“A Tale of Two Tarōs”
The boy’s name was Tarō, and he lived on Urashima. Men there were fishermen, mostly, and boys learned that trade from their fathers and grandfathers; but this Tarō was not a fisherman, because he had neither father nor grandfather to teach him. He was an orphan, and a beggar, and sometimes a petty thief — but that last only when he was struggling to get by.
Many years ago, in a fandom auction to raise money after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, I offered a short story based on the auction winner’s choice of Japanese historical or folkloric prompt. Due to some logistical confusion, though, the second-place bidder thought they had won, resulting in some disappointment when they found out that wasn’t the case. I asked them what their prompt would have been . . . and then, over a decade later, when I finally (!) made good on my promise to the winning bidder — oh yes, I apologized to him, quite profusely — I came across my correspondence with the second-place bidder.
And that night a complete story fell out of my head.
As the opening lines suggest, “A Tale of Two Tarōs” is based on the folktale “Urashima Tarō.” It has been accepted for publication in DreamForge Anvil, and I will update here when it’s available!