Here’s the hero x villain/enemies to lovers, fancy ball, daggers to throat as promised!
I didn’t read through this more than one time, so it might be a couple of mistakes in there
Anyway, I gladly take feedback, hope you enjoy<3
Word count: 700+
“Excuse me?” Hero said to the person in front of them. They were bored to death at the ball they were attending. It was an annual thing, but Hero rarely went, because, well, they knew they would be bored to death. They decided to go this year, though, because the past year they had gotten better, climbed the ranks, even gotten their own nemesis. But that didn’t mean they would try to pay attention to anyone who talked to them.
“I asked if you wanted to dance.” They smiled. They were actually quite good-looking, but Hero wasn’t there to have fun. Just to make a statement. And free food, obviously.
“Oh, I, uh… Was actually waiting for someone. Thank you, though.” They lied. Waiting for something interesting to happen would be closer to the truth, but it never did at these arrangements. Not even the craziest of villains would dare to attack when over half of the heroes in town were in the same place.
The person nodded respectfully and walked away, and as if on cue, someone across the room winked at Hero. Not just any someone. Their nemesis. Villain. How the hell Villain had gotten into this place in the first place, they had no idea, but God knows they were going to find out.
Hero quickly walked across the room, past all the people dancing, heading straight towards Villain. Villain, though, smirked at them, and ran away, into some random hallway, and Hero picked up their pace.
They ended up in an empty room. It wasn’t very big, only a couch and a small coffee table was able to fit in there. Out the window, Hero could see the light snow falling from the night sky. They liked snow. They also liked knowing what the hell Villain was up to.
Hero opened their mouth to ask what they were doing and how they got in, but quickly closed it again, when Villain pushed them backwards. In one swift motion, Hero was pinned up against the wall, with Villain’s dagger to their throat.
“Hey, sweetheart.” Villain smirked and pushed their body closer to Hero.
“Don’t call me that. What the fuck are you doing here? And how did you get in?!” Hero rolled their eyes, but felt their face become hotter with the sudden intimacy with their nemesis. Luckily, the room was dark, and Villain didn’t notice.
“Alright then, babe. I’m here to have fun, of course! And I got in by a little thing called identity theft. It works like a charm!”
“Of course you did something illegal to get in.”
“Well, I am a villain after all. Anyway. Let’s get out of here, shall we?” Villain said, but didn’t move. What would Villain do to them anyway? Hero knew they would never actually try to kill them.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Hero said, and pretended to be bored. They weren’t bored anymore, though. They prayed for something interesting to happen, and, well, it did. And although they had a dagger pressed on their throat, they weren’t actually scared. They knew Villain would never hurt them badly, and though they wouldn’t say this out loud, they liked being this close to their nemesis.
“It didn’t exactly look like you were enjoying yourself out there, angel.”
“I don’t exactly enjoy having a dagger on my throat either.” They lied. Villain just chuckled and looked down.
They were only distracted for a second, but that was enough time for Hero. They stomped on Villain’s foot, punched their shoulder, and snapped the dagger right out of their hand. Then they turned them around, pinned them up against the wall, with Villain’s own dagger to their throat. Stupid Hero for not bringing their own weapon. Oh well, it didn’t matter now.
“Wow, okay. If you wanted to pin me up against the wall this bad, you could have just asked.” Villain smirked, and Hero knew it was supposed to annoy them, but it only made their heart pump faster.
“And where’s the fun in that? You don’t need to know what I’m gonna do to you.” Hero whispered. See, things like this were the reason they became a hero in the first place. The sarcastic banter and the flirty undertones with their villain. It gave them adrenalin for days.
“Oh, really?” Villain smirked even more, and lightly traced Hero’s collarbone with their finger. “What are you gonna do, beautiful?”
As I said, I barely read through this, but I hope it was okay anyway!
And the title is so creative am I right
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Currently reading: Ted Chiang - Exhalation
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BE THE CRYPTID
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Mirrors Do Not Make Promises
The evil-queen-to-be looked into the magic mirror and asked: “Am I beautiful?”
The mirror had not been addressed in many years, hanging like an island in the center of the iron chamber. The curtain was gone though. The room smelled of dust. There was light somewhere, oh lords, there was light.
The mirror, a phantom outline on the surface, peered down. A girl stood, hooked nose, thin lips, dark hair the texture of crow’s feathers, and ruddy skin– both too pale and flushed all at once. Teeth like overlapping piano keys and body gangly as a newborn calf. She wore the finest gown of deep purple, heavy and dragging on the dirty floor.
Her chin wobbled. She had a determined set to her gaze, but her cheeks were tear-stained, and eyes as red as daybreak, at least the types of daybreak the mirror could still remember. The mirror tilted her head.
