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In the Enchanted Forest

Over the past four decades, Nina Kiriki Hoffman has sold novels and more than 350 short stories. Her works have been finalists for the World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, and Endeavour awards. Her fiction has won a Horror Writers Association Stoker Award and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Award.

Nina does production work for the The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She teaches writing classes through Wordcrafters in Eugene and Fairfield County Writers' Studio. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

For a list of Nina's publications, check out: ofearna.us/books/hoffman.html.

Thick as Honey was the one who discovered the man in the glass coffin. She was on her way to the mines with her six dwarven sisters, but decided to cut through the forest to check on her clay pits She had a pottery project she wanted to work on, and she wondered if the pits were flooded.
In a forest clearing on the way to the pits lay a glass coffin of exquisite work. Thick as Honey worked in clay, but her sister Heart-Shaped worked with glass; they made household objects to sell when the veins of tin and gold they mined were thin. Each of the seven dwarves had extra skills to supplement their mining, skills that brought them into contact with the world of giants.
Here was a giant in an artful glass box.
Thick as Honey went to the coffin and looked in at the man. He was too lengthy for her to appreciate. But the glass of the coffin, etched with sprays of leaves and flowers, spirals and symbols, that was beautiful.
She raced back to the usual path and called her sisters, who followed her to the clearing and studied the casket and the giant within.
Golden Glow tapped the casket with her flute, appreciating the clear ringing noise it made.
"That's good glass," said Heart-Shaped, the glass-blower.
Silent and Still, the hunter and tracker among them, circled the casket, searching for tracks. She knelt and touched the earth, lifted some grass blades and sniffed them. She frowned and shook her head. "No sign of whoever left it. Perhaps it dropped from the sky."
Delicate Perfume, the gardener, traced the glass sprays of leaves and flowers. "There's rosemary," she said, "and lavender, and speedwell, and eyebright. A lesson of cures."
Soft and Doughy, the cook, cocked her head this way and that, then leaned closer and lifted the lid and sniffed. "No decay," she said, and glanced at her sisters.
Razor-Sharp studied the casket. "Whoever decided to leave this here has left no trace, and thus has no legal claim to it," she said.
"There are words up here," said Heart-Shaped, who had climbed up to study the etchings and ornaments of the lid.
"A claim of sorts," said Razor-Sharp. "What does it say?"
Heart-Shaped stood on the coffin. "Here lies Prince Charming," she said. "Killed with a curse. Resurrect with a kiss."
"Humph," said Razor-Sharp. "Well, let's take him home."
There was a lot of meat on a giant. Soft and Doughy used some for a stew that night, and the rest they smoked to enliven their lunches for months.
The coffin made a beautiful planter for Delicate Perfume's herb garden. Golden Glow broke the lid up into slivers so no one could read it again, and turned them into wind chimes.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Author Comments

This story was my response to an especially challenging set of Furious Fiction contest prompts. :)

- Nina Kiriki Hoffman
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