Witchy Weekends: “The Frog Wish” (Part 5)

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while know that in October I have a series called Witchy Weekends, and this year I’m continuing writing a fairy tale. You can read parts 1-4 here. Read on for part 5.


The Frog Wish (continued)

“Do you know if there’s any food here?” Eleanor asked after she’d been jogging after Reginald’s hopping form for at least fifteen minutes. At least this activity had taken the edge off the cold. He stopped and turned to look at her.

“I’ve been eating this whole time,” he said, “but my guess is you don’t like mosquitoes.”

“Clever of you.” She just barely prevented herself from snarking about frogs’ legs. “You said sometimes people come here? Humans? How long do they usually stay?”

And did they bring food with them? And did they come of their own volition? And were they trapped here? She had so many questions but didn’t think Reginald would bother answering if they come at him in a volley.

“There’s a market road about two clicks ahead.”

“Market of what? Is there a village around here somewhere?”

“All kinds of things. And maybe? I’ve never seen any settlements in these woods.”

Eleanor looked around at the silvery landscape. Trees as far as the eye could see, and only shadows between them. The trail they’d been traveling wasn’t even well established: she’d had to stop several times to extract pebbles or leafy twigs from her shoes. At least she’d put on sneakers when she started moving the bedroom furniture. Furniture she’d really love to get back to right this very minute. “How many times have you come here?”


“Are you kidding me?”

“Nope. Ribbit.

“Fine, don’t answer me. But I really need food, and so far I haven’t seen anything Continue reading “Witchy Weekends: “The Frog Wish” (Part 5)”

Witchy Weekends: “The Frog Wish” Returns

So for the last however-many years, I’ve been doing an October series called Witchy Weekends. Some years I reviewed books or movies, presented songs, that sort of thing. Then in 2019 I began posting consecutive scenes from a story I was writing; one of the characters is a witch. It seemed like a fun experiment, and…well…the story got some really good attention!

But I was also in the middle of finishing up my (at the time) next book — which is out now, by the way. It’s called Homecoming, Book 2 in the Animal Affinities Series. (Click on this link to find out information about the online launch event in a few weeks!) So I put this new story aside.

Well, some of my blog readers have been asking me about that story and have encouraged me to resume it. (Thank you!) So I have agreed! Today’s post is a slightly edited version of the scenes I posted last year, so you don’t have to go look them up. As for the story’s progress, I do have a rough outline of what’s coming next, but also, I am writing this story as we go along. So if you want to leave feedback or speculate on what’s coming next in the comments of each post, feel free. I make no promises about whether your ideas will make it into the future scenes — as I said, I’ve already kind of figured some of that out — but this story is also a fun exercise in plontsing, so.

That said, let us commence with…



Eleanor couldn’t stop staring at the frog. A large creature, larger than the palm of her hand, it watched her as she circled the table, following her with its eyes and even turning a little to keep her in its line of sight. Maybe it was aware she was wondering about it? The thought made her a little uncomfortable. In her world, frogs were supposed to be garden animals. They did not possess the intelligence to be inquisitive about people. This one almost reminded her of Lucas, the way he had watched her sometimes from across the room, cocking his head slightly when she did something a little bit interesting. She circled around the table, and the frog’s eyes moved with her in an articulated curve, watching her until she stood behind him. 

The frog lifted itself off its haunches and turned around, squatting once more, looking at Eleanor again. It made a little croak.

All the old stories of princes being turned into frogs by witches flooded her imagination. What would it feel like to kiss one? Slimy, no doubt… What would ever possess someone to try it? She looked over at Moira, measuring dried lavender buds carefully into a plastic bag for a customer.

“Now be sure to sprinkle those in the bath while the warm water is running,” she was saying. “And say the charm I gave you at the same time.” 

The customer nodded her head. “Right. And I have to focus on myself only, not on anyone else.”

“You wouldn’t want to be unethical,” Moira smiled. She tossed a long braid over her shoulder. “Bad for your karma that way.”

