short stories

The Netmaker

My earliest draft of Cambiare included folklore from Cirelle’s world in an assortment of flash-fiction blurbs. They have been cut from the original manuscript, but thought I’d share this one as a “deleted scene”.

[photo: hand-made net]

The Netmaker

In the seaside village of Lemarque, there once lived a netmaker of great skill. His fishing nets were fine and lightweight and strong. Moreover, they never tattered, never needed mending, not once. His renown grew as he aged, his nets requested by fishermen all up and down the coast. The netmaker lived as comfortably as a fat-pursed merchant with the profits from his handiwork. He was generous with his money, lending to neighbors in need with a free hand. But he had no one to share his home and his prosperity. He remained unmarried well past the age when most would take a spouse.

In his fourth decade of life, he met a kind-hearted woman and fell in love. They married, and soon the news spread in their village that she was expecting a child. But the netmaker was not overjoyed as one might expect. He grew thin, and sharp-tongued, and unpleasant. When the time came, his wife bore a healthy daughter. On the third day after the girl’s birth, the netmaker convinced his wife to travel, to take a carriage and visit her family inland before the rainy season set in.

The very next morning, the netmaker was found by a neighbor, lifeless in his bed. He was wrapped head to toe in his own cord and rope, twisted so tightly that it dug deeply into his flesh. It was the one around his neck that did him in, it was said.

Every net he had ever made unraveled that very night, the knots working themselves loose and the rope rotting to tatters. And that was when the village knew. His gift came not from innate talent, nor learned skill. It was faerie-given, and his firstborn child the bargain’s price, whisked out of their reach at the last moment.

Never, never, never break a deal with the fae.

– Ancient scroll, author anonymous

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