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Each night she comes with her sisters to the spinning-room, to spin with the women of the village. I sit beside her, when I can: I speak with her, and trade my stories for hers, and bask in her nearness like a cat before the hearth.

Her hands are strong and elegant, her hair long and fine. She smells of water, sweet and fresh and living, like the lake-scent that clings to my hair when I swim. Her smile is gentler than moonlight and more lovely than the sun.

She never tells me where she comes from, nor do her sisters speak of their home; but each night, when they hear the clock strike ten, they gather their spools and hurry home. Not a minute longer will they tarry – even when I beg her, in the dark behind the house, where the others cannot see my fingers on her lips, her hands entangled in my hair.

“Please,” I whisper, a breath against her ear. “Stay with me.”

Even as her fingers dance across my skin, she answers: “I cannot. It is forbidden me.”

“Then tell me where you live, at least, and what master it is that keeps you from me.”

She spins me a tale of a wellspring in the woods, where she lives with her sisters deep below the waves: and by the scent of her, the taste of her skin beneath my tongue, I almost want to believe her.

Still, she leaves me when the clock strikes ten. I straighten my skirts and return to my spinning, and try not to show the twisting knife within my heart.

And so, one day, I turn back the clock before she comes.

She hears the nine-times tolling of the bell, and lets me lead her to a wood-shed where the others cannot hear our sighs and moans. For an hour, a glorious hour, it is all worth it. I think of asking her to stay with me forever.

Before I can find the words the clock strikes ten, and she vanishes smiling from my arms.

She does not come to the spinning-room, the next night. Neither do her sisters.

I go the way they always came, into the forest, praying to the moonlight that I find the right path. My feet bring me at last to a lonely wellspring: and its water runs red with blood.
Written for Flash Fiction Month 2018, day 25. This year I'm also fulfilling a challenge by an anonymous contributor - every character must be queer - as well as one by Teague-Drydan: At least half of the month needs to be fairy tale re-writes. Bonus if they aren't well known fairy tales. Fairy tale count: 13/16.

Again, this is a riff on a popular motif: I've seen this story in a few different versions. I have not, however, seen it on the internet, and since I'm pretty sure it's not in the Grimm collections - and as such, doesn't have a consistent title under which it's well-known - I don't know what to search for. I've seen it at least in Sagen aus Schwaben (Ernst-Otto Luthardt) as "Die drei weißen Jungfrauen" (and, sort of, "Die zwölf Seeweiblein"), and in Sagen der Schwäbischen Alb (Klaus Graf) as "Die Nixe von der Echatz", but I may well have seen it elsewhere as well: like I said, this one's pretty popular, at least regionally.

The rest of today's stories can be found here.

Wordcount: 397.

If you've enjoyed this story, you may be interested in the collection of all my FFM stories this year: Beyond Dreams. You may also enjoy my FFM collections from the previous four years: Borrowed Strength, Ephemeron, Palalgia, and Changeling.

This story is also featured in LitConquistadores' 2018 FlashFictionMonth collection, The Ruminations of a Multiheaded Monster, which can be purchased for points on dA here or through Blurb here.
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:iconsquanpie:
squanpie Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh no. :(

This is so beautiful and sad. 
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2018   Writer
Thank you - I'm glad it had an impact!
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:iconjoe-wright:
joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018   General Artist
Oh my god this is so, so perfect. The third paragraph just grabbed me by the heart.
You really should publish a book of fairy tales by the way; both rewrites and originals, you have such a talent for this particular dark romantic tone. I remember Changeling blowing me away in the same manner.
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018   Writer
Aw, thank you so much! I really love this style.

I would honestly love to write that sort of anthology, or possibly several. I'll have to make it a goal.
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:iconjoe-wright:
joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018   General Artist
Yes yes yes yes. Top priority, go go go
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018   Writer
:highfive:
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:iconscfrankles:
SCFrankles Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
I particularly like She smells of water, sweet and fresh and living, like the lake-scent that clings to my hair when I swim. And She spins me a tale of a wellspring in the woods, where she lives with her sisters deep below the waves: and by the scent of her, the taste of her skin beneath my tongue, I almost want to believe her.

And I like the straightforwardness of the last sentence to express the horror of the situation. 
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018   Writer
Thank you! :la:
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:iconteague-drydan:
Teague-Drydan Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018  Student Writer
ooooo man. you just keep getting better & better.  Have you ever thought of just rewriting fairy tales & publishing? I'd read the crap out of them.
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018   Writer
I have had that thought. ;) Thank you!
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:iconteague-drydan:
Teague-Drydan Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018  Student Writer
You're welcome!
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:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018
That ending both breaks my heart and terrifies me. I love it!
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018   Writer
:w00t: Thank you!
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:iconilyilaice:
ilyilaice Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018
The writing here is delicious. The words taste sweet in my mouth. :love: 
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:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018   Writer
This is a fair bit more sensual than my usual, so I'm extra glad to hear that.
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July 25, 2018
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