TITLE: Breaking the Chalice
GENRE: Adult Alternate World Fantasy
I wasn’t thinking about my home in the clouds the day Renato saved my life. I was lost in the task of tending my front flowerbeds. The back gardens—all five of them—I left untouched and feral.
The soil under my fingers was still cool as I bent on hands and knees, turning the mulch a handful at a time. A rake would have been faster, but I had nothing else to fill the day. Library day wasn’t until tomorrow, and soup day was still two days away.
I wasn’t happy, but I was numb. The longer I stayed in exile, the more I saw that numbness as a gift. Grief doesn’t hurt when you can’t feel anything.
Sweat collected on my forehead and slid into my eyes. I blinked it away. Tulips and daffodils were starting to bud. I worked around the dots of green sprung up in a sea of wood chips. Dirt dwellers had so much wood; they shredded it and let it turn to dirt. In Stratosphere, a tree and a plot of soil was a thing to be valued. Fruit trees, some taking years before they bore fruit, were passed down through generations.
I toiled in my garden as I had seen my mother do for so many years. My mother, the Queen, was known for her flowers. She had a green thumb that enriched everything she touched.
Almost everything she touched.
I finished the left flowerbed and sat back on my heels.