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art by M.S. Corley

Three Wishes

Melissa Mead lives in upstate NY. You may have seen her stories in DSF before. She's a member of SFWA and Codex, and her Web page is carpelibris.wordpress.com. Go to Twisted Fairy Tales to read the other stories published so far in Melissa's series.

A woodcutter was walking through the forest one day when he heard something howling.
It sounded terribly close by, but if he didn't go into the forest and do his work he and his wife would have nothing to eat that day. Soon he came upon a fallen tree, and found a golden Coyote with its paw trapped beneath the trunk. The woodcutter raised his ax, but the Coyote turned and cried, "Don't kill me, kind sir!"
The woodcutter stopped short. He'd listened to his grandmother's bedtime stories and knew to beware Coyotes, especially talking ones, but he was a kind man, reluctant to kill a creature who'd done him no harm.
"If I free you, will you promise not to eat me?" he said.
"Good woodcutter, if you set me free I'll be so grateful I'll give you three wishes, for I am the King of the Coyotes."
That made the woodcutter even more nervous, but with great care he pried up the trunk while the Coyote pulled its sore paw from beneath it.
"You have my thanks, woodcutter," it said. "You shall have your three wishes, as promised, and my protection besides. I cannot return to my pack until this paw heals. You have until then to make your wishes."
So the woodcutter went home with the great golden Coyote limping beside him. The Coyote vanished into the shadows when the man's wife came to the door.
"I hope you sold a lot of wood today and bought us a good dinner, for the cupboards are empty," she said.
The man's heart sank, for in rescuing the Coyote he hadn't cut any wood at all. "Oh, I wish I at least had a fine big sausage for you!" he said.
As soon as he spoke, a long, spicy sausage appeared in his arms.
His wife gasped. The man explained about the Coyote and the wishes, and she went livid with anger.
"You had three wishes, and you wasted one of them on a sausage? We could have wished for a fine house, or piles of gold and jewels. A sausage! How stupid! I wish you'd wished for something sensible!"
"Well, I wish that thrice-cursed sausage was hanging from the end of your nose," he retorted. Too late, he clapped a hand over his mouth. The sausage dangled from his wife's nose.
"I'm sorry, Wife! I'll wish it off."
But his wife remembered her grandmother's stories, too. "No, you have one wish left, and the Coyote King gave it to you. You use it."
The Coyote King sauntered out of the shadows, his tongue lolling out with laughter. "Humans! It's so easy to make you fight each other. If you expect me to give you more wishes as a reward for your unselfishness, you're mistaken."
"I expect no such thing, Your Majesty." She turned and went into the house, sausage and all.
And for days and weeks afterward she went about like that, hushing her husband when he tried to wish it off. Whenever they quarreled and one started to say "I wish," they looked at that nasal charcuterie and fell silent. The Coyote King snarled frustration at having his mischief thwarted, but they just smiled and gave him the scraps from their meals.
One day the Coyote King's paw was healed. "I'll stay here no longer," he said. "You must use the last wish."
The woodcutter and his wife smiled at each other. "I wish we could always be as content as we are now."
The Coyote snarled and leapt at the woman. The woodcutter raised his ax, but the Coyote merely nipped off the sausage, so neatly that he didn't even scratch the wife's nose. "Granted!" he said, and slunk back to the forest, deprived of his amusement.
But he had to admit, the sausage was quite tasty.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
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