Son of Rock

Son of Rock

January 7, 2319: Old Rock Day “I don’t understand why you choose to torment me like this,” Fred’s mother said, and Fred hung up and threw the phone across the room. He ground his teeth together. He had placed the long-distance call to StarChip III to wish her happy Mother’s Day, thinking—wishing? Dreaming? Naïvely believing?—she might have a normal conversation with him, just this once. No such dumb luck. She’d been in a foul mood; there were more of those than there used to be, or maybe Fred noticed them as an adult. As usual, Marjorie Hall had had something...

Hilda’s Secret

Hilda’s Secret

“Bye, Mama!” Hilda squealed as she pushed out the door. Ylsa clung to her like a furry shadow, ducking to Hilda’s left side to avoid the satchel swinging at the girl’s side. “Before dark, Hilda!” Even through the closed door, her mother’s voice boomed hoarsely, a result of the projection spell she’d cast on herself the night before at the music festival. At age eleven, Hilda thought it was very improper for a mother to go make a fool of herself at the same parties as the rebellious kids from Hilda’s school. She was glad for a reason to run...

Felix and Stella

Felix and Stella

Stella is a witch. She’s not the kind of girl Felix can bring home to his mother, but he doesn’t care. His mother hasn’t called him down to the docks for months, and he knows the Felicity pulled out of port a few days ago. Felix is just glad Stella lets him climb up through her window and curl up in her bed to fall asleep with her arms around him. It’s what he wants for the rest of his life. Stella wakes Felix up every morning by planting a kiss on his nose, and then he smiles and yawns...

In The Beginning, There Was Love

Niamh loved a bargain. Haggling with merchants along the dusty village square was her favorite weekly past time. Father feigned disapproval. Mother ducked her head in mock shame, muttering worthless apologies. In truth, they loved the coins Niamh saved them, the extra butter and eggs she acquired. It wasn’t easy being the plain, simpler older sister, but the occasional sweet or bundle of herbs she brought home especially for me softened the manner in which others scorned or outright overlooked me. “Betha! Oh, dearest sister! Look what I have for us!” I glanced up from the book in my lap....

Prometheus

Prometheus

The ferrets had been the first to discover the Gift, when they stretched their long bodies to reach the sap off of the trees to mix it with their nimble paws – berries and melted spring water and tiny gruff mutterings. The word of the ferrets’ discovery had sent a ripple across the small-footed tribes of the Murai like a shiver across fur, and over moons and seasons and revolutions nearly all of the inhabitants of Blue Hollow had learned their own clever tricks: chants for abundant berries, conjurings to shield naked and whimpering young from prying noses, strange spells...

On A Wing and A Prayer

On A Wing and A Prayer

Most days the line at the downtown soup kitchen stretched around the block an hour before it even opened. Today–an unexpectedly windy, chilly day of the kind that usually drove those in need inside for more than mere sustenance–the line was a good three-quarters of what it should be. Angela would know. She’d been in charge of The Church of Mary’s soup kitchen for over three years. A glance at her best friend Lorna, slicing donated day-old bread, showed a mirrored surprise. Still, the huddled masses needed to be fed; her concerns would need to wait until later. Three-quarters of...

Tea for Deux

Tea for Deux

Not beloved, not reviled—just an essential color in the 1500-odd human tapestry of Willowglen, Minnesota: this was what Vivette and Shirley wanted to be, and had wanted to be for almost two decades now. That, and to finally host their grand tea party, once and for all. Here they were, in the perfect house for a sternly unsettling tea party for the retirees, farmers, and college students of Willowglen, whose faces were all lightened attractively by their phone screens. Here they were, an adorable, aloof, timeless middle-aged couple—the perfect anesthetic for the small Midwestern town nestled up to tiny Lake...

Drama in Exile

Drama in Exile

Mirain roughly scraped her right cheek back and forth against a piece of blue mark-out tape on the main stage floor. The dried tears had started to itch where they had left salty streaks. The sensation pushed her past caring what he thought. The inflamed blood vessels crisscrossing the whites of her eyes aggravated her blue irises casting a lavender glow when caught by the spotlight. Black smudges of supposedly waterproof mascara veined down the sides of her face. A decent sized goose egg throbbed under her blonde hair just behind her right ear. Mirain’s head pounded out the matching...