All the Wrong Wish-Givers

A piece of flash fiction by yours truly. Enjoy!

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Genies are over, man. You want three wishes nowadays? You visit the three Coyotes.

Yes – Coyotes, capital “c”. You think a regular prairie wolf could grant a wish? Please. We’re talking magic, here. If this were an Arabian night, that would mean spirits trapped in lamps and bottles, bound to a limited service contract with whoever rubs against their prison bars until they’re wished into retirement. But this is America and broad daylight, so that means native trickster gods.

Maybe you thought there was only one Coyote. You’d be wrong. There are always three, waiting out in the desert for someone to show up and start some excitement. They’re bored stiff, you know – actually bored petrified, all turned to stone inside over their compulsory inaction. They only get to move when someone looking for a wish finds them. And almost no one does find them, because they’re looking in all the wrong deserts for all the wrong wish-givers. It’s a busted system.

The story’s inspiration.
The story’s inspiration.

Me, I know what’s up, so I found the Coyotes easy, all lined up and ready, with legs, backs, and toothy mouths stretched in their frozen yawns. I stepped up to the first and scratched behind her furry ears. She came alive with a full-body shake, then grinned up at me.

“Thank you for waking me,” she said, or something like that. Her accent was a little thick, being an animal spirit and all. “Please allow me to catch you a rabbit in gratitude.”

I flatly turned her down. You let a live Coyote out of your sight for a second, and you’ll never see her again. Remember, these are tricksters. If you’re not in control of the game from the get-go, you’re the one who gets played, and you can forget about getting anything like what you would have wished for.

“Granting my wish will be gratitude enough,” I said.

“Name it,” said she.

Now, you can’t just make a wish any which way with a Coyote. Knew a guy, once, who said, “I wish I had a million dollars!” And what did the Coyote do? Conjured up a million dollars, only for it crumble to dust in the next moment. “There,” she’d said, “now you’ve had it,” and stretched back into immobility. The poor schmuck had to use his wish by the second Coyote on a million dollars he got to keep, only to find out that he couldn’t not keep it when he tried to spend it.

So I knew better, but my excitement got the better of me, and the fool thing I said was, “I wish to grant wishes again.”

“Done!” laughed the Coyote, and the next thing I knew, she was off and away. And because there must always be three, that left my now furry outsides and newly stony insides in her place.

So much for my great genie comeback, I thought in disgust. If I ever trick my way out of this mess, you can bet I’ll stay retired.

Lions and Tigers and Ducks, Oh My (Scarlet’s Fairytale Spin, Act 2)

W.A.I.T. Button

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Lions and Tigers and Ducks, Oh My’!”

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[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet in full Merry Men garb, moving stealthily across the stage before a dark forest backdrop, a mysterious bundle cradled in his arms.]

Will [stage-whispering ]: Previously in my first go at contriving the great-granddaddy of all fairytale mash-ups, a young mother’s theft from a heartless Beast’s garden resulted in her self-imposed exile in the cloudlands atop a giant beanstalk. We left the woman pursued by the Beast’s flying monkey horde. But before they could take her baby, she passed the child along to a benevolent soul known only as The Woodsman. [smiles with a tip of the hat at the audience ] That’s me. I’ve been charged with the responsibility of taking this baby to safety, and I mean to see it done. As it happens, I know just the safe house for this sweet little one. Let’s just hope I can get him there before—

[Even as Will speaks, an enormous black lion lunges from behind a prop tree with a menacing roar. Will startles back with a stifled oath.]

Will/Woodsman: Son of a— What’s a lion doing in these woods?! Wolves I’ve felled and witches I’ve dealt with, even once dodged a family of princes enchanted into a flock of evil ducks, but lions, now? Thank goodness The Woodsman always comes prepared!

[Settling the baby in one arm, Will reaches behind him with the other to unsheathe an oversized hatchet from its place at his back.]

Will/Woodsman: Stand down, vicious beast, or you’ll get it right between the eyes!

[The lion draws back with a whimper, spins in a circle, and by rotation’s end transforms into a dark-gray-skinned young man with a cat’s ears and tail.]