“Got it. Thank you so much!” the customer called as she left the shop.

Moira looked back at Eleanor and grinned. “Some of them are so easy to please,” she said. “Just a few herbs and a decent meditation, and they think I’ve changed their lives.”

Eleanor looked at her friend more carefully, then glanced down at the frog, who’d just let loose a croak worthy of a blue ribbon. It blinked its moist eyes at her then looked away.

“This one of yours?” Eleanor asked, pointing to it.

“Who, Reginald?” Moira laughed. “He’s like a pet.”

Eleanor couldn’t believe she was about to ask it, but–– “Did you make him…?”

“Did I turn him into a frog, you mean?” The amused grin on her face tried hard not to look condescending.

Eleanor felt stupid now even for thinking something like that.

“No,” Moira laughed. “I found him that way. The Goddess has to take credit for that one.”

Eleanor sheepishly turned away from the frog, who croaked again, and followed Moira into the book room for tea and a cozy seat on the sofa.

The book room was Eleanor’s favorite spot in the entire shop. Oh, she liked the garden well enough, and the alcove filled with crystals and jewelry; the shelves lined with large glass jars full of powders and dried herbs fascinated her. But the book room, with its floor-to-ceiling rows of spellbooks, memoirs, meditation primers, and tarot decks, was absolutely the spot to be. Moira had set up a couple of Queen Anne wingback chairs (that might have been worth some real money if she’d reupholstered them) in the corners and a velvet divan under the window, and Eleanor often came in here to read or admire the art on the tarot cards. When things were slow, she and Moira would sit together for a cup of oolong or chai and pretend the world wasn’t a madly spinning maelstrom of nonsense.

Moira pointed to a small wooden box inlaid with mother-of-pearl on the coffee table. “A new deck arrived this week.” She crossed the room to pour the tea.

Eleanor lifted the lid and drew back a dark blue silk covering the cards. An intricate image stared up at her, a wildly overlapping pattern of jewel colors and shapes she couldn’t quite identify, and when she tried to impose some order onto it, the image seemed to shift back into chaos. An optical illusion, she thought. Clever. She flipped the first card over and saw The Fool, cheerfully traipsing down a haphazard path. Nothing she hadn’t seen before, even if the art was vibrant and appealing. She lifted the rest of the deck out of the box and sifted through it. The Major Arcana were gorgeous but easily recognizable, even without glancing at their titles or numbers.

Moira brought two teacups over and sat down. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla permeated the room.

“I still haven’t figured out how you manage such perfect foam without a latte machine,” Eleanor said. Continue reading “Witchy Weekends: “The Frog Wish” Returns”

Just A Little Video With Something Nifty And An Invitation

Self-promotion is the least wonderful part of being an author. (Actually, waiting on various aspects of the publishing industry beyond one’s control is the least wonderful part, but self-promotion is a noteworthy second.)

But I made this video, so I hope you’ll watch it and take heed of the excellent developments therein.

And here’s the link you’ll be wanting after you watch it.

Achievement Unlocked: Camp NaNoWriMo

So this month I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time. And I won!

Now, you might be wondering a couple of things: what is NaNoWriMo, and what does it mean to “win” it?

NaNoWriMo means “National Novel Writing Month,” and traditionally it is held in November. The idea is to write 50,000 words of a manuscript in 30 days. One might argue that 50,000 words is just the very barest minimum you could have for a manuscript and consider it a full novel, and in some ways one would be correct in thinking so.

There are some generally accepted word length requirements for different types of fiction forms, which can be verified in multiple places on the Internet, should you choose to do so, but for simplicity’s sake, feel free to go with these distinctions:

  • microfiction: under 100 words
  • flash fiction: under 1,000 words
  • short story: under 7,500 words (sometimes under 10,000 words)
  • novelette (which seems to pop up primarily in the various genres of speculative fiction): 7,000-17,000 words
  • novella (which sometimes encompasses novelettes as well): 10,000-50,000 words
  • novel: over 50,000 words

Obviously one will find some overlap here and there, but these are general guidelines.

