Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Not Even for Hazelnut Sauce

by Kat Beyer

Diarmud the Druidess knew she was dying, but she went to the feast anyway, partly because she was Chief Druidess, and partly because she knew there would be salmon with hazelnut sauce. She couldn’t help Seeing the menu beforehand.

After the salmon there was a cold boar salad, and then venison with apple-and-lemon jelly, the lemons having come all the way from Hispania; just as she was served her Druid’s portion, a dragonfly flew in the door and landed on her arm, a blue-green jewel to match any a chieftain might give. She looked down at it and said, “Well; is it time?” And in front of everyone she blew her soul out onto its back and flew away.

She always liked the moment when one shed one’s old bones, returning all one’s flesh and treasure and hopes and fears to the world—there was always the chance one would forget everything, too, and sometimes she did, but not this time, as they flew out over the marshes spangled with sunset water. When she landed in a dragonfly egg she snuggled down for a nice gestation.

She spent all the days of summer skating over the broad stretches of water, flying low to count the circling ripples—

Until a salmon gulped her.

Presently she let the pull of her ichor draw her out of the marsh, into the living river, down to the sea of journeys…

Until a seal pulled her into the thirsty air.

‘Now to get used to fur, fins, and shouting at your neighbor just to be heard,’ she thought. A seal’s life is good, though, even if one isn’t a selkie, and her wisdom became known among all the barking tribes of the coast.

Not too wise, though. A seal hunter was wiser. So she grew from a babe to a boy, bearing the spots and omens that marked her for a Druid’s training, and comely enough for court.

But when she got to the door of the hall, she stood there for a minute, remembering the yards and yards of poetry, the vigils in black caves, the all-night meetings in groves, and a single, blue-green jewel of a dragonfly; and she rubbed the oak threshold with her hand, said, “Not this again, not even for hazelnut sauce!”—and walked back down the hill and out into the world.

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2 Responses to “Not Even for Hazelnut Sauce”

  1. whereweather Says:

    July 8th, 2008 at 5:54 am

    i like this a lot! lively and lovely.
    (and i adore a writer who can use semicolons to make dialogue more punchy.)

  2. bookmole Says:

    July 20th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Circular. Lovely.