It’s the beginning of the school semester, and you can’t yet delve into an history-long tome, so short stories will do nicely. Think of this as a prelude to all the chronicles that lie ahead.
The mat at the door is placed in the wrong direction, and a lime-coloured can-tab lies at the right-hand side. You enter the garret-like room. The whiz of a fan, the scent of cotton, and sunflower perfume are inside.
“Come away, O human child!
To the water and the wild
With faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~W. B. Yeats
The first is a breath of a tale; a print-out PDF found under the cash register at a studio. A sort of forbidden word-music. It’s cold in the musty room, with a sparse number of modern art collections on the wallpapered concrete.
This work is about dependence, addiction, technology, and faeries.
In his brief piece of fiction, “The Basilisk,” Paul Kingsnorth disguises reason as a man: Uncle Richard, to be exact. Uncle Richard pens his grown-up niece, Bridget, a five-page letter concerning iPhones, regarding distraction, concentration, possession, and enslavement. He narrates as though a real being were manipulating humans with technology. He theorizes that this is a demon’s way of controlling the human race. Bridget has a young daughter who’s already embraced the virtual reality of the illuminating device she treasures under her pillow. Bridget says it’s as though she’s lost her 12 year-old. What follows is a mental tirade consisting of digital portals and the sidhe (Irish faery folk). The beverage that goes best with this story is something that’s strong, dark, and awakening. Something that isn’t traditional. A mere paper cup filled with a latte liquid, salvaged from the university cafeteria.
The manuscript is crammed back into its nook at the receptionist’s bureau. Outside, the August sky is a pale azure. The street-corner is deserted, and by it rests a water-well with a gargoyle effigy. You find pamphlets of this narrative, lazing on the street in the noon-day sun, advertising the theater adaptation.
“Perhaps the best thing for the princess would have been to fall in love. But how a princess who had no gravity could fall into anything is a difficulty–perhaps the difficulty.”
~George MacDonald, The Light Princess
The Light Princess, by George MacDonald, is a classic, but lesser-known faery-tale novella. The princess is cursed by her malevolent aunt, following a similar premise as Briar-Rose, but instead of sleep, the young royal loses all gravity on land. The only time she can move ordinarily is in water. The king gives his court physicians the task of curing his daughter. After much deliberation, they come to the conclusion that the only remedy is that the princess weep. Yet, this mission is not as simple as it appears. This is a lighthearted, quaint tale, and is best consumed with home-brewed, chilled lemonade: a perfect backyard wicker-swing read.
You exit out the other end of this composition. It hasn’t been a long, dark tunnel, but a brief, multi-coloured tube-slide ride. Just a slice of article to assist in preserving the rest of this waning season. Short stories, like two-minute duets and San Pellegrino sparkling water, are also meant to be passed on, whether from rugged hand to rugged hand, or Google Drive to Google Drive. Distribute them; let them be heard.
Kingsnorth, Paul. “The Basilisk” Emergence Magazine https://emergencemagazine.org/story/the-basilisk/
MacDonald, George. The Light Princess. New York: Square Fish, Inc. 2011