by Aidan Fritz
The wind off the Moskva River ruffled Jean-Baptiste's fur-trimmed coat as the bells of St. Basil's Cathedral rang. Jean-Baptiste swore. Respect required you arrive on time. Jean-Baptiste, purveyor to kings, deserved respect. An eccentric place for business, but he'd learned to trust in eccentricity. It had given him Hope.
A slit-eyed man wore a coat that puffed over his scarf and three sweaters. The seller from the Far East. Jean-Baptiste wagered the seller was fifty, a youngster.
"Sorry I'm late. Cold?"
"Warm enough," said Jean-Baptiste. "Do you have it?"
The iron box filled the seller's hand.
Jean-Baptiste gripped his jeweler's glass waiting for the stone's debut. "I must appraise the stone."
The seller withheld the box. "Different. Unlike any stone you've had."
Jean-Baptiste closed his eyes, counting three winter breaths. "Different?"
"Gem marks a split-point in our reality where wielder can fold fourth dimension through fifth dimension."
"Nonsense," said Jean-Baptiste.
"Man who touches the facets can travel through time."
Jean-Baptiste listened to the seller's raving. Yet, the man's pupils glowed with an iridescence reminding Jean-Baptiste of his first trip to India. Gems did that to one. Gems that mattered. The money was Louis's and besides hadn't he earned the right to take a risk after eighty-nine years.
He exchanged gold for the box and lifted the lid to caress a facet. The world spun in a cacophony of reflected light. He released the gem. His wrinkled skin warmed by spring sunlight cascading across trees dotted with buds along the Moskva.