You care only for yourself!”
“Maybe if you let me out of the cage,” the boy said, “we could go look for another cure together.”
“Why? So you can run away and leave me all alone? I think not!” The witch hissed and struck the cage with her fist. “That is why I have to keep you in this cage,” she told the boy, “because you never were one to be trusted. If I let you out, you will run away, and I will die a terrible death, all alone. You are my only hope, boy. You must give me more coins.”
The boy was shaking now, and his coins rattled together so furiously that he could not stop them. The sound echoed off the walls, until the cave was full of the sound of jingling gold.
The sound only seemed to enrage the witch. She grasped at the boy through the bars of the cage. “Give me the gold!” she screamed.
Suddenly the boy found himself in her grasp, being pulled toward the door of the cage. She had grasped his face, and was pulling him by his eyes toward the door.
“You want out?” she growled. “I will get you out of there, then.”
The witch struck the cage and the door swung open with fiery sparks. She grabbed the boy by the throat with her free hand, and dragged him into the next room, where her fire was still smoldering from the night before.
“You are trembling, dear boy,” she said. “Here. Let me light a fire for you, to warm you.”
The witch held the boy with one strong hand, and with the other she heaped wood on the fire beneath her cauldron. The fire grew and grew, until it was a blaze that nearly swallowed the pot in the center of it.
“You want to be selfish? Gluttonous? Horrid? Cruel to an old woman?” the witch hissed at the boy as her hand tightened around the stack of coins that made up his trembling throat. “You want to keep back what is owed me? Very well. Then we shall put an end to this game. You will give me what I want now, or you will die!”
The witch threw the boy into the pot on top of the fire. He tried to jump out, but she was on top of him in a moment, stuffing him down into the cauldron, fitting a lid on top of him. He thought he would die of the steam, the heat. He was in a furnace, felt himself slowly melting down to the bottom of the pot.
It was dark, like the cave. Hot. Wet. Stifling. His eyes began to melt, and he felt himself running down, gold over gold liquifying in the pot.
It was then that the boy began to grow. He felt himself shifting, changing, growing and growing, until he could not fit in the pot. The witch screamed and pushed down with her whole weight on the lid of the pot. But he was rising, up out of the pot. He looked down at himself, at his spreading arms. He was not made of gold coins anymore. He was a boy. A real boy.
The boy grabbed the lid of the pot from his shoulders. He tossed the witch and the lid of the cauldron across the cave, where they crumpled against the far wall. He jumped out of the pot, afraid to look down, because he felt his feet and ankles burning. Without even looking behind him, the boy ran out of the room, and through the cave with his cage. His eyes were still melting. He swiped at them, and this time his hand came away covered in blood.
The boy ran past the cage and into the passage where the witch entered every night.
Behind him, the boy heard the witch come to. She screamed, and he heard her dive for the pot in the fire. “My gold!” she cried. He heard the impact as she dove headfirst into the blaze.
“I will use it all! I will live forever!” she cried. “I will be made of purest gold, the most beautiful woman the world has—.” But her words stopped there. The fire roared behind the boy, covering the walls in the dancing reflections of flames. He ran on.
It wasn’t long before the boy emerged from the tunnel. The mouth of the cave opened into a green glade, where there was a rose bush flowering over the entrance to the tunnel. He rushed out, suddenly full of the sound of things around him. Instead of cold wet walls there were trees. Birds flitted through the sunshine. The flowers. They were in every color he could imagine and remember, and they smelled so much better than sticky rolls. He wiped his eyes again, to clear them of the blood. His hand came away mingled in blood and gold.
The boy remembered now. He looked down at his body, in the tattered clothes of a much younger boy that barely covered his scarred skin. His legs were bleeding, gouged in a hundred places on either side, as if someone had taken a spoon to him and eaten his flesh raw. His feet were steaming. His clothes smelled like the witch’s fires.
“She wanted to eat me,” he said to himself, in a daze. “She was eating me. All for a beautiful face?”
The boy looked around the glade. He could feel something within his heart stop, suddenly, and cease running. He wanted to cry. He had been in the cage for so long, and yet the whole time he had felt himself running, never still, tearing back and forth inside, looking for a way out. He had known the witch was consuming him. That was the terrible thing he could now see. It had been too terrible for him to allow himself to see before, with his bright eyes of gold that she wanted to possess, to pluck out like golden grapes and devour in a single greedy gulp.
The boy took a deep breath of the rose-scented air, more fragrant than hot chocolate, fresher than a steaming feast. Instead of rattling and jingling, the boy’s chest heaved and relaxed. He wanted to run again, to be far away from this place. But he could not, because he looked down just then, and he saw the gold, melted into the soles of his feet, creeping up his legs to fill his wounds. They sealed over with a hiss, the last whisper of the witch’s greed.
He was whole once more. He remembered sunshine, and birds, and he remembered that he had had friends once, and a father and mother who loved him. The boy with the golden feet set off down the mountainside, out of the glade, to find his family, and everything broken that he touched mended with golden seams.

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Darkly Never After: Fairy Tales for Adulthood

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Darkly Never After Fairytales Hi guys! Just a note to tell you I’ve got an original fairy tale called “The Gold Witch” in the new charity fairy tale anthology Darkly Never After. Proceeds go to help people, lots of original modern and classic fairy tales. Only $2.99. What’s not to love?:) But seriously, this story actually means a lot to me because it deals with abuse and healing–subjects near and dear to my heart and work–so if you pick this up I hope you really like it. Let me know what you think!

I’m busy editing my first psychological murder mystery! Big job, so complicated I could only wrap my head around the basic plot line for the first draft.😀 But it’s going well and I’ve got a big fantasy novel coming up after that that I’m hoping can be done by the end of the year. Be back later! Hope you’re all having a great fall so far.

~ Laura

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