And what does it mean to “win” the NaNoWriMo? Completing your goal!

You might be wondering how anyone can get that much writing done in 30 days, especially when we have day jobs and (in the US) the Thanksgiving holiday and other things going on in our lives. That’s a totally fair question. For me, as a full-time high school teacher who also has a family and who hosts Thanksgiving, the idea of writing 50,000 words on a single manuscript during the month of November is unrealistic at best (and insane at worst), and my thoughts on that craziness are well documented. And apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way, because NaNoWriMo also now hosts “camps” — such as the one which occurs in July every year.

Anyway, I have been working on a new novel and made it a goal for 2020 to reach 50,000 words on it, and my friend Christa encouraged me to do Camp NaNoWriMo with her this month, and we did, and I made it past 50,000 words! Yes!

Is my novel done? Hell no!

And there are a few important reasons for that:

  • first, this novel is probably going to be closer to 100,000 words long when I finish the first draft;
  • second, once I get to the end of the first draft, that only gives me something to then work with;
  • third, the path to publication is long and sometimes winding and definitely has a lot of repeat steps on it (see also: revision and editing).

(One thing that has unfortunately given self-publishing a rancid name is the slew of first-draft NaNoWriMo projects that turn into badly written self-published ebooks on Amazon every January. Ah well. It’s a shame, too, because there are quite a lot of self-published and independent authors who are churning out excellent work, and their marketshare is tarnished by the people who don’t quite fully participate in all parts of the writing process.)

Some brilliant novels got their start as NaNoWriMo projects: one of the more famous examples is Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. If I’m not mistaken, I think I read that she worked on it three Novembers in a row. (Case in point of how really good literature often takes quite a long time to make really good.)

Anyway. I’m just pleased that I managed to unlock this achievement, and I’m going to keep working on the new novel in addition to my other projects. (More on those later.) I’ve created a new goal for this manuscript for August and will keep doing so each month until this manuscript is done.

Have you done any version of the NaNoWriMo? Drop a note in the comments here about your experience!

So, cheers to you. Stay safe by staying home when you can, wearing a mask when you can’t, washing your hands frequently, and paying attention to science over nonsense and legitimate doctors over politicians. All the best.


Want to read more of my writing that’s already published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books at Blue Willow Bookshop and my books and poetry art cards at Ella’s Apothecary, and I hope you will! 

Poem-A-Day: Me, But Also All Of Us

Happy National Poetry Month! I am once again embarking upon my Poem-A-Day series this year, in which I will feature a poem every day for the month of April. (You can find past years’ curations by clicking here: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Just click on the first one and then click through forward each day of the month for the whole series.)

To start this month off, I’m doing something unusual this year. First, I’m posting one of my own poems, even though I don’t usually put many of mine into this series and even though I’ve actually posted this poem on my blog before. Second, I’m asking you to participate in a poetry game with me over the course of this entire month.

A cento is a poem crafted from the fragments of many sources. I’m sharing with you today a cento I wrote at the Moss Wood Retreat back in June of 2019. One line in that poem is a fragment from a sentence I wrote in a novel I’m working on. All the other lines came from fragments of things other people at that retreat submitted. I added connective tissue to make the whole thing coherent, and there you have it, a kind of a found poem.

So here’s what I want us to do here, on this blog, this year. In a time when we have to distance ourselves from each other physically — and yes, we really do need to be doing this, for a while — I’m asking us to make a connection as a community on this blog. In the comments section of this post, please leave us a poem of your own, or a paragraph you wrote you were proud of, or even just a fragment of some other beautiful writing. And then I will take fragments from your comments and make a cento out of it, and I invite you to do the same. I will start things off in the comments section by posting a paragraph from one of my own works of fiction — an excerpt from Homecoming (the second book in the Animal Affinities series, and which is coming out later this year). I hope you will join in the fun.

