Worth It (225 Words)
It was a beautiful sight. Daria leaned over the boat edge, letting her hand trail in the water. The current pulled past her arm, troubling the reflection of fireflies and starlight. The moon shone clear, and the silver glow lit the world like another kind of day, bright and enlivening.
“Do you think it’s worth it?” she asked.
Ruad was barely awake, resting in the boat. At her question, his eyes half-opened.
“What do you mean?”
The Patron (275 Words)
There was an artist who was known to paint one picture. Always it was the same, the same distant gray-green mountains and the dark, hilly plateau where the city had once stood. With only that one image to offer, people lost interest in the man’s art and his house would have fallen to ruin if it wasn’t for the attention of one customer.
She visited him every day to see how his new work was coming. Whenever he finished, she bought the piece, giving him a high price without waiting to hear what he asked for. No words were ever exchanged between them. That, like his art, was a ritual never forgotten, never changed. Who the woman was in her rich strange clothes, with her frightening piercing eyes, no one knew. They knew the artist, and knowing what he had lost and the disorder in his mind, they were afraid to ask him.
Thinking Stone (516 Words)
The day after her eighteenth birthday, Princess Tana’s parents told her that it was time to marry. Because their daughter’s happiness was everything, they promised she could make her own choice with one caveat.
“If you aren’t in love within three months,” they said, “we will choose your husband for you. It is for your own good, Tana. You don’t want to die alone.”
Six Worlds (273 Words)
These symbols are a map. They are the six worlds in this part of the galaxy, separated by thousands of miles but linked by advanced transportation. My planet is the third, a golden land of deserts and rivers. It is the second and third, bare silhouettes on our-image map, that are trouble. If you look closely you can see them—faint outlines like shadows. We try to forget them. But we will never forget.
South for the Winter (233 Words)
The air was cold, but with the morning sun softening the clouds in pinks and grays, it looked like it should be warm.
“I have to go,” Lanna said out loud.
Treasure Maps and Puffins (39 Words)
Birds are very good at reading maps and this pair of puffins was no different. They followed the treasure map to the illustrated cover without any trouble at all.
Forgotten Frontier (199 Words)
A headline. A mystery. Here is the outline, the sketch of a story that is and cannot be solved. Secured for the private use of our elite, a Model-X spacecraft is stolen. The location was classified. But people talk. Others listen. I listened for years, a menial with secrets of my own. At last, it is done.