Well it’s Tuesday again, so here is another piece of flash-fiction for you. I hope you enjoy it.
This one is called Fireworks.
When Celine opened the map, dust sprayed into the air and glittered in the moonlight like diamonds. Etched within, grids divided a blazing mass of stars, constellations and galaxies. At first they appeared as marks on the page, but as Celine looked closer the stars became a swirling mass of lights. They shot up from the parchment and blazed in the sky like fireworks brought long ago by a travelling merchant. As they shifted, she watched them align with their heavenly counterparts. The Universe complete and at the end of her fingertips. Celine stretched out her hand as if to touch them, but fear stayed her hand.
Standing at her mother’s market stall, she had watched as the stranger stood squeezing a plump, purple passion fruit, his eyes wide and smiling. When her mother had asked if he wished to buy the fruit, his only currency was a gold nugget, worth more than ten times they could hope to make in a year. At first her mother had refused the payment, but the young man insisted, making Celine’s mother swear not to tell another soul until an hour after he had left. With tears in her eyes, her mother had sworn and taken the nugget.
Later, still curious about the stranger, who could be but a year older than she, Celine followed him. The sound of his voice lifted in song; a soothing guide through the long day. She travelled miles from the village of her home to a secluded valley, where the wind whistled along craggy slopes and the earthy scent of moss filled the air with the remembrance of rain.
When he stopped in the valley, Celine darted behind a boulder and prayed that the shifting shale beneath her feet had not given her hiding place away. But after a quick glance around the mountains, the stranger had opened the map, touched the magical stars and disappeared, leaving nothing but the map floating silently to the ground.
After a time, Celine overcame the weakness in her knees, crept forward and collected the map.
Celine lived in a village of paupers. A hundred lost souls desperately trying to survive another day, another summer, another year. Her home was a hut made from the clay of a nearby riverbed. Yesterday, she had spent her time knee and elbow deep in muck fixing deep cracks in the walls by adding an extra layer of mud to their home. As the eldest of seven children, such tasks were often left to Celine to perform.
She tried to think of the last time she had been happy. She tried to picture her mother smiling, of time spent chatting instead of toiling. Life would be easier now, with the gold nugget. Easier still with one less mouth to feed.
Celine took one last look over the mountains in the direction of her home. Maybe she should return, say goodbye. The thought froze her for a moment, before she drew her lips together and attempted to still the fluttery feeling in her chest.
With only a light tremor to her hand she reached up and touched the blazing ball of light floating at the end of her fingertip. The one she had seen the stranger touch. With a tight grasp on the map she closed her eyes and felt the world tumble away beneath her feet.
When she opened them, two moons hovered in a purple sky and the stranger walked towards her, a smile on his open face and his arms outstretched in greeting