Moss Wood Cento
Moss Wood Writing Retreat, 2019

Carnivals always start the same way:
three boys, three sharp-rocked beginnings
grabbing clandestine hand-holds;
spirits of slain warriors speaking from open mouths;
a tarantula stabbed with a stick;
the occasional hint of cabaret music.
Between the border of yellow birch and
the far shore of rockbound pine,
the tether of some other-than-temporal sea
pulls and pulls with the urgency of future demands
on the boy-man stashed behind the garage,
dreadful poverty and sadness floating across his face,
a grunt-crank biscuit in one hand and
a two hundred-year-old scroll in the other.
The memory of children’s cotton candied fingers
keeps his brusque demeanor at arm’s length.
He works in the negative, his pattern
a mystery to me, but a crease between the bridge
of his nose and his eyebrows is the absence
of sailboats long since stored for the winter.
Will we learn something by the weight of them?
He and I will never be young enough
again to think that friends don’t die.
You can keep your emptiness;
all I hear is sirens and defiance,
loud as a burst of gunfire through ghosts.
I’ve stopped believing in magic.
We are all dodging death,
scattered, secluded, incidents of light.

NaNoWriMo 2019

I have to admit, it creeps up on me every year.

We spend a good six weeks in Happy Hallowe’en mode around here. We even throw a huge annual bash, usually the Saturday before Hallowe’en (unless the 31st is on a Friday or Saturday, and then it’s the actual day). This year was our 20th annual Masquerade. And when there are several days between the two — as there were this year — it can feel like our party is the big event and it’s just limbo until the 31st after that. It’s a pleasant sort of limbo, though, one in which I can appreciate the other things going on in my life a little better — or get a little more work done — until trick-or-treating time.

So I have to admit my focus isn’t entirely on NaNoWriMo when November 1st rolls around every year. But oh, I do love it when November 1st is here.

If you’ve been following my blog a while you know that I’m not a traditional NaNoWriMo participant. I don’t actually even attempt to write 50,000 words during a month which includes a busy time in the semester and Thanksgiving break. (We host at our house, so no rest for the blissfully weary. Also, every holiday from school is, in one way or another, a working holiday. It just is.) But I do make the commitment to work on my writing in a meaningful way every day or night for the entire month of November. This looks a little different each year and depends significantly on what my current writing projects are.

I like to post about it here on my blog for accountability’s sake, among other reasons. So here we go, my ambitions for 2019’s NaNoWriMo:

*  I’m working on revisions for my next book in the Animal Affinities series, and I need to get it very much finished up in the next few weeks. If you enjoyed Finis., you will also probably love the next story. The working title is Homecoming, although my editor might change that. This story revolves around a girl named Raqia. She’s in eleventh grade, she’s a Lebanese immigrant to Texas, and she’s navigating some very weird stuff. Also, if you were intrigued by the wolf packs in Finis., you should know that Homecoming features the wolves quite prominently. And that’s all I’ll be saying about that for now…

*  Once Homecoming is out the door, I’ll be back to working on my next novel, which at the moment I’m about a fourth to a third of the way through. I put it on hold while I edited another novel (currently on submission) and Homecoming and put together my next collection of poems. (I mean, yes, it’s been a busy year. But honestly, when is it not?) But I have made a promise that I will get back to this novel as soon as possible, and so that’s on the horizon as well.

*  I participated in the August Poetry Postcard Fest again this year, which has been awesome yet again, but I admit I am still a handful of cards behind. (No shame, though. Last year I was still getting cards from other poets all the way into February. So.) Anyway, I need to finish those up. I’m really close to that, so I’m calling it a NaNoWriMo goal and that’s that. (And once those cards are all out the door, I will register for next year’s fest!)

