This photo is photoshopped, but it’s so beautiful and inspired this short story.
The Pixie Dust Sky
Java’s grandmother always told her that pixies were allergic to iron, and when they sneezed, they released pixie dust into the air. When there was enough pixie dust, it made the sky appear closer, which was probably why the sky was always full of stars here in the blacksmith’s quarter of Flammelia.
Java had finished her last order and had put the carefully dried and crushed herbs away on the shelves when the clock was striking midnight. She didn’t like working so late at the pharmacy, but lots of orders meant money for food and eventually the home she hoped to buy once she had saved enough.
She locked the heavy wooden door to the shop, tugging a few times to make sure it was solid and strong. Rarely did anyone bother to try to rob her, since lack of medicines could affect everyone, including thieves, but once in a while, some teens would go on a vandalism spree. Some of the herbs were toxic, especially if smashed onto the floor with the right combination of other mixtures.
Her favorite route to the house she rented on the outskirts of town was through the blacksmith’s quarter, because the way the sky looked from the pixie dust. The stars bloomed in the sky like tiny star asters against the dark blue-black, and it reminded her of the skies outside her grandmother’s house in the mountains, far from the cities.
But today the starry sky made her feel small and lonely. She walked alone on the cobbled street, the wooden blacksmith shops shuttered for the night, with only faint light from banked fires filtering through the cracks in the doors and windows. Her way wound in front of her, a narrow road flanked by silent buildings.
She missed her grandmother today. She had been on her own for two years now, but it was difficult to make friends in the city of Flammelia, large and sprawling. She was more used to the meandering pace of life in the country, in remote villages like the one nearest to her grandmother’s house. Her work gathering herbs and plants necessitated a great deal of time alone in the forests and fields outside of Flammelia, or in the garden plot outside her rented home.
Last night, she had accepted an invitation from some of her clients to join them for drinks at the Wive’s Tale Inn, and while the women had been kind, Java had felt out of place. She had no children, no boyfriend, no family now that her grandmother was dead. She hadn’t the money for fripperies or fashion, and her frugal upbringing made her resistant to those things anyway. She had contributed little to the conversation.
“Java, you are just plain boring, is what you are.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” The voice sounded several feet behind her.
She always carried her blade tucked into her arm holster, and with a flick of her thumb, she loosened it even as she turned to see who had spoken. But upon spying the lanky silhouette, she relaxed. “Oh, it’s you, Evan.”
“Would you rather I was someone else?” He strolled up to her, his hands in his coat pockets. His heavy coat always bore fresh burn marks from his forge, so he always looked a little like a vagrant.
“You’re working late.”
“So are you.”
“I had orders for pickup tomorrow.” Java rolled her stiff shoulders. “Did you have an order for tomorrow, too?”
He nodded, his spectacles glinting in the dim glow emanating from a nearby closed shop. “A sword for a merchant who had to pick it up tomorrow, or wait another month.”
“Charged him triple.”
Evan had a fine enough reputation as a swordmaker that he could charge whatever he liked, but Java felt the pressure of still trying to prove herself amongst the other pharmacists in the city, and so kept her rates modest.
“So what makes you think you’re boring?”
Java groaned. “Forget it.”
“You know I can’t.”
“Sure you can. Just like that time you forgot to feed Fluffy and came crying to me to go to your house …”
“Oh, you are never going to let me forget that.”
“Oh, you are so right.”
She was surprised by his hand on her elbow, making her stop walking. She looked up at him to demand an explanation, but his eyes were genuinely concerned, and she found she couldn’t make light of the fact she had worried him. “I’m just feeling sorry for myself.” She explained briefly about the drinking party last night.
“Don’t look down on yourself. You just haven’t found the right friends.”
“I know, but it’s so hard for me to meet people. I hate crowds, and I don’t keep up with the trends like a lot of the city girls I meet. Most of those my age are already married with children, and I feel left out of the conversation.”
His hand moved from her elbow to her shoulder. “I wish I could do something, but all my friends are male blacksmiths, and I’d rather not share—er, expose you to their crude sense of humor.”
“I appreciate the gesture.” But Java was still right where she was when she started walking home, and while she didn’t want something so small as lack of friends to affect her, she couldn’t stop feeling a bit low.
Evan suddenly turned to face her. “There’s one thing I can do.” He raised his hand in front of her, and his fingers dropped slowly in a familiar gestures. “Rain peace upon you from the tears of the Great Dragon and his Great Father.”
Java had forgotten that Evan was a Rainmaker, because he rarely said anything to her about it. She actually didn’t know much about Rainmakers except that they sometimes prayed for rain, and that there was something special about the rain from a Rainmaker’s prayers, but she had never experienced it herself.
Until now. Even though the sky was clear and starry above them, she suddenly smelled the scent of the sky, and a few drops fell upon her face, her hair. And with the rain was a peace she couldn’t have felt on her own, something that came from outside herself, yet which eased her heart as if it was the exact medicine to soothe the pain.
“Evan,” she breathed. “That’s amazing.”
“Oh? Do you feel something? It doesn’t always work so effectively.”
“It doesn’t? I thought Rainmakers were called because they always made rain.”
“The Great Dragon always answers our prayers for regular rain, but the special kind of rain I prayed for just now …” He smiled his crooked smile at her. “That’s all you.”
“All … me?”
Java didn’t know what he meant, and he didn’t explain. He simply began walking down the street again, his hands in his pockets. She missed the weight of his hand on her shoulder.
She ran to catch up to him. “Hey, treat me to dinner.”
“Why do I have to?’
“Because you have more money than I do.”
“My shop rent is a lot more expensive than yours.”
“Oh, stop whining. I want noodles.”
They continued down the silent street, but her body felt lighter, as if the pixie dust made the sky so close that it had enveloped her heart in stars.
You can check out my other short stories here.