A Charmed Pudding

Vanessa E. Howard

January 20, 1871
Beaconsfield Road, London

Dear Mr. Owen,

I must write and apologize for my behavior Friday last. Now that I am home and thinking clearly, I find I am steeped in shame. I fear I have brought public censure on you and for that, I am heartily sorry. Were it not for the pudding, I should never have done such a wanton thing. I hope that you can forgive me for kissing you, and in such a manner, in front of your guests. 

Mabel Edwards

January 25, 1871
Norwood Lane, London

Dear Miss Edwards,

It is I who must apologize. My brother is an interfering oaf and believe me, he’s gotten an earful from me already. I am tempted to cut his allowance. You heard him admit to putting a love charm on the pudding that he served to the two of us. I am sure you tried, as I did, to resist it, but he is a talented magician. 

I fear we have only a handful of choices before us. We can break off our lifelong friendship. We can keep our meetings brief and sparing while attempting to resist the magic. Or we can give in and marry, knowing that any time we are apart we will realize our “love” is a false one. I hold out hope that perhaps you, my clever old friend, have been able to ferret out some other solution to our conundrum. 

I am afraid I cannot forgive you for kissing me. That would be dissembling on my part. I shall be frank: I enjoyed the kiss far too much to view it as an offense. Go on and be scandalized, dear Mabel, but I cannot promise not to kiss you again the next time we meet, thanks to that infernal pudding. 

Benjamin Owen

January 28, 1871
Beaconsfield Road, London

Dear Mr. Owen,

I cannot make you out at all. I can’t tell if you are angry, teasing, or somber. I cannot bear the thought of breaking our friendship. We have been such fast friends for such a long time that it would be like losing a family member. 

Perhaps if we meet, we will find that the charm has faded somewhat. Mother says such charms rarely lose potency until the magician dies, but that it can happen. Would it be worth the risk of another meeting? 

This is such a muddle. Oh, I could wallop your brother in his nose!

Mabel Edwards

January 29, 1871
Norwood Lane, London

Dear Mabel,

Of course we must risk it. It is the only way to know for certain how strong the charm is. I shall meet you at Sydenham gardens tomorrow evening at six. Bring a chaperone. Bring your Mother if you must, although she still terrifies me. She will keep us in line, should the magic prove too much.

P.S. I shall wallop Norman for you, with great pleasure.


January 31, 1871
Beaconsfield Road, London

Dear Benjamin,

That did not go at all as planned. Why did you drag me into the hedges like that? I thought Mother was going to impale you with her umbrella. We mustn’t meet again or you’ll HAVE to marry me, whether you wish to or not. Mother will not allow my reputation to be degraded. You must know that. The only reason the first kiss wasn’t a true scandal was because Norman claimed it as one of his pranks.

But I shall be as frank as you were: I did not regret being pulled into the hedges as much as I should have. Even when I got home and my head cleared, I was not terribly sorry that it happened. Do you think me brazen? I blush as I write this, but I am determined to be honest. I enjoyed it, Benjamin. There!

What are we going to do?


February 2, 1871
Beaconsfield Road
Norwood Lane

Dear Ben and Mabel,

I am posting identical letters to the both of you. You have no call to be angry with me. I would not have resorted to subterfuge if you weren’t both such stubborn blockheads. 


It was a mild attraction spell, the sort that one might use to help bickering children get past a disagreement. It wears off in a day. Any irresistible attraction or affection you felt was purely your own. 

You have loved each other for years. It’s high time to forget past misunderstandings and former flames and be done with it. You belong together and now, finally, you both know it.

If you don’t ask me to stand up for you at your wedding, I shall be quite put out.

Ever your servant (albeit a cheeky one),
Norman Owen

Vanessa Howard
Vanessa E. Howard writes primarily fantasy and science fiction for middle graders and young adults. She has been a newspaper reporter, freelance magazine writer, and college composition teacher. She has sold underwear and cookware, although not at the same time.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Flash Fiction Magic writing community, she is also a homeschool mother to four children and teaches at a homeschool co-op.

When she’s not writing stories or wrangling children, Ms. Howard can be found singing showtunes and worship songs at top volume, using outrageous accents during read-alouds, and dabbling rather unsuccessfully in painting.

She lives on a couple of woodsy acres in Central Texas with her family, a handful of pets, and an abundance of brambles.

Connect with Vanessa on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.