I am so thrilled to be featured in this new anthology of erotic lesbian fairytales (the best combination of three words I can think of) edited by Sacchi "My Fave" Green and published by Cleis Press. I have read the published anthology and can attest to there being a story that will appeal to everyone. You want action and plot with swords and dragons? Gotcha. How about lyrical writing and slow-burning love? No problem. Pure, decadent smut? But of course! Comedy and sexy banter? Sure thing. Whatever sort of tone or mood you’re looking for, you’ll find it in this delicious collection of brilliant writers. It’s super flattering to be a part of it.
My story is called “Woodwitch,” and it was probably the fastest short story I’ve ever written. Over the course of two evenings the words flew off the page. Even though I’ve never written a similar story before, I think that ‘fairytale voice’ was already in my hands and fingers. I just had to uncurl them, and it was free. I was raised on old dusty books of fairytales, where the princesses were always fair, the witches always hideous, and the endings always wet with blood and justice. “Woodwitch” tells a familiar story: a princess disguises herself as a man and goes off to war. However, the story diverges a bit on the battlefield, where the princess meets a truly uncommon witch. I tried to capture a little of that old fairytale darkness: the threat of violence that lies at the edge of the woods, or in the witch’s cottage, or behind the keen eyes of the wolf. There’s definitely a bit of “Game of Thrones” inspiration as well; my world is vaguely magical and medieval, but with a healthy dose of modern day sexism and war-mongering. (One day I SWEAR I’m going to write a fairytale where women don’t have to disguise themselves as men to go to war, and are free to live the lives they please without fear. It seems sad that I could imagine a world of magic and witchcraft, but gender equality just seemed a little too much of a stretch…)
Anyway. Wanna take a peak?
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The battle raged for the rise and fall of two moons, and when at last the enemy ran staggering from their sight, the princess found herself slick with sweat and blood. She had cut down two men, she knew that much. Maybe more. One had his throat slit open, wet red roses blooming over the dry earth. One had her sword buried in his belly, opened up around her blade like rotten meat. The princess had been sick after that, but the ground was so mired in filth, the air so ripe with smoke, that no one had taken any notice of her.
There were fewer of her number than before, and as she stood amidst the thinned crowd of the injured and the dying, she realized that her leg was bleeding.
Cursing, she tore a strip from her tunic. The cut was high and deep, rending both skin and muscle. Even as she bound it, blood spilled from the bandage like dark fingers, the pain enough to make her dizzy. She had felt numb before, fueled only by pure and terrified survival, but in the aftermath of battle all her injuries were making themselves known. Her muscles screamed with exhaustion, her ribs throbbed where she had been kicked. She took a hesitant step, and felt bile at the back of her throat.
She wondered if her brothers had felt like this after battle. She wondered if she was a true knight now, now that she had stopped a man’s heart.
“That wound needs seeing to.”
The princess did not know who spoke until she noticed the dark-haired witch a few yards away, moving like a dancer between the crows and carrion. The princess ignored her, pulling the binding tighter. The witch was not looking at her, crouched and peering into the mouth of a fallen soldier. When she jerked her arm, the princess realized she was pulling teeth from the corpse, strange pinching tools clutched in one hand and a rattling bag in the other.
“It is ungodly to desecrate the dead,” the princess said, despite the heartbeat of pain running from her leg to her throat.
“The dead don’t need their teeth.” The witch stood, brushing off her skirts. “And the eyetooth of one killed in violence can be used as a charm against drowning.”
“That is ridiculous.”
“Not if a sailor believes it.” The witch looked at the princess then, bird-black eyes narrowed in suspicion.
At last, the princess thought, and then felt alarmed. Those words meant nothing. She had been waiting for nothing.