The Hopeful Wanderer – The Cost of Skepticism

“It collects starlight, you see,” my host explained. She sat across from me at her kitchen table, the two of us admiring a geometrically cut crystal orb dangling from the top of the big picture window overlooking her dining room. Weak afternoon sunlight filtered through the orb, scattering little rainbows across the table’s surface.

I cupped a fragmented rainbow in my palm. “Solar-powered, then,” I concluded, disappointed. The intriguing rumors surrounding this particular gem were just sensationalized after all.

“Yes and no.” My host was elderly and it showed most when she smiled, crinkling her face into a multitude of wrinkles. “Solar-powered objects charge with sunlight and activate at night.”

“Right, and the suns are stars, so what’s the difference here?” I tipped my hand forward and the rainbow dripped off my fingertips, splattering onto the table. The droplets then evaporated.

“It only charges at night under starlight,” said my host. Her smile changed to something more smug. “Then it glows when you take it into dark places during the day.”

My interest returned and I peered closer at the gem. “Where’d you get this?”

“Picked it up at the bottom of the Earthways mines, back when I worked for them.”

“Interesting.” My right eye itched. When I rubbed at it, a soft, sandy substance slithered around my fingertips.

We both stared as a swirl of twinkling dust danced through the air and then vanished into the orb. A noise like struck glass rang out and the gem flared bright.

I clapped my hand over my aching eye. “Ow!”

My other eye started to itch as my host guided me back from the window. “Maybe you should stay away from it.”

When I looked at her, I couldn’t quite remember her name. Nodding, I said, “I think you’re right.”

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