Some people might feel annoyed that I’m using the month this way. I am not concerned about that. One day, I am confident, I will be able to approach the NaNoWriMo the way the creators of it intended. One day. Not today, though. *shrug*

Onward and upward, shall we? Yes!

Witchy Weekends: The Frog Wish (part 4)

Hello! Sorry this post is a little late, but there were too many holiday festivities over the weekend for me to get this scene into a readable state in time.

So below you’ll find the fourth installment in a new story I’m working on, working title “The Frog Wish.” I hope you’ll read it and give me your opinions on it. It’s best to start with the first scene and work through them in order for them to make the most sense.

Click this link for the first scene.

Click this link for the second scene.

Click this link for the third scene.


“The Frog Wish” (part 4)

The mirror world was cold. Eleanor wasn’t dressed warmly enough in the bum-around t-shirt she’d put on to move furniture. She let her hair out of its ponytail, but that only kept the wind off her neck and shoulders. It was something, but not enough. And she had no idea how long she’d been here because whenever she looked at her watch, the hands just spun around like a drunken compass pointing at everything but the time. And the landscape they gestured to appeared to be a grayscale world of nebulous wooded avenues and the vague sense of the outdoors. She couldn’t see far and didn’t want to go wandering, lest she become lost and unable to return to whatever portal Moira had sent her through. So she sat down in the shelter of a large silver tree and stewed in furious wait for Reginald to show up.

“A frog. How am I even going to recognize him?” He hadn’t looked particularly unusual, as frogs went, the one time she’d seen him in Moira’s shop.

Had that only been this morning?

Yes, she had just been in the shop today, and she remembered Moira had dropped something small and hard into her pocket. Eleanor was still wearing those same loose lounging pants and pulled the item out. It was maybe the size of three acorns tied together and wrapped in black and white ribbons. She unwrapped them and found a dark stone, almost burgundy-brown, covered in alternating bands of different shades of red. It was polished smooth and warm from being close to her body.

“Thank you for not traveling far from this spot,” came a croaky voice off to her left.

Eleanor spun around and saw a large frog staring at her. “Reginald?” she asked, hoping she wasn’t talking to some random frog and also, hearing voices that weren’t there.

“That’s me. Ribbit.” The frog’s tongue whipped from its mouth and licked its own eyeball.

“Moira sent you?”


“Did she tell you why she sent me into the mirror world?”

“Is that what you’re calling it? Ribbit.

“What else am I going to call it?” she asked, more shrilly than she intended. “How did she even put me here? How can I get home?” She lifted the book and the stone. “And what use are these?”

“You have any other questions?” Was it possible for a frog to look even more nonplussed than a frog usually did? If so, Reginald seemed to be attempting it.

Eleanor put her head down on her knees. “This experience has reached the limits of my ability to handle the surreal.”

“That’s okay.” She looked up at him. “I’ll wait until you’re ready to get going.” Reginald’s tongue flicked out again and caught something Eleanor couldn’t even see.

“Are you going to take me home?”

“Nope. Ribbit.

“I want to talk to Moira.”

“I don’t have a phone, so you’re going to have to wait until you get back to the other side.”

“How the hell am I supposed to do that??”


Eleanor put her face in her hands and screamed. When she looked back up, Reginald was still sitting there, looking as calm as any frog she’d ever seen. Which is to say, just like all frogs. Frogs which sat on the edges of ponds, and under hedges near the sidewalk after a rain, and occasionally in the woods Eleanor had visited when she was a child and her family got out of the city for a couple of days. Frogs which could not, as far as she had ever known, do anything at all to be helpful other than eat mosquitoes.

Finally she got up and dusted off whatever black dirt might have gotten on the back of her pants. She held out the stone toward Reginald.

“What is this rock?” she asked. “Can you identify it?”

He twisted his eyes slightly. “Looks like a tiger’s eye.”

A stone of protection. Okay, best not to lose that. She stuffed it back into her pocket and wrapped the ribbons into a loop and put them in there, too. She held up the fairy tale book.

