Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

Finish the Story: Mother

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

Even after a long day at work, my mother’s hands worked tirelessly: chopping vegetables for dinner, stitching our clothes, whatever needed doing. I loved her hands and admired them. I wanted to be strong like her. But at the time, I couldn’t be. I would have, and gladly, if I weren’t so …

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  • Even after a long day at work, my mother’s hands worked tirelessly: chopping vegetables for dinner, stitching our clothes, whatever needed doing. I loved her hands and admired them. I wanted to be strong like her. But at the time, I couldn’t be. I would have, and gladly, if I weren’t so cursed.

    That’s what they all said about me, anyway.

    Cursed Child. Changeling. Ill-Omen.

    She tried to protect me from those voicers, but she was only human. They wanted me to hear them, and I did.

    A baby born out of wedlock was always a pariah.

    A baby born out of wedlock with a disability was a punishment upon the entire village.

    I can’t walk.

    Two perfectly shaped, useless legs like so much dead weight beneath me.

    My left hand is deformed. Twisted into a wretched claw that I tuck against my torso to spare others the pain of having to look at it.

    When cursed children are born, they are supposed to be left on the hillsides. They say it is to send us back to the wicked fairy realms from which we came, but I think it’s just so that we die. Either exposure to the elements or wolves, it didn’t really matter as long as the village didn’t have to deal with us.

    I don’t know why my mother didn’t leave me to the fates. She refuses to talk about it, saying only that I was her miracle baby and that she loved me.

    Sometimes I wish she had left me. No, that’s a lie. Most of the time, I wish I had died as that wailing, useless infant. Her life was harder because of me. If I was shunned, so was she, for the crime of not murdering me.

    On sunny days, she carries me out to the hillside and sits me beneath a dappled oak tree while she forages. I like that, even though I hate every second of having to be carried piggy-back.

    Today is the first day she hasn’t been back before nightfall.

    The sun sank behind the mountains with the same finality as my heart sinking in my chest.

    Surely she was just late. Something detained her, like finding a crop of wild blueberries or turnips.

    As the moon waxed overhead and the crickets began to sing, my forced optimism failed me. She was somewhere, hurt or worse, and I would die on this hillside as a youth instead of a baby.

    I really was cursed.

    “Cursed? Oh, no, my winter child. You are blessed.”

    I looked up to find a tiny, wizened figure staring back at me through the tree branches. He was small enough that he could have sat upon my shoulder and looked like he was made entirely out of sticks and twigs.

    His gnarled knot of a mouth opened wide in a smile that failed to convey either comfort or famliarity.

    “We have been looking for you.”

    I said nothing, my heart too full of confusion and dread to formulate complete thoughts.

    He didn’t seem to mind, continuing with an uncheerful cheerfulness. “Seven years may seem like a long time to fail to find you, but the winter court travels by moonlight and snow, and in our defense you have been neatly bundled away in that house.”

    “Where is my mother?” I asked, surprised to find I was speaking even as I was doing it.

    He cocked his head at me. “The human who has been caring for you is not your mother.”

    He must have seen the stubbornness rise up in my eyes, because he relented. “It is not a pretty tale, winter child. Are you certain you wish to know it?”

    He told me then. Looking back, I wish I had not known, but the me of that time would have allowed no other path forward.

    I think I cried. Surely I must have, for I have not always been as I am.

    I remember him sitting on my lap. Taking my rigid clawed left hand from where I kept it tucked against my side.

    He pressed it to the earth and I felt it for the first time.

    I tasted moonlight, cold and sharp and sweet on my tongue and a single flower, delicate white petals bursting forth with an unnatural sparkle. Snowfell, my mother’s favorite flower, and I had made it grow here, out of season.

    “Will you come home?” he asked me. I remember that. I had a choice and even though I was so very young, I do not think it was the wrong one.

    Before we left, I completed one more task. No sign of that horrid, hateful village remains. Instead, a field of snowfell, so thick you could not walk without crushing it beneath your boots.

    No boots walk there now. No boots ever will.

    Sometimes I come back, to remind myself of the evil humanity can do. My mount has eyes like shards of ice and breathes plumes of frosty mist into the mortal air.

    The others do not understand my fascination with this place. They were never mortal, not even for seven years.

    They do not understand that sometimes I do not know if I am reminding myself of the petty evils of a town willing to murder a child’s mother out of superstition or if I am reminding myself of the petulant child willing to murder an entire town for the sins of a few.

Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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