Prompt: Desire


I found a new home, not far from the farm. It’s a very small three-room cottage set amid an acreage that used to be farmland, now undeveloped and overgrown, just the way I like it. Little creatures of the usually neglected kind, like field mice and quail, have set up homes here; with new species, I’m sure, finding refuge from urban sprawl, building nests and homes too. I thought I saw a pheasant fly up in all it’s feathered brilliance when I accidentally slammed the screen door on my way out to the porch with my morning coffee.

Now I’m tap-tapping on my laptop, just as fast as I use to type, yet less accurate. I don’t keyboard much anymore, since I decided my days as a human being are numbered.

But I want to write this down in case things change. In case my step-daughter Melanie ever forgives me and wants to know what happened.

God, when I am in human form I miss so much the smells of the world! I miss my courage in the face of death— the complete lack of fear about the future. As a lone woman swaying on my porch swing, tap-tapping —oh! a soft grey doe and fawn just emerged from the broken fence, and are now grazing on sweet grass and new willow— as a lone woman, I feel all the anxieties that a complex world nourishes, and long for the simplicity of Maxine.

Yes, Maxine. I have almost stopped shape-shifting into any other creature, so much have I become Maxine. She is perfect, loving, fair; she sleeps without dread and wakes with enthusiasm and gratitude. She eats with appetite, she notices everything and cares about nothing.

She is (I am) in heat right now. This is something I hadn’t anticipated, but in any case it seemed a good time to come to the cottage for a day or two. Fortune (his new name) has healed rapidly and has stopped shaking when anyone comes near; he’s plumped up, the gaps in his fur have almost gone, and he has taken a great liking to me. I’m not sure I’m ready for— I can’t even write it down. I’m not ready to procreate like a dog. There. Crazy.

Mama deer has spotted me. I don’t have the calming, magical serenity of Bernard, and so she is staring at me, utterly motionless, as deer do. Then she and her fawn make their way off the property, across the broken fence again, and disappear into a copse of silver birch, just to be sure.

It’s a dangerous world. And an absurd one.


  • Image: RL Kothenbeutel

Magda and the Cottage

Prompt: Rebuild

cottage 4

All the rooms looked out onto the internal courtyard, where a small, two-story cottage was surrounded by vegetable and flower gardens, and one very tall, leafy tree, which provided shade in the summer and dropped its leaves to allow the sun to warm the cottage in the winter.

Magda’s room was the same as everyone else’s: very small, with a microwave and cooler sat on a counter, a bathroom, a bed, a chair, and one window only, to the courtyard. The room was painted pearl grey, and the venetian blinds on the window were beige.

They were allowed pictures on the wall, but no nails; only pushpins. Magda had a map of the world across from the bed. It was the only thing she could think of to pin to a pearl grey wall in a compound that surrounded a picturesque cottage.

She had four books. She’d read them all last summer, when they first rotated in. Now she was reading them again. One was called “Surnames Through the Ages”; another was a children’s book about a blue rabbit, a third was a tenth grade history textbook covering 1939 to 1945, and the last book was a novel called “The Lustful Professor”. This was not her favourite book rotation.

It was December now; there was almost always a steady stream of white smoke streaming out of the chimney of the cottage. A dusting of snow lay on the ground. The tall tree was skeletal and imposing, stark against a white winter sky.

Mr Simmons would be visiting her later. They would have sex, then sit by the window to see if anyone came in or out of the cottage. In winter, it was frustrating to see footprints in fresh snow, and not see who imprinted them.

The window didn’t open, but if it had or ever did, Magda and Mr Simmons had a plan to sneak out and set the cottage on fire, watch it burn, and then watch it rise again out of the ashes, day by day, rebuilt in all it’s fusty charm, with the stone chimney, the wrought iron gates, the gabled windows.

As twilight settled in, comfortably blanketing the octagonal compound and the cottage, Magda could see lights twinkling past the cottage across the courtyard. Other Magdas, other Mr Simmons, in their pearl grey rooms, had their eyes on the cottage gate, pondered the footprints, and tested the latch on the windows, plotting.