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The Tempest in the Glasswork

Tarver Nova is a spec-fic writer and professional night owl in New York. This is his first appearance in Daily Science Fiction. Find him at tarvernova.com or show him your cats on Twitter @tarvernova.

Dr. Bell swept through the shop door in a huff. Winter winds swirled his coattails and scarf, and snowflakes danced all around him. His eyes darted over ships in bottles, glass-orb terrariums, and ant farms, before landing on the shopkeeper, Madame Delia. She squinted at him, pushed up her glasses, and then smiled.
"Welcome back, Dr. Bell," she said. "Here for another trinket?"
Dr. Bell sighed, his long coat deflating. He unwound the scarf to reveal cheeks curling with worry. But Delia was already digging under the counter.
"I have everything a man of your status could want," she said. "A bonsai in a bottle!" She placed it by her cash register, and the branches inside seemed to wave. "Or that waterfall in a flask." She pointed to a gently cascading scene on a shelf by the door. Her eye twinkled as she touched a blanket-covered curio. "Why, for you, I'd even sell my one-of-a-kind sun in a mason jar." She lifted the blanket's edge, and they both shielded their eyes from a roiling light until she let go.
"Madame Delia," Dr. Bell said, crossing the store in three long steps. "I don't need another knickknack. The one you already sold me..." he shook his head. "It's all wrong."
Delia clicked her tongue. "Now Dr. Bell, I told you before: all my novelties are a hundred percent guaranteed--"
"And that's just the problem!" said Dr. Bell. He checked for other customers, and then leaned over the counter. "It worked too well."
"How so?" she said, with the barest twitch of her crow's feet.
"Er, you see," he demurred, crumpling his scarf. "Your season in a bottle, I... I dropped it."
Delia's face went porcelain. She glanced past him to the flurries outside. Then to the calendar on the wall. August.
She tipped her nose and cast him a wan smile. "Oh no," she said.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, July 28th, 2022


Author Comments

This story emerged almost fully-formed during a meeting with my writing group. We fed random words to the Wombo art app, and then wrote about the abstract painting its AI generated. Shout-out to my writing crew for being such inspirations.

- Tarver Nova
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