“Am I beautiful?!” the girl repeated and stomped her foot this time, pinpricks of tears spilling out. There was a purpling welt across her right cheek, a bruise forming with a tinted yellow edge. She must be an island as well.
The mirror closed her eyes. She nodded. “You will be. You have been. You are.”
The girl’s eyes went large as entire skies, at least, the type of skies the mirror could still remember. “Promise?” It was a child’s whisper.
“I do not make promises,” the mirror replied, and the girl huffed.
“Fine.” The curtain returned.
“Am I beautiful?”
The evil-queen-to-be was taller now, growing into herself. Her hollow cheeks had rounded, and teeth slowly straightened out through small spells and larger ones. The mirror had felt when she found that little black book, a moldy, stained thing, fleshy and dank. The mirror did not always spread her awareness out into the lives of men, but there was no ignoring the tremor through the air that night.
“Did you hear me?” The girl had returned, on the cusp of forgoing shorter hems and growing into the adult ones.
The mirror hummed. “You again. My girl.”
“You again, my mirror.” The girl sneered. She narrowed her eyes. “Do you even have a name?”
“No.” The mirror responded. “Do you?”
The girl rolled her eyes. “I suppose you do not hear them yelling it through the hallways, Esme! Esme! Foolish, tricky girl.”
“I do not hear them. No.”
The girl blinked several times. “Oh.”
“Esme.” The mirror tried out the name.
“You may call me Lady Esme.” She sniffed loudly and crossed her arms. “I’m nobility.”
“Of course, my lady.” The mirror inclined her head. “Ask your question then.”
The girl considered her for a long moment. “Am I beautiful?”
“Have you not asked before?”
The girl flushed a deep red and glared at her shoes. “You’re just like everyone else.” She twisted in place to leave.
“Of course,” the mirror murmured. “You are beautiful.”
Esme glanced shyly over her shoulder. “Really? You promise?”
“I do not make promises.”
The door slammed, but the curtain did not return.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” the young woman sang and skipped. “Who should I poison at the ball?” She carried a flower and small book tucked away at her side. The mirror had watched her fill the book with cramped tiny handwriting, coded through a complex numerology.
It was filled with the secrets of the tomes she unearthed and more she made herself. “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” she kept singing. “Who should I poison with my comb?”
“You jest.” The mirror spoke slowly. “But if you must poison one, poison the only son of the Duke of Engles. He plans to bed a scullery maid and will not be easily deterred by no.”
The evil-queen-to-be stopped in place and faced the mirror. Her clever face and clever eyes were cold and sharp. She was older now. “Noted,” she said thoughtfully and plucked at the flower in her hand. She lifted her chin up high, “this will be my first showing.”
“I know.” The mirror replied. “You will dance and make merry. Be careful of the wine, my lady.”
“How do you know so much?” Esme squinted and leaned forward. “What exactly do you know?”
“I know everything reflected in the world of men and more.” The mirror said and watched the light fall across the floor. She still wasn’t facing the window, and how her chest ached for it.
“But how?” Esme insisted.
“I am old,” she stated simply.
Esme rolled her eyes. “Well, I could have guessed that.”
“But ageless. Time cannot touch me, nor can I touch it. But I can peer through its many threads into the greater tapestry.”
Esme tilted her head thoughtfully, mind at work. “So,” she said with a cat-like smirk. “I really will be beautiful.”
“You are. You have been. You will be.”
Esme went blank for a moment before turning in place. “I must prepare for my debut on the market.” She sprouted an edged grin and looked over her shoulder. “And who should I marry there, my mirror?”
The mirror did not blink. “The king.”
Esme’s eyes lost their mischief, she frowned, and closed the door softly.
“They’ll burn me, they’ll burn me!” Esme cried and paced back and forth. She was still wearing a luscious green gown with bell-shaped sleeves. It was torn in places, sullied. “Dammit, they know!’
A roar of voices came from down below. The mirror knew the lady hadn’t meant to face the Duke’s son and win. She hadn’t meant to use her secrets on a whim. But she had.
Esme tore at her hair. “This is it! They’ll tie me to the post for sure.”
“Sneak past the gathered mob, take the body down to the pond,” the mirror instructed without inflection. “Color his beard with blue paste and say it was the lady of the lake.”
“What?” Esme turned and searched the mirror’s face.
“Slay the lady with a sword, it will be easy, she is old. Call the king and tell him of how you were forced to take up arms.” The mirror continued. “Blame the magic of the hour on the water lady’s powers.”
Esme’s eyes were huge again, like skies, like a child. “You mean,” she whispered, stilled. “But where will I get a sword? How will I hide what I have done?”
