“Home. In the forest.” (Image: Larisa Koshkina, Pixabay)

I found you wandering along a bridge in the light-as-day Midsummer night. Your white dress and waist-long hair swayed in the breeze, and I couldn’t let you pass till your lips parted with your name. You said it was Therese, but it might as well have been a breath of an ancient language no longer spoken.

I couldn’t place your accent. You smiled shyly as we talked, brushing wild wisps of hair behind your ear while I listened to the chiming bells of your tongue. You kept me guessing at the origin of your intonation until I had named every…

I buried my dog today, under a maple tree in the yard where we used to play. The older he got, the less he ran, and I wish I remembered better the years when he was young. Running with a stick in his mouth, digging in the fresh dirt of the flower bed, moving without stiffness or pain.

He will run again — with the wind. Beneath the crossed sticks and the musk of earth, all bones become bird bones, and all animals know how to fly.

I hope you like what you’ve been reading. The stories in Wonder Woods are mostly reprints of little things I’ve had published along the way, wanting to give them a new home where they might find new readers.

Want to read more? Here’s a list of my other stories here on Medium:

Stories with a holiday theme:

Bella wagged her fluffy tail as the key turned in the door. Finally! He was back! She jumped at the first sight of her favourite human, pawing his legs and chest, and showering him with dog kisses. The wetter the better.

Laughing, he tried to pry her off, then told her. “Down, girl.” She got back down on four feet, but no one could stop her tail, not even Bella herself. At least he ruffled her golden fur. “I’ve only been gone for eight hours.”

Eight hours.

Didn’t he know each hour of his was worth seven of hers? He’d…

In the beginning, there was a man with dark rich soil in his pockets. The soil carried within itself the seed of everything that he wished to grow. Every person, every organism, and every planet was buried in that waking darkness.

But things didn’t grow well in the dark. He reached into his pockets and spread the soil around him, and then he lit up the sun and the stars and let there be light.

Some things bloomed and others withered, yet he still tends to every fold of the universe, never leaving anything for too long without some light.

This story was first published in 101 Fiction (2014).

Eliel looked over his shoulder into a dirty mirror. A single white feather nestled half-buried in the black plumage of his wing. He pinned the feather between his fingertips and pulled.

It hurt, but the pain was nothing compared to the memories it brought. Was this how it felt to be mortal? To ache for things he couldn’t have, yet to be mocked by them so he could never forget?

There was no way to age gracefully. Not for him. Eliel swore he would pluck out every damned white feather as they appeared. Where was he going to fly, anyway?

This story was first published in 101 Fiction (2014).

All Tim’s life, two shadows had followed him. Most days, the dark silhouettes walked in harmony side by side, but on good days, one shadow could be seen skipping beside the other.

People attributed his two shadows to the number of light sources in the room, and outdoors, they were quick to point at street lamps, neon signs, and even the moon.

One day, while looking through old pictures, Tim discovered a document in the attic: he had a twin brother who had died at birth.

Tim extended his trembling arms into the air. His two shadows embraced each other.

This story was first published in SpeckLit (2015).

Lila flicked her wand and a golden sandal appeared. Another flick resulted in a bunny slipper. Half an hour later, she owned a mountain of shoes, but only for the left foot. She stormed off to Ted’s Magic Repairs and explained the problem.

Ted examined the wand. “Come with me.”

In the backroom, Lila stumbled over a pile of shoes–all for the right foot.

Ted pulled out a wand and blushed. “Looks like I’ve got the other half.”

“We should go out,” Lila joked, and he turned even redder.

Many magical dates followed, conjuring things that matched together perfectly.

This story was first published in SpeckLit (2015).

Hannah sneaked up on the vibrant green bottles cooling on the back porch. They glowed unlike any lemonade she’d seen. She took a sip, savouring the mysterious flavour–and started shrinking.

“Hannah!” Grandmother shrieked as she stepped outside, staring at her granddaughter’s changed form. She raised the bottle to assess how much was gone. “Oh dear. Looks like you’ll be a frog for a while.”

Grandmother scooped Hannah up in her palms and set her in the fenced garden pond where another bright green frog was waiting.

It was the first time Hannah met her missing Grandfather face to face.

This story was first published in SpeckLit (2014).

Photos: Pixabay
Photos: Pixabay
Photos: Pixabay

In the evening, there is no movement on the manor grounds, only a soft wind in the leaves of the great lindens and oaks under which I walk. The main building glows in the distance with candle-white pillars, guarded by carved stone lions and locked doors.

I step inside.

My evening walks often lead me here — to the same place, under the same painting. A portrait of a young man in a dark tailcoat, a white cravat gathered at his throat, a regal look in his blue eyes. Emil Carlsberg. Lord of the manor’s son. 1821. I remember sitting…

Sylvia Heike

Writer from Finland. Stories in Flash Fiction Online, Lit Up, Syntax&Salt, and elsewhere. Loves birds, art, and nature. www.sylviaheike.com

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