A selection from "The Insect Diviner"; A collection of micro-stories with a fantastical and quirky feel. A princess with a glass foot, a king who only eats swans, the queen of heat. An insect diviner, a sweet smith, a sword swallower, a thistle boy. A secret herb, an elaborate chest, a sandcastle that makes the sea cry. In this collection of short tales Jason Messinger creates small tapestries in the mode of classic fairy tales, but for a reader of modernist sensibilities.

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The Insect Diviner

A woman could tell the future by looking at insects. When the grasshoppers flew she knew winter would be hard, when a ladybug landed on her she knew there would be a fire upwind, when a beetle crawled by she saw a birth, or a death, depending. When a butterfly landed she saw marriage, if a moth she saw divorce.

One day the king of insects heard of this woman’s strange gift and called on her. He flew from his hot climate to her cool land. It took a very long time, and the king was tired by the end.

“Would you like some flower nectar?” asked the woman, when she met the king of insects.

“Why yes,” said the king, who lapped the sweet syrup.

“Would you like to relax on this soft cushion?” asked the woman.

“Why yes,” sighed the king, who settled on the cotton.

“What else would you like?” asked the woman, hovering overhead.

“I’d like to know what you see in me,” asked the king. “What future do I show you?”

“Fame,” said the woman, as she slid the needle in.

"The Insect Diviner" from book by same name