“And this? Why did Moira think I need this here with me?”

“Don’t you like to read? Ribbit.

She took a deep breath to avoid shouting at him. He was just a frog, after all. What did he know from books?

“How long am I going to be stuck here?” Moira had made it seem like it might be a while, if she was planning to take care of Eleanor’s house while she was gone.

And what about her client meetings next week?
And what about food? She was starting to feel hungry. So far she hadn’t seen anything in the twenty-foot radius she’d explored that might be edible.

“And what time is it, anyway? Do you know?”

Reginald’s eyes swiveled up at what passed for sky here: a dense canopy of metallic looking leaves. He looked back at her. “Night.”

She closed her eyes and took a slow, deep breath. Then let it out. Then took another, and slowly let it out. After her third cleansing breath, she could speak in a calmer tone of voice.

“What am I supposed to do here?”

“My guess is go on a quest. Ribbit.

“And are you going to help me with that?” Why else would Moira have sent him?

“I could. I know a pretty terrific spot not far from here where people sometimes visit.”

She wondered what people, and whether Moira had shoved them through their own mirrors, too.

“All right then.” She bent down, then untied and retied her shoelaces a little more securely. When she stood up, she made her t-shirt as presentable as she could. She put her hair back into its ponytail then thought better of it; it was still pretty cold here. She looked down at Reginald. “Lead the way.”

“Ribbit.” He turned around and hopped off, pretty fast for a little guy. She had to jog after him to keep up.


Thank you for reading! In the comments, I welcome your feedback:
*  What did you like?
*  What confused you, if anything?
*  What needs work?
*  What are you most interested about?
*  What do you think will happen next?

The Witchy Weekends series is finished for another eleven months, but if you’re interested in reading more of Eleanor’s story, please do let me know! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little experiment of mine; tell me what you thought in the comments below.


Want to read more of my writing that’s already finished and published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books in Houston at Blue Willow Bookshop!

Witchy Weekends: (Still Under Construction)

Hey there. If you’ve been following my new story “The Frog Wish” here on the blog, you’ll note that I haven’t yet posted this weekend’s scene. That’s because I’m still working on it and don’t feel like it’s really ready yet for an audience. It will be posted before Witchy Season is over, however, so just stay tuned…

If you want to catch up on the first three installments, here they are:
part 1
part 2
part 3


Witchy Weekends: The Frog Wish (part 3)

Here’s the third installment of my newest story, working title “The Frog Wish.” I hope you’ll read it and give me your opinions on it. It’s best to start with the first scene and work through them in order for them to make the most sense.

Click this link for the first scene.

Click this link for the second scene.

And here’s the third one. Enjoy!


“The Frog Wish” (part 3)

Moira whistled low when Eleanor told her she’d spent over twelve hundred dollars on a few new pieces of furniture for her bedroom. “I’m sure it’s a fair price for everything,” she said, but Eleanor knew she was thinking it was just a whole lot of money. “Would you like some help getting everything settled in?”

Eleanor would. Moira arrived a little after six, as soon as she closed up her shop. The delivery men had been gone only about fifteen minutes, and as soon as she let Moira in, Eleanor sprawled out on the floor with a cold bottle of water sluicing condensation onto her forehead.

“The bed is actually already put together,” Eleanor explained. “I got the supporting slats after I left the antiques shop and made it home just in time. But there aren’t any sheets on it yet, and the bureau is empty.” She sat up. “And there’s the matter of the mirror.”

“What mirror?” Moira asked, lifting the tapestry satchel off her shoulder and making herself comfortable on the sofa.

“I bought an enormous mirror. I don’t even know why.”

“You like mirrors. This one must have felt special to you.”

Eleanor took the water bottle off her face and turned to Moira. “Look around you at all the mirrors in this house.”

There were maybe a dozen scattered around the walls in the living room, the hallway, even the kitchen. And all of them were smaller than eight inches in diameter, some of them so decorated by their frames that they weren’t even useful as looking glasses. Eleanor loved mirrors, but she didn’t really use them.

