Queen Mab

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My story for September is up at our new site! It's about faith and witnessing and death and... HATS.

"Death's Red Bowler" click here to read!

And don't forget to add the rss feed to your friend's page, because after September there won't be more reminders! merryfates_rss
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Looking Back

Today's post is available over at our new site, merryfates.com! For the 5th week of August, we're looking back at the FIRST STORIES we ever published here, and discussing what we've learned and how we've stayed the same!

Come join us, and regularly scheduled fiction will be coming in September.

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"Sight" by Elizabeth Scott

Here's what I need to save a life: coffee.

Regular, hot coffee works fine, but I like mine to be full of syrup and whipped cream and to smell like candy. Edgar would say (under his breath) that it's because I'm a pain in the ass. But what's easier to get noticed--someone with an ordinary coffee stain, or someone smelling like peppermint and stained with an impossible to remove blob that only sugary syrup, whipped cream, and coffee can bring?

Besides, my job is hard enough that I figure if I can make someone else's easier, maybe then one day the universe will pay me back somehow. Maybe it will give Gloria the ability to walk again, or maybe it will make Edgar stop being an ass.

Maybe one day I'll be able to do things normal people can. Like have dreams that are just that, dreams. Or go outside just because I want to. That would be nice.

I can't be thinking about any of this now because now I hold my Peppermint Surprise! latte--the name would make me smile, if I smiled when I was at work--and make my way through Union Station.

It's thirty-seven steps to the door David Lewis will come through, the one by the gate his train from Maryland uses--he takes the MARC line to and from Germantown. His security team is lax because he's not just loud, but abrasive, and he won't live in the city, which means all four of his bodyguards have to commute in and out with him, plus live in Germantown too, and if you've ever been to Germantown--well, let's put it this way. It makes DC look positively glittery.

And DC is not even remotely glittery. It has power, and lots of it, but it is not a shiny city. Most of it--past the gloss of the Mall area and Georgetown--isn't even pretty.

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Fiction by Tessa: "Girl, Waiting"

There he stands three steps higher than I, dark eyes locked onto my face and the scythe-like curve of his smile the way it has always been. I bow my head and step nearer, my slippers thin enough I feel the smoothness of the stone under the balls of my feet. I go deliberately, softly, hoping to pass him by.

He catches my right hand. I lean against the curving tower wall as he puts his face to my sleeve. I am nearly undone by the feel of his hot breath in the crook of my elbow, and then he pushes back my sleeves and touches his lips to my wrist.

His words slither up my skin, “I will kill you, if I must.

It is a sharp thrust of steel straightening my back. Gripping my knife – only a small lady’s knife, for cutting her dinner, for showing off her father’s favor – I twist and stab it at his face.

My hope is surprise will win me the day, but I might’ve known better. He grabs my left hand, crushing my fingers under his and against the hilt of my knife. Slamming me back, he laughs.

He laughs.

I am pressed between the hard stone wall and his body. The metal of his armor coif shimmers dully in the daylight melting through one thin window over my head. It is like dragon scales, growing out of his forehead and spilling all down his body, changing him. With my hand still trapped in his, he puts the tip of my knife to his cheek and together we cut. I shove all my weight into him, into my arm, but he is too strong, and only a trickle of blood leaks from his skin.

He smiles at me again, and my knees are week. I will not bend, I tell myself. I will not bend. But through his smile he suddenly cries out, as if in fear and pain! “Aoife! No!” And before I can react, swings me down the stairs.

When he lets me fall, all the world falls with me.
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Fiction by Brenna: The Beginner’s Guide to Leaving

turret-stairs-LFirst, there are the little things—the all-in-your-head things. You think they matter, but they don’t. If you obsess about them too long, they can make you feel guilty or like a bad person, but they’re just distractions, so let’s get them out of the way.

Don’t think about how hurt he’s going to be, or if your mother will say, “Honey, maybe you could be a little less callous?” or, “Honestly, Georgia! What was wrong with this one?”

Don’t think about it.

You’re thinking about it.

Maybe we should start over.

Once, I was standing in the cafeteria with Elizabeth Knox and she was in a real state, fuming about Skip Swanson because he was having a creamed-corn fight with his friends and almost knocked us down.

She said, “Chivalry is dead.”

She said it like she was announcing the death of Western Civilization, when she really just meant opening car doors or spreading your coat across a puddle. But the truth of it hit home, and I knew that she was right. That no one was going to slay dragons for us.

The first rule is that you have to be sure you’re leaving for the right reasons. You can’t call it quits because of failed chivalry. No one is going to come riding up to your tower and climbing up your hair, and really, who wants that?

The fact that once, when Skip yelled at me in PE to get off my ass and stop acting like a helpless female, Jason Curtz did not sweep in and carry me away on a white horse is not a reason. The fact that once, at a party, Jason called me his little sugar-bunny in front of his friends? I gave him back his letter jacket the next day.Collapse )
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Prompt Contest Winner!!!

Thank you so much! We had some great entries!!!!

The randomly selected winner of the three prizes is.....

Caroline Sibley! Her story "Feel" is here at her tumbler!

Congrats, Caroline! Email me at tessa.gratton@gmail.com with your mailing address, and the three of us will send out your prizes!

Thanks again to all of our Watchers. You guys are the best. Don't forget this week myself, Brenna, and Maggie will be posting OUR story responses to the same prompt from the contest. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! A 3-in-1 week!
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Changes, and a contest to make up for it!

Howdy, trusty readers!

Over the past month Maggie, Brenna, and I have been deep in talks about the future of The Merry Sisters of Fate. This was prompted by the recent LiveJournal outages over the last 6 months. Because we have a schedule, and you our readers deserve for us to stick to that schedule, we've decided that we're going to be moving our blog over to a brand new website. Truthfully, it's something we've been considering for months and months, this has just made the final decision easier.

As of September 1st, all new Merry Fates posts will be at the new site: http://merryfates.com. Between now and then, we'll post there and mirror here.

If you'd like to add the new feed to your blogreader, the feed is: http://merryfates.com/feed/

If you want to add it to your LJ friend's page, you can add the new feed directly to your friends: merryfates_rss

In honor of our new blog home, and to make up for that Week of Silence thanks to the attacks on LiveJournal a couple of weeks ago, we're hosting a prompt contest!

All you have to do is write something original based on the prompt below, and post it to your blog or Facebook where other people can read it. It can be a story, a poem, flash fiction - anything you like! Link back here (or here) in the comments, and you're entered!

We'll randomly select a winner for THESE AMAZING PRIZES:

- a signed advance reader's copy of THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
- a signed advance reader's copy of THE SPACE BETWEEN by Brenna Yovanoff
- a signed hardback of BLOOD MAGIC by Tessa Gratton

The deadline is this Friday at midnight CST. We'll announce the winner on Saturday.... and then next week, Brenna, Maggie and I will each post a story that WE write, based on the same prompt. Brenna on Monday, me on Wednesday, and Maggie on Friday, the way we used to post back in 2008 when The Merry Sisters of Fate first began!

Here's your prompt, "The Turret Stairs" by Frederic Burton:

Have at it! :D

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GUEST POST: "The Horses" by Lucy Christopher

I am running through the trees. Even if the moon wasn’t so full, I’d know the way. I’ve done it countless times on Bessie, trotting noisily through the scrub. Never bare foot though, and never alone.

Never like this.

I’m glancing behind me every third step or so. Can’t help it. But he’s not following. Not yet. It’s fine. These are the words I keep repeating to myself. He’s so big and heavy, I’d hear him if he were here....if he were close. I know this. But I also know that the blow I gave him with the candlestick - hard as I could make it - won’t keep him down for long.

I’m glancing at the ground, jumping the fallen branches and rocky patches. Even so, corners of twigs dive into my heels and flint-rock scrapes the palms of my hands when I stumble. I shove a fist into my mouth, stop the screams. My skin tastes like blood and salt and desperation. But I must be quiet. He mustn’t know where I’ve gone; mustn’t even guess. I try to move like the kangaroos do, on velvet padded paws, jumping with the sway of the trees.

All the same, Bessie will know. Her hooves would pick out this path just as soon as he lets the reins drop.

But would he let the reins drop?

He’d pull a bit into her mouth and yank her head around and kick, hard. He won’t want to trust her.

I stop. Pick a thorn from my foot. As I do, I look around me. I need to be careful now. I’m at the very bottom of the gully, where Gilbert says the spirits live. It’s darker here, and the vegetation is thicker. I used to get lost here until Gilbert told me about the red banksia tree that marks the small pathway that leads directly up to the yard. When I jumped the summer-drained trickle of the creek, several feet back, I was crossing the line of where my father’s property ends. I’m in wild country now; the place nobody owns. If I were to turn right and keep walking, this land would stretch all the way into the mountains and to the desert-land beyond. It’s good that I’m here. My father might not expect it from me.

Be careful of wild country, he told me in the first weeks after we moved, don’t go there alone.

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Fiction by Tessa: "Holy Water"

Just before my Granny Ava died, she pulled me near to her face so all I could smell was antiseptic and her slight sour breath. “Peach,” she whispered, “your mother… isn’t… human.”

I jerked back so hard the metal bars on the side of the hospital bed we’d had rolled into her living room rattled. “Gran!”

She waved one boney hand. It flapped from her wrist like torn paper. “Listen.”

Holding my breath, lips pinched tight, I leaned back in so she could continue. “Your mother never dips her fingers into the well of holy water at Mass.” Granny Ava touched her hand to her forehead. “She saves the host on her tongue.” Ava touched her heart. “I’ve seen her tuck it into her pocket just as she kneels to pray.” As she touched her left shoulder, her eyes floated shut. “And that rosary she uses – plastic!” Finishing the Sign of the Cross, Granny Ava grasped my wrist. “You must beware, and remember. I can’t die without someone else knowing.”

My throat was dry. I wondered what death knell in her brain was making Granny say these things.

“Peach!” she hissed. “Promise you won’t forget.”

As though from some great distance, I looked at the thin white hair curling away from her forehead, at the red flush surrounding her eyes, at her lips, which I used to kiss in exchange for a song or a hard green peppermint. “I promise,” I whispered, thinking, my rosary is plastic, too.

And then my granny died.

Mom came in from the kitchen, one hand on her cheek and the other gripping my dad’s. The glass sliding door let in perfect white light from the backyard to shine over our tableau, and sorrow felt like a water balloon sloshing in my stomach.

Dad moved around to put an arm on my shoulder. “Hey, kiddo, you ok?” I nodded, my eyes on Mom as she took my place perching on the bedside stool. Tears tightened her eyelashes and she touched Granny’s forehead reverently. Dad said, “I’m going to call the hospice nurse.”

I stayed back, and saw as Mom picked Granny Ava’s rosary off the baby blue quilt. The blood red beads had come from the Vatican, blessed by the Pope himself, Ava always said with pride. It was only because I was staring that I noticed Mom tug her sleeve up high enough to lift the rosary without it touching her skin.


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photo by Mason Long, via flickr CC.

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