"A Beautiful Nightmare" by Sarah Van Goethem
I can’t help but turn and see it through her eyes, for the first time, all over again. Sharp grey rock—fieldstone I think, though there isn’t a field anywhere around. Miles of rolling green grass the shade of emeralds, and ivy that’s grown and twisted over time, pushing its tendrils in, embedding itself in the mortar.
It’s gorgeous, really. That’s the thing. It’s all golden light and blue skies. A place that was meant to heal us, or so Nurse Ginger said. You’ll feel better in no time, dear. Just a little rest from the world.
But therein lies the problem. None of us remembered what world it was we needed a rest from.
"Three" by Nicola Kapron
“You’ve never come out before. I’m starting to think you live down there.”
“Where else would a troll live? Especially these days. The wild places are shrinking, there’s cameras everywhere, and cities are eating the globe.” A lopsided grin. “The world can change however it likes, but monsters will still live the same way they always have. It’s just a tossup if anyone else will notice.”
"Neon Green in D Minor" by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
I sling noodles at a street food stall. My hair is constantly coated with a film of cooking oil, splashed over me in little burning droplets that dot my skin with red marks to blend with the acne—but that doesn’t matter much in the Grimes. We know the doll-skinned faces in the giant billboards are fake; no one really looks so beautiful as the people in the advertisements. They want us to think rich people can look so fabulous, but it has to be a lie. Even if they don’t have hot oil burning their greasy skin, even if they have professional aestheticians to fill their leisurely days with beauty care, even with experts to polish their abnormally straight teeth, no one can look like that.
In summer, the Grimes is hot. Really hot. They say our streets measure twelve degrees hotter than posh neighborhoods on the same day, not that I’ve ever been able to compare. That’s because when they divided the cities, the posh neighborhoods got things like green spaces and trees over the sidewalks, and we got cheap concrete and chemicals to kill anything that might crack it. Four generations after the war of liberation, even our weather is worse than theirs.
“Wishes to Heaven” by Michelle Tang
“But why do you want to help me?”
The moth’s voice sounded surprised. It spoke slowly, as though worried the woman would not understand. “Mei-Jin, you asked for help.”
The lantern festival. Hope, long buried, sprouted within Mei-Jin. “I didn’t expect a moth.”
“What better creature to find floating lights in the night? Think of me as your Fairy Godmoth.”
“You mean Fairy Godmother.”
The insect fluttered its wings. “Godmoth.”
“A Story of Soil and Stardust” by Kelly Jarvis
They will speak of a girl so good and kind she wore dresses spun of the sky. They will speak of a girl so good and kind she captured the heart of a Prince.
They will sprinkle goodness and kindness like seeds across their firm dough of lies, and the famished villagers, enticed by the smell of stories baking like bread, will scramble to savor the first sweet bites of their sushki.
It is true I wore a dress that shimmered with the shades of sunset. It is true I danced with a Prince, and my beauty took his breath away.
But only my godmother knows the whole truth.
I have never wanted to be good, and I have not always chosen to be kind.
“Returning the Favor” by Lynden Wade
In one of the tales from the thick forests of Germany, a princess saves a prince from, of all things, an enchanted stove, then loses him again when she spends too long saying goodbye to her family. The quest to win back her beloved from his new fiancée is a familiar pattern in fairy-tales. But where other young women are helped by the sun, moon, and winds, or an old crone, in this story she is helped by three toads in a cottage. The conclusion has it that with the breaking of the enchantment the toads are revealed to be the children of kings.
The story is wrong on two points. One is the number of toads—there was only one. The other is how the tale ends. I should know: I was there.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.