FICTION

novels

 

Currently working on a fairytale-y fantasy novel with interwoven story threads and ownvoices elements, hoping to be ready for querying in 2020

short stories

& flash fiction

Primarily a novel writer, Clari dabbles in shorter forms. So far none are published, but some of their work is available to read for free below.

Sometimes Our Skies

a dual-timeline story about a giant climbing a mountain to return home a dying spirit of the skies, after her childhood wish made the Spirit fall

(I blogged about my process of writing & editing this story as a part of Writer In Motion in November 2019, and you can see the posts—as well as the progression of the story’s drafts—on my blog)

Sometimes Our Skies

The Giant climbs the mountain one narrow stair at a time, carrying in her arms a dying spirit of the skies. She pushes against the chilling wind and raindrops swirling before her face, her heart drumming the rhythm, almost there, almost there.

On the eve of the equinox, the Spirit fell from the skies by a lonely child’s wish for a companion, and to make way back home concocted a plan to trick her.

More-stairs-than-she-can-count up the mountain, the Giant pauses to look back, for the first time since she started the climb. Far below, the stairs disappear in the ocean of white, where islands of smaller mountaintops peek through the clouds and early snowflakes await to flutter upon the giants’ cities. Up ahead, the stairs lead into the quiet mist of further heights, to new, thinner clouds caught against the sharp peaks. She still has ways to go.

On their first night, the Spirit asked not for the child’s name, because she wouldn’t be staying long. On their first dawn, the child cried not to be alone, and the Spirit held her hand.

Step, step, step. The Giant hums a song, voice hoarse from the cold, a hymn to the adventurers designed to bring spring into one’s step and courage to one’s heart.

We’re almost there, she tells the bundle in her arms, ashen curls sticking out of the wraps of tawny fur.

The Spirit says nothing.

On the night of their first year, the Spirit remembered her plan. Make the child wish her back home; let that wish burn the child’s soul in place of the Spirit’s own, and leave her behind cold and still as the Spirit shines back up in her skies. Soon, she told herself.

But to the child she only said, I’m here.

And the child smiled.

The Giant reaches the top cold and tired. Her fingers might be blocks of stone, even shielded from the worst cold by the furs around the half-conscious spirit. There’s the tower, up ahead, almost there: on a pier of concrete between the worlds, a structure of metal rises up to meet the sky, built to withstand millennia by the giants of the old. The stories say they lived for hundreds, thousands of years.

The thought makes the Giant’s chest warm with excitement, even through the cold. Oh, how wonderful it would be, to live that long, to live forever. But perhaps so lonely, too.

On the last day of their fifteenth spring, the Spirit’s eyes fluttered closed. It was the birthday of the giants’ matriarch, an evening festive and alive with colour, and the Spirit feared: soon enough, she’ll have waited too long. 

I am tired, she said.

The child who was growing up held her close, stroked her hair and whispered small poems into her ear, and said, Tell me what I can do.

And the Spirit didn’t even think of seizing her chance.

The Giant climbs the tower with the last of her strength. She now carries the Spirit in a makeshift sash across her chest, and if not for the scarf wrapped tight around her face, her lips would brush against the softest curls she’d ever touched.

Quietly, the Spirit stirs. She senses the closeness of her skies, of the home she already thought lost.

We’re almost there, the Giant coos.

I will miss you, the Spirit whimpers.

On the morning of summer solstice, when the child was a child no longer and the Spirit had paled to an ashen shade, she told of a plan long discarded and said, I will extinguish like stars before the morning sun. But I will not let you burn in my place.

On the morning of summer solstice, when the leaves on the trees were bright, the child who was no longer a child heard it was too late to wish, and instead declared, I will take you home.

The tower pierces the skies. It enters the realm of the spirits with a sharp peak, bright with snow and stardust, but the Giant doesn’t climb that far. She stops when the clouds swirl closer with the wind, the skies excited and concerned to meet their long-lost denizen.

She unwraps the furs and kisses the Spirit’s forehead. And she says to the wind and the cold and the heights, She’s going to be all right.

The winds take hold of the Spirit’s pale curls. They tug at her sweater—the one the Giant made her, purple and blue and silver like the evening—and, finally, lift her up to where the heights chatter in voices of all the others, Welcome back home.

And it’s now, not when her knees had started hurting or the Spirit had been so silent in her arms, not when the elders of the city had warned her no one ever returned from the mountain, that the Giant cries.

She doesn’t speak, because she can’t find her voice. But she holds the Spirit’s hand, and for a moment it’s like holding a torch, like touching a star. The clouds light up with all the shades of autumn and fire, all the pinks of chilly dawns and golds of warm sunsets. And she puts in her touch all she needs to say, a fragile plea upon tear-stained memories: Don’t forget me.

She is ready to start her climb down, only hoping the cold and the exhaustion will catch up with her far enough for the Spirit not to have to witness it.

But the sky lights up again.

The Spirit reaches with a hand no longer so pale, lips stretched into a lopsided smile that sends the Giant’s chest fluttering. And as the wind calms and the voices of her family sing a quiet song of gratitude and welcome, the Spirit makes a wish of her own: Stay with me.