Author's Name: Brigid Gaffikin
Stage of Completion: Mostly Polished
Preferred Critique Style: A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down/Flails
Cat Person or Dog Person: Cats
Tea or Coffee: Coffee
In a world where magic is a living thing, a runaway magician and a runaway thief each hunt down a valuable bottle. One girl believes the bottle -- which her mother stole and lost -- will save her family, while the other is convinced that finding and selling the bottle will buy her freedom -- and respite from the past that haunts her. After a painful showdown, the girls unite and together face a cast of others after the bottle too. When the girls learn the bottle contains a living piece of magic, their search becomes a matter of life and death.
Two hundred years after the drought began, in a shadowy gully beneath the mountain road, on the bone-dry steppes where only shepherds and their families live, a tiny bottle lay in a patch of brown grass, its surface sparkling in the morning light. The sun played magiclike with the facets cut into the bottle until the movement caught a clever girl’s eye.
She was out scouring the ground for lily roots to boil for breakfast. She scooped up the little vessel and ran with it to her mother.
“A bottle, mama!” she shouted, her linen skirts flapping around her knees, her bare feet smacking against the hard, dry soil as she beelined home. “Look at the way it shines all blue and silver!”
“Give it here, girl!” the woman snapped, reaching over from her milking stool. Her sun-dark fingers snatched up the bottle from her daughter’s hand.
“I think it must be magic the way it glitters,” the girl said, her brown eyes shining almost as brightly as the little bottle.
“Don’t be a fool,” her mother said. “It’s a glass of scent or spices lost by a trader on the mountain road. Didn’t you hear the ambush two days earlier?” She tucked the bottle into her vest. “Perhaps it’s made of jewel. I’ll sell it to the tin merchants when they cut this way to buy my cheese.”
“Why can’t we keep it? Look at how it sparkles, like there’s life inside."