“You know the answer, I’ve spoken true. Do not hesitate,” the mirror growled. “Go!”
The new queen carried the mirror under her arm. It was wrapped carefully in sheets and twine, held close to her body at an awkward angle. Esme threatened any servant that drew too close: No, I don't want help. I’ll be carrying this one myself. Don’t handle it, don’t breathe on it, don’t look. Gone with you!
The trip was long and jarring. The carriage rattled. The heat sweltered. The queen loosened the twine now and then, pressing a single finger to the glass. “We’re close,” she murmured with reverence. She hid her small books better now. “We’ve done it.”
The palace trumpets bellowed on the third day and Esme gasped. The mirror strained to see.
“Do you hear that?” Esme’s fingers lingered warmly across the glass. “For us.”
The mirror exhaled slowly. “Can you put me by a window?” She ventured slowly. “High up. Where I can see the sky.”
“Of course.” Esme responded. “Anything, anything at all.”
The queen’s tower was the tallest in the castle. She bargained for it with words and favors the mirror did not pry into. It had windows, left and right and behind. Enormous bays with shutters pushed open and birds that landed on the sills, curiously.
The mirror considered sending messages, but there was no one left who knew her. No one left to break the glass and return her to any sort of life. Besides, it had been so long, she wasn’t sure she remembered how.
And there was the sky.
The queen visited her daily, brought her scandalous gossip, brought her political news. She was laughing now, and golden. No one slapped her within these walls, no one commented on her hooked nose or hair that wouldn’t smooth.
The mirror studied her. “You are becoming beautiful, my lady, as you have always been.”
“Ah, but no promises?” The queen joked and plopped a grape in her mouth. She was always peeling oranges, biting into apples, and sampling fresh fruits now.
The mirror smiled. “Exactly.” There was a bitterness there. “No promises.”
Thunder struck the earth and rain battered against the windowpanes. The mirror did not sleep, and storms reminded her of why she never wished to. She was humming an old and lovely song when footsteps pounded down the hall.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall!” Esme burst into the room, chest heaving, eyes wild. “Mirror, oh God, oh God … What is wrong with me?”
Her cheeks were ruddy and hair in disarray. She was panting and clutching at her chest as if to wrench her own heart out of it. Her eyes were sunken, and lips colored a bright and brilliant shade of blood.
The mirror bowed her head. “It’s been a while, my liege.”
The queen reached forward with trembling fingers. “They haven’t let me visit.” Her lips curled back. “They are whispering.”
The mirror hummed. “I can hear them. Many wicked things.”
The queen closed her eyes. “Tell me.” She said in a pained rush. “Why does my belly not swell?” She swirled around. “Why am I barren?”
The mirror stared at her impassively. “You will know children.”
The queen exhaled and stared down at the floor. Then she tensed again, every nerve in her body taught and singing. “Will they be of my body?” She always was too clever. “Will I bear them?”
“She will be beautiful.” The mirror replied. “This princess.”
The queen covered her face and shook with a violent silent laugh. “I see. And will I hurt her?” She tossed her head back. “Or will they kill me before I can?”
The mirror’s brow creased. Something pulsed inside her that hadn’t since she knew the taste of berries and the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.
“There is a way,” she said steadily. “Become what you are meant to be and give up everything.”
The queen shook her head vigorously. “No … No! Just tell me how to become with child.”
“There is no way.” The mirror stated. “You are magic, my queen.”
“Demon! Wicked, traitorous thing!” Esme flew at her, fists balled, face twisted. She meant to break her. She meant to shatter the mirror to pieces small enough to swallow.
She stopped at the last second, staring deeply into the mirror’s eyes– the last of her past self, blue and golden as her people were. “Mirror.” She collapsed against the surface and folded into herself. “Am I beautiful?”
“Always.” The mirror pressed a hand to her cage. “Always, my lady.”
Esme wept and sagged and did not stand again until the dawn fanned its long fingertips across the land. The queen wiped her face clean then, got out her small book, and started scribbling.
The mirror listened. The birds whispered to her and she pushed her own senses out into a vast ocean of things. She heard of how the people glared and told their tales: a woman who made milk curdle. A woman who studied devilry and brought the fires and the rain. A woman who did not feel love or pain. Beautiful, too beautiful, and vain.
The mirror listened. She inserted herself back into the world of men.
Her birds planted poison in the cups of guards, all those would-be assassins. She sent rumors of worse things if the cooks dared consider putting glass into her meals. The mirror did not let the bishops speak of ordaining a royal separation, she did not let the people bring their torches or their manacles.
