What the Eyes Covet and the Stomach Craves

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Brunch at the All Alien Cafe, March 2024


“I haven’t eaten in a month,” Am-lei tried to say, but her mouth was so different that the words came out as a jumble of incoherent, fluting sounds.

Like a delicate crystal vase, the hard shell of Am-lei’s chrysalis cracked, spilling out the furled up, new-grown, riotously colorful wings inside.  Still wet, the wings hung from her changed body, pulsing with life, heavy and dragging her down, out of the chrysalis that had held her, dormant, for the last month.

The month had passed like a dream.  Am-lei remembered her body itching all over, and her mouth overflowing with gooey silk-spittle.  She remembered climbing up the walls of her room and gluing her feet to the ceiling as her squishy, green caterpillar skin split down the middle, shedding like a winter coat on a hot day, revealing the hardened chrysalis that had developed underneath, her new outer shell, as the rest of her melted and mutated inside. Continue reading “What the Eyes Covet and the Stomach Craves”

The Muddy Unicorn

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original


“Alivia thought she would have liked being a frog.  They spent a lot more time in the water than she did.”

The sky was a the kind of empty blue that foretells a sunny, uneventful day, as untouched by actual weather as a day can be.  Alivia couldn’t stand it.  She wanted to frolic in mud puddles, dancing under the droplets of a gusting storm.  She wanted to prance and twirl on her cloven hooves, shake raindrops from her snowy mane like a waterfall, and spear the thorn-sharp tip of her horn into as many individual drops of water as she could.  She wanted to play rainy day games.

Alivia was a unicorn who loved the rain. Continue reading “The Muddy Unicorn”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 6: The Golden Halls

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“…the gods spoke, telling each other words that Nawry could no longer comprehend, making plans, arranging for visits, sharing secrets not meant for mortal ears.”

The rain soaked the mountain until its red dirt was dusty no more.  Chira’li spread his wings testing them, and the water beaded on his feathers like glittering gems.

Water streaked down Nawry’s face, soothing him.  It was like the entire world could finally cry for all the wrongs that had been done, the cold shoulders turned; every minute of pent up pain got released.  And the tears were beautiful.

Nawry stretched his arms up and spread his flippered fingers, remembering the feel of the ocean against them when he swam.  He wanted to swim again. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 6: The Golden Halls”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 5: Argos Peak

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“But Kassy didn’t look like she had days left.  She wouldn’t make it to the top of the peak.”

Nawry stayed for the night in the castle.  He slept in a downy bed under a canopy of rich green velvet, much the same color as the forest canopy itself.  But the bed was much more comfortable than sleeping on the forest floor, leaned against a fallen log.  He awoke to find Kassy curled up on the pillow beside him.  The pillow’s soft cotton covering was a pale shade of lime, so the tiny gray cat looked like she was sleeping on a grassy hillside, just the right size for her.

Nawry watched her tiny side rise and fall with her breathing.  At first, he thought he’d wait for her to awaken, but as the sunlight in the window shifted, shortening the mornings shadows, he began to worry about wasting daylight. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 5: Argos Peak”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 4: The Evergreen Masquerade

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“His journey had only lasted a few days so far, but he was farther from his family than he’d ever been before, and even if he turned around and headed home now, it would be days before he’d see any of his family again.”

According to the maps drawn up by Benter’s guards, Nawry’s quest must take him South.  The shoreline was only two days’ swim in that direction, a much shorter journey through the depths of the ocean than the one that had brought them to Benter’s Kingdom.  A shorter swim was certainly an appealing prospect.  However, Nawry worried about denying Kassy the chance to return home.

In the mere days of their journey so far, Nawry had seen Kassy’s small body grow leaner and longer.  The silver fuzz of her fur had smoothed and dimmed to a gentle gray.  Although Kassy hadn’t noticed it, Nawry could see her growing older.  She had bare seasons to live compared to the many years he could look forward to, and he didn’t want to keep her from the society of the other kit-seeds if she wanted to return. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 4: The Evergreen Masquerade”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 3: Benter’s Kingdom

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“Nawry was wonderstruck by the sights he’d seen — there had been more magnificence in the minutes he’d spent in Benter’s Kingdom than graced a fortnight of traveling along the Rocky Shores.”

For three days, Nawry had swum through empty water over barren sand in deep dark.  He was used to his eyes playing tricks on him.  So, when blackness lifted to blueness, he paid no heed.  Surely, he’d imagined it.

Yet, the water ahead of him continued to grow lighter, paler.  The light was diffuse.  Even once Nawry was sure it must be a sign of the kingdom he was approaching, he couldn’t make anything out of the azure and cerulean blurs ahead.  It didn’t look like a kingdom.  He saw no buildings, no castle.  It looked like a fragmentation in his vision.  His eyes had grown too tired, he thought, and had invented an hallucination.  Then, suddenly, the darkness, the blueness, and the light pulled together, and Nawry understood what he saw. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 3: Benter’s Kingdom”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 2: The Karillow Tree

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“The kit-seeds absorbed the basics of language directly from the mother tree while still budding.  The rest of their education came from studying the records studiously scratched by previous generations into the mother tree’s bark.”

Nawry discovered the Karillow tree nestled between the bounteous persimmon and peach trees behind Aumna’s house.  It was a little, silver branched waif, and, unlike all the other trees in the glade, it was winter-naked all winter long.

When Nawry asked Aumna about the incongruous little tree, she told him, “That’s a Karillow tree, and it’s an immigrant to this world too.  The seed for that tree traveled as far as your people did before settling in my garden.” Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 2: The Karillow Tree”

Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 1: The Rocky Shores

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

[Chapter 1  2  3  4  5  6]


“He lived in this world, and he didn’t feel like mourning an old one.  A world he’d never lived in.”

The Noodlebeasts came from the North.  They traveled the Rocky Shores with their baskets of noodle-seeds, eating only as many as they needed to survive.  The rest they saved for their arrival.  It was a long journey along the crooks and crags and crannies.  At night, they found safe nooks, protected from the beating of the ocean waves.  There, they built cozy fires, toasted noodle-seeds for their supper, and sang songs about the world they were traveling toward. Continue reading “Nawry the Noodlebeast – Chapter 1: The Rocky Shores”

The Soul of the Forest

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023


“You are not the soul of the forest. I know this forest, and its voice does not sound like yours.”

The trunks of the trees stretched up toward a sky blocked out by clusters and clumps of orange and red autumnal leaves.  The trunks were smooth, black, regular.  Minutus loped between them, slaloming through the woods on long legs, bushy with her burgeoning winter coat.  She was alone.  She’d been alone since her latest litter had grown into full-coated, long-legged adult wolves of their own.  With their own lives. Continue reading “The Soul of the Forest”

Greatest of Them All

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023


“She could be all the creatures the soul had seen and more beside.”

Once upon a time, there was a soul that wanted to anchor itself into the world.  The soul watched all the creatures in the world, trying to decide what shape its anchor should take.

The mouse was small and could explore tiny places.

The deer had long legs and could run through the woods.

The bird had wings and could soar through the sky. Continue reading “Greatest of Them All”