Moira shrugged. “This isn’t the first time I’ve been inside your house. What’s so special about this?”

Eleanor sighed. “The mirror I bought is…large.”

Moira grinned. “Maybe you’ll be able to check your outfit properly before you leave the house each morning.”

Eleanor flipped her half-empty water bottle at her, but she wasn’t really annoyed. Moira caught the bottle and laughed.

“Yeah, that’s fair,” Eleanor said and heaved herself to standing. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

“Just a minute,” Moira said, rummaging in her satchel. She pulled out a gift-wrapped rectangle and handed it to her. “Here, have a house-reclaiming gift.”

“What is this?” Eleanor asked, eagerly sliding a fingernail under the edge of the wrapping paper.

“A book,” Moira said, although that was obvious from its shape.

The paper shed, Eleanor held a heavy volume of Grimms’ original fairy tales. She fingered the gilt edges of the pages and ran her palm down the thick spine, searching for something to say. She flipped through some of the pages.

“These illustrations are beautiful,” she said.

Moira smiled.  “I thought you’d like them, since you love the art in my tarot cards so much.”

Eleanor only nodded slightly, keeping her eyes fixed on the book. She didn’t want to risk another reading tonight.

“This isn’t a full set of their stories, of course––there are hundreds of them––but all the usual suspects are in there, all the stories that most of us grew up with.”

“It’s really nice,” Eleanor said. “But, Moira…”

“Yes…?” She was still smiling, although Eleanor felt a little awkward.

“Isn’t this––I mean, aren’t I a little old for fairy tales?”

Moira sighed, but her cheerfulness didn’t fade. “Actually, my dear, that is the problem.”

“I don’t understand.”

Moira shrugged. “No matter. Let’s go see the new furniture.”

When Eleanor opened the door to her bedroom, everything felt strange and cold. Unlived-in. It actually felt like she really had just moved in.

Moira stepped over the threshold and let out a long, slow breath. “You really are reclaiming this space,” she murmured, her voice a mixture of admiration and awe.

“I suppose.” Eleanor sniffed. “It’s a lot of work––”

“Everything worth doing is,” Moira said, swiveling to catch Eleanor’s eyes. “Don’t be afraid of it. Even the upheaval can be an act of creation.”

That sounded like another one of those strange things Moira sometimes said that probably meant more than it Eleanor thought it did at first and which maybe felt a little confusing. Eleanor felt a sudden shift in her core that suggested she would understand it better later, whether she wanted to or not. She shuddered involuntarily.

Moira cocked her head. “Something the matter?”

“Just a chill down my spine,” Eleanor said.

Moira smiled and ventured farther into the room. As she inspected the carvings on the bedframe and the multitude of drawers and cabinets and hiding spaces on the bureau, her mood grew giddy. “You’ve made some beautiful choices,” she said.

Eleanor sighed and noticed a tightness in her chest. It didn’t feel like she had made amazing choices lately. A sudden powerful impulse to sit down and just have a good cry came over her. She didn’t want to, but she found herself plopping down in the middle of the floor, the fairy tale book in her lap, and leaning her face into her hands. Then Moira’s arm was around her shoulders, her head resting on top of Eleanor’s, and the world stopped spinning out of control. Eleanor sighed and lifted her face. Moira smelled like cinnamon and cocoa, one of Eleanor’s favorite combinations.

“Okay,” she said, dredging up a renewed sense of energy. “Come see this mirror and then let’s get some dinner.” They stood.

“Do you want a reading first?” Moira asked, opening her satchel again. “I brought your favorite deck.”

“I don’t think so but thank you.” She wasn’t sure she wanted to see what the cards had to say this time.

Moira opened her mouth but then just shook her head. Eleanor almost asked what she’d been about to say, but she knew if it was important to Moira she’d say it later over a roasted eggplant and spinach salad.