Esme visited more in those years. She sat beneath the mirror and asked her questions about life, the earth, and everything. A hungry creature, never satisfied, and attracted to the darkest things. She asked of monsters, storms, defying death, she asked of how to break prisons and escape any form of cage.
She wrote every word the mirror said down, and then added on her own. The questions only kept coming.
“Are you good, mirror?” Esme asked one day, huddled on the floor and far too thin. The King was off securing his heir, a daughter from a previous wife. The disgraced first queen had graciously bowed into the night in the wake of a scandal. She had no stomach for public hatred and they were allowed to retreat to the countryside. The king thought nothing of the loss then. Of course, he realized, too late, that no son would appear and went to fetch his only non-bastard child. Esme remained, scribbling.
“What do you say, my mirror, are you good?”
“I do not think so, no.” The mirror replied slowly. “I am being,” she searched for the word, “punished? I was put here on purpose.”
“Why?” The queen’s brow furrowed.
The mirror shrugged in her way. “I was troublesome.” She admitted, finding herself strangely self-conscious after all this time.
Esme snorted. “Good.” She turned the page of her book. “I would not have you any other way. Can you imagine? I’d be so alone in this world if you were good.”
The mirror smiled and later that night she sent birds to pluck out the eyes of local soldiers who came to kill her queen with poison daggers.
The story goes as it always does, the threads of the tapestry coming together with the princess and the apple. The weak hunter and the beauty with her heart still beating. A terrible sleep, a glass coffin, a kiss. Of course, it always goes differently then the way people write it down. A tapestry has many ways to catch the light.
The queen came to the mirror at last, crawling on her knees and whimpering. She smelled of smoke. “Can we leave now?” She begged. “Is it over?”
“It never ends.” The mirror said without feeling. “I know that much.”
Esme looked up with her bright shining eyes and a lightning burn across her cheek. She touched the mark lightly, unseeing. “I am not beautiful.”
The mirror reached for her, pressing her hand flat against her cage. “I would have you believe otherwise, my queen,” she croaked. “I would make promises.”
Esme staggered forward. She placed her palm against the mirror in turn. Their hands overlaid like kissing shadows. Fingertips aligned with no hint of warmth or skin. “I love books you know. And ugly things. I am crooked, cruel, and I have done so many things I am not proud of. Things I cannot take back.”
“Good.” The mirror returned forcefully. “I would hate to be alone.”
Esme took out a flask and it smelled of copper.
She always was too clever. The queen murmured secret words, pouring blood against the surface and burning it away like mist. The creature within drew long hard breaths as time rushed back in, inch by inch, plunging its fingers into her reanimating flesh. She pushed forward like a drowning sailor through tar-black waters.
“Is it enough? Please, let it be enough. I’ve done it. I’ve given up everything.” Esme reached and reached, pouring blood and pressing toward her. “Can you come out yet?”
In many ways, she did not expect anything, she did not expect it to work—much as you don’t expect an eclipse as surely the sun was permanent.
The hot spill of tears was the first shock. Who could be making her face wet like that? Who was making those terrible noises? The second was the evil queen’s hand, quick and warm and real. She couldn’t imagine anything more solid; the universe couldn’t possibly create something like that or surely the residents would do nothing all day but hold each other.
The third shock was the edgeless loveliness of her mouth.
The mirror knew infinity, it was flat and lifeless and empty. It was all she knew within that cage, oh but this, this was the sky. The salt and tears mixed with that brilliant rush of soft lips against soft skin. The mirror shuddered. She tucked them together and felt a pattering heartbeat against her own.
“Can I ask you questions now?” She, the Sylph, her, she rasped as Esme tangled them together, the ends of shredded threads forming knots. The Sylph looked into her eyes. “Can I make you promises?”
Esme laughed dryly, broken. “What answers could I possibly give you? I know so very little.” The queen peppered kisses on her cheeks. “But I am yours to command, anything you wish.”
“Take me away.” The mirror pleaded. The evil queen kissed the Sylph’s palm and pulled her away.
“As you wish. Anywhere.”
The Sylph never saw that room again, she never saw that tower, or the castle or the princess now turned ruler, but she saw the sky, unfolding and unfailing. In the woods beyond the lands of men, they took out rings beneath that sky, and made promises.
if you enjoyed the story please consider donating to my ko-fi or supporting me on patreon (even a dollar helps!), check out my book as well!
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okay, here are all my short stories available on my website! i’ll update the list as i publish more!
WHAT WE OWE EACH OTHER; horror, werewolves and mean girls, a fun cross between ginger snaps and russian doll. TRIGGER WARNINGS: suicide mentions, vague implications of sexual trauma
MIA & MAYA; horror, doppelgangers and balance. a woman is confronted by a unnervingly familiar face.
