I’m writing a fairy tale to submit to an anthology. I’ve been reading the occasional fairy tale for the Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge, and I suppose that freshened the genre in my mind. I do love a fairy tale.
This tale began by featuring a swordswoman, but now it features this young girl.
Meet the Maiden Brightheart
excerpt from “The Tale of the Maiden Brightheart”
by Marian Allen
One of these servants was a little maid of fourteen, with long black hair and sparkling brown eyes. It was her duty to feed the geese and to gather their eggs. Her name was Born-on-a-Wednesday, but she was so fierce and so kind that everyone called her Brightheart.
One day, Brightheart went out to gather goose eggs and found the geese all limping.
“What has happened to your legs, my dears?” she asked.
“Oh,” said the boldest of the geese, “there are two people living under our coop. They creep out and eat one egg each every day. We let them eat, for we pity them. They weep so long and so often, we put our feet over our ears and it hurts our legs.”
“Show me them,” said Brightheart.
Sure enough, there were two people huddled under the coop, dressed in rags and weeping so that their hair was wet and salt-crusted with their tears.
“Come out,” said Brightheart. “Tell me why you weep.”
When the people came out, they proved to be an old man clutching a broom and an old woman clutching a mop.
“Do you work in the castle?” asked Brightheart. “Has someone been unkind to you?”
The old woman said, “We don’t know where we work, nor if anyone has been kind or unkind. We don’t know who we are or where we come from. We must be servants, for the only things we have in the world are our clothes and our mop and broom.”
The old man said, “We wake every morning with no memory of any time before. We only know we belong together and we mustn’t lose our broom and mop.”
“Poor things! Come with me.”
And she took them into the scullery, where the cook gave them food, clean clothes, and water to wash the dirt from their bodies and the salt from their hair. She set the old man to sweeping the kitchen courtyard and the old woman to mopping it.
Now, Brightheart was a clever girl, and a bit of a hedge-witch. She had a feeling the old people were more than they seemed, and she set herself to discovering if it was so.
That night, by moonlight, Brightheart crept to the goose yard and picked up two feathers. She pricked her forefinger and smeared a drop of blood on each. Holding one feather in each hand, she said,
Fly, fly, as fast as you can
Bring me the past of the woman and man.
Old as they are, they once had a start.
Tell me their past, and you’ll tell me their heart.
Then she blew on the feathers and they flew away, up across the moon, across the stars, and away.
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write about someone who forgets something important.