“I’d like to…” he stalled, struggling to speak, “to bless you.”

She rolled away slightly from the man who had approached her on the sidewalk. “What sort of blessing?”

He sighed. “You think I’m trying to play you.”

“No, I—”

“‘It’s fine,” he continued, breath labored. “I don’t blame you. So how about this, just let me touch your wrist, and if nothing happens, then you’ll know.”

“My wrist?” Shifty and shaken as this man seemed, there was something adamant in his gaze that made her feel brave. “Fine. Let’s see this blessing.” And so she held out her arm.

Relieved at her change of heart, the man knelt beside her chair, reached out and laid his hand on her wrist. Immediately, her skin began to glow.

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed.

“Yes,” he said through gritted teeth. “Yes, that’s exactly what I am.”


“Any harm I do to someone must be repaid as a blessing, or else I suffer it too. I’m a curse as much as a blessing.”

“So if you’re blessing me, that means.”

Then, for the first time in a decade, she felt her legs.

No small miracle.

There were tears running down the stranger’s face.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


“What just happened?” she asked, rubbing her forehead.

He sighed picking up the golfball that was rolling around at their feet, “It’s the curse.”

“You were serious about that?”

A somber nod. “Every time I sneeze, someone around me gets hurt.”

“But where did the golfball even come from?”

He shrugged, “From a black hole, a magic portal, the universe’s butthole. It’s just my bad luck.”

For a moment they sat in silence. He fiddled with the golfball. She rubbed the growing welt on her forehead.

“So how do you break it?” she asked.

“Well,” he glanced at her nervously. “I’m supposed to,”


“A kiss.”

“Oh,” she straightened, “you mean—”

“No, no,” he stammered, “I wasn’t trying to—”

“You mean you don’t want to kiss me?”

“I . . . that’s not . . .” he grinned, then quickly wiped the smile from his face. “I just wouldn’t want you to feel pressured.”

She shifted a little closer. “Well there’s no harm in trying, right?”

He shrugged, nodded, smiled. “Right.”

They leaned in, paused. Their eyes met, then so did their lips.


“Did it work?”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “We better try again.”

She grinned. “You’re full of shit.” They kissed again.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox


They buried Boneheart Cole Carrow in shallow grave on the battlefield where he fell. For long years afterword, people avoided that burnt and broken land with its memories of tragedy and strife. So, no one knew when the tree began to grow.

It was a jagged, twisting thing. The old men would spit on the ground when they passed the place and would warn their children and grandchildren to stay clear of Carrow’s tree. It was considered a sign from heaven when the tree was stuck by lightning during one late summer storm.

Only, the tree didn’t die. New branches rose from the charred stump like a clawed hand rising from the grave. Men declared the field cursed, and none would build or plow or even cross through that place. A wood grew up around the undead tree. Or, as some whispered, that one forsaken tree, glutted on blood, had spread like a weed until it had become a forest unto itself.

Generations later, the battle has been forgotten, as has Boneheart himself. But the trees still stand. The folk of that region know to avoid Carrow Wood. Old twisted branches claw toward the sky and cast long, dark shadows.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox