Week One Winning Story: The Enchantment by Karl A. Russell

With a snarl of dismay, Elizabeth hurled another peach against the wall of the barn, to explode in a shower of sweet flesh and brilliant blue sparks.

Why hadn’t it worked?

The Faer Folk were masters of the Romantic Arts, or so it was said, and she had spent a whole month’s allowance on the seed and a further three months on the tending of it, till the tree bore a whole bushel of the enchanted fruit and she gave the first and the finest to the stable lad. She had not given James a clue as to why she had chosen him for this favour, nor any inkling that the peach was more or less than any other, so why was he not here now, in her arms?

It was wrong. She knew it was, both in thought and deed, but she could not stop. She was the daughter of the lord, and he was but a serf to do her bidding, but that just made it all the worse, knowing what her bidding would be… She thought of his bawdy laugh, so loud and free, his bond with his fellows and the kinship they shared; It was everything she missed, up there in the manor house, everything she would wish to be, if she had but half of his courage and carelessness, but she did not.

Most of all, to be true, she thought of his warm brown skin, the twinkle in his sweet blue eyes and the way he smiled when she caught him looking her way at morning prayers…

Oh, James…

Just the thought of him brought her to a shuddering standstill, one more peach in hand, bound for oblivion against the bare boards. Instead she sank her teeth into it, angrily, imagining that it was his sun-browned shoulder, that the peach fuzz against her palm was the downy skin of his arms, that the sweetness coursing through her was his own. The juice ran over her lips, across her chin, fingers trailing it down her throat, to the soft valley beyond. Enraptured, she lay back against the warm straw, the half eaten fruit rolling from her hand. Lost in thoughts of him, she let go of all that she was and should be, gave in to her feelings and her form, and spent a timeless instant whispering his name in ever faster breaths.

Then she sat up suddenly, aware of eyes upon her.

“Miss Elizabeth…?”

“James?”

He reached out a strong, rough hand to help her up, thinking that she had fallen, but as their fingers met, a spark like life itself flew between them, and he fell forward, joining her in the hay.

Gazing into his eyes, she knew that the enchantment had worked, and she surrendered herself to its spell.

Realizing that his mistress felt for him as much as he felt for her, James pressed his lips to hers, gathered her up in his arms, the untouched peach crushed in his pocket.

Karl A. Russell comes from the North West of England, where he lives with his wife and five year old daughter (his toughest critics). He’s been writing on and off for his whole life, but only started to actually finish and submit things a couple of years ago, when the spectre of turning 40 started looming in the not too distant future. He can be found most weekends posting at Flash! Friday and The Angry Hourglass.

Karl is currently working on a novel, which he might get to the end of this time, if he doesn’t waste all his spare moments on Twitter. If you want to read more of his work, his pay-what-you-want charity collection is available here.

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