A wealthy actress in Hollywood in the 1920s takes on a pair of immigrant faeries as indentured servants in DeAnna Knippling’s “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch,” but she didn’t realize just how high the cost would be to keep them safe.
“Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.
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My husband and I were always just on the edge of setting the house-fae free. But there was always something, you know? It was after the Great War, when so many of the fae came over the ocean. Immigrants, only not human ones. Mythological immigrants.
Our house-fae, Ala and Elias, weren’t the pretty ones that you see in woodcuts in fairy-tale books, tall and elegant with long, wispy hair. I don’t know if those kind actually exist. I never seen any, anyhow. The house-fae we had were small, and gray, and wrinkled, and kinda ugly. But cute. I hadta stop myself from pinching their cheeks, when they first arrived. It woulda been rude.
I got them for a literal song, a sweet lullaby that I used to sing to our son, before he was killed in a car accident with Timothy’s parents. I don’t remember the song anymore. It was just the most ridiculous song, I remember that. Did you know you can buy house-fae for a song? But that if you do, you lose the song forever? Two house-fae, one song, and now I can’t remember the song. It’s just gone. I was joking around at the time. Timothy and I were slumming in Little Tokyo, going to clubs, when we stumbled across the two of them begging for work. They looked so sad and lonely that I just started singing to them. It was an impulse. I hadn’t exactly meant to pick up a pair of house-fae, and Timothy and I had words over the incident. But they moved in, and here we are.
— from “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” in The Golden Door by DeAnna Knippling
DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.