Very honored and excited to announce that my short story “To Harvest Lavender” won 3rd place in Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest 2022. This story is very much a product of quarantine and my real-life experience with the passing of a loved one. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from …
To Harvest Lavender
I saved her from the oven all those years ago, only because her death by fire would have been a calamity for the rest of us. Of course, she couldn’t tolerate me in the house, so I slept in her wilderness. For years. To protect her.
No, to watch her die.
Well, that job is done. All that’s left is to clean.
I steal in her doorway, like she will come with thunder in her fingertips. Like she will scream at me for dawdling.
She never once welcomed me. Even when I came to the door, a child in a red bramble-torn cloak, pursued by a savage furred terror, she’d sneered. “You should’ve sent the wolf to eat me. It would have been kinder.”
I light the sage to consume the magic she left behind.
One must be of strong will to command magic. It’s difficult for two strong wills to coexist, harder when one is learning the art. She hated teaching. She bragged of the worlds she’d slain, the princes she’d conquered, the dragons she’d seduced before I made her an unwilling mother.
The dust caking her books, the shelf of rotting potions, the filthy cauldron remind me of her broom striking my back, of the foul taste of her ladle in my mouth, of the dark places she’d abandoned me. The pain sits like a rock in my belly. Unforgiven. Made small by newer memories.
In the end, she was fragile as spun-sugar, weak as broken teeth, and soft as wet dough. I never beat her or tested potions on her, and the only dark place she wandered was her own mind.
It’s hard to hate a woman who can’t chew her own gingerbread.
But I’ll try anyway…