I love Christmas–the music, the folklore, the lights, the anticipation, the magic.

As a kid, I wished it would last longer than one day, and I was happy when I learned that Christmas has been in some places celebrated from December 25, marking the birth of Christ, until Twelfth Night, the fifth or sixth of January. The following day marks in some traditions the arrival of the Magi. Hence the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

So, to celebrate, I would like to make my first fiction posts to this blog over the old twelve days of Christmas. While it’s hard to predict the future, I would like to make a tradition of sharing stories that have something to do with the season–whether directly or because of their associations–over these twelve days every year, to lessen the sense of disappointment and anticlimax I feel after Christmas.

The story I’ve chosen to share this year isn’t about Christmas directly, but it is about light in darkness and so has always struck me as a winter, perhaps a solstice, story. We may hope that the light is truly a glimpse of something higher coming through cracks in the protagonist’s life, but it may just be a willow-the-wisp leading her into a bog. More on that later.

This story is both one of my favorites and one that strikes me as among my least  publishable–not because I think it’s bad, though I know it has its faults, but because it’s strange. Hence, I am making it available for free online for my favorite holiday

Beneath each entry (possibly in a separate post on the long ones) I will include commentary, because there’s a fair bit going on beneath the surface that only people who’ve read the first book of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene will spontaneously see, and that’s, well, not everyone.

I’ve been writing and fiddling with Duessa off and on for the past six years. I thought I’d share the simplest, most abstract and fable-like version here in twelve installments.

Thank you for looking and happy holidays!