Magical Cat Creature [trembling ]: Please, do me no harm, for I intended you none. I only meant to frighten you off. I have social anxiety (often insultingly mistaken for cowardice, it irks me to say), and therefore much prefer to be alone, when at all possible.

Will/Woodsman [lowering his hatchet ]: Oh. An introvert, eh?

Magical Cat Creature [tail dancing gracefully ]: An Abishan. For this little skit’s purposes, consider me a genie of the woods.

Will/Woodsman: Nice! Do I get a wish or three?

Magical Cat Creature: Not you. The baby. He is a child of great destiny. And when the time is right, I shall grant him his heart’s deepest desire. Now, with haste depart from here! The awful Beast’s minions are never far. Though you won’t have to worry about the flock of evil duck princes anymore. [licks his lips ] They were delicious.

[Thus saying, Abishan spins again and, now in the form of a black tiger, exits the stage with a graceful bound.]

Will/Woodsman [continuing his narration ]: Knowing the Abishan’s words for truth, the handsome hero hurries on toward the safe house. [looks warmly at the baby in his arms ] Don’t worry, little cutie. I swear on my lifeblood you shall live to fulfill your destiny. …whatever that may prove to be.

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“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘lions’ and ‘ducks.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! Until next week, friends! Will and Allyn out!”

“Wish” or “[Three Wishes Blog Blitz]”

Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From the 2nd to 6th of September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions at the end of the post for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that?

Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new romantic comedy release, “I Dream of Johnny”, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

In honor of the three wishes theme and my fairytale novella, “The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales)” (coming on September 20th!), I’ve taken a scene from the book and thrown in a major plot detour. See what happens when Princess Rosalba and tailor Edgwyn Wyle come across an unexpected bit of magic on their adventure to find Rosalba’s spell-breaking true love!

Three Wishes Blog Blitz logo

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They rode at a swift pace for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon, away from the town, over the border of Peasequay, and into the uninhabited western hills. With no signs of civilization as far as the eye could see, Rosalba assumed they would have to keep going for some while, perhaps even until a little after dark. But to her surprise, Edgwyn slowed them to a stop early in the evening, by a stream in the middle of nowhere.

“Is there an invisible inn here of which I know naught?” she asked, bemused.

“Yes,” Edgwyn chuckled, handing her to the ground. “The only one in all the Great Land to accept nonexistent coins as payment. I’m afraid inns are not in the budget for this trip, Princess. I bartered away nearly all I had – money, wares, hat, the lot – for more necessary things.”

“Such as what?”

“Such as— oh!” Edgwyn paused rummaging within one of his sacks, his expression askew in puzzlement. “Such as this, apparently,” he said, withdrawing his hand and, held inside it, what looked to Rosalba like a short, slender, brazen teapot.

“What exactly is that?” she asked.

Edgwyn studied the object. “I’ve not glimpsed many of them, so I can’t be sure, but it looks like it may be a lamp of the sort they use in the Far Eastern Isles. I have no idea how it ended up in my bag, and there’s no time to go back to the Faire and see it returned – not if we’re to get you to Walzscoria in time.” He sighed. “Oh, well. Since we’ve got it, surprise!” He held his hand out toward her. “I got you a lamp!”

“Just what I need for the royal ball,” said Rosalba, accepting the strange gift with an ironic shake of the head. “If only you’d accidentally made off with a pair, you might have fashioned them into dancing slippers.”

Edgwyn laughed. “You’re confusing tailors with cobblers, and cobblers with coppersmiths,” he said, staking his horse’s tether to the ground so she could graze without wandering off. “Very fashion-forward thinking of you, though. Next you’ll be commissioning slippers of glass.”

“That hardly sounds— goodness!” Rosalba broke off, letting fall the lamp as violet smoke began pouring out of the spout.

While she and Edgwyn looked on with wide eyes, the smoke billowed into the air and took on the hazy shape of a human figure, its dark form crackling with lines of light like a thundercloud.

“Thrice touched, I awaken,” the smoke creature said, its voice like tinkling bells in a whirlwind. “Three wishes I grant you. Choose swiftly, for in three minutes, I go.”

