As Usual

 Once upon a time, when the air was colder and the nights more dark, a fire gleamed in the distance. 

    It moved and crept and finally it swept, the whole world engulfed in it's flames.

    When the flames died, all that remained was char. For a time.

    Until the first shoot rose. The thought of fire died a death made only by forgetting.

    And, as usual, the world went on.

Stone Words

 There were words written on a fair stone, hidden away in the cave of a high mountain. Oh, there were words. And they were lovely. Rich and flourishing, they told secrets — or so those who risked the journey said upon their return. Words that would change a life, they said.     And so the young woman journeyed. Up she went. Up into the coldest heights, risking her life in the harsh air and stark environs.      All to see the words set upon the stone.     'Live simply and love,' it said.     She sighed when she saw it.     The world was a strange place, she thought, if people needed to climb treacherous mountains to learn uncomplicated truths.     Then she shrugged. Whatever works, she thought again, and made her way back down the mountain.

The Jewel

 In the bodice of a gown, there nestled a jewel more perfect than any other. It was the likes of which the world had never seen. And, indeed, the world had never seen it, for the wearer had found the gem herself and crafted it with care. She had polished and cut it, melted and molded the gold and silver that held it fast, and strung it up on a thin thread of silver that had been purchased from a shop.     All her life, the wearer wore the jewel hidden.     And when she died, she requested that she be buried as she was, without alteration to her clothes or her adornment.     She was almost safe. Almost. Save for the chance observations of a funeral clerk who sought to freshen her up slightly for her burial. Which was when he saw the jewel. From that moment, he wanted it as he had wanted nothing else.      It tormented him. Night by night he wrestled with sleep as he thought about the perfect stone that lay atop a rotting corpse. Night by night he wondered who he would harm if he were to

A Note on Hope

 Once, when the air was very cold, a crystal formed that carried inside it all the hope in the world.     A stranger happened on it, and knew the crystal for what it was. So she took it and carried it with gravest care.     Soon the first stranger's life came to its end, so she passed it on to another. When his life came to its end, he passed it on. And so the pattern continued, life after life, until a carrier stumbled and the crystal fell to the ground.     And shattered.     But that was no matter, for hope did all the better uncontained.              

The Shadows

The light shown on Anya’s fingers. It curled around her palm and danced. This, she thought, was the sheer pleasure of having magic.       But in the midst of her play, a shadow grew.   It was not unexpected; it was the cost of doing magic, for it always begot shadows.   But it never ceased to offer discomfort.   If she could find a way to practice her craft and leave behind the adjacent darkness, she would.          Anya was not fond of the dark, or shadows, or of the sense of unease that grew whenever she let the flickering brightness dance.   But, too, there was a feeling of wholeness in her work.   How could that be, such fulfillment when darkness lay about her?   A constant wonder—the weight of it only born by extinguishing the light for a time until she could bear it again.       Today was such a time.          Anya took the light, and threw it at the darkness.   The next breath, and it was gone.   Elimination brought palpable relief, while at the same time she felt the loss of