I was in tears through the second half of “Still Life (A Sexagesimal Fairy Tale)” by Ian Tregillis, available to read online at Apex magazine. This fantasy story takes place in a town that exists outside of time.
It had slipped into the chasm between tick and tock, to land in its own instantaneous eternity. And so its residents occupied their endless moment with pageants and festivals and reveled in century-long masques, filled forever with decadent delights. They picnicked in the botanical gardens, made love in scented boudoirs, danced through their eternal twilight. And they disregarded the fog that shrouded their city with soft grey light.
And Time didn’t care. Time left the city alone, except for one woman, the woman Time loves. But because Time cared for her, adored her, she was the only person in the town to age. She was also unique in that she was a clockmaker, although her timepieces were not always conventional. She is the only person who remembers that the passing of time can be seen in flowers, in floorboards in everything.
One day, the famous lover, Valentine, the queen’s consort, visits her shop, and Tink falls in love. Determined to win Valentine’s heart, she steals moments in time, but in hoping to give him gifts, she hurts everyone in town. Finally, as an old woman, she gives the town the only gift she can.
So, it’s at heart a story of unrequited love, but truly touching, and the ending is so perfect. The writing is beautifully descriptive, and I like how Tregillis manipulates the idea of Time and how it affects the residents of the town.
I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Tregillis’ work, although his novel, Bitter Seeds, an alternative WW2, doesn’t really seem up my alley.
Apex Magazine 10/04/10
5 out of 5 stars
John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.
I read “Sill Life (A Sexagesimal Fairy Tale)” online and the above is my honest opinion..
wow, this sounds bittersweet.
Oh, this sounds heartbreaking … and right up my alley.