“Three threes,” said Edgwyn, raising his eyebrows at Rosalba. “It doesn’t get much more portentous than that! What will you wish for, Princess?”

“Well, now, just a moment,” she said, clamping down on her surge of excitement. “Let’s think things through.” She turned to the smoke creature. “If I wished for the immediate breakage of the spell on my kingdom, what would the consequences be?”

“No more nor less than what you wished,” the creature replied.

“Then that is my first wish – the removal of the curse on Denebdeor!”

The smoke flashed brighter. “It is done.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Rosalba felt she could jump or laugh or cry for joy. “Now, what of you, Edgwyn?”

Edgwyn blinked in surprise. “What of me?”

“Come, now, you must have a wish, too. You’ve been such a great help!”

The tailor’s smile was rueful. “Not nearly as great a help as I could wish.”

“You wish to be a greater help?” the smoke creature asked.

“Careful what you say, Edgwyn,” Rosalba warned. “That would be an awfully vague wish to make.”

“Well… I don’t know.” Red and flustered, Edgwyn ran a hand through his hair. “To help you save your kingdom was my greatest wish, and now that’s done. But, oh! You still haven’t found your true love!”

Rosalba waved a hand. “No matter. I don’t need him anymore.”

“Not the same sort of need, perhaps,” said Edgwyn, “but if he is meant for you, then I would that you find each other and live happily ever after. So I wish that when you return home to Denebdeor, your true love will be there.”

Another flash. “It shall be done.”

Rosalba threw up her hands in exasperation. “You were supposed to wish for something for you!”

“I don’t want anything for me.”

“Horsefeathers! What about fame as the best tailor in the world? What about having someplace to sleep other than the grass tonight? What about your own true love – wouldn’t you like to find her?”

“Those all sound like very nice things,” Edgwyn said, nodding. “The first and third things I expect I can manage on my own, with time and effort. As for the second… well, there are worse beds than grass.”

“There is also far better,” said Rosalba, voice firm. “And if you won’t be selfish enough to wish for it, then I suppose I’ll have to be selfish on your behalf.”

Edgwyn cocked his head. “I’m not sure selfishness works that way.”

“Watch and learn,” Rosalba retorted. “I wish for you to be transported straightaway to my castle, where you shall be treated as an honored guest by my freshly disenchanted parents, with all the luxury our home has to offer, and you will enjoy yourself, Edgwyn Wyle, whether you like it or not!”

“It is done,” said the smoke creature, and with a final flash, it disappeared – and Edgwyn with it.

“Well, that’s that,” Rosalba said. She sighed. “‘That’ being what happens when you make a wish without thinking things through.”

The princess bent down to scoop up the lamp and turned to Edgwyn’s horse, who had been a remarkably calm spectator of the whole bizarre affair. “It looks like it’s just you and me for the night, Minnie. …and for however many days it takes to make it back to Denebdeor. I hope you remember the way,” she said, dropping her head into her hand, “or I’ll have just wished away the only one of us who did.”

The horse nickered and bumped Rosalba’s shoulder with her nose.

“I’ll try to take that as a reassurance,” she said, giving the horse a pat. In the next moment, she brightened. “At the very least, when I finally get there, my parents will be awaiting me – not to mention Edgwyn and my true love, whoever he’ll turn out to be! I wish… Well, never mind more wishes. I think we’ve had magic enough to last us the next hundred years, don’t you?”

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Know what I wish? That you’d enter my Three Wishes Blog Blitz giveaway! You may wish to, as well, since the delightful prizes are as follows:

One set of three signed “Stone Kingdom” bookmarks, as drawn by the lovely Yana Naumova!

One print of side-by-side portraits of Princess Rosalba and Edgwyn Wyle, as drawn by me!

One automatic entry into the raffle which shall accompany the launch of “The Stone Kingdom” on September 20th – meaning you’ll be eligible to win even more awesome stuff, including a signed paperback copy of the book!

Three sweet prizes for one lucky winner. Entry is easy – just leave a comment below! The raffle’s open internationally and closes to entry at 12pm (noon), Friday the 6th of September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway, too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here.

*** FYI Edit: I’ll announce the prizewinner on Saturday, September 7th. (: ***