Stephanie Burgis
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Kingfishers, York and a 200-word story
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It's been a really lovely couple of days. On Sunday late-afternoon (as soon as the sun was low enough to be safe for Nika) we all drove out to Hardcastle Crags, an absolutely gorgeous wooded valley about an hour away from here. I haven't seen Nika that happy in a long time. Her nose never stopped twitching with curiosity the whole time we were there. We didn't walk much - it wouldn't have been safe for her poor, thin-skinned paws--but we walked down through the woods to the wide, flat rocks by the stream and sat there for a long time. We watched a neon-blue kingfisher flash through the air, sending water splashing in a sparkling shower around him. We talked about dreams & fantasies for our writing futures. Nika sniffed everything. We all walked veerrry slowly and reluctantly as we left the valley for the car to return to our noisy building-site house.

Yesterday, for our 2-year wedding anniversary, we drove out to York, one of my favorite cities in the world. We wandered through the narrow medieval streets, ogled Clifford's Tower up on its hill (built by William the Conqueror), went to a coffee shop (of course) and bought each other anniversary gifts. Patrick got me a beautiful fantasy necklace made by Laura Bradshaw-Heap (very similar to the pendants you can see on the front page of her site). In return, when we got back home, he insisted that I write him a 200-word story (no more and no less!) about the necklace. It turned out to be a really fun exercise, and the best possible way to shift back into the writing-new-stories mindset, after spending so long on novel-revising.

I'm still feeling happy and blissed-out from the anniversary, even though there are builders drilling in the living room as I type. So, to keep the celebratory spirit going, here it is, my 200-word necklace story (free of revisions, I'm afraid! it's happily in the raw):

Making Worlds

You can hold a whole universe in a necklace, if you try. You don’t believe me? Just watch.

Pick out the stars first. Pink and purple glitter--why stick to white? Sure, it’s classic, but it went out of fashion, oh, eons ago.

Watch the stars glitter away in the black background. They’re beautiful, but too distant. Throw in the green of fresh grass on an early summer evening, so people can lie outside beside a lake and spin stories about the patterns they see in the stars high above them. Toss in the deep blue of the water, rippling gently underneath the night sky. Then flecks of gold for the sinuous, twisting creatures who swim deep down at the bottom of the lake, where the people never glimpse them.

Toss in the sparkle of your first kiss and watch it shimmer into life. Wrap it all in glass, clear and reflective, both at once.

Wear the necklace, if you like. Feel it swinging between your breasts and brushing against your skin.

If it makes you shiver, you’ll know it’s come alive against you. The people inside are gazing at the stars and dreaming of the mystery, just like you.


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