Please give a warm round of applause for our debut novelist and co-host Stephen Parrish!
*clapping surges and holds steady*
Excellent! He really does deserve our congratulations. And now, Stephen has cracked his knuckles and whipped out TWO interpretations of the "Uncovered" photo. You go man! And without further ado...
by Stephen Parrish
Dinner was almost ready, so she peeked into his shop. He was leaning over the work bench, as usual. Toying with compass and protractor. Doodling. She leaned over his shoulder and saw geometric figures he had sketched, objects with faces, edges, and terminating points.
"Designing Christmas ornaments?" she asked.
"They're crystals. Inorganic compounds whose molecules stack in patterns."
"And each one is unique?"
"No, not this time. Not like living things. Crystals dogmatically follow the same thirty-two forms."
She studied his notes and diagrams. The objects varied in color as well as symmetry. They were alluring, they attracted attention. People would covet them.
"You realize," she said, "this constitutes evidence. Alligators and butterflies appear on Earth, but nowhere else. These things," she tapped the drawing, "show up anywhere in the cosmos where there are sufficient inorganic compounds, opportunity for them to get together, and room for a matrix to grow."
He nodded. "That's the idea."
"Think they'll figure it out?"
"One of them will."
She kissed him on the cheek. "Hungry? I've got blueberry pie for desert."
"Blueberries?" He straightened up and glanced across the workbench. "Have I drafted blueberries?"
"If not, you'd better hurry. Dinner's in ten."
by Stephen Parrish
"And she won't know the difference?" Mr. Wallace looked up at my father with soft, trusting eyes.
"She won't have a clue."
My father was right, it took experience. In the case of cubic zirconia, you looked for small orange flashes in the stone. He showed Mr. Wallace a two carat ring. Big enough to impress his wife, but not so big that she'd be suspicious. We would need a day to size it.
Mr. Wallace held the ring up to the light. "What if she has it appraised?"
"Oh, come now, Peter, when has Maria ever had one of your gifts appraised?"
The next day I came by after school in time to see Mr. Wallace pick up the ring. Again the moist eyes, the trusting look. The eyebrows raised hopefully.
"If you can't tell," my father assured him, "neither can she."
After Mr. Wallace shuffled out my father said, "It's sad his grocery store is losing customers. He gave me my first job. Twenty-five years ago."
"Wish there were something we could do," I said.
"He's a proud man. He'd turn down any offer of help. Or gratitude."
Later, as we were closing the store, I noticed a loose transparent gemstone sitting on the bench.
"Shouldn't we lock that up?" I asked.
My father shook his head. "Don't bother."
I turned off the overheads and only the security lights remained on. As I walked out I looked back at the gemstone and saw a tiny orange flash.