“Here we go,” Eleanor said as they stood in front of the new mirror. It took up most of the wall between the closet and the bathroom. The cloudy white streaks running down the entire surface distorted the image of the bedroom and of the two women standing in it. Moira cocked her head to the side again and flipped her long braids behind her shoulders. Her green sweater and broomstick skirt appeared to be one long dress. Eleanor’s unkempt ponytail looked even messier.

“Ah, I see,” Moira said.

That sounded enigmatic. “What do you see?”

Moira looked at her, a small smile pinching her lips, then went over to where they’d been sitting and picked up the Grimms volume. She came back and handed it to Eleanor.

“What’s this about?” Moira was acting more strangely silent than usual. She patted Eleanor’s pocket, the one she’d slipped the ribbon-wrapped something into earlier that day. Eleanor had forgotten all about it.

Moira smiled. “Don’t lose that,” she said. Eleanor reached into her pocket to take it out and see what it was, but Moira stopped her. “Not yet,” she cautioned. Then she positioned Eleanor squarely in the center of the mirror and stepped away. “Don’t move.”

Eleanor felt a strange compulsion not to, but she asked, “Why not?”

Moira reached inside her satchel. Out of the corner of Eleanor’s eye, she thought she could see a small vial, which Moira emptied into the palm of her hand.

“Do you trust me, Eleanor?”

Of course she did. Even when she wasn’t sure it was the best course of action. “You know the answer to that.”

Moira nodded, then stepped forward and kissed Eleanor gently on the cheek. “You’re going to be okay.” She stepped back out of the mirror range again.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence, but what––”

Then Moira blew whatever was in her hand into Eleanor’s face. She coughed in a haze of something glittery and sweet. This was getting a little theatrical, even for Moira.

“What was th––”

Then the floor trembled beneath her and she stumbled. The lights flickered. She dropped the book but caught it before it could land; for some reason, that seemed important. When she straightened up again and rubbed her eyes, she opened them onto a silvery landscape. She spun around.

“Moira? What was––”

She expected to see her bedroom, and she did, but it was a narrow view framed by the same beveled edge as the mirror. Long jagged streaks of cloudy white interrupted the view. Moira stood exactly opposite her, in the bedroom. But Eleanor wasn’t there with her.

She looked at her surroundings. They were both familiar and strange. “What the hell did you do, Moira?” She heard her voice growing impatient and felt her throat constricting. “What sort of hallucination is this?”

Moira shook her head gently. “It’s not a hallucination. And you’re going to be fine.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t panic, love. I’ll take care of your house while you’re gone and be right here when you get back.”

“Back from where?” She gestured angrily around her. “Where on earth am I?”

“It’s all good, Eleanor. I’ll send Reginald to help you.”

“What? Your frog?? Are you out of you mind?” Eleanor felt like she was maybe out of her own.

Moira smiled. “Just sit tight. He’ll find you if you aren’t too far from this spot. It won’t take long.” She blew her a kiss then waved good-bye. When she stepped out of view, Eleanor’s bedroom looked unfamiliar and uninviting. Then the lights dimmed and she heard the door close.

She sat down heavily onto the silvery ground, trying to make sense of where she was and what had happened. But there was no way she could. Nothing in her reality could possibly prepare her for the possibility of entering a mirror world.

She pushed her hand into the streaky view of her bedroom, but she couldn’t press past the glass.

“I don’t believe this,” she murmured. She put her face back in her hands and waited for the sense of upheaval, the spinning and cold sweat, to subside.

When she got back to where she was supposed to be, she and Moira were going to have words.


Thank you for reading! In the comments, I welcome your feedback:
*  What did you like?
*  What confused you, if anything?
*  What needs work?
*  What are you most interested about?
*  What do you think will happen next?

Click here for the next installment in the story!


Want to read more of my writing that’s already finished and published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books in Houston at Blue Willow Bookshop!