by Rebecca Harrison
Magda grew the skies. She climbed her ladder to the sky, wound a corkscrew into it, pulled a scrap of it free and put it in her pocket. In her cottage, she dropped the sky scrap in a jam jar. Then she added a pinch of cave silence and a dusting of mountain scent – it would grow starlit and still. She settled the jar on a high shelf. Her cupboards were crammed with jars of growing skies. For a wind-blown cloudiness, she added the speed of an eagle’s shadow. For a calm sunrise, she added the sound of falling blossom. She held each jar against her ear and listened to the skies growing. When a sky was finished, she unscrewed the lid and watched it unravel and soar above her.
Many years passed, and Magda became old. She climbed her ladder slowly. Her hands shook on the corkscrew. She grew fewer skies, and empty jam jars sat on her shelves. When she gathered marble chill for moon glow, her bones ached. When she collected gull cries for blue stretches, they slipped through her fingers. She changed the skies more slowly. And in the villages and cities, folk watched a sunset linger for twelve days and a grey dawn creep for a month.
Magda stopped climbing the ladder. Her hands were weak. The jam jars emptied until only a single sky scrap was left. She counted the empty jars and tried to remember all the skies she’d grown. Then she gathered candle breath and jewel song, butterfly float and frost spark. She pushed them into the jar with the last scrap. Then she held the jar and watched the sky grow. She slept with it by her bed. Weeks passed. She carried the jar outside and unscrewed the lid – darkness and glints uncoiled. The last sky flowed above, forever starlit winds and northern lights.
Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and her best friend is a dog who can count. Through the WoMentoring Project, she was chosen by Kirsty Logan as her mentee. Rebecca’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and her stories can also be read at Maudlin House, Mirror Dance Magazine, and elsewhere.