AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece about May precedes the action of the novel and contains no spoilers. This is a Three Word Wednesday post, so please go the Three Word Wednesday site for stories, poetry, and other literary fun!
It had been a sad and dusty little place when May took it over, but at least the windows weren't broken, and the door was easily fixed. The shop had lacked the tables and display cases she would need to show off her creations, but such items were easily acquired. Jewelry shops had been looted early in the pandemic and it was a simple matter to walk into an empty store and take the satin and velvet-lined showcases and gilt-framed mirrors.
It hadn’t been difficult for May to get the materials she needed to create her jewelry, either. Her inspiration was the detritus of civilization; the vibrant shards of glass and plastic that littered the city streets. Using her knowledge of chemistry, she etched and stained the remains of the past into colorful creations that could be worn around the neck or wrists, or dangle from a pair of young ears. Young, of course, because there were no more adults, and now their own survival was an uncertain thing as well.
May was hanging some necklaces for display, humming a little tune, when the door flew open and a greasy-haired teenager in a leather duster strode in.
“Hey, babe, got the goods?”
She offered a grim smile. “Just a minute.” She went in the back room, then returned with a package. “I’ll need more willow if you expect me to make any more. And some food.”
The boy shoved aside some necklaces made from broken semaphore lights and opened the package on one of her display tables. He counted the vials of aspirin and gave a curt nod. “You’ll get it.” Without another word, he walked away.
Suppressing a sigh, May returned to her work. She had longed to escape the career in chemistry her parents had mapped out for her, but it was coming in handy as a way to finance her art. Hopefully she would make a few sales soon and could quit having to depend on her skill at making primitive medicines. Now that all the real jewelry stores had been looted, silver and diamonds were common as dirt, and about as valuable. But these colorful remains of the past…she looked around her sparkling shop with an air of satisfaction. As far as she was concerned, this was real gold.
Related Stories: Ars Gratia Artis, Alchemy.