Short Story: The Magic Harp

Hello! I wrote tiny fairytale! It was inspired by this tweet:

It was also kind of inspired by the vibe of Pushing Daisies (which if you haven’t seen it is an incredible show with exquisite worldbuilding and excellent banter). I listened to the theme song on repeat like 150x while writing it.

Anddd here is the Pinterest board for it:

THE MAGIC HARP

There once lived a baker’s son who had a magic harp. It was an old harp, its wooden frame carved with as many battle scars as it was intricate designs. For you see, this magic harp was never passed down from father to son. It was always stolen, slipping from hand to hand until it found a new home.

The baker and his son had never had much money. Their bakery was not the only one in the village, and it was with a disheartening sigh that the baker told his son what he feared: what little they made selling bread and pastries wasn’t enough to keep their store open much longer. But that all changed when the baker’s son found the magic harp lodged in the depths of his attic, a relic of a long forgotten past.

When the baker’s son played this harp, the bakery came to life. Each carefully conceived pastry was born of the boy’s imagination and the wild music he made. A waltz laced each bite of the airy lemon tarts that dissolved like soft petals of a wilting snowflake. Folk songs burst through mouthfuls of hearty sourdough, familiar earthy threads coiling through the bread. Haunting melodies bespoke deep desires in decadent chocolate cakes laced with luscious cherries.

And as word spread of the magic, the baker and his son found that their luck had turned. Dozens of patrons came in each day, trading hard-earned silver coins for the taste of notes on their tongue. The baker was pleased with the reversal of their fortunes. But the baker’s son only cared about one customer: the florist’s daughter.

Her hair was as white as a sliver of moonlight and her eyes as pale as a jar of fresh-bottled ocean water. When she moved, golden butterflies circled her head like a shimmering wreath of starlight. And every time she smiled at him with lips the color of rosebuds, the baker’s son fell a little more in love with this girl made of petals and stardust.

Every day, the florist’s daughter walked into the bakery with a basket of fresh picked flowers. And each day she left with a brown paper package filled with the plainest bread—the sourdough that sung the folk tales of old. The shy baker’s son never had the courage to talk to the florist’s daughter, but he spoke to her in his own language—music.

Every day the florist’s daughter tore open plain brown paper and found something extra along with her bread. The baker’s son spun her glass castles out of sugar that twinkled like wind chimes. He gave her tortes of vanilla and rose and saffron that trilled like happy songbirds. The florist’s daughter smiled as she tasted each drop of special magic the baker’s son wove for her.

Weeks passed in the blur of sweet melodies and clandestine smiles, and the vestiges of summer heat turned into autumn flurries of gold and bronze leaves. It was a particularly cold and rainy day, when the florist’s daughter snuck back into the bakery after hours, bringing with her the telltale flutter of stars and wings. The baker’s son stood in the center of the room, shivering even as the heat of the hearth warmed his toes. The girl’s face was red from the sting of the crisp air, and raindrops clung to her eyelashes.

And with no warning but a secret smile, the girl pressed her lips to the boy’s. The kiss was as delicate as meringue clouds and as indulgent as blood orange pie. And when the girl pulled away, disappearing out the doors, the boy could do nothing but stare helplessly. He fell asleep with the memory of the kiss haunting him, a ghost just out of sight brushing its cool fingers against his lips.

But when the baker’s son awoke, he discovered that magic was just as fleeting as a kiss. For over the course of one night, their reversed fortunes had reversed again. The magic harp was gone.

The barker’s son searched high and low for his magic harp, but it had vanished without a trace, like a fleeting wisp of smoke. All that was left was a single lemon tart. And as the last notes of the waltz faded, so too did the magical bakery.

The people who had waited for hours in lines that wound through the village disappeared. The bakery that had been the center of attention was now nothing more than a lonely building filled with echoes of loss and longing. As he sat in the center of the once-full store, the baker’s son tried to hold onto the past, even as it slipped through his fingers as swiftly as the tendrils of an already forgotten dream. And as his memories of the magic harp faded, so too did those of the girl he had loved.

But what the baker’s son didn’t know was that the only way to lose the harp was if it was stolen.

The girl with the basket of flowers in her hands and butterflies in her hair stood in front of an ornate silver mirror and shed her disguise. The butterflies faded to black shadows circling her head like a crown of thorns. Lips as red as blood curved up in a smile as she sat in front of the baker’s son’s harp and plucked a simple melody. The magic of the harp twisted and curved into formless smoke of pink and gold. As she played, the magic morphed and grew, turning darker and bolder until it was no longer formless.

She reached out, her long fingers curving around the shape of the fruit. Her smile grew as she studied the object in her hand. Beautiful. Enchanting. Deadly.

A poisoned apple.

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