INGRID’S BODY; horror, a body after hours.
PICTURED: MARY MAGDALENE AT THE TOMB; drama, a mother faces the after effects of sainthood. TW; self-immolation, mentions of self-harm
THE WATER WOMEN; horror, a town’s strange tradition and the woman who follow it. TW; drowning
CHERRY WINE; horror + romance, a not-so-sweet sweet love. TW; violence
IT’S WARM IN HERE; gothic horror + sci-fi, the ship needs a heart.
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reviewsium I’ve been pretty busy with work last week, I took the train to go to a nearby city but I could travel together with Goethe and Kafka’s short stories I’m really enjoying. Next weeks I’m gonna place the next bookmail order and I was thinking of getting another classic, of course, maybe Mrs Dalloway, a new notebook for writing purpose, and a nonfiction also.
@bloomsburypublishing has kindly gifted me a copy of Louise Kennedy’s debut collection of Irish short stories, The End of The World is a Cul De Sac, I totally recommend !
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My very friendly reminder to myself to actually write today￼…
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if you want a retelling of orpheus and eurydice in a modern setting but if orpheus 'successfully' brought her back.. catherynne m. valente recently wrote a short story l'espirit de l'escalier
would give this a miss if you would be uncomfortable reading about reanimated but still dead & decaying bodies & all that entails.. hope that also suggests to you what sort of the macabre route this story has taken.. anyway, different retellings are always a delight for me personally and valente is an excellent writer so if anyone reads this, would love to know what u think!
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“There is only one thing this guy and I both agree on.”
Her mother rolled her eyes. “And what is that?”
“Neither of us want to marry each other.” She replied, leaning forwards over the afternoon-tea table, placing enough of her weight on it that the table tilted, and the cakes all came sliding towards her, leaving cream on her bodice.
Her mother sighed heavily, righted the table and placed the tea pot and china back down. “I can understand his point of view.”
She bit her lip, hard, trying to ignore the feeling of the cream soaking through the fabric and touching her skin. Her mother’s disappointment was a weapon frequently used against her, an effective one as it could reduce her to silence or tears depending on the situation.
“Felicity!” Her mother called, leaning back in her chair and yet managing to unbalance anything.
Felicity, the maid, appeared almost immediately as if she had been waiting to be called. “Yes, ma’am?”
“Please escort Poppy back to her room and try to remove the cream from her dress.” She turned an unimpressed look on her daughter. “I would prefer it if that dress could be worn again.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Felicity repeated, stepping back and looking patiently at Poppy.
“Take the back stairs,” her mother added, standing up and sweeping out of the room, “I would prefer that no one else sees her like this.”
Poppy bit her lip again, even harder, trying to keep back the tears that threatened to spill.
“This way, miss.”
She followed Felicity into the kitchen, not bothering to worry about her posture or how she walked for once. At least, she didn’t originally, but all eyes turned to them when Felicity led her into the kitchen and she instinctively straightened up- any of these people could report back to her mother.
“Come on.” Felicity caught her elbow and steered them towards one of the sinks, where she wet a cloth and began to carefully dab at the cream on her bodice. Her corset was probably ruined by now, this wasn’t the first accident she had experienced.
The staff side-eyed her as she stood there, murmuring among themselves, things she could not hear. The cooks were preparing food for dinner, the other maids were cleaning utensils as they finished being used or preparing the oven and fires. The stable boy glared at her as he walked by to speak to someone, furious enough that she flinched, hard enough that Felicity looked up from her work to follow her gaze and sigh.
“Don’t worry about Henry, miss, he is in a vile mood at the moment.”
“Why?” She asked, dropping her gaze back to the maid in front of her.
Felicity sighed again, rinsing out the cloth. “The one he loves is forced to marry another.”
A reversal of her own situation, Poppy thought, and the words spilled out of her before she could think. “Who is it? Maybe I could help? Attempt to break up the engagement?”
The maid blinked at her, as if surprised that Poppy even had it in her to offer to do nice things for other people, and then shook her head ruefully. “We do not talk about who holds Henry’s heart.”
Felicity dabbed at her chest a little harder, knocking her off balance and de-railing the conversation as Poppy nearly fell into the sink.
“Felicity,” she prompted, “why?”
“His desires are not… appropriate to talk about.” She wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“Who is it?” Poppy asked again, she had a quiet idea of what Felicity was implying. “A man?”
Felicity’s hands jerked, as if she was not expecting Poppy to say anything of the sort. “Yes. So, you understand…”
She turned her head again to see Henry, he was smiling at one of the scullery maids, cheerful surrounded by friends but his face fell back into the angry scowl when he noticed her eyes on him.
“It’s me.” She said, unable to look away from him. “I’m the one his love is forced to marry.”
The indifference with which her fiancé treated her now made sense, the way he argued with everything she said, acting as though they could not agree on anything. She pulled herself out of Felicity’s gentle hold and went over to Henry without thinking. She was doing too much of that today.
“I’m sorry.” She found herself saying. “I don’t want to marry him but my mother refuses to let me break off the engagement.”
Henry blinked at her, dumbstruck.
“Just tell me,” she pleaded, “does he really hate me or was he just trying to get me to leave him?”
Henry glanced down at the floor. “He was trying to make you hate him. To break it off.”
“Does he have horses?”
Henry and everyone else she could see around him looked back up at her, bemused, it was a rather abrupt change of topic.
“Because….” She glanced around briefly, trying not to run away with the weight of everyone’s eyes on her, “because we will of course need a stable boy and my horses are most comfortable under your care, so…”
His face softened in front of her, an unexpected smile breaking through the clouds. “Yes, I would like that.”
“Very well, it is decided.”
“I need to speak to him.” Henry added, a minor amount of panic on his face as he bolted from the kitchen, leaving the door swinging behind him.
Standing there, in the middle of the kitchen, wearing a dress that was equal parts sopping and covered in cream, Poppy found that she was looking forward to the future for the first time in years.
Based on the prompt in bold by @givethispromptatry
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Clarice Lispector, from "Miss Algrave", Soulstorm: Stories (tr. Alexis Levitin)
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carla: *headache intensifies￼*
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Book: The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories edited by Jay Rubin
Beer: Blue Law by Legal Draft Beer Co.
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Hi !! I wanted to ask if you have any recommendation on short stories ? Specially food related . I barely read short stories tbh . Aside from Rabindranath tagore's ' Galpaguchchha ' I have zero reading experience on short stories. 🖤
I wasn't sure how to go about this ask, since I felt you were maybe asking me for Bengali reading recs. So here are some of my favourite shory story collections in Bengali:
Rajkahini by Abanindranath Tagore: to be honest, it's built like a novel comprising several chapters, each dealing with a different historical/quasi-mythical figure from Rajasthani history. But to me it reads very much like a collection of very descriptive, very immersive short folk/historical stories.
Ek Dojon Goppo and Aro Ek Dojon by Satyajit Ray: a mix of horror, SciFi, pure psychological mind games, and satire. I urge you to read the untranslated Bengali version because so much of Ray's sparkling wit is lost in translation.
Short Stories by Rabindranath Tagore: You've mentioned Galpaguchcha but if one wants a headway into the classics then I suggest his 1918 version which includes the most beloved ones like The Postmaster, The Kabuliwala etc. I have always preferred Tagore's shorter works to his novels personally.
Parashuram (Rajshekhar Basu) has written some extremely funny stories which are typically and ridiculously Bengali in their appeal. I recommend Birinchi Baba (where a group of young adults try to expose a fraud baba) and Bhusundir Math (guy with a nagging wife makes an unfortunate deal with goddess Kali). Once again, read the Bengali editions!
Stories by Ashapurna Devi typically deal with refugee crises, feminism and rural Bengal. Admittedly she is more famous for her Subarnalata trilogy but even her shorter work is so good.
other short story recommendations:
Road to the Bazaar (Ruskin Bond): charming collection of tales centred around children growing up in the Gharwal region of North India. Includes nighttime trains, beetle races, secret gardens and the typical Bond-esque desi Ghibli charm. Anything by Bond should be a good place to start actually, I believe the Best of Ruskin Bond collection has amazing short stories and travel essays, many of which include sumptuous descriptions of food.
The Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri): putting this here to purposely spite the people who accuse me of "prioritising diasporic authors like Lahiri" I'm so sorry I should find comfort in the works of Bengali authors. This collection is gorgeous, stories about Bengalis in India, Bangladesh and Boston (the last being where the author grew up) and stands out for the amazing portrayal of messy, complicated relationships, cultural identity issues and an amazing cast of characters. [Food related stories: A Temporary Matter, Mrs. Sen, When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine; food and cooking is extremely important to Bengali culture and these stories are fantastic at exploring this].
The Short Stories (Guy de Maupassant): don't @ me but I think Maupassant >>>>>> O. Henry and Saki, and I'm not just saying that as he was the first short story author I ever read. His stories aren't always reliant on twist endings or sudden reversals, but it's the way he studies the ugly and beautiful sides of human nature and the way he describes horrifically tragic scenarios with a kind of beauty that I feel Henry and Saki lack. [Food related stories: Boule de Suif (rather horrifying symbolism), Two Little Soldiers, Mademoiselle Pearl (set against a feast and cake-cutting ceremony)]
Her Body and Other Parties (Carmen Maria Manchado): grotesque, brilliantly written stories that combines the feminist narrative with the surreal, the experimental and the quasi-horror. It does have a lot of triggers (Manchado's works do usually, I recommend looking them up) and not all the stories have the same impact, but it's still a great collection. [ Cooking and food figure in certain stories like The Husband Stitch and Eight Bites but the implications are not always of comfort and warmth, be cautious. ]
Friends in Small Places (Ruskin Bond): this one is basically if you read the one above and get depressed. One more Ruskin Bond!! This collection includes personal anecdotes and fictional short pieces about people who are seemingly unimportant but have impacted the writer/the narrator greatly due to a variety of reasons, a dawdling uncle, an ex schoolteacher, a vegetable vendor, a kite-maker. Often funny, and equally often poignant. [ Food related stories: Uncle Ken, Uncle Bill, Prem. Look for more in his Best of collections. ]
On my TBR:
Hungry Hearts: I feel you would really enjoy this one, as you mentioned stories of food! It's an anthology set in a fictional street called Hungry Heart Row, each story centred around food and cooking in some way. Contributing authors include Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon and Elise Chapman among others.
Mohanaswamy (Vasudendhra): a gay man in Karnataka reminisces about his experiences after his partner marries a woman. I keep hearing mixed reviews about this short story collection, some people praise it as a nuanced portrayal of homosexuality in rural India but others say the translation (from Kannada to English) is poor and the depiction falls flat. I guess I'll let you know once I read it.
The Adivasi will Not Dance (Hansda S. Shekhar): ever since I heard of this collection I've been wanting to purchase it, and now that my exam is over I will definitely read it. It's mostly centred around the Santhal community in Jharkhand, and deals with issues like religious riots, class privilege and the treatment of Santhali women. The author also wrote the beautiful "My Father's Garden" I'm sure you've seen this novel in multiple south asian queer literature recs.
I hope these help. I have other food related fictional recommendations but most of those are novels, so this is all I can think of.
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used book or new? read with coffee or tea? collect books or pass them on? read outside or inside? classics or new releases? e-book or audiobook? historical fiction or dystopian? the smell of a book or the feel of worn pages? short chapters or long? Earth or invented world? read alone or book club? poetry or short stories? movie or tv show adaptation? read on a sunny day or rainy day?
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Sword Stone Table is a new anthology of stories that present new takes on the legends of King Arthur from the points of view of marginalized authors -- critc Liza Graham says "you'll find a lot to like and, almost certainly, something to love" in its pages, "whether you're seeking adventure, tragedy, self-discovery or just plain fun." Check out her full review here.
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“You’ve fallen in love with four different people! You’re dating them all at once! Why am I not included in that! I love you more than them!”
“That right there is why.”
He paused; mouth already prepared to spill out a rousing speech about how far he would go to prove his love. “What?”
She was looking at him with a deep sorrow in her eyes and he resisted the urge to apologise, despite not knowing why she was sad. A hand came up to cradle the side of his face, her skin as soft and movements as careful as he remembered and then dropped abruptly. “My love is not something to rationed and your love is not something that can be measured.”
“I would love you enough that you would not need others to satisfy you.” He replied weakly, a part of him already aware that this prepared argument was not going to sway her.
She sighed. “You don’t listen to me.” And turned away.
He watched her take a few steps away from him, back towards the house that she shared with her four lovers. “Wait!”
She didn’t stop, glanced back with the same deep sorrow and then kept going.
“Your love can’t be rationed!” He repeated desperately, forming the sentence as he spoke. “I can’t do that, what I said- I can’t love you enough that you would only need me…”
To his high relief, she paused and turned back to him.
“I was wrong!” He continued with the same desperation. It would only take one wrong sentence for her to walk out of his life forever. “I was wrong and uneducated but I can be better, please. Please.”
She turned her face away from him and he could almost hear his heart breaking in his chest.
“Tanya, please, I can’t do this without you.” A realisation that hit him as soon as the words were out of his chest. “Date them, if that makes you happy, and not me if you choose but please let me stay, I can’t… I can’t…” Tears were pooling in his eyes, the words he was saying so far away from his prepared argument, the one he had been so convinced would win her over, the one he hadn’t realised would chase her out of his life.
Tanya stepped forwards again, close enough to touch, to pull into his arms, but he clenched his fists by his sides, waited from any indication that she wanted that.
“I loved you.” She told him. “So long ago.”
“I know.” The tears were free falling now, the regret at what he had said to her building into a sob.
“I can’t go back to that,” she continued, “I can’t let you in like that again.”
“I know.” She repeated his own words back to him with a wry smile that was overshadowed by the misery of the memories they were both recalling. “But I also can’t let go of what I felt for you.”
He didn’t speak, waiting for what she was saying.
The hand came up to cup his face again and he leant into it, soaking up the warmth and the peace that only her presence could bring him.
“Come in.” She said, stepping back towards her door but not letting go of his face. “Eat with us?”
“If that’s what you want.” He said, following her movements. “Whatever you want.”
There was too much broken between them to ever return to how they were, and those were words he should have been able to say earlier, much earlier.
Based on the prompt in bold by @givethispromptatry
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Kazuha x reader
Summary: Kazuha is reckless, but only for the things you give him
“This flower is beautiful, don’t you agree Kazu?”
The male smiled at you, sitting down on the cliff.
Kazuha watched the sunset, while you were picking flowers.
The breeze got colder and the clouds lost the pink hue they had.
“We should come here more often.”
Your voice had snapped him out of his thoughts and he observed you.
You sat cross legged on the ground, softly working on something.
“What is this?”
Kazuha asked and let his fingers brush against a petal.
“It’s a flower crown.”
His eyes narrowed slightly while he tilted his head.
“You've never heard of it?”
He shook his head and stared at you.
You were just finishing the crown and smiled, crawling closer to him.
Kazuha stretched his legs out and you sat on his lap.
His hands rested on your waist and you placed the flower crown on his head.
“You look beautiful, Kazu.”
He laughed softly and kissed your neck, the flower petals tickling your skin.
“Believe me, nothing can compare to your beauty.”
And suddenly a strong wind picked up the flower crown and you watched with horror as it fell down the cliff.
“What a bummer, guess I’ll make a new one-”
But Kazuha quickly pulled you off his lap and jumped after it.
Scrambling to the edge you saw neither the crown, nor your lover.
Anxiety crawled up your back and you held your hand on your mouth.
Suddenly, a hand gripped the edge and Kazuha climbed back up on solid ground, the flower crown in his hand.
A cheeky smile was on his lips, as he scratched the back of his neck.
Jumping on your feet you stood before him, softly hitting his chest.
“Don't you ever do that again!”
He let himself fall onto his back, the crown on his chest.
“I really love you, you idiot.”
He snorted at your words, looking at you with love in his eyes.
“That's not nice, you know I’m sensitive.”
You laid down next to him, snuggling into his chest.
And in that moment it really hit you, you loved him so dearly, that even one moment apart would tear you apart.
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do you have any other short stories you've read lately and loved? i really enjoyed catherynne m. valente's retelling of orpheus and eurydice... i've reread it like 3 times since you first shared it and i'm like. astonished. wow! what a retelling!
i'd greatly appreciate any other recommendations you have. thank you and have a lovely day!
hiiiii, oh i'm glad it reached you <3 so fun to hear that others also enjoyed the same stories i did! :-)
last story i read was the demon sage's daughter by varsha dinesh. it is also a retelling (Hindu mythology if wiki is correct aha) and it makes the story & the way it's written even more satisfying imo. cunning daughters rights !
here's some more greek myth retellings for u: 1. variations on an apple by yoon ha lee. the writing is a little chaotic imo but i think it's a cool original concept! and 2. daughter of necessity by marie brennan, love a reinterpretation.. makes u think . this one is about penelope!
not all of these are recent reads + i have definitely talked about them before but anyway i love them !
the haunting of 13 olúwo street by suyi davies okungbowa
grave of the fireflies by cheng jingbo (translated by ken liu). dying stars.. fairy tale esque but in the haunting melancholic way.
call them children by wenmimareba klobah collins. the atmosphere in this. the imagery. god !!!
exile’s end - carolyn ives gilman. conflicting myths and art repatriation
the city born great - nk jemisin. the urgency, the fluidity, the rhythm.. love nk jemisin's writing so much
the last banquet of temporal confections - tina connolly. the titles are soo delightful
story of your life - ted chiang. honestly the way it all weaves together, obsessed with this always
the husband stitch - carmen maria machado
ken liu as well as being an excellent translator has written a lot of short stories! the paper menagerie was my first short story collection... he's so good. big fan of the titular the paper menagerie, good hunting & the literomancer which i can't find online links for at present but.. yeah two of these made me weep
if you (or anyone else scrolling!) reads any of these, would love to know what you think <3 would recommend angela carter's the bloody chamber collection also (edit: here's a link for the titular work) & shirley jackson :-)
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Clarice Lispector, from the short story "Love", Family Ties (1960)
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