Three Vague Fairy Tales by Shane Kowalski



Marcel Dzama: Who am I now, 2017. Image credit:




There was a boy who got turned into a cup. A witch did it at the town’s request. What they gave the witch in return is still a mystery.

Turning him into a cup was the only way for anybody to get anything out of the boy.

So he lived the rest of his life as a cup.

The unforeseen problem was: the town realized they had to put something into him now before they could get anything out of him.







A handsome man walked into his reflection in a mirror. On the other side he came out as a princess. The princess kissed a frog and turned into a fly. The frog ate the fly and turned into a dildo. Moss grew over the dildo and turned it into a tree. Lightning struck the tree and turned it into a magic acorn. A mischievous boy took the magic acorn and ate it. The acorn grew into a tower in the boy’s belly. The tower ripped through and out of the boy’s belly and grew so tall it disappeared into the clouds. A single crane flying west crashed into the tower, splitting it in two and sending the pieces toppling to the ground, creating two women. The two women looked at each other, each of them thinking they were looking into a mirror. They tried to walk away in opposite directions but they couldn’t. They shared the same hair.






A peasant boy, leading his family’s dairy cow back from grazing, came across a troll who offered him a trade. For your cow, dear boy, I will offer you an orgasm, said the troll.

The peasant boy looked at the troll. That doesn’t seem like a fair trade, said the peasant boy.

Ah! said the troll. This is no ordinary orgasm though. This is a magic orgasm! Here, see for yourself!

The troll held it out in his hand, the size of a bean, green and glowing.

This is my family’s only cow, said the peasant boy. If I trade it to you for this magic orgasm, what will I tell my family? They are poor and their spirits are low. This cow is our only source of what little income we have.

You may share this magic orgasm with your family, said the troll. It is really best to share.

You’re saying this magic orgasm will provide us with income? asked the peasant boy.

It will provide you with more than income, said the troll.

More than income?! said the peasant boy.

The troll held the magic orgasm out to the boy. Do we have a trade? the troll asked.

After giving it one last thought, the peasant boy agreed.

When he arrived home later without the cow, his family berated him: What do you mean you traded Katinka? And for a bean?

But this is no bean, said the peasant boy. This is a magic orgasm!

The peasant boy’s mother walked over and slapped him on both cheeks. The peasant boy’s father took the magic orgasm from the boy’s hand and threw it to the ground. Both his mother and father took turns stepping on it. They invited his twelve siblings to come and step on it. They stomped and mashed it as the peasant boy watched.

What a stupid son we’ve made! his mother and father lamented. They walked away.

The peasant boy fell to his knees. A feeling was overtaking him. It seemed like it would never finish, never die. His cheeks, red and warm, felt like two apples: if bitten, they might curse someone with eternal relief.



Shane Kowalski is a lecturer at Cornell University. His work appears or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, The Offing, New Delta Review, Hobart, and elsewhere.