Author’s Note: I wrote this little tale on 6th Feb 2022, in response to a Twitter Prompt given by Fairy Tale Fragments. The screenshot of the tweet is given below. You can read the whole story on my Twitter thread by clicking on the image below. Or click on the title below it [The text in the blue box] to be directed to the prompt tweet.
They loved well, lived long & then eventually, tenderly languished together. But it wasn’t their passing that surprised. It was the sudden burst of golden flowers on their graves.
A flower seen throughout time, but not this one.
With a hue known in many lands, but not this one.
Unbeknownst to the lovers and their present world, they’d met in a past life, too. Long ago, when the world had just melted, he’d been a forest ward caring for the river, listening to the tree roots as they told stories of the kings and kingdoms they witnessed through the skies.
She’d been a fire-maker, keeper of lights, mother of lanterns glowing at the border. “Saves the folk from the dark whispering forest,” the mayor said.
She’d heeded, and scoffed.
Lightkeepers knew the dark & light were beloveds. The shadows fed the flames as the moon loved the night.
And so they’d wandered at the edges of each other’s worlds, the fire-maker & the forest ward.
Until one fateful night, an over-ambitious flame decided to make mischief. Seduced by the wind, he flowed through its glass confines to embrace the dancing branches of an Amaltas tree.
Sparks brightened the night sky, the tender golden flowers perishing under the blue-red heat.
The forest cried out in alarm, jerking the ward awake who’d been sleeping by the river bank.
Seeing the moon vanquishing under the rising smoke, the ward rushed to the river. He begged her to make a new turn for the burning trees, but waters can see what eyes cannot.
The river forlornly refused. “I feed tens of towns, twice as many forests. To save yours would kill them all,” she said.
Dismayed, the ward fell to his knees, crying as his world burned.
Meanwhile the lanterns, ashamed by their frivolous brother, tsked and clicked along the line to reach their keeper’s cabin. The fire-maker, weary from a long day of keeping the brick kilns burning, had just set down for supper when her children struck the window pane.
After one look through the glass, she grabbed her scepter, a candle and a pail of water, adamant to teach her unruly child a lesson. Rushing to the trees, she let her magic flow, wrestling the gleeful blaze away from the forest and into the waiting bucket.
The fires hissed in pain, slowly losing strength until only the last flickering flame remained. This she handed to the candle and then set it floating in the steaming water.
Alarmed by the jostling liquid, the flame cried out, afraid of being extinguished and begging for mercy.
But the fire-keeper merely smiled. “Your punishment is not death but its mirror. Look into yourself and remember: Fires take the colors of the things we burn.” She then took the pail and started into the silent, mourning forest, the now bright golden flame guiding her path.
It is said that two worlds collided that night, and in-between was born. The forest ward forgave the flame, the fire-keeper learned to tend soil. When they died, the flowers on their graves were the golden of the Amaltas that had burned for them to meet.
Perveen is a South-Asian Muslim, an introvert who daydreams about love-myths, monsters, and magic during my day job and occasionally binge-watch period dramas at night. Most of her time is spent reading, writing & talking to the cats in my backyard.
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