“Afterglow” by Karolina Fedyk

“Afterglow” by Karolina Fedyk

for Marie

It’s an old truth she ought to know: the universe doesn’t give away its secrets freely. She would pry them from its blazing fists, she says, seeking her future in the dark of boundless well. The waters twist and knot into blackness of her iris, but she came prepared. Chaos won’t scare her. She wants to give the swelling waves new names.

The three sisters don’t take kindly to her. They have turned higher beings away before. After all, even the gods had to pay; an eye for a glimpse of newborn stars. And who is she, thinking her instruments would protect her from this searing dark? The sisters had seen mortal dreamers like her: reckless, starting fires with a magnifying glass.

But she insists. All strong spells are born out of sacrifice, so how much do you want? Two eyes? My blood? Or the firmness of my hands? My life is yours to spin and break. Take more. Tear away the years I could have lived and bite into the marrow of my bones. Leave just enough of me to look into the depths and understand.

You’d want to grab her hand and stop her before she makes the deal, but she won’t be stopped. Not now. Not until her body grows incandescent poison pearls and her blood turns to quicksilver. And yet she smiles! A brittle smile through broken lips:
Scatter my bones. Read them like maps. Walk a little further in my afterglow.

Karolina Fedyk writes speculative fiction and poetry about lost histories, found families, and futures born out of resistance and resilience. Their work has been published in Fireside Fiction and Strange Horizons, among other venues, and they’re a Viable Paradise alum. Their debut novel, SkrzydĹ‚a, was published in Poland this year by SQN Imaginatio. They enjoy knitting, LARP, and